Attack short balls with force while staying in position.
If you’re attacking a short ball to your right (or to your left if you’re left handed), there’s a great way to both hit a forceful inside-out approach shot and keep your momentum going forward toward the net, rather than toward the doubles alley, which will leave you out of position. It’s called the front-foot hop, and here’s how it works. ...
1. Track the ball, get into position, and start with your weight on your back foot. This shot requires a traditional neutral-stance forehand, rather than the now-commonplace open-stance forehand. Since you’ll be stepping in and landing on your front foot before you hit, be sure to keep the ball well out in front of you.
2. Step into the shot and rotate your shoulders and hips as you would on an open-stance forehand. Your shoulders should be level and your center of gravity should remain over your midsection. Don’t lunge forward.
3. As you make contact, you’ll naturally push off your front foot and lift off the ground. Be sure to have a long swing out toward your target. Don’t pull off the ball too early.
4. To complete the hop step, land on your front foot. This move allows you to maintain excellent balance and keeps you from going too far to your right. Another benefit: It won’t slow you down as you try to position yourself at the net.
Pat Dougherty is a stroke and movement specialist at the IMG Bollettieri Tennis Academy.