Watching the Australian Open this past week reminded me how much players rely on their forehand groundstroke to produce winners. Not only do they hit more winners off their forehand side but they are using their forehands to push their opponent off the court. The inside out forehand has become the weapon of choice for todayâ€™s power players. First a player must develop a solid forehand groundstroke. This should be done with topspin to minimize the error potential. Topspin also allows for more angled shots because it is easier to hit short. It is very important to push your opponent out wide, thus making it difficult to hit the return down the line for a winner. If your opponents return is not cross court, they you will have the chance to take their return and hit your forehand to the open court for the point. Most inside out forehands involve the open stance footwork. Moving out, stopping your momentum and transferring that power into you shot is crucial. The backhand shot has become a shot to keep the ball in play and keep you out of trouble. Backhands produce winners in only special situations such as a passing shot or a short put away. Rarely is the backhand used to set up and end points. So it has become apparent to me that the backhand is the rallying shot and the forehand is the put-away shot. Build up the consistency on your backhand with good topspin and net clearance. Use your backhand to give you the opportunity hit your forehand for winners. Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic, the top 3 players in the world have good topspin and may hit more winners. Fernando Gonzalez and James Blake have bigger forehands but with less topspin and make more errors. My guess is thatâ€™s why they are the worldâ€™s best. Shore up your backhand and blast away with control on your forehand!
Doug Hofer, USPTA www.hofertennis.com January 28, 2008