Two big problems that beginners encounter is either hitting the forehand into the net or hitting it long. Both of these problems can be frustrating and I have been at the end of both, and it feels pretty bad. You seem like you are hitting the ball perfectly but it does not respond the way you want it too, and in turn, you end up hating the sport itself rather than enjoying it and having a good time.
Hitting the ball long can be fixed by reading my Ultimate Forehand Guide, it is a five-day guide designed to fix that mistake and you will have a blast reading and employing it into your game. It has other great tidbits that took some time to write, so I hope you enjoy it as much I did writing it.
Now let’s get down to business, the forehand or the backhand for that matter will keep hitting the net if you time the ball too early or your racquet head is too inclined at the time of contact. Beginners struggle with that a lot because they are being told to hold the racquet at an incline with a semi-western grip and when they try and hit it with their normal stance, the ball automatically goes down.
There are ways to get that fixed and in turn, you will have a great looking forehand. I made a list of other forehand mistakes that might be killing your forehand. So check the post out and take advantage of your newly learned superweapon.
Going Low to High
Beginners move in a very parallel manner when they start tennis, and that seems the most logical. Like in any other sport, you will think “I want to hit straight, so might as well hit parallel to the ground”. This works quite well when you are hitting the ball without topspin and predominantly with the continental grip because that just feels more natural. But when you switch to the semi-western grip just to get the topspin mechanic going, you start hitting into the net.
Most of the time what happens when you are hitting the ball into the net is that your racquet is leveling out on the loop. If you don’t do that you will not get the required amount of drop of the racquet that is needed for the ball to get over the net. This, in turn, causes the racquet to either hit parallel as discussed above or hit it down in a lot of other cases. Go from low to high and you will stop hitting the net but get that topspin in so you don’t hit the ball out of the park.
To get the low to high drill down, picture yourself getting in the ready position and getting the racquet in a tabletop position. In tennis, it is called the drop as you can see from the picture. This video is a Slow motion of Roger Federer doing the tabletop drop and accelerating low to high. After accelerating, he finishes the movement over his shoulders and that is what gives the ball the height needed.
You can practice this in a shadow swing without a ball or partner with 25-30 reps and then switch to balls do the same thing. After that you can get a friend to either feed you balls or just get into a rally. If you don’t have a friend or partner handy at all times, you could get a ball machine. I purchased mine like 10 years ago and it is still like a brand new machine. You can set different speeds, heights and even set it to hit to topspin which is great for the forehand. You can find Lobster Sports – Elite Liberty Tennis Ball Machine on Amazon.
My club has a bunch of these and it is great for getting the forehand down when you don’t have a partner to play with.
The remedy is pretty easy to fix but will require you to get some extra motions in, again the forehand mistakes post goes over a lot of these things and you will love the read.
This video is the perfect example of what I’m trying to teach. Again, it will be very unnatural if you are a beginner, but if you keep on doing it over and over again you will get the hang of it and the balls will start clearing the net in a much better way.
My Ultimate Forehand Guide helps you get the consistency of this shot down, so get down there and learn the most awesome shot in tennis the way it is supposed to be.
One tip that most people seem to forget (and you shouldn’t) is that whenever you are about to contact the ball, the racquet should not be facing the court. It should be flushing at the contact point. Watch these pictures and you’ll get a better understanding– these players bend their knees, load from the bottom and then come up high facing the ball dead on with their racquets.
Hitting with Topspin
Hitting the ball with topspin is the greatest service you can do to your game. It helps keep the ball high up over the net and it also gets the ball to land well inside the court. It’s pretty much the tennis player’s best weapon.
It is the best weapon but most beginners have no idea how to get it working the way it is supposed to be. There’s a myth that for topspin to actually develop on the ball you have to go over the ball at some point when you are coming in contact with it. But as this video shows different professionals hitting the forehand, this is pretty much myth busted. The racquet stays almost perpendicular to the ball even with huge topspin players like Rafael Nadal.
The racquet naturally goes over when following through but that’s just a normal reaction of your swing path.
The ball stays with the racquet for a fraction of a second so if you try and get the racquet over, it simply won’t work. The technique that actually helps you nail the topspin is going from bottom to the top and brushing the ball. So, even if you get the ball in contact with the racquet for a fraction of a second, the racquet will impart a lot of topspin.
This video will give a great guideline if you are a beginner and are transitioning into the topspin forehand.
But if you want a full detailed walkthrough of the forehand with drills and progressions then my Forehand Guide is here to serve your needs. It has a lot of other things for your consumption.
Getting The Timing Right
A lot of people complain about hitting the ball into the net, and timing is a big part of the ordeal. Getting it right takes time, and it will feel like a kid trying to use forks and spoons the first time, but it is something that you subconsciously learn and it gets ingrained into your mind.
Most coaches will tell you to not hit the ball late and get it pretty early but that transition between not hitting it late and early can be daunting. Even I mishit sometimes because of it and the feeling is extremely disheartening, but it is very easy to correct at times. Watch this video to get a good idea as to how the pros take the ball and still get the racquet head flush with the ball and avoid the ball hitting the net.
Getting the semi-western grip to strike the ball as the pros do is something you will have to practice, so get your practice socks on and get to it. At first, you will feel like no matter what you do the ball always goes into the ground let alone reach the net.
To Jump or Not to Jump
Jumping is something that looks really, really cool, but it is something of a forethought rather than something you need to incorporate into your game when you are a struggling beginner.
If you are an intermediate to an advanced level player, jumping is great as it will increase the power and spin potential in your ball and get you even more net clearance if you so desire.
As a beginner, I would advise staying away from it as long as you don’t have a solid foundation for a forehand. Speaking of solid foundations, the Forehand Guide promises to give just that and some other things.
If you are a beginner, you are already struggling with mishits and variations not working the way you want them to, so why increase your level of difficulty when it’s not even needed.
I used to try and jump on my forehands when I was three months into my tennis journey and let me tell you that nothing could have been the worst feeling that I was making even more mistakes than usual. So just adding one more element to my shot set me back almost a whole two-three months as I couldn’t get the timing right at all.
Bend Those Knees
This goes in conjunction with the low to high mechanic that was discussed above, most of you who have started learning the forehand struggle with that. What if something could make that movement a little easier? What if something could get you to the low to high mechanic without working too hard?
I have just the right technique for you, and it’s called Bend Those Knees (I know, sounds corny). Pretty much every pro player that I have come in contact with or seen on TV has this beautiful knee bend which takes them under the ball. This under the ball motion is going to make your racquet be in a path that when it contacts the ball its trajectory will be going up. The upper contact will automatically lift the ball up and your shot should clear the net.
This video will explain the motion of how to get into the knee bend and how to lift yourself off of it. It is pretty easy if you know how to do squats because it is pretty much the same motion, just with a slight change of direction.
One tip that I would look out for is you don’t over bend, the body needs to move in a very coordinated matter because it is a kinetic chain.
If you bend the knees too much, the energy will be lost in recovering from the bend and you won’t be able to get the power to the forehand, in which case you might be able to clear the net but you won’t get any power into the ball and it will be easy for the opponent to hit you anywhere they want.
If you enjoyed this then you will really enjoy the Top 20 Tennis Tips That Will Take Your Game To The Next Level. It is a huge post filled with tips and tricks you can put into action right now and make your game even more dominant.