Building the Spanish Forehand

Chris Lewit

What does it really take to develop a Spanish style forehand?

Over the last 20 to 30 years, Spanish players have evolved from relatively defensive into athletic, physically dominant baseline players who also have all court capabilities.

Part of this evolution has been the technical development of more powerful, whipping, heavy-spin, but versatile forehands. These forehands have allowed Spanish players to continue to defend unbelievably well, but also attack with aggressiveness and force. Rafael Nadal's forehand - one of the best weapons in the modern game-- is the epitome of this trend.

Many coaches would kill to have their students hit a forehand like Rafa, but very few coaches have an understanding of what it takes develop such a weapon with a beginning player, or how to take a player who has learned a classical, "old school" forehand and rebuild it into a modern form.

Some coaches are only able to teach what they know: the classical way. Others may attempt to build a more modern swing, but get caught in the many pitfalls along the way.

Spanish pilgrimages have shed light on building forehands like Rafa.

Over the last few years, while researching a book project on Spanish tennis, I have been fortunate enough to travel annually to Spain to study with some of the best Spanish coaches, and to train and study at many of the best Spanish academies. My annual "pilgrimages," as I like to think of them, have shed much light onto the way Spanish coaches build big, Rafa-style forehands.

Using my studies in Spain a starting point, I have developed my own system for building the Spanish forehand. I have proven the system works with my high performance players at my school in New York-- as I think the video that goes with the article establishes. Now in this new series, I'm excited to share this system for the first time anywhere with Tennisplayer subscribers.

As in my previous series on the kick serve (Click Here), I will begin by detailing the technical reference points that I'm looking for when building a Spanish forehand. Then I'll move into a discussion of actual drills, exercises, variations, and developmental timelines, as well as what I believe are the common coaching pitfalls.

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Chris Lewit is a leading high-performance coach, author, and educator. He is the author of the best-selling book, The Secrets of Spanish Tennis, and a new technique book, Winning Pretty, which will be published by New Chapter Press in paperback in 2025. Secrets of Spanish Tennis, Second Edition will be published in September 2024, also by New Chapter Press. He is also a contributing editor for magazine and a long-time member of the USPTA and PTR. As an educator, he has presented at several large conferences including the PTR International Tennis Symposium. Chris is currently studying kinesiology and biomechanics and headed for graduate school in that field.

As a player, Chris Lewit played No. 1 for Cornell University and competed on the USTA and ITF pro circuits. As a coach, he has recently worked with several No. 1 junior players in the US and has trained hundreds of nationally ranked juniors. He directs a full-time academy for homeschool/online players and a high performance summer camp program, as well as high performance training for all ages and levels, all at his club in the beautiful green mountains of Manchester, Vermont. Contact Chris directly by phone/WhatsApp 914-462-2912 or

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