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A Beginner’s Guide: Developing Your Forehand

Sep 10, 2015
written by: Tennis Canada
written by: Tennis Canada
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For those starting out in tennis, getting to know the different types of strokes, stances, terms, grips, etc., can feel over-whelming. Not to worry, we have your back! In our new teaching series titled, “The Beginner’s Guide” (fitting, right?) we’ve enlisted some of Canada’s top instructors to provide us with their expert steps and hot tips on how to approach the various basics of tennis. A free lesson? Pretty sweet, right?

Our Instructor: Guillaume Marx


Background: Guillaume Marx joined Tennis Canada’s National Training Centre (NTC) in the fall of 2007 and oversees the development of Canada’s top male players with a special focus on the country’s best junior boys.

Step 1: Pivot

To ease into the motion of a forehand, the first thing you have to do is pivot your feet and rotate your hips and shoulders to your dominant hand’s side. Although it is not so easy to feel, the first and most important segment to rotate are the shoulders. If you manage to do that, the other rotations will unfold naturally as a consequence.

Step 2: Bring Your Racquet Back 

Within that turning motion, you will simultaneously be bringing your racquet slowly back. It sounds complicated, but in practice the motion seems natural and fluid. With that said, Marx says to remain loose, and not to not fall into the trap of focusing too much on the physical preparation motion of the shot, but instead, put on your attention on timing.

Step 3: Timing

Visualize your body already turned and your racquet slightly back. In this position, you’ll want to create a little delay with your racquet (hold your swing back) and then at that very last moment before it’s time to hit the ball, accelerate your racquet quickly to create a little whip action. It’s better to be slightly ahead of the ball then too late. So, by having your racquet back and ready, you can avoid feeling rushed.


Step 4: Contact 

Your swing into contact will hopefully look very similar to a semi-circle or the letter “C”. After contact, do not stop short, you are going to want to push right through the ball and follow through.

Step 5: Follow Through 

After contact, extend your racquet in the direction you are hitting the ball and then in a fluid, smooth motion, finish the shot by bringing the racquet across your body like you’re swinging it over your shoulder.

Step 6: Feel it out

For beginners, Marx advises to just feel out your own sensations. Your instincts will naturally start to guide you with practice.

Class dismissed! Go on, what are you waiting for? Pick up that racquet!

Bonus class: Video demonstrations 

Step by step, ease into looking like a pro!

Update your game with a few modern tips on the classic swing:

Eugenie Bouchard breaks down a mastered forehand slowly: