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  1. #1

    Forehand and Serve Troubles

    I'm 15 years old, been playing tennis for roundabouts 6 months (3.6 years "actually", but with a 6 year layoff), and my game is between 4.0 and 4.5. I play a one-handed western backhand and a semi-western forehand.

    Strengths:
    Backhand - I can get blistering pace, spin and depth on my backhand, and can hit winners from nearly any court position. On slow balls with lots of time, i usually run around to my backhand and go for a short, crosscourt winner or a long-line approach. Definitely my best shot.
    First Serve - Top speed of around 180 km (110 mph), average of around 165 (100), well masked and good consistency. Very effective body serves that usually kick to about abdomen height.
    Serve Returns - Efficient, short swing, good pace and angle that force short replies or errors, hands me lots of free points.

    Weaknesses - This is where you guys come in!
    Forehand - While consistent with good depth, moderate power and plenty spin, lacks bite! I'm incapable of hitting any sort of winner off my forehand, especially long line. I think maybe my stance is wrong.
    Volleys - While my positioning is fine, i can't get any pace on my put-aways.
    Second Serve - Absolutely horrible - Except for the "frying-pan" approach, i have NO second serve. For some reason, i can't, simply can't, get the technique right on a topspin serve - They either go flat and too hard, or they spin excessively and hit the net. My second serve is basically what keeps me from winning against 4.5 and 5.0 opponents, but i regularly thrash 3.5'ers and 4.0'ers.

    Help much appreciated!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Posts
    132
    The key to second serves is swinging up through the contact point. Tennis Angel mentioned practicing hitting balls over the fence from 20 ft outside the court as a good way to practice. From personal experience I can say it helped tremendously.

  3. #3
    So, i should swing through the ball as well as brush up the back of it (because i actually occasionally hit some reasonable kick serves, but i can never repeat them), still focusing on swinging up twards it, frame first?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    San Antonio, TX
    Posts
    1,109
    A forehand!? Isn't that everyone's favorite shot? I think you just need to go back to basics with that. I bet it wouldn't take more than 30 minutes to transform your forehand into a major weapon. As for the second serve, I often notice the second serve is played with much tension. Try tossing the ball a little further into the court (or a little back compared to the first serve) and concentrate on topspin. Get under the ball prior to impact; visualize the contact and keep your head up.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    San Antonio, TX
    Posts
    1,109
    Check this video out. When one's form is modified big problems are inevitable.


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Sea Pines, Hilton Head, South Carolina
    Posts
    414
    Quote Originally Posted by MagnusEffect View Post
    I'm 15 years old, been playing tennis for roundabouts 6 months (3.6 years "actually", but with a 6 year layoff), and my game is between 4.0 and 4.5. I play a one-handed western backhand and a semi-western forehand.

    Strengths:
    Backhand - I can get blistering pace, spin and depth on my backhand, and can hit winners from nearly any court position. On slow balls with lots of time, i usually run around to my backhand and go for a short, crosscourt winner or a long-line approach. Definitely my best shot.
    First Serve - Top speed of around 180 km (110 mph), average of around 165 (100), well masked and good consistency. Very effective body serves that usually kick to about abdomen height.
    Serve Returns - Efficient, short swing, good pace and angle that force short replies or errors, hands me lots of free points.

    Weaknesses - This is where you guys come in!
    Forehand - While consistent with good depth, moderate power and plenty spin, lacks bite! I'm incapable of hitting any sort of winner off my forehand, especially long line. I think maybe my stance is wrong.
    Volleys - While my positioning is fine, i can't get any pace on my put-aways.
    Second Serve - Absolutely horrible - Except for the "frying-pan" approach, i have NO second serve. For some reason, i can't, simply can't, get the technique right on a topspin serve - They either go flat and too hard, or they spin excessively and hit the net. My second serve is basically what keeps me from winning against 4.5 and 5.0 opponents, but i regularly thrash 3.5'ers and 4.0'ers.

