A forehand in pickleball is when a player hits a shot with the palm of their dominant hand facing the net. Forehands can be used for groundstrokes, volleys, and dinks. For many players, the forehand will be their best shot, as it often feels the most natural.
How do you hit a forehand in pickleball?
Right-handed players hit forehands on their right side, while left-handed players hit forehands on their left side. In each case, the player’s palm is facing the net.
Here’s how to hit a forehand:
- Start in the ready position.
- As the ball approaches, set your body up so that your left shoulder is facing the ball. Your right hand and pickleball paddle should be set up behind you on the backswing (this is reversed for lefties).
- As the ball reaches you, turn your shoulders so they are square with the ball. Step into the shot with your front foot.
- Bring your paddle through to make contact with the ball with the paddle head.
- Follow through with the shot after contact for maximum power and accuracy before returning to the ready position for the next shot.
For new players, a forehand shot is the first building block of learning the game. This is because forehands come more naturally than backhands. The terms “forehand” and “backhand” are larger categories into which fall different types of shots. Groundstrokes, dinks, drives, third-shot drops, pop-ups, and lobs all have corresponding backhand and forehand shots.
What foot do you step with when hitting a forehand in pickleball?
Step forward with your front foot when hitting a forehand groundstroke.
For right-handed players, this means stepping forward with their left foot, and vice versa for left-handed pickleball players.
The back foot plays a crucial role in setting up the body for the shot. If you watch a slow-motion video of a pickleball pro executing a forehand groundstroke, as soon as they are in position to play the ball they set their back foot behind them. This provides stability, balance, and power with which to play the pickleball shot.
How do you hold a pickleball paddle for a forehand shot?
The eastern grip is often seen as one of the most natural grips for new players. Known as the ‘shake hands’ grip, the paddle face sits parallel to your palm. This is a natural grip because it makes the paddle feel like an extension of your hand.
Another option is the western grip or ‘frying pan.’ Here, the paddle head sits perpendicular to the palm as if the paddle head were a frying pan.
Finally, you can try out the continental grip. This isn’t as good as the eastern grip for forehand shots, but it’s more flexible since it sets the paddle face up with a good angle for a backhand shot.
For most players, the most manageable forehand grip is the eastern grip.
How to Hit a Forehand Drive
The forehand drive is a type of forehand groundstroke. It’s used when the ball is low.
The forehand drive is a powerful pickleball shot, and can be a dangerous weapon in any pickleball player’s arsenal when executed correctly.
To hit a forehand drive:
- Swing the backswing up to about shoulder height behind you.
- The pickleball paddle then drops and comes through the ball in a low to high motion (this is called hitting ‘up’ on the ball).
- This adds topspin to the shot, making it rise and then dip, causing it to be harder to return.
- Despite the need for speed on a forehand drive, try to avoid over-hitting it. If you try and hit the ball too hard, you will likely lose control and either hit the net or miss the court.
When to Play the Forehand Drive
A forehand drive is executed when the ball has bounced on its way to you. It is best played from deeper in the court (closer to the baseline) to give the ball time to get up and down over the net.
Forehand drives are also the best shots to play when you are attempting to smash the ball to take advantage of an opening. If your opponent has left a gap in the court, try to hit a powerful forehand drive into that gap to get it past them.
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