There are three phases to the tennis ground stroke: the preparation phase (taking the racquet back and getting feet into position); the execution phase (bringing the racquet forward to make contact with the ball); and finally, the follow-through phase (once the ball leaves the racquet).
Many people stop the racquet at contact as they think the job is done. However, what happens after you hit the ball impacts the quality of your shot. There are three main reasons why your follow-through is important:
Continuing your stroke motion all the way through ensures that you’ve hit the ball solidly in the direction where you want it to go. This solid contact puts the most power and spin possible on your shot.
By following through, you can more accurately direct the ball to your target.
Correct follow-through can reduce injury. You have a longer distance to slow your racquet down, which reduces some of the strain on your arm.
The first obstacle on the tennis court when you hit the ball isn’t your opponent, but the tennis net. You need a low-to-high swing to ensure your ball clears the net. On your forehand and with your two-handed backhand your follow-through should be up and over your opposite shoulder. One way to get to this position is to make sure you “scratch and point.” After your shot, scratch your back with the racquet head over your shoulder and point the bottom of your tennis handle towards your opponent. Doing this will ensure a full and correct follow-through.
Another good tool is to practise the stroke in the mirror to make sure the bottom of the racquet handle is pointing back at you when you finish the shot.
Perfecting your follow-through will lead to a more consistent swing and a more dependable shot. Good luck!
Tennis coach Warren Urquhart is the owner of Cayman Sports Limited, which provides a variety of tennis classes at the Camana Bay Sports Complex and elsewhere on Grand Cayman.