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Private Lessons:
Forehand Completion

By Scott Murphy

Printable Version

In Part One of this series we left you coiled, locked in, and poised to unleash the remainder of your forehand groundstroke. Again, using examples of the world's top pros, let's examine the essential elements necessary to keep the rest of your forward swing on the money.

A well developed feel for his contact range allows Federer's forehand to flow from beginning to end.

Establishing the Contact Range

It is important to note that the catalyst for the forward swing (and the back swing) is the correct contact range. Nothing hinders your game more than failing to meet the ball comfortably out in front of you. This is what prompts the timing of the take back and forward swing. If done correctly, the entire process will be perfectly continuous, as seen in the Bjorn Borg animation. Notice how his forehand stroke flows from start to finish. Finding the most effective contact range for your forehand (or any stroke) will come through experimentation in practice, and the realization that your own sense of balance and leverage is your best guide.

Whether you are using an open stance or square stance on your forehand, make sure to create an "avenue" through which you make your forward swing. For the square stance step OUT to the ball, stepping across the body (closed stance), will prevent proper hip and trunk rotation, and risk crowding the shot. In other words, you won't be able to get your body out of the way. Remember for the open stance, keep your back foot to the inside of the ball, or you'll be forced to swing across your body instead of forward towards your target. Additionally, regardless of the stance, be sure to flex your knees when hitting the ball. Without knee flexion the upper body has to compensate for the loss of leverage resulting in a stroke that is off balance and ineffective.

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Scott Murphy is from Marin County, California where he started playing tennis at age 5 in a family of tennis nuts. Both of his parents were major influences in his development. He also took lessons from Marin legend Hal Wagner and former top 10, Harry Roach.

Scott is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley where he played baseball and football but continued to work on his tennis game with renowned coach Chet Murphy. He was the head pro at San Domenico Sleepy Hollow Tennis Club for over 20 years. He also directed the Nike Tahoe Tennis Camp at the Granlibakken Resort for 10 years. Scott now teaches privately on the Paradise Court in Ross, Marin County, California.

Check out Scott's website at

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