Front Foot Forehands
By front-foot tennis I mean that you are delivering a hit with your weight shifting through and into the shot, and onto your front foot.
Run 1 thru 3 of the Ivan Lendl forehand and concentrate on the in-focus images to the right.
From the start, Lendl is fully turned and sideways to the net: in fact, this is one of the most side-on forehands you’ll ever see.
Now watch, as Lendl’s body weight shifts from the back foot, through contact and onto the front foot.
Body weight-forward adds beef (or soya protein) to the swung racket head and once again needs a Connect 3 to properly flourish.
Generally speaking, this simpler type of weight forward comes with an invitation.
‘Huh? What you chattin’?’
I’m chattin’ that a short ball from your opponent should be treated like an invite…
Shush. Actually, you might be right.
It is a kind of dinner invitation – or an invite to feast on your opponent’s sloppy mid-court ball – it’s an invitation to carve up the opposition’s short order with relish and dish out a thumping recipe of pancake-flat, ball-peeling aggression.
‘Sheesh! Easy on the metaphors!’
I’ve been known to get carried away.
Watch this animation of Andy Roddick’s forehand, in which he accepts just such an invitation: Andy turns, loops and shifts up the court.
As with Ivan Lendl, we then see the weight shift as he lays into the forward connect.
This weight forward (onto a front foot – it is caught post-contact by the front foot) most naturally occurs when:
A: the ball bounces short and/or
B: when it is also hit central to the court.
For me, Roddick’s forehand is – power-wise – one of the best ever and there’s much to learn from it, so we’ll return to it often.
Invitation to the Sideways Dance
There’s a deftness and economy about the way skilled tennis players move around the court – they can move like sprinters, boxers and at other times like well-trained dancers.
Here’s another of my all-time favourite stroke-makers – or Stroke Models – Gabriela Sabatini, who has also been given an invitation.
Gabby accepts without hesitation and pulls the elbow back to prep for her loop in 1 – trigger cocked back, right?
In 2 & 3 she shifts into a sideways turn and then does a sideways shuffle-dance up the court.
This is nimble and efficient court coverage, which is aided by the two doubly-efficient cross-steps in 2 & 5.
Movement is so important it deserves a full section. But take a moment to look-and-learn from Happy Feet in action – try to imagine which upper part of the stroke belongs where.
…and this is one of the very few times you’ll hear me mention ‘feet’.