Tennis Forehand I 5 Steps To Hit A Perfect Forehand


How would you like to learn a five-step formula to hit a perfect forehand like a professional tennis player? 

In today’s article, I will share a comprehensive breakdown on Marin Cilic’s tennis forehand. This is an accomplished tennis player, and he has got an amazing forehand technique, smooth as silk.  

I am absolutely passionate about helping you accelerate your results and fast track you with these simple concepts. Hence, you can take them out on the court the next time you play.  

Let’s go ahead and review in detail the five steps that have helped Cilic achieve forehand success throughout his career. These same essential concepts will help you to get more topspin on your forehand as well.

Get Into A Great Ready Position

Tennis Forehand Technique


First of all, it is important to focus on the ready position for hitting a perfect forehand. A lot of coaches will talk about getting the arms way out in front and having the racket on edge. For me, that is a big no, no. When Cilic is preparing, his arms are bent, by the side of his body, and his racket head is tilted. They are not pushed out in front like a lot of coaches are teaching players.

The reason being is that he is holding a semi western forehand grip. In fact, when you hold a semi western grip on the forehand, it is going to naturally tilt. Moreover, Cilic arms are relaxed and bent by the side and his racket is tilted. This shows relaxation before he begins his swing, which is one of the cornerstones of playing effortless and winning tennis.

I have seen that many players are just way too tight when they start their motion. Thus, they create unnecessary tension throughout the stroke. Focus on getting into a relaxed ready position as discussed, and you will be on your way to hit a perfect forehand.

Make a Compact First Move


The first move is the second step to develop a solid tennis forehand technique. Cilic pulls his off arm across his body, and keeps his elbow away from it on the first move. I have noticed that many club and junior players have the elbow too close to their body. Therefore, I recommend keeping the elbow away from your body, and having the racket tip up. Now there are varying degrees of how the racket tip should be positioned.

In the first move position, some players have their racket tip straight up. However, other players have the racket tip pointed towards the net like Jack Sock and Nick Kyrgios. I would say that Marin Cilic is kind of a hybrid in between. Why? Well, his racket tip is up, pointing towards the net and towards the sky.

The big key is to keep the elbow away from the body with  the off arm pulled across it. Most players do not get into this great first move position, and it is something that I am a big believer in. Let’s get into the swing backswing path of the tennis forehand.

Practice The Right Swing On Your Forehand

Tennis Forehand Swing Path


The tennis forehand swing is one of the most discussed components of the forehand technique. Many coaches talk about the lag, where the racket is well behind the hand. I love this tip and it’s an important concept, but I am not going to dig deeper into it today. Instead, I want you to focus on the swing path of your tennis forehand. 

Cilic does not really drop his racket head that far below the ball as he drives it straight through it. He has a flatter swing path on his tennis forehand and keeps his racket head pretty level most of the time. Sometimes, he might do it because his racket tip is high and up; thus, he will drop the racket head. 

I see many players who drop their racket head so far below the ball that they cannot drive through the court. Now, there is the opposite extreme, where some players do not get under the ball enough and I see that problem a lot too. Therefore, the key is to keep the racket when you want to drive it.

When the pro tennis players want to drive the ball, their racquet head is behind the ball, and does not drop well below it. Therefore, the key is to keep the racket when you want to drive it. Now, if you want to hit a higher ball, of course, you have got to get under the ball more. 

If you want to fix your forehand backswing, you can check out this free tennis lesson.

Turn Your Hand Early

Tennis Forehand Tip


I encourage you to pay attention to what the racket does after contact. Extension is critical as your arm and racket extends out towards the target. Cilic throws his hand in as he keeps the racket head facing towards the target line. I just love that, but let’s take it a step further and go over a common forehand problem.  

Players lack what I call the “hand turn”, which means that the palm of your hand turns over during contact. Therefore, it starts with the palm facing the net as you are about to make contact. Then, it turns over for it to stay facing the net. Many players are not making this motion since they are more concerned about whether their arm should be straight at contact or not. As a result, they are just simply guiding the ball. 

I tell players to think of releasing their hand before they even make contact, because they are often late with this hand turn. They do it towards the follow through position and do not get that release, which leads them to just guide their forehand. Consequently, I encourage them to focus on an early hand turn with great extension, which has really helped my players improve their tennis forehand.

Have A High Finish


The final step is the finish, one of my favourite concepts to teach on any tennis stroke. The finish is something players rarely think about when they are learning to hit the forehand. For instance, Cilic has a high finish with his hand above the shoulder.

I see a lot of players who finish down by their waist. Instead, I recommend finishing high to develop great fundamentals on your forehand. Additionally, I suggest holding your finish longer to improve your balance and quality of your forehand stroke. In fact, if you are behind the baseline you want to finish higher. On the other hand, if you move into the court, sure, you can turn your hand and finish lower.

That is a wrap on the five-step formula to hit a perfect forehand. Let’s review: first, get into a relaxed ready position. Second, make a strong first move with the racket tip up. Third, keep the racket head behind the ball during your swing. Fourth, turn your hand early. Fifth, have a high finish. If you integrate those five steps, you’re going to absolutely transform your tennis forehand. In fact, you can get started by practicing this simple drill !


By Jeff Salzenstein, Founder Tennis Evolution

Jeff is a former top 100 ATP player and USTA high performance coach committed to helping players and coaches all over the world improve.

P.S. Want to take your topspin forehand to the next level? Discover the 3 deadly myths that could be killing your tennis forehand potential, click here to get instant access.


Submit a Comment

Recent Post