Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Forehand

Introducing the Forehand

This session introduces new players to the first basic stroke of pickleball, the Forehand. The forehand is the most basic stroke and easy to learn because you are taking the ball on the bounce on your paddle or strong side.

The Grip
Tell players the easiest way to get the right grip is to shake hands with the paddle. Show them how to line up the grip of their paddle with the V created by the thumb and index finger of their paddle hand and straight up the edge of the paddle. Have players check each others grips to see if they are doing it right.

recommend that players maintain the same grip for both forehand and backhand shots. Some tennis players like to rotate the grip for the backhand but that comes with experience and should not be tried by novice players.

Forehand Ready Position

Have players start by lining up in a ready position with feet shoulder width apart and facing the net. Encourage players to stay low with knees slightly bent and with paddle out in front of them at the middle of their body. They are now ready for a shot either to the forehand or backhand. See the positioning of the lady on the right.

As soon as your eyes sense the ball is coming to the forehand immediately bring the the paddle back and shift your weight to the back foot. The paddle should be at waist height or slightly lower. Your left shoulder should be line up with your target. Keep your eye on the ball at all times. Make a noise to remind yourself to stay focused. Beginning players often look up too soon and either miss the ball completely or hit it into the net. "Eyes on the ball until contact and follow through." This can take more time, practise, and concentration for players who have not played other racquet sports or sports such as golf, baseball or hockey. It is the same eye hand coordination needed for many sports.

In this picture, Tony has just complete a forehand shot. Notice his eyes are still on the ball, not looking up. His paddle is just slightly above his waist at the completion of the stroke. His weight is on the front foot because his back toe is just touching the court. His padde face is straight or square to the ball so that it is travelling in a straight line, not up in the air or down into the net. Tony's knees are bend to get down low to the ball. Patent this form for a great forehand stroke.

Try to make contact with the ball just about the middle of your body with your paddle face straight or parallel. If you are constantly hitting the ball high in the air you are probably hitting the ball with an open paddle face. If you are hitting the ball into the net all the time you are hitting the ball with a closed paddle face.

Open face paddle -face pointing up

Closed faced - face pointing down

If you are missing the ball completely, you are taking your eye off the ball. When any of these things happen, stop and think about what you just did and why it happened so that you can correct immediately.

As the paddle comes forward, your weight comes forward as well. Follow straight through to the target. Do not bring the paddle up too high at the end but just below the shoulder.

Remember the paddle is an extension of your arm. Keep your wrist out of the action. The less wrist action the straighter the ball will go.

Beginning players can practice their forehand with a partner or even hitting against a wall or back board at a tennis court. You might one to put a piece of painters' tape on the wall at a height of 34" - 36" to show you the right height to aim above.

To review the forehand watch Coach Mo at

A video demonstrating the serve, ready position, forehand and backhand can be found on the USAPA website at
Teaching High School Students

Basic Strokes to review the forehand stroke.

Review Quiz – (optional)
1. When you return the ball on the bounce from your paddle side, you have hit a ….
2. To get the right grip on your paddle, you just need to shake
3. When you stand at the baseline with your paddle in front of you with your knees bent slightly, you are said to be in the …………….
4. On a serve you must make contact below your ....................................
5. In hitting a solid forehand, your body weight should shift back and then ...................
6. A forehand in Pickleball is similar to a golf ........................
7. As soon as you finish your forehand shot, you immediately go back to the ........... position.
8. When you complete a forehand stroke the paddle should be above your left shoulder, or waist high?
9. The face of the paddle should be .................. to the ground on a good forehand stroke.
10. You should hit a forehand with your full arm or with total wrist action?

1. Forehand 2. hands 3. Ready position 4. waist 5. forward
6 swing 7. ready 8. waist high 9. parallel 10. full arm

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