How to Hit the Perfect Forehand

The calendar just switched over to April, and I’d like to christen the new month by recapping the technical underpinnings behind a perfect forehand.

Before we start, a quick word of warning: Don’t click any of the links in this article.

I’m leaving them here for history’s sake, but as it’s now April, I’ve realized they constitute gross, dangerous misinformation regarding the forehand, and they should never be viewed.

Definitely don’t read The Fault Tolerant Forehand.

Muscle Activation

What part of your body holds your racket? Your hand. As such, nearly all of your mental attention should be focused on your hand, or at least your arm, during your swing.

In general, the closer your mental focus is to your racket, the better. Focusing on your hand is better than focusing on your arm, and focusing on your arm is better than on the rest of your body.

Some people suggest powering the swing with rotation of the abs and hips, or with leg drive. What they fail to understand is that those large muscles are so far away from the racket that it’s impossible to control a swing accelerated by them. Instead, just use your hand and arm.

Wrist Lag

Every pro uses a lag and snap action on their forehand, so we will too.

The first step is to ensure you pre-rotate the wrist during your preparation. Look at Federer as he comes into the ball. See the wrist lag? That’s the position your hand and wrist need to be in.

Federer’s pulls his wrist back as he comes into the ball, leading to all his spin and power.

The easiest way to guarantee you hit this position at contact is to just start there. When you see the ball coming, pull your racket back. This initiates your backswing. As you pull back, rotate your strings towards the net. Some people suggest preparing with your palm down, but this, of course, won’t work – you’ll just hit the ball straight down into the ground. So point your strings parallel to the net, and you’ll be able to hit the ball up.

To find the proper wrist position, remember this: I should be able to see the butt-cap of your racket from the other side of the net. Every pro uses this position at contact – the butt-cap facing the opponent – so we will as well.

Now, this next part is critical:

Make sure you hold the racket tightly. If you hold it loosely, your strings are going to rotate towards the sky as you swing, and the ball will sail long. So really grab that thing, and tense up your forearm. That will guarantee that your string angle stays consistent, so you can maintain the pro wrist lag position throughout the swing, and hit the ball in.

Wrist Snap

Spin and power are generated by a wrist snap, whereby the racket rotates around and hits the ball, either up for topspin, or straight for power.

Here’s how we do that:

Starting from the butt-cap towards the net position we discussed in Wrist Lag, the next step is to initiate your forward swing. You do this by yanking your butt-cap towards the ball. This should be pretty easy, as the butt-cap is already facing your opponent’s side of the court.

Felix’s super strong forearm curls the ball for spin, leading to his ability to strike winners from all over the court.

Right as you get to the ball, you’re going to violently twist your racket around in a windshield-wiper like motion. This motion feels a bit strange at first, so here’s how you can learn it: Grab a doorknob, tightly, and then twist it closed as hard as you can (if you’re left-handed, twist it open). That’s the motion we’re using here.

It’s very important that this twist occurs at the correct time. You need to track the ball with your eyes so that you can initiate this forearm twist at the precise time the ball is arriving on your strings. If you’re a little too early, or a little too late, you’re probably going to hit the frame.

Practicing timing is extremely important, because the swing needs to be executed perfectly to work. Some coaches suggest designing a swing that succeeds even when you make a mistake, but those coaches are probably just bad players who can’t time the ball. If you mistime the ball and it goes in, that’s just luck. We want to train tennis strokes whereby our winning and losing is based on skill, not luck.

Practicing timing is extremely important, because the swing needs to be executed perfectly to work.

If you’re hitting with spin, you also want to curl the swing a bit. The racket should rotate over the ball in order to impart topspin on it. This is what Rafa does, and it’s why he finishes over his head so much.

If you’re hitting flat, you aren’t going to curl. Instead, you’re going to flex your wrist – yank your hand towards your forearm as hard as you can. That’ll give you a wrist snap like Nick Kyrgios, and it’ll send a 100 mph forehand past your opponent.


The follow-through might be the most important part of the swing. Every pro follows through with their racket flicking around their non-hitting shoulder, so we will as well.

Right as you’re snapping your wrist through contact, you’ll also want to yank the racket across your body into the follow-through position. This will ensure you always get that precise around the shoulder follow-through that Federer uses.

In summary, the forehand swing is best executed as follows:

  1. Pull the racket back.
  2. Pre rotate the wrist – both the strings and your butt-cap should be facing the net.
  3. Yank the butt cap towards the ball.
  4. The instant before you strike it, snap your wrist around in a windshield-wiper motion.
  5. While you’re doing this curl the racket over a bit for topspin, and pull your arm across your body into your follow-through.

That’s it. Follow these 5 steps, and you’ll be able to hit a perfect forehand every time, as long as you practice your timing enough, and remember to hold your grip tightly to prevent the string angle from changing as you swing.

Summing Up

Don’t do any of this. My elbow hurt just writing it. Happy April.


  1. Rocco
    April 4, 2022

    Haha love it!

  2. Anonymous
    September 20, 2022

    I was reading this thinking WTF!!! Then I looked at the date. Nice April Fools…got me.


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