Forehand Footwork Chapter 1

If you want to take your tennis game to the next level, try implementing the following footwork for the forehand into your style; the shuffle step, on the run, hop step approach, pivot defence, and finally, the pivot attack. These different footwork techniques for the forehand cover the whole court and can help you to be more in control of your matches. These techniques suit many different playstyles, you can also focus in on specific footwork methods to cement the playstyle you want to take up. It is difficult to demonstrate these techniques with words, so I would advise checking out our YouTube channel RCTA Online where we will upload a footwork series in the very near future. We will look at the various balls that we must react to with fast feet and how choosing the right or wrong footwork depending on the ball can result in either winning or losing the point.

The Shuffle Step

The shuffle step is a helpful footwork exercise for turning a defensive situation into an attacking one. It is most appropriate to use this technique when you are pulled out wide with an angled high pace shot. This method not only generates ferocious power but also is effective in helping you recover back to the centre of the baseline in a smooth and efficient way. Remember that you should always be making contact with the ball at or just below waist-height when using this footwork.

How do you do this footwork?

Step 1) Get to the incoming ball by sidestepping.

Step 2) Plant your feet in an open stance i.e., dominant foot's toe pointing out to the side.

Step 3) Strike the ball, but at the same time, rotate your upper body and shuffle your feet so that your non-dominant foot is where your dominant foot was and your dominant foot is out further to the side.

Step 4) Load the dominant leg and push off explosively into a cross-over step.

Step 5) Return to the centre or slightly left (for right-handed players) of the baseline with side steps.

On The Run Step

This method is great for those defensive shots where you again turn defence into attack using fast feet. You use this footwork when your opponent generates a lot of angle and subsequently, you are pulled far out wide, completely off the court. This shot is relatively high risk because you leave a lot of open court after hitting it. The recovery also leaves you vulnerable to being wrong-footed. Nevertheless, explosive footwork will help you to recover and cover the exposed court.

How do you do this footwork?

Step 1) Run to the incoming ball with your racket prepared and tracking the ball in.

Step 2) Plant your dominant foot in an open stance like the shuffle step.

Step 3) Strike the ball, rotate your upper body, and bring your non-dominant foot across and in front of your dominant. Note: After striking the ball you should land on your non-dominant leg.

Step 4) Bring your dominant leg around and push off it explosively into a cross-over step.

Step 5) Recover back to the baseline quickly by running to cover the empty court.

Hop Step Approach

The hop step approach shot is an effective way to use your footwork to put your opponent under pressure. This method allows you to carry your momentum through the shot and follow it into the net. It is most appropriately used when you are attacking a low short ball. You can expect to see a lot of weight put on your shot thanks to this explosive footwork exercise. Be sure to use a lot of racket head speed to keep the ball on the court. Always attack your opponents weakness.

How do you do this footwork?

Step 1) Identify a low short ball and track it carefully.

Step 2) Get into a closed stance i.e., your non-dominant leg should be in front of your dominant in a sideways position so that your feet are parallel to the baseline.

Step 3) Make some small adjustment side steps so that you are at an optimal distance from the ball.

Step 4) Strike the ball with a lot of racket head speed and hop off your non-dominant leg and land on non-dominant foot.

Step 5) At this point you should be close to the net so bring your dominant foot around so that your feet are now parallel with the tramline and get ready to hit a volley.

Defensive Pivot

When your opponent hits a heavy fast ball deep and central, you can use a pivot to recover from a defensive situation into a more neutral position. This footwork is perfect for those of you who want to be aggressive baseliners as it allows you to return fast balls with ease from the baseline.

How do I do this footwork?

Step 1) React to the incoming ball by quickly getting into an open stance like with the shuffle step. However, this time your dominant foot should be slightly further behind than the non-dominant.

Step 2) Put your weight on your dominant leg and prepare to swing.

Step 3) At the same time, rotate your upper body and pivot your feet so that your dominant foot is now further in front of the non-dominant foot.

Attacking Pivot

A great way of getting on top of a point is using the attacking pivot footwork. Like the hop step approach, it brings your momentum forward so it is an effective approach shot. This footwork is best suited to neutral central balls or short angled shots. You use body rotation and explosive footwork to create a massive amount of power, spin, and angle. You can really hit any type of shot with this footwork so it is a great one to have in your arsenal.

How do I do this footwork?

Step 1) Get into a position ready to hit the ball by sidestepping in a closed stance.

Step 2) Like the hop step approach, we hit this ball with a closed stance, to begin with.

Step 3) Make contact with the ball and rotate your body. You can transfer your weight from the back foot to the front for extra power.

Step 4) Bring your dominant foot around so that you are now facing the net.

Step 5) Either follow the ball into the net or return back to the baseline ready for the next shot.