The whole world turned to chatGPT and AI for information practically about anything. So we wanted to know what the AI knows about tennis technique. Lets see what it had to say about the forehand.
Corralejo Tennis Academy (CTA): Provide me with a detailed analysis of tennis forehand.
1. Tennis Grip:
The grip is a fundamental aspect of the forehand technique. For right-handed players, the most commonly used grip is the eastern grip. Place the base knuckle of your index finger on the third bevel of the racket handle, allowing your hand to naturally wrap around the grip. This grip offers a good balance between power and control.
CTA: Eastern grip for forehand is not so common these days as it was back in the day. Tennis players prefer much more western grip for their forehands for more topspin.
2. Ready Position:
Position yourself with your feet shoulder-width apart, parallel to the baseline. Bend your knees slightly and stay on the balls of your feet to maintain agility and quick movement. Hold the racket with both hands, keeping them slightly in front of your body.
As you anticipate the incoming ball, initiate the backswing by rotating your shoulders and hips sideways. Use your non-dominant hand (left hand for right-handed players) to bring the racket back, ensuring a smooth and controlled motion. Keep your non-dominant hand relaxed, using it primarily for support and balance.
CTA: Hmm, would this be an open stance forehand? Difficult to say as GPT didn't tell us anything about feet placement. Anyways, we like the fact to bring the racket back for backswing with the non-dominant hand. This ensures good shoulder rotation.
4. Unit Turn and Preparation:
Continuing the rotation, aim to achieve a "unit turn" where your non-dominant shoulder is facing the tennis net, and your hips are squared to the baseline. This position helps generate power and allows for efficient transfer of energy into the shot. Simultaneously, drop your non-dominant hand from the racket, while your dominant hand moves into position to strike the ball.
CTA: OK, but "dropping" the non-dominant hand should happen before striking the ball and thus not simultaneously and the hand should be actually trying to point towards the incoming ball.
There are two primary stances for the forehand: the open stance and the closed stance. The open stance involves stepping forward with your front foot (left foot for right-handed players) and hitting the ball while your body is still facing the net. The closed stance involves taking a small step with your back foot (right foot for right-handed players) and hitting the ball while your body rotates fully. Both stances have their advantages, and the choice depends on the situation and personal preference.
CTA: This point should be mentioned earlier, but yes its true there are open stance and closed stance forehands. But the steps with front foot and back foot are not described correctly. In open stance the feet are +- parallel to the base line while the whole body wait is on the right leg. In closed stance the left foot (in a right handed person) is in front and the feet are +- parallel to the side line. The whole body weight is on the left leg.
6. Contact Point:
The contact point is a crucial aspect of the forehand technique. Aim to make contact with the ball slightly in front of your body, around waist height or slightly higher. This allows you to hit the ball at the optimal timing and generate power. The contact point should be in front of your front foot for an open stance and between your feet for a closed stance.
CTA: GPT you have it almost right, but always hit the ball in front of you, no matter the stance. You cannot be hitting the ball between your feet in closed stance, otherwise you will not be able to use the power of you body in the shot and put your body weight in the shot. You always need to hit the ball in front of you!!
7. Swing Path and Follow-through:
As you swing forward to strike the ball, focus on a smooth and continuous motion. Start the swing by rotating your hips and shoulders while keeping your eye on the ball. Use your dominant arm to drive the racket forward, leading with the edge of the racket and brushing the back of the ball to create topspin. The swing path should be slightly upward, generating lift and control. After contact, follow through across your body, finishing with your racket over your opposite shoulder. The follow-through helps control the direction of the shot and allows for a smooth transition to the next position.
CTA: Nice. Well described. Finish of the follow-through can be either over the opposite shoulder or below, depending on the style.
8. Weight Transfer and Footwork:
To maximize power and balance, transfer your weight forward onto your front foot as you swing forward. This weight transfer helps generate momentum and ensures stability during the shot. Simultaneously, use your footwork to position yourself correctly for the shot. Step into the shot with your front foot and pivot on your back foot to aid in generating power and maintaining balance.
CTA: Yes. Just a note - don't move your feet while hitting the ball. Be as stable on the ground as possible.
9. Practice and Adaptation:
Consistent practice and repetition are key to mastering the forehand technique. Start with slower, controlled swings to focus on form and gradually increase your swing speed as you become more comfortable. Experiment with different grips, stances, and swing patterns to find what works.
CTA: Well, be carefull with experimenting, because every little adjustment you make will have a significant impact on the stroke itself. And once you get used to something it will be difficult to change. I suggest you start right off with a proper technique and tips and then gradually work on it to master the movement. If you are not sure, get help from a good tennis coach.