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Improve your Forehand | Episode 1| Attacking the Ball

Controlled Aggression

No risk, no rewards. Being aggressive with certain shots provides the opportunity to finish off points quicker and keep your opponent grounded. For many players, the forehand stroke is their weapon of choice. However, it doesn't pay to be aggressive on every shot. Without a calculated approach, attacking wildly can lead to poor shot selection and unwanted unforced errors.

ASICS Coach Thomas Johannson, an Australian Open singles champion, helps distinguish between two main types of tennis forehand techniques. The defensive rally option and flatter attacking swing. Controlled aggression is simply the ability to know when to use them. Effectively implementing this style allows you to control the pace of play and in control of the rally.

So, under what circumstances should you be hitting these forehands? Thomas lays out two distinct scenarios. When the opponent hits a deep baseline shot, you should be looking to defend with a higher topspin forehand with more shape. Height is the emphasis in this situation. In comparison, shorter returns from the opponent require a flatter and more aggressive forehand. The key to generating power is by stepping into the shot.

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Improve your Forehand | Episode 2 | Adapting to Your Opponent

Reading Your Opponent

As you progress through your tennis journey, you'll face a variety of opponents. Ranging from the tireless grinders to the big shot makers. Reading your opponent is more than just reacting to their shots but also finding ways to defeat them.

On the one hand, you have your opponent that lives far beyond the baseline. These are the players that will constantly hound down every one of your shots without failure. The solution? Thomas Johannson's spinny connection shot. This type of forehand requires a shorter contact on the tennis racquet and more spin. Angling the ball around the tennis court draws them away from their comfort zone and closer forward.

At the end of the spectrum, you have your explosive and powerful strikers. They will constantly land near the baseline. One slight miscalculation, and you'll be facing a barrage of booming groundstrokes. To counter these playstyles, Thomas Johansson recommends a heavy connection shot. With these shots, he advises to lean forward and have extended contact with the ball. Producing a heavy topspin shot pushes the opponent away from their familiar court position.

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Improve your Forehand | Episode 3 | Quick Decision-Making

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

Hitting the right forehand at the right time requires mental gymnastics. It's inevitable. You have to anticipate the ball's trajectory, observe the court positioning of your opponent, and then quickly decide how to execute the next shot. All within a split-second. During these moments, your focus and attention need to be at their peak performance.

neuro-cognitive physiotherapist and high-performance coach Bram Swinnen partly contribute a faster reaction time to the visual working memory. Communication between the brain and eyes allows the storage and management of visual information. As a result, players can quickly and precisely read the game situation. For example, if you see your opponent approaching the net, a fast reaction time will ensure a winning shot is executed soundly (e.g., lob, passing shot, etc.)

Typically, this skill usually takes time to develop over the years through match experience. However, with Bram's training and exercises, ASICS Tennis Academy has developed an innovative Cognitive Training program dedicated to improving your decision-making. Complex multitasking challenges are set during forehand practice to challenge the parts of the brain involved in this process. Examples can include using colored targets, numbers, and counting to overwhelm the system. The intended purpose is to build resilience and an agile mindset.

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