How to…Hammer a high ball
Originally published on: 04/04/11 14:31
‘How to…Hammer a high ball’ featured in the December 2010 issue of tennishead magazine. For more details on how to subscribe, click here.
Objectives: Hit ’em high
The key to Soderling’s attacking forehand is the height at which he strikes the ball. From between chest and shoulder high, he can hit through the ball with pace and still guarantee himself good net clearance.
There are four elements to a good forehand: good footwork to the ball, keeping your head still, making contact out in front, and core stability. Work on all four and you will be able to reproduce the shot perfectly again and again.
Soderling has a very wide open stance creating a solid platform to hit from, while his shoulders have rotated almost perpendicular to the court during his high racket takeback in preparation for the high-bouncing ball.
Key point: Soderling’s left arm is outstretched to aid his balance and help his shoulder rotation.
You can now see Soderling’s western grip and how the arm is going to straighten for maximum racket head speed during contact. As he reaches the point of maximum shoulder rotation, he bends his right knee to load his weight onto the back leg.
Look how laid back Soderling’s wrist is so he can ‘whip’ the racket through the shot. His weight is all on the right leg, while his core strength – crucial in today’s game – helps him maintain his posture and balance.
Golden rule: Keep the racket face closed and brush up the back of the ball to generate topspin, it is the shoulder turn that injects power into a big forehand.
Soderling takes the ball well out in front of him, by uncoiling his torso. This cuts down his opponent’s recovery time, allows him to track the ball and his opponent and gives him the maximum swing distance, maximising his racket head speed.
Key point: Most tennis is played on high bouncing courts. Although Soderlng hits his forehand fairly flat, his racket still comes from below the ball to impart topspin.
Note how still Soderling’s head and left arm are in frames 3, 4 and 5. The arm has acted as a counter-balance to the explosive movement that’s happening on his forehand side, keeping him in control of the on a consistent basis.
Soderling generates so much racket head speed with his arm and torso rotation that he hardly needs to drive through the shot with his legs. All his weight has done from the first frame to the last is shift from his right foot to his left.
Key point: Look at Soderling’s ‘windscreen wiper’ follow through – the racket finishes in front of the shoulder rather that over it, generating topspin with his wrist snap.