    Help much appreciated!
    Okay, the key to the forehand is to keep things as efficient as possible while having the ability to really accelerate through the contact point with a solid follow through. The only way to really give you any advice here without seeing your game is to say this about your forehand. Regardless of what it looks like or any stance issues, you will have to train it until it becomes a weapon for you. You will have to hit tons of balls and learn to be as efficient as possible while still being able to rip through the ball. Wasted motion is a killer and that is what I saw from so many kids that used to come through Bollettieri and Hopman Academy (I coached at both). Start off slow and smooth and make your swing as smooth as possible while training yourself to be explosive through the shot. It just takes a lot of fed balls. You can't do it when you are in a competitive situation. As for the serve, make sure you have a continental grip (volley grip) and go up after it while still hitting up and hitting hard. You can't back down on a spin serve. It will kill you. Hit it hard and with plenty of spin. If the ball goes into the net, you need to hit up more. If you are hitting it long, you must add more spin. And the key: go out and hit two or three baskets of second serves. Keep the toss overhead and not too far out into the court which will limit your ability to hit up and with spin. In order to hit with spin, the ball must be overhead so you can actually hit up on it with that continental grip. Lose the frying pan grip and motion and if you have to abstain from playing matches and being competitive for awhile, do it. Don't let pride stand in the way of becoming a better player. I

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Posts
    132
    Quote Originally Posted by MagnusEffect View Post
    So, i should swing through the ball as well as brush up the back of it (because i actually occasionally hit some reasonable kick serves, but i can never repeat them), still focusing on swinging up twards it, frame first?
    You need to brush up the back of the ball. If your racket was a clock to generate topspin you would brush up the ball from 3 to 9. Try to swing the racket like you're throwing it at the ceiling. So when you hit the ball you're hitting up and a bit forward. And like TK said make sure you're ball toss is above your head or it's almost impossible to swing up on it.

  8. #8
    Ah, k, i think i might have been missing the forward part and solely brushing upwards. I'll try the stuff you guys said out in practice, see how that works.

  9. #9
    So, i've been fiddling with the absolutely great advice you guys gave me for the last week or so, and it's been great. I've got a very stable kick second serve, roundabouts 70 % success rate as of yet, but i haven't used it for more than 4-5 hours total. And i changed the grip on my forehand to a more extreme western grip - call me a freak, but i'm much more stable and low balls are much easier - i never thought i could hit the ball with that much topspin - i'm getting 5'6 of kick on most rally shots, and even though my hitting partner hits perpetually flat and low, it's been working perfectly, i even managed to hit more winners off my forehand than my backhand for the first time EVER today!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Sea Pines, Hilton Head, South Carolina
    Posts
    414
    Quote Originally Posted by MagnusEffect View Post
    So, i've been fiddling with the absolutely great advice you guys gave me for the last week or so, and it's been great. I've got a very stable kick second serve, roundabouts 70 % success rate as of yet, but i haven't used it for more than 4-5 hours total. And i changed the grip on my forehand to a more extreme western grip - call me a freak, but i'm much more stable and low balls are much easier - i never thought i could hit the ball with that much topspin - i'm getting 5'6 of kick on most rally shots, and even though my hitting partner hits perpetually flat and low, it's been working perfectly, i even managed to hit more winners off my forehand than my backhand for the first time EVER today!
    Nice. Keep hitting them. They key to the kick serve is spin and placement. Not power. Really dig those strings into the ball and snap that wrist up. Your forhand will get better and better. You can vary your grip throughout the match and when you practice. I use different degrees of my semi-western forehand. I can take it to nearly full western all the way to the plain entry level semi-western when I am hitting. Just depends on the shot. With that western grip, make sure you get that good open stance going and really pivot your hips and shoulders before you uncoil them into the shot. The more torque you put on the ball, the bigger and heavier it will be with that grip. You will get that torque from your deep turn(pivot) and really uncoiling hard into the shot with your legs and torso. Keep cranking it with spin. Remember, spin=control!

  11. #11
    Yeah, i also noticed that my winners with the western forehand flatten out properly, which is what i have trouble doing with the semi western.

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