Introduction: How to Hit Basic Groundstrokes in Tennis

Tennis is a sport that takes a lot of technique, repetition, and time to become a competitive player, but even the best started somewhere. These are instructions for hitting a topspin forehand and a two-handed topspin backhand.  It is important to learn the basic methods for hitting groundstrokes, so you can move on to more advanced techniques that can create more power, more spin, and more control in your game. Depending on how often you practice it can take anywhere from one month to several months to master these strokes. It will only cost about $25 to complete the instructions (not including court reservation fees for some tennis clubs). No experience with tennis is needed to follow these instructions; all you need is to want to learn.  Anyone can learn how to hit good shots in tennis that will allow you to defeat your opponents or friends. 

Supplies Needed:
Racquet (cheap ones work fine for beginners)
Tennis Balls
Athletic Clothing

Step 1: Getting Acquainted With Your Racquet

First of all you need to understand your racquet and where you want to be hitting the ball. First of all you need to learn how to hold the racquet properly.  Look at the first diagram where the different grips are labeled from 1 to 8 according to where you hold the racquet.    Take a sharpie and label number one on the top surface of the racquet when the racquet face is perpendicular to the ground.  Then write down the rest of the numbers clock-wise as they are shown in the diagram.  If you are left handed, number starting from the same place for one and go counter clock-wise. Once you have done this, it will look like the second picture.  To determine how to hold your racquet, look at the area just below your index finger on your hand.  This area will be where you want to contact the racquet on the corresponding number for your forehand and backhand.  

Step 2: Sweet Spot

There is also a sweet spot where you want to contact the ball on he strings.  It is just below the middle of the string bed.  The sweet spot is pictured above.
Pro Tip: After you are comfortable with your wing, you may not be hitting he ball cleanly still. To get better at this and to stop framing the ball (hitting he ball with part of your racquet frame and not the strings), try practicing your swing with an unstrung racquet.  If you are swinging at the correct time, the ball will pass through.  If you are not, the ball will ricochet off the racquet frame.

Step 3: Topspin Forehand Grip

The proper grip is very important for every part of tennis. For a forehand, place the area under your index finger onto the surface of your grip labeled with a 3.  Your pinky finger should be right around the bottom of the handle.  This is called an 'eastern' forehand grip and generates medium amounts of topspin.  It is the most simple forehand grip but is still very effective at almost all levels of play. 

Step 4: Topspin Forehand Technique

To start the technique for the actual hitting motion, you will need to have your body, legs and shoulders, perpendicular to the net.  You should have your left foot (for right handed players, right foot for lefties) in front at about a 45 degree angle forward towards the direction you want to be hitting.  Bring your racquet back parallel with your shoulders a a little below waist height.  This is where you want to start the swing from. When you contact the ball, you want to have your racquet perpendicular to your body. Make sure your head stays down and your shoulders and feet stay perpendicular to the net.  It is very important that you do not look up to where you are aiming because you will not hit the ball cleanly.  After he ball has been struck, rotate your shoulders towards the net. Continue your swing motion until the racquet is over your left should (right for left handed players). These steps are all part of one fluid motion together. This full motion is shown above.

Step 5: Topspin Backhand Grip

The backhand I will be instructing is the two-handed topspin backhand.  This is the backhand of choice for many touring professionals as well as recreational players.  The proper grips for both the right and left hands must be selected.  First change your right hand to he position marked as one on your handle.  Then place the same area under the index finger of your left hand above the right hand on he handle in the position marked as five on the handle.  This is he hand positioning for the 'eastern' two-handed topspin backhand. 

Step 6: Topspin Handback Technique

To start the technique for the backhand motion, you now want to have you shoulders and feet perpendicular with the net with your right side leading (left side for lefties).  Your right foot should be angled roughly 45 degrees towards he net.  Bring the racquet to your left side with the racquet face parallel to your shoulders.  It needs to be just just below waist height. You will want to contact the ball in front of your body.  After contact is made, rotate your shoulders towards the net, and continue your swing until your racquet is over your right shoulder.  For a two-handed backhand, it is important to try o guide your swing with the left hand. Remember, this is all one fluid motion just like the forward. The full motion is pictured above.

Step 7: Go Out and Play

Get your friends or competition and go out to your local tennis courts to try out your new forehand and new backhand.  It takes a lot of time on the court to get really good at making these shots but a good foundation with these fundamentals is key to becoming a better player.

As you improve, you can change to more extreme grips such as the semi-western and western (4 and 5 respectively on your grip for forehand). There is always room to get better and no matter why you play, for recreation or for competition, you can always step your game up to that next level.