Back to basics: Topspin forehand
We team up with Tour coach David Sammel and young British pro Yasmin Clarke to learn the topspin forehand.
A consistent, reliable game can only be achieved if you can trust your groundstrokes not to break down under pressure.
In these shots, Yasmin hits with a western grip which means she can hit the ball hard, but still control its flight by generating loads of topspin.
If you use a semi-western or western grip you’ll find hitting groundstrokes with spin much easier. And the more spin you put on the ball, the more control you’ll have.
1. Start in the classic ready position and watch the ball closely. Stand around a metre behind the baseline to prepare for your opponent’s shot.
2. Preparation. Try to react as early as possible to the direction of your opponent’s shot. You must aim to prepare before your opponent’s shot has crossed to your side of the net. Reacting quickly to your opponent’s shot gives you time to play a smooth stroke.
3. Yasmin started the stroke by turning her shoulders. Now she’s brought the racket further back as she moves towards the ball. She’s still watching the ball like a hawk.
4. She takes her racket back high and will create a loop so that the racket head can drop down to come from below the ball. Note how she uses her non-playing hand for balance and her great footwork means she’ll be a comfortable distance from the ball when she executes.
5. She starts to bring her bodyweight into the shot for power and she’s in a great position in relation to the ball – try to make contact with the ball between knee and waist height.
6. She makes contact in front of her body and around an arm’s length away so she’s not too cramped and not over-reaching for the ball. She hits through the ball with good acceleration of the racket. The racket comes from below the height of the ball and the strings brush up the back of the ball to create topspin.
7. She finishes the shot (pros always COMPLETELY finish each stroke before moving off for the next) and then will push off to return towards the centre of the court ready for her opponent’s reply… if there is one!
Where you aim your groundstrokes is vital to your success.
1. Hit at least one metre above net height.
2. Hit most of your shots cross-court, especially if you are pushed wide because the net is lower in the middle and the court is longer. The court is 82.5 feet long across the diagonal but only 78 feet if you hit down the line. And if you aim cross-court you’ll hit with width, making your opponent run further.