How to Hit Power Tennis Groundstrokes
Modern tennis features some of the most powerful and aggressive players that have ever lived. While precision and fluidity are still major components of the game, tracking the fuzzy, yellow ball has become harder than ever as players become stronger and more skilled. This guide analyzes how to hit with more power from the baseline, as it breaks down each component of the groundstroke technique.
Learning perfect swing mechanics isn’t the only way to add power to your game. Your racquet has a major impact on power, as well, and affects your stroke in the following ways:
Stiffer racquets normally generate more power. While changing racquets can cost you a lot of practice time and money, the adjustments should pay off in the long run. A stiff racquet bends less, so it doesn’t sacrifice any of the energy that you put into your swing. If your racquet bends on contact, your swing power is diluted as less energy is concentrated on the ball.
A denser string pattern provides more power as you swing. Compared to an open string pattern, the ball rebounds quicker and spends less time on your stringbed. Closely-spaced strings detract from your ability to hit with topspin, however.
Lowering your string tension also reduces the amount of time the ball spends on your stringbed, which results in more power. The ball might feel like it’s “springing” off your strings and slightly out of control, but lowering your tension to the 3- to 6-pound range increases power.
In the 2007 Australian Open, Gael Monfils hit the fastest forehand ever recorded. The blur of a ball clocked in at 120 miles per hour (193 km/hr).
Perfecting your swing technique is the most effective way to add power to your game. Here’s a step-by-step breakdown on how to swing for power:
Proper footwork is the catalyst for just about every quality tennis stroke, and power shots aren’t an exception. It’s impossible to hit with pace if you don’t move your feet because you need full racquet extension throughout you swing. If the ball sails slightly out of reach or too close to your body, your swing mechanics break down and you lose the ability to hit with power. You need to anticipate your opponent’s shot, split step, and explode towards the ball once it leaves his strings.
Similar to throwing a baseball as hard as you can, it’s tempting to use a huge windup when you swing for power. However, big backswings are not necessary for power groundstrokes. In fact, you can generate ample pace with a short backswing, so long as you maintain proper fundamentals throughout your swing. Shorter backswings increase your timing and ability to control the ball, which are necessary components for power shots.
3. Lower Body
Most of your power comes from your lower body as you prepare your stroke and swing through the ball. Here are a few groundstroke pointers:
- Coming out of your split step, pivot with your outside foot.
- Transfer your weight to your pivot foot.
- Lift the heel of your inside foot as you turn your shoulders.
Pivoting helps turn your shoulders sideways as you prepare to swing. To hit with more pace, though, you need to get a deep knee bend as take your racquet back. Bending your knees increases power as you drive through the ball.
4. Stay Loose
When swinging for power, many players tend to overswing. Power comes from a fluid and technically-sound stroke — not from wild arm action. As you swing, make sure your arm is lax. A smooth, calm stoke generates much more power than a rigid, tense swing.
Don’t grip your racquet too tightly. You need to relax your arm and stay loose throughout your swing. A tight grip is generally a sign that you’re tensing up.
5. Steady Head
One of the oldest sports adages rings true when swinging for power: Keep your eyes on the ball. Never should your focus shift away from the fuzzy, yellow ball, especially through the point of contact. As you make contact, try to keep your head as still as possible. Don’t jerk your neck or shift your gaze, no matter how hard you swing.
6. Weight Transfer & Follow-through
As you start the forward motion of your swing, transfer your weight from your back foot to your front foot. You should drive off of your outside foot as you swing, and land on your front foot as you complete your stroke — this motion causes many power baseliners to go airborne as they swing. Rotate your body as you swing, and follow through completely. Your racquet should end up above your head, so don’t cut your stroke short by bringing your racquet back into the ready position too quickly. A complete follow-through is absolutely necessary for any effective groundstroke, especially when swinging for power.
Adding power to your game takes time, but you should see drastic improvements if you follow the advice in this guide. Likewise, you should always maintain a solid workout regimen off the court, and incorporate weight lifting, resistance bands, and running exercises into your routine. Unfortunately, there’s no quick, overnight fix for increasing pace on your shots. So grab your racquet, head to the courts, and refine your technique!