You are returning a soft second serve or set up to pound a groundstroke past your opponent(s) … should you use a short or long backswing on your power forehand? I spoke with three different teaching pros … and got three different answers!
Hard vs. Soft Courts
First, the caveat: if you are playing on a fast, hard court and/or against a hard-serving, hard-hitting opponent, you need to shorten your backswing to get the ball back in play and stay in the point. But if you are playing senior tennis on a HarTru court, you have a choice.
Pro #1: Short Swing and Accelerate Through
The first opinion (the one I generally share) is that you should keep your backswing as short as possible; and ACCELERATE THROUGH the finish of the stroke. He says that the racquet starts roughly in position #1, perpendicular to the body and you stroke forward from there.
But he points out that too many players use all their acceleration at the start of that motion (to position #2) and then decelerate at the finish – and dump their forehand in the net. According to him, you should focus your acceleration from Position #2 to the end of the swing.
Pro #2: Take the Racquet Head Back and Drive the Ball
The second opinion says that you don’t get enough power with such a short swing (on both the forehand and the backhand); but you should take the racquet head back – in a loop – and drive through the ball.
He says, it is that increased racquet head speed that will give you the extra power you are looking for.
Pro #3: It Depends on the Situation
Even if you are playing against a non-hard-hitting opponent on a soft court, this pro says the score will dictate which stroke you use.
He believes that, if you are leading 40-love and you have a ball sitting up in the middle of the court, take the big swing and try for a winner. But if you are returning at ad in, you want to play with more control … and take a shorten backswing to be surer to get the ball back in play.
What do you think… long, short, or something else?
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