ANALYSIS: What can we learn from the Andy Murray forehand?
Respected coach David Sammel expertly breaks down the forehand of Andy Murray and identifies the lessons that can be learned from it.
Andy Murray’s topspin-heavy take on the classic shot shows how players can ‘customise’ the basic fundamentals of tennis for a stronger game.
It also shows how important it is that we don’t underestimate the importance of balance. Try to play with good posture by keeping your shoulders level, not allowing the ball to force you to bend your upper body. Remember, you are stronger than the ball.
Let’s break down the Andy Murray forehand frame by frame.
Andy Murray makes perfect symmetry look natural. His right and left arms are at exactly the same height and he has really good shoulder rotation, moving further than his hips.
This position acts like a coil spring: as the hips rotate forward, the shoulders and arms will release with far more speed and power as they ‘uncoil’. Like all good players, Andy tracks the ball intently with his eyes.
Here, Andy’s arms have separated and his base has widened, allowing for superb balance with his weight mostly on his back foot. His take-back is slightly unusual: his wrist isn’t cocked, so he has the racket lying flat with his wrist.
At this point, most players have the racket cocked higher than the wrist. Andy’s left arm is perfectly positioned.
The traditional position: the racket’s butt is leading as the arm swings towards the ball. This allows the racket to drop below the ball for topspin, imparting massive speed and energy as the wrist comes through and the strings hit the ball.
This motion continues through the ball and after contact. Andy’s gaze is fixed on the ball as he shifts his weight from his back foot to his front foot.
This is a split second before contact. The racket is below the ball, ready to brush up, travelling through it. Andy clearly wants to really lift this ball: his right shoulder has dipped more than if he was hitting a flatter shot.
I believe this does unbalance him slightly, which is unnecessary, as the lift can be done by the arm only while keeping the shoulders more or less level.
Notice that his upper body is leaning backwards, so it’s fighting slightly against his lower body, which is still trying to shift from the back leg to the front. Notice how his wrist and forearm have rotated to be fully aligned with each other.
Importantly, his head has barely moved throughout the shot, which is critical both for watching the ball and keeping your balance.
His wrist and forearm have fully rotated, wrapped over the lifted ball for superb spin and control. The upper body is back in line, weight shifted from right leg to left: perfect balance. But note Andy’s rotated right foot.
If your shoulders follow, they can over-rotate, with your weight falling to the left – making a down-the-line shot difficult. Countering this helps generate effective crosscourt angles.
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About David Sammel
David has more than 30 years’ experience coaching pros to career high rankings, many of whom have represented their countries in the Davis Cup and at the Olympics.
David, who became an official ATP coach in 2014, regularly contributes to the UK’s tennis media, including BBC Radio 5 Live, The Times newspaper and Sky Sports. In 2014, he released a psychology and coaching book – Locker Room Power: Building an Athlete’s Mind. You can find out more at davidsammel.com/books.
David now runs Mindset College, “the only mental skills programme that provides you with cutting-edge, tried and tested tools from the coal-face of elite sports performance.”
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