stroke that I use combines the forward power action and the upward top-spin
action in one circular motion (below). The sequence begins with the ready
position. Here the stance is sideways, left hip toward the net. The blade of
the bat should be perpendicular to the floor; the handle horizontal. The
backswing begins with a slight upward movement of the wrist. This raises the
racket head so that the handle is now pointed downward.
From this position
the racket is drawn back in an upward arc so that the edge of the racket passes
close to the chin. It is the forearm, primarily, that is executing the circular
swing. It is swiveling in the elbow socket while the elbow itself is kept
tucked in, close to the right hip. The upper arm is relaxed. It just hangs from
The wrist, having
moved upward and carried the head of the racket past the chin, now begins to
cock backward as well. This means that at the full extent of the backswing the
forearm and the blade of the racket are almost at right angles. The harder the
ball is to be hit, the farther back the racket is extended. Naturally, on very
hard-hit shots, the elbow moves away from the hip.
backswing the body is pivoting left to right. When the racket reaches the limit
of the backswing, the upper semicircle of the stroke has been completed. Now
the racket begins its forward path and, since top spin is the object, the
racket must be brought down well below the point at which you will contact the
ball. In other words, there must be enough upward swinging room so that the
racket can be accelerated before it meets the ball.
swing, just as the forearm moves in a circle, so does the wrist, independently.
This means that at the bottom of the circle, just before the racket is swung up
to meet the ball, the racket head is pointed down.
A crucial mistake
of beginners, and often experts, too, is that once having cocked the racket
upward on the back-swing they leave it that way. This eliminates any chance of
getting adequate power or top spin.
At the bottom of
the circular swing, with the racket head pointed down but still cocked at an
angle, the forearm begins to accelerate rapidly upward toward the ball. At the
same time the wrist does two things: it moves smartly forward from its cocked
position (for power), and it turns briskly upward so that the surface of the
racket strikes the top back part of the ball for top spin.
The entire rhythm
of the swing must be controlled so that the maximum power is released at this
contact point. Since the wrist releases most of this power, the racket head is
"snapped" within a very small area. In the best forehand drives the
snap is so integrated that it is barely visible as an action in itself.
throughout the forward swing the body is pivoting right to left, uncoiling from
the position it reached during the backswing. Also, and this is crucial, note
that the follow-through does not take the racket across the body from right to
left as it does in tennis. The stroke is completed with a tight, tense and
abrupt halt, with the racket behind the right ear.
So far so good,
but don't underestimate your Fink. Even though your forehand drive may get
deadly, he may not let you use it. His position close to the table gives him a
time advantage, and by blocking his returns quickly to your backhand he may
prevent your best shot. This is where my Fink-beating system becomes