The First 4 Shots are the MOST IMPORTANT SHOTS you will play in a match. Are you practicing them? So much time is spent trying to build that perfect forehand or backhand – “OUT OF CONTEXT“. When it comes to winning more points, it begins with the first 2 shots you will play. The first groundstroke option most players would like to begin the point with is a Forehand, so practicing the Return and the R1 Forehands is going to make the difference when it comes to winning. Practicing the First Strike Forehands will help you start the point with more confidence and interupt any momentum your opponent may try to create on their first 2 shots of the point. In the video, we look at the Top 7 First Strike Forehands a player will need to master at the beginning of the point. By rehearsing these Top 7 Forehands on a more regular basis, a player will become more comfortable and familiar with how to execute the Forehands with the best stances, contact moves, and movement patterns/sequences to win more points in match play..
Here’s a list of the Top 7 First Strike Forehands:
- Return (R) Forehand from the Deuce Court This is the most important Forehand to master in the First Strike phase of the point. One of the most critical Forehands to execute is when your opponent decides to hit what I have called the Outside-Run (more familiar term is ‘Wide” Serve) on the Deuce Court, you’ll need to practice this Return Forehand to neutralize their attack. Best to place this Forehand Return down to the middle of the court to counter the Serve player’s outside-run attack. You can also reverse or run your opponent if you receive a short or weaker serve.
- Return (R) Forehand from the AD Court This Forehand is 2nd on the list of most important Forehands to master within the First Strike phase of the point. If your opponent decides to hit what I have called the Inside-Run (more familiar term is “T” Serve) on the AD Court, you’ll need to practice this Return Forehand to neutralize their attack. Best to place this Forehand Return down the middle of the court towards the AD CAGE (see 4 Zones of the Backcourt) to counter the Serve player’s ability to create a sharp angle from their S1 (First Shot after the Serve).
- R1 Forehand from the Deuce Court This is typically the 3rd most important forehand to be comfortable playing in the First Strike phase of the point. The R1 is the second shot by the Return player. This R1 Forehand from Deuce Court typically happens more often than the AD Court R1 Forehand and is 3rd most important behind the Return Forehand from the AD Court. The timed and rhythmic movement sequence to this R1 Forehand after a Deuce Return of Serve is critical to master, the player will need to use a shift-split step to reverse back to the R1 Forehand.
- R1 Forehand from the AD Court Your opponent will capitalize and look to hit their S1 into the AD Court either with a Backhand Crosscourt or Inside-Out Forehand. You will need to master this R1 Forehand and the footwork associated if the S1 from the Serve Player is “floating” or “high and heavy spin”. Learning to run-around your backhand to execute this inside-out or inside-in R1 Forehand is vital to keep the momentum from your AD Return Forehand.
- S1 Forehand from the Deuce Court This Forehand after the Serve from the Deuce Court is another critical shot to master in the First Strike phase. If you decide to Serve out wide to Deuce Court (Outside-Run Serve) and your opponent returns cross-court, this Forehand is crucial to execute to reverse your opponent back to their Deuce Court or run your opponent to AD Court with this S1 Forehand. You may desire to CAGE (see 4 Zones of the Backcourt) your opponent to “jam” them and take away their time and space as they reset back towards the middle of the court from their Return of Serve.
- S1 Forehand from the AD Court Capitalizing after a short or looping return after your Serve from the AD Court is where practicing this Forehand can make a big difference to win more points when Serving from the AD Court. After your Serve, you will want to master the movement sequence to reset and run-around your backhand wing to play this S1 Forehand Reverse (Inside-Out) from the AD Court. You can also choose to play an (Inside-In) Forehand down the line to Deuce Court, what I call an S1 Forehand Run.
- S1 Forehand (Run-Around) from the Deuce Court This Forehand is slightly different from #5 on the list as you will have to move more towards the inside of the AD court to receive this Forehand. The reset after your Deuce Serve and the movement sequence to this S1 Forehand is also a big shot to master in the First Strike phase when the Return is short and/or floating back to you. You can play an S1 Forehand Run (Inside-Out) or S1 Forehand Reverse (Inside-In).
Top 7 Forehands for Left-Handed Players
- Return FH AD Court
- Return FH Deuce Court
- R1 FH Deuce Court
- R1 FH AD Court
- S1 FH AD Court
- S1 FH Deuce Court
- S1 FH Run-Around AD Court