Written by Scott Perlstein
These days the pros are hitting harder and harder. You can do this too. The stroke used to be hit mainly with arm power. You closed your front hip and stepped parallel to the baseline. You tried to have an up and out follow through. We talked about kissing your shoulder on the follow through and inclining the elbow and the racquet. This is how Connors hit.
The next evolution became to use your hips and shoulders. You did this by opening the front hip. This allowed you to rotate through and follow though over your shoulder . The key is to place the front foot more forward– having the toes facing more toward the net. On the follow through you still want to kiss your shoulder. Now you rotate so the racquet goes over the opposite shoulder on the finish with your elbow up and the racquet’s label out to the opponent or up to the sky. This is the Agassi finish.
The next evolution is to body hit. Every pound of your body hits the shot. The key to getting the body through is to change the sequence of preparation. On the traditional footwork and drive method you tried to bring your front leg and racquet movement together. On the body hit you get turned earlier and harmonize the back foot and racquet together. This is the Federer forehand. The key is to get behind the ball earlier. You must also have the front hip opened or you will not be able to rotate through. Once you get there you might as well attack it. This is something Federer has said. He has worked very hard on getting behind the ball early.
For our teaching purposes this has been a three step progression. At the San Jose tournament in 1991 I was watching Sampras run through his volleys. We started teaching run through volleys from that point. About 7 years ago I noticed that Hewitt was running through the approach shots. Once again this put more pounds on the shot. Finally watching Federer body hit we are teaching run through ground strokes. All three shots, volley, approach and ground strokes are hit with full body participation. Once you learn this it will make so much sense you will wonder why you didn’t do this before.
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