5 Minutes with Nick: Inside-Out Forehand
Five steps to perfecting the most devastating weapon in tennis.
1. Hitting an inside-out forehand is one of the best chances you’ll have to hit either a winner, a forcing shot or a strong approach shot. It can’t be an occasional shot—the inside-out forehand has to be a staple, even the shot you want to hit most often. The first thing you have to do is get a read on where the incoming ball is headed, so that you can move into position to hit an inside-out forehand. If you watch the best players in the game, you’ll see that they stand to the left or right of center, toward the backhand side of the court. They’re giving themselves a better chance to maneuver into position with a lot of open court in the opposite direction.
2. As you turn your shoulders, the racquet will go back at the same time. Move farther to the left or right of the ball (depending on whether you’re a righty or a lefty) than you need to. This will allow you to step back into the ball while you hit, rather than falling to the side during your shot.
3. As soon as you decide to hit an inside-out forehand, immediately bring your racquet back and move. You can’t prepare too early for this shot. Since you’ll often be running around a natural backhand, you’ll have more distance to travel than normal, but in the same amount of time. There’s no time to waste.
4. Even before you hit a strong inside-out forehand, you know you’ll move in tight to the net following the path of the ball. Yes, you’ll be giving your opponent an opportunity to lob, but the perfect lob is a difficult shot under normal circumstances, especially outdoors off of an offensive forehand. You must overcome the fear of moving into your backhand side so that you can control play.
5. The worst thing you can do on an inside-out forehand is make contact too close to your body. If you’re jammed, you’ll lose power and have trouble hitting the ball on an inside-out path. Keep the ball a comfortable distance from your body and make sure your racquet and arm are not tucked in close.
Nick Bollettieri has trained many players, including 10 who reached the world No. 1 ranking.
Photo by AP
Originally published in the June 2011 issue of TENNIS.