Roger Federer and the Evolution of
the Modern Forehand

By John Yandell

Printable Version

His forehand just looks different than the other top players. But why and how?

Based on the analysis of hundreds of pro forehands filmed in high speed video, this series of articles developed a framework for understanding the core elements in the modern forehand, and also the technical variations across the grip styles. Then Roger Federer emerged as the world's dominant player, and started hitting forehands that looked different than any of the other players we have studied.

Everyone loves watching him, for obvious reasons. His forehand is one of the biggest shots in the game, and also one of the most beautiful. It's explosive, fluid, and effortless. You can almost see his racket head jump to warp speed on the forward swing. At the same time it looks so natural and relaxed.

Then there is the amazing variety. He's very natural with either an open or a neutral stance. He can play the ball on the rise, he can break off incredible short angles. He can play higher balls from deeper in the court like Roddick or Hewitt. One of the most amazing things is his ability to combine great velocity with heavy spin.

If you want proof of the flexibility and variety in his forehand, all you have to do is look at the range of his finishes. He can look like Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, Gustavo Kuerten or Andy Roddick. And sometimes that's in the same rally. How can this be possible? How does he do it? What can we learn from him? What can we emulate? Is it a good idea to even try? The only way to answer these questions is to look in detail at this phenomenal shot and all its variations.

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