Develop a whippy wrist

One of the main differences which distinguishes club and recreational players from the pros is the ability to create racket head speed through the more efficient use of their body, using multi-segments. This is known as “linkage”.

Check out the slow-motion clip of Roger Federer's famous forehand below:

Watch how Federer “lays back” his wrist just prior to contact (Picture 1 below). This relaxed wrist position is heightened and made even more effective by driving forwards into the shot, firstly with his knee, then his hip. By bringing his right shoulder forwards he is able to create a “whip” like effect with his arm and racket.

Just like a whip, the end travels fastest, but the focus is elsewhere. Many juniors and club players make the mistake of focusing on the whole arm and end of their racket to generate speed, but ultimately “stiffen-up”. This leads to feeling that they are “muscling” the ball and trying hard - but the end result hasn’t improved all that much.

The shot is only maximised when the wrist breaks AFTER contact - Picture 2 shows how the wrist is still relaxed and “laid-back” on contact.

As the racket passes through contact, the wrist and forearm break to assist both racket speed and the path of the racket - Picture 3.

Practice moving through these stages; use a mirror if it is helpful. As you practice you'll notice the control and power that comes from proper technique - take a mastered "whippy wrist" on court and enjoy the startled looks on your opponents' faces!