Andy – The Inside-Out Forehand
I watched Andy Roddick's match today, against Xavier Mallisse. Andy has a new coach and new trainer and has lost 15 pounds. He looks fit and seems to be running well. So how should he use his new found movement? Well, of course, he will run down more balls defensively.
But the great offensive use of better footwork is to get into position to hit the inside-out forehand. Federer does it and he has a good backhand. Rafa does it and he has a great backhand. Roddick must learn to get into position to hit inside-out forehands and cut down on the total number of backhands he has to hit. He is still thinking like a slow player, and standing fairly even up, that is, he stands in the middle of the court. He needs to stand to his backhand side, and hit forehands up to 3/4 of the way to the left sideline, daring players to hit to his forehand. A player like Roddick, and maybe you, if you have a much better forehand than backhand, needs to learn to cut the total number of backhands hit by at least 1/3.
The effectiveness of hitting a true inside-out forehand is the spin on the ball. When you hit a forehand from the center of the court to the sideline on that same side, it isn't necessarily an inside-out forehand. A true inside-out forehand is hit in such a way as to create a spin that makes the ball bounce and slide away from your opponent.
Okay, I have to get a bit technical. When you hit a typical stroke, the flight and bounce curve in the direction of the follow-through. That is, a forehand usually moves (for right handed) from right to left and a backhand tend to moves from left to right. If you hit a normal forehand up the line it will curl into the court. If you are trying to run your opponent to that side, you would prefer that the ball go the other way. That is a true inside-out forehand. In order to hit a good one, you must get into position and catch the ball early and up high, swinging your racquet like you are waving good-bye. The racket on follow through will pass in front of your face, or over your head. The motion of the racket face is in an arc from waist high on the backswing to head high on the follow through.
This will impart a spin that make the ball skid and slide away from your opponent, staying very low. If you can replace some of your backhands with vicious inside-out forehands, you are ready for the next level. You have to be willing to move more than you are used to, but the rewards are enormous,