Federer Forehand - An analysis of the modern tennis forehand swing
The Federer Forehand Introduction
Roger Federer is arguably the best tennis player in the history of the game. Probably his most powerful and accurate shots (after the serve) is his forehand. Federer hits the ball so clean and crisp and leaves most opponents wondering what hit them. You could say that Federer has the perfect tennis forehand and many people would agree. However, everyone makes their own adjustments when playing and its important to realize that Federer is a professional athlete who is extremely fit. Even with the perfect elements of a forehand you will probably not be able to hit as well as Federer, but with the right amount of time spent practicing you can make your forehand shot unmistakably accurate and powerful
The Tennis Racket
The racket used by Federer is the BLX Six One Tour Racket By Wilson. Although one cannot attribute the Federer Forehand just to the racket he uses, it does play a big part in the strokes of his game. The BLX Six One Tour is specifically for professional players ranked 5.0+, which means that the racket offers a lot of control and stability while the power is provided by the stroke of the player. I would not recommend using this racket if you are just a beginning tennis player. Instead you should start off with a racket for players ranked 2.0 - 3.0. However, you should ask your coach for their opinion because they have a better grasp on your tennis game and which racket would suit you best.
Roger Federer uses an eastern forehand grip when hitting the forehand stroke. However we should refrain from calling it an eastern grip because it is actually one bevel below the eastern grip. Technically, there is no specific name for the grip, but it is important that you know the eastern grip (a classic flat grip). To understand the grip position it is convenient to talk about it in terms of the bevels on the tennis racket. Take a look at the picture to the right, and notice that for a right handed tennis player, the eastern forehand grip would be at "Bevel 1". Although Roger Federer can sometimes be seen flattening out his forehand and using that grip, most of the time he uses the bevel labeled "Right Side". To use a certain bevel you place the top knuckle of your index finger (the one circled in the picture) on the bevel of choice, and in this case the "Right side" bevel. For a left handed player the same rules apply, except that the index knuckle would be on the "Left side" bevel.
Setting up for the shot is key. Before the ball lands on your side of the court, you have to already know where it is headed. Federer begins the take back of the racket early so that he can power up the shot. Since he is right handed, I will describe the movements for a right handed person however the same method applies but with opposite feet and hands to those being described. Starting from the ready position, Federer begins the take back by turning his shoulders right until they are perpendicular to the net. At the same time, he takes the weight of his right foot and angles it at fourty-five degress from the net. While this is happening, your racket should be brought back as you turn your shoulders, once you have turned move your racket back a little bit further so that the butt is facing the net. Keep in mind that these are for an open stance forehand, and while Federer can hit a forehand from almost any stance, I feel that this is the easiest one to learn. Once the shoulders are perpendicular to the net, make sure you continue to keep your eye on the ball as it heads towards you.
As the ball comes within reach, begin powering your racket towards the ball with a low to high swing pattern. Starting with the racket low from the preparation stage, lift it up and forwards towards the ball. Try to hit the ball in the center of the racket. As you swing towards the ball you should power off your right foot and also notice your shoulders turning to become parallel with the net. The most important part of the Federer forehand is that he never takes his eye of the ball. As part of the hand-eye coordination element in tennis it is vital that you don't close your eyes when striking the ball or look towards where it is headed.
The Follow Through
Another unique part of Federer's forehand is the follow through. Some people refer to it as the windshield wiper forehand because of the path of the racket. Once you have hit the ball, bring the racket towards the left side of your body. Keep the strings of the racket open in such a way that you can see through them as the racket passes your face. Your weight should be transferred to your left foot during the swing. Once the racket wraps around your body, you have completed the Federer forehand. Also note that the follow through should feel natural and you should not feel forced to change the direction of the racket. This will completely ruin your shot. If the follow through doesn't feel natural then you are not taking the correct swing path. Adjust it so that you can perform the forehand with relative ease.
Feder Forehand Slow Motion
And that's a wrap. The Federer forehand summarized in a single hub. The keys to performing a forehand like Roger Federer are preparation, swing, and follow through. A tip to remember is to always keep your eye on the ball and to prepare as early as possible. Don't forget that you need to make contact with the ball in front of you and that the follow through should result naturally from the swing. With a little practice you should be able to get the forehand working, and once you get used to it you can discover the true impact of a strong forehand.
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