Photo Lesson: The Basic Eastern Forehand

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Your Citation
Cooper, Jeff. "Photo Lesson: The Basic Eastern Forehand." ThoughtCo, Aug. 22, 2016, Cooper, Jeff. (2016, August 22). Photo Lesson: The Basic Eastern Forehand. Retrieved from Cooper, Jeff. "Photo Lesson: The Basic Eastern Forehand." ThoughtCo. (accessed October 22, 2017).
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Grip and Ready Position
(C)2006 Jeff Cooper licensed to, Inc.

Most players find it easiest to use the Eastern forehand grip as they learn the basic forehand, and many keep using the Eastern grip and the classic stroke style demonstrated here at the advanced level, too. The Eastern forehand grip puts your palm on the same plane as your strings, giving you a natural feel for the direction your strings are facing. This photo shows the beginning of the turn toward the forehand side from ready position. In full ready position, the racquet would be held as shown, with the left hand on the upper part of the handle, and both feet would point toward the net.

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High Point of Backswing

racquet at high point of backswing
(C)2006 Jeff Cooper licensed to, Inc.
For most players, bringing the racquet back around chest high works well. This will give the backswing a slight loop, which is an optimal compromise between a big loop and no loop at all.

The body has turned sideways (parallel to the sideline), and in that square stance, with the left foot beginning to step forward, the body weight is beginning to be transferred from the back foot to the front.

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Preparation for Linear Power

body sideways, weight on front foot, racquet back
(C)2006 Jeff Cooper licensed to, Inc.
The classic Eastern forehand groundstroke gets most of its power from linear motion--from the legs, body, and arm moving forward and upward, but rotational energy makes a significant contribution too. In this photo, the body is completely sideways, and the forward motion of the stroke has been set up by the left foot's large step toward the net. The standard backswing on this stroke has the racquet pointed at the back fence. Here, the racquet is pointed a little farther in the direction of the left fence, mostly because the wrist is laid back for extra power. Beginners don't need to lay the wrist back, but it won't harm their strokes if they do it to the extent shown here.
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Low Point of Swing Path

racquet at low point of swing path
(C)2006 Jeff Cooper licensed to, Inc.
From the beginner level through the most advanced levels, players swing at almost all forehands (except relatively rare slices) with a low-to-high motion. Swinging from low to high is the most common way to lift the ball over the net, and it's the only way to give the ball topspin, which helps it drop down on the other side of the net before it goes long. The strings produce topspin by brushing up the back of the ball.

In this photo, the racquet has dropped well below the ball as it starts forward with the swing. Almost all of the body weight has now been transferred onto the left leg, as the body mass is moving forward with the swing. The torso has also begun to turn toward the net. Its rotational energy will add to the linear energy that creates most of the power in the stroke.

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One Frame Before Contact

one video frame before contact
(C)2006 Jeff Cooper licensed to, Inc.
One video frame (1/30 second) before contact, the racquet head is more than a foot below the ball, indicating that it will be rising significantly as it meets the ball. The more sharply and quickly the strings brush up the back of the ball, the heavier topspin they'll create. Having the racquet dropped somewhat below the hand at this point is normal for an advanced stroke; it helps to enhance the topspin. As with laying the wrist back slightly, this isn't a technique beginners should use deliberately, but if a beginner is doing this naturally to the mild extent seen here, it's not a problem.
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Point of Contact

point of contact
(C)2006 Jeff Cooper licensed to, Inc.
The point of contact for a classic Eastern forehand is even with the front hip, as shown here. The long axis of the racquet (the line from the butt through the tip) should be roughly parallel to the ground as racquet meets ball. Trying to look at the point of contact for half a second beyond the moment you strike the ball will help you make a clean hit closer to the middle of your strings.
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One Frame After Contact

one video frame after contact
(C)2006 Jeff Cooper licensed to, Inc.
In the 1/30 second (one video frame) since meeting the ball, the racquet has risen another foot, further indicating that the strings generated significant topspin. The upper body has rotated almost 90 degrees from the sideways position that started the swing. The body weight is so squarely on the front foot, only the toe of the back foot remains on the ground.
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(C)2006 Jeff Cooper licensed to, Inc.

Here, the back foot has slid forward, the front leg has pushed upward, and the racquet has finished over the left shoulder. This is roughly an average follow-through. Your hand should always reach somewhere near the height of your head during your follow-through, but your racquet might end up more out in front or wrapped around your back, depending on how hard you swing, how much rotational energy you use, and how flexible you are. Some players with swing styles not recommended for beginners end with their racquets lower after their hand has reached head height earlier in the follow-through.