Observations on Forehand Loop Mechanics
By Han Xiao
The big news in life I suppose is that I’ve been training again recently. Starting to train again has given me new perspective on the importance of physical training as a foundation for everything else, and I’ve been slowly getting back into playing shape through a vigorous physical training regimen. At the same time, I’ve been re-examining my own forehand mechanics and come to some conclusions, which I hope will be useful for other players as well.
The most important thing about the forehand loop seems to be figuring out what parts of the mechanics involved are more important than others. In this regard, I feel that the forehand needs to be approached from the bottom of the body upwards. Footwork and the ability to get into position at the right body angle is the most important aspect. The best forehand players in the world have different strokes, but the excellent footwork is a constant among them. Next up is the transfer of weight from the strong side to the weak side throughout the stroke and the ability to use the legs and the waist. An important thing to note here is that it’s better to be able to transfer weight without too much motion in the upper body, so that you don’t fade to your weaker side during the stroke. If you do fade too much, you lose some control, some power, and the ability to return to neutral position. Less important aspects of the stroke are in the arm and the wrist. Although this doesn’t mean they aren’t important at all, it means that they are less important than the ability to have consistently good lower body mechanics.
In terms of the arm and wrist, the best stroke is the most natural stroke for your body type. It is better to keep the arm above table level if you can so that you can line up the shot better and return to neutral position more quickly, but any tightness will cause the shoulder to tense up. Once the shoulder tenses up, the stroke suffers greatly. One technique that is useful is to visualize the shot before hitting it, including the arc, the placement, and the spin you want to put on the ball, then putting your body into the shot the exact way you’ve visualized it. Then, having your arm follow the motion of your waist as you rotate, you make a side-armed throwing motion in the direction of the shot you’ve visualized, and follow through with the waist, the arm, and the wrist. This will cause you to have a very natural stroke. It isn’t necessary to put full power or spin on the shot at first, as the objective is to be as relaxed as possible in the upper body while still being able to have good control over the shot.
It’s not possible to describe the exact stroke or contact one should use, as there are too many factors that affect this, including your height, body type, the trajectory, speed, and spin of the incoming ball, and even the equipment you are using. However, that in itself is important to note so you don’t get stuck in a rut where you simply do a stroke rather than the objective of the stroke. It is more important when you hit a good shot to note the feeling of the contact and the way you use your body rather than the exact stroke you used, and trying to replicate that contact on other shots.
I hope that this helps some other players who struggle with their forehand technique, as it’s helped me a great deal in the past few weeks. Happy training to everyone!