Tennis Groundstrokes - The Forehand and Backhand Groundstroke
Tennis groundstrokes are the fundamental shots in tennis. The forehand groundstroke and the backhand groundstroke are the two forms of shots used on baseline rallies.
This article gives some overview of these different tennis groundstrokes.
Groundstrokes are normally used on baseline rallies. However, they can also be used in any part of the court. The tennis groundstrokes are shots made by tennis players after the ball bounces on the ground. The backhand stroke comes in two techniques, the two handed backhand and the one handed backhand.
The forehand groundstroke is accomplished by bringing the racket across your body, then towards the direction where you like to land the ball. If you are a right handed player, the forehand groundstroke starts on the right side of your body, and then the movement continues across your body as your racket face comes in contact with the ball. The tennis forehand stroke ends with a full follow-through.
After contact, the player continues to rotate the upper body by bringing the racket back in a smooth and relaxed manner. Generally, this forehand groundstroke is the most common weapon for beginner players. In professional tennis, most players also have this shot as their most powerful groundstroke in tennis.
In most cases, the forehand groundstroke is executed with topspin. Topspin adds ball clearance above the net, thus net balls or errors are minimized. It also results in a high bouncing ball which can put your opponent in an awkward situation. Aside from the topspin forehand, a backspin or a slice forehand can also be used especially with approach shots. A flat forehand is another forehand tactic that is usually administered because of its speed. However, the margin of error for this type of forehand groundstroke is very high especially in terms of net clearance.
The backhand groundstroke where the player swings his racket around his body, in the direction where the player wants to land the ball. Same as the forehand stroke, the backhand groundstroke is generally used on baseline rallies. However, the backhand groundstroke can also be used if the player wants to execute an approach shot. This tennis stroke can be accomplished with the use of two hands, which is called the two handed backhand. It can also be accomplished with the use of one hand, known as the one handed backhand.
The backhand groundstroke is generally harder to master compared to the forehand stroke. It is also less powerful than the forehand shot.
Comparing the two backhand shots, the two handed backhand is more stable and has more power than the one handed backhand. Thus, this backhand technique is more popular with professional tennis players. However, the one handed backhand also has its own advantages, one of which is it’s longer reach than the two handed backhand.
Ways to improve your tennis groundstroke
Every player’s main objectives in executing the tennis groundstrokes are accuracy and power. The guides below show some ways on how to improve the tennis groundstrokes for both the forehand and backhand.
Several racket physical characteristics play vital roles in the accuracy and power of your tennis groundstrokes.
Stiffness of the racket
the use of a strong racket is ideal when you want to improve your tennis groundstrokes. A strong racket can resist strong ball impact that prevents it from bending or other forms of deformations. As a result, less energy is absorbed by the racket and more energy is returned to the ball resulting in a better and more powerful shot.
The string pattern of your racket has to be considered if you want to improve your tennis groundstroke. In addition, the power of your groundstrokes can also be improved if you use a racket with a more compressed string pattern.
The string tension is one feature to look into if you want to improve your tennis groundstrokes especially if you want to increase the power of you shots. To increase the power of your tennis groundstrokes, reduce the string bed tension of your racket. The ideal string tension ranges from 3-6 pounds for optimum power. However, reducing the racket string tension can result to a less controllable ball. Thus, it is important not to lower the string tension of your racket without appropriate practice before going into a competitive match.
Proper tennis technique is the most effective way to add power and to attain accuracy on your shots. Here is a guide on how to improve your shots in terms of power and accuracy.
Footwork for Tennis Groundstrokes
Proper footwork is one of the essential aspects to execute tennis groundstrokes. Proper footwork in addition to sound technique contributes to hitting accurate and powerful strokes. In the absence of proper footwork, it is impossible to perform the proper racket swing movement.
To improve your tennis strokes, you need to anticipate the shots of your opponent. Then execute the proper footwork preparation (split step) and move quickly towards the ball to return it and recover to the center baseline. All these movements can only be accomplished with appropriate footwork.
To improve your tennis groundstrokes, the two most important aspects to look into is to add power and to add topspin in your shots. To give more power to your shots, a full backswing is not essential. Power can still be generated with a short backswing as long as the racket swing is perfectly executed.
Lower and upper body movements
The movements in your lower and upper body (particularly the shoulder) is also essential to improve and put more power on your tennis groundstroke whether it is the forehand or backhand. Once you land with your toes after the split step, immediately pivot your front foot. Then transfer your weight to your front foot, and as you turn your shoulder, lift the heel of your back foot.
Pivoting your front foot also allows your shoulder to turn sideways. To add more power to your stroke, bend your knees as you complete the initial split step.
Relax and stay loose
A fast racket swing does not mean you’ll generate more power. Power is generated from a well executed swing rather than a very fast and quick arm swing.
Another thing to consider if you want to improve the tennis groundstrokes is your grip. A tense and tight grip can hinder proper forehand and backhand groundstrokes execution and may lead to errors. Just remember to use the proper tennis grip, at the same time hold it in a relaxed manner. This can be done by relaxing your arm and loosen your grip as you start your swing.
One of the most important aspects to remember in tennis groundstrokes is your eyes focus. It’s important to keep your eyes on the ball especially during the point of contact. Keep your head and your eyes ‘glued’ to the ball under all circumstances.
A properly timed weight transfer also affects the power and accuracy of your tennis groundstrokes. During the backswing execution, your body weight is concentrated on your back foot. Once you start your forward swing, you have to transfer your weight to your front foot.
To add more power to your stroke, drive off your back foot as you swing forward, then land on the ground with your front foot when the groundstroke is completed. This motion can be observed when powerful baseliners go airborne when they hit a powerful groundstroke.
A complete follow-through is essential in a tennis groundstroke execution especially when you want to hit powerful stroke. A complete follow-through is necessary to achieve a world class stroke.