I was out hitting today with our local tennis pro, Dave Rowat and we were working on a few different things and one of the things that came up was the inside out forehand.
The lesson started as most of our lessons do. Some short hitting where we both stand at the service line and just groove the swing focusing on brushing up on the backside of the ball.
We then moved to full-court hitting.
Dave, the pro, was hitting some balls to both sides of the court just testing out my groundstrokes. I was hitting my forehand pretty well and getting pretty good depth and a good amount of topspin which was helping me to keep him back.
On my backhand side, I primarily play a two-handed backhand. I play a lot of squash though too so I have a slice one-hander that I will use.
Growing up playing tennis I never really hit a one-hander. I always hit a two-hander.
When I picked up squash later in life I got used to hitting with underspin/cut on the ball. That has crept into my tennis game. Overall I don't think it's a bad thing as it gives me options.
That being said though I do use the slice shot more than I should out of comfort. I also use the slice now more than I should when under pressure.
What Dave picked up on from the baseline was that I was splitting the court in an even half. Anything on the backhand at all I would hit as a backhand, anything on the forehand I was hitting a forehand.
It does kind of make sense except when you consider I can apply a lot more pressure when hitting forehands than I am when I hit on my backhand. That's even more true when I throw in the slice for no real reason or when under a little pressure.
One particular exchange of ground shots Dave decided to provide a little mini-lesson inside our lesson.
He waited for me to hit a weaker slice backhand shot when I didn't need to.
He proceeded to punish me hard on the backhand so that I had no choice but to defend. I was stretched out and barely got my racquet on it, and just barely got it back. Dave had come in behind his previous shot and finished the rally with a solid volley down my forehand side that I just could not cover.
That's when the subject of the inside out forehand came up.
We discussed what had happened in that past rally. We then discussed that I was able to keep him pushed back easier when hitting forehands.
Dave asked me then to focus on trying to run around balls that were slightly on my backhand side, hit those as forehands and hit those inside out to his backhand side (we're both right-handed).
One thing I like about working with Dave is that he explains why we are working on something.
We then discussed the benefits of me hitting an inside out forehand. I am getting the ball deeper and with more topspin so the ball was getting up on him more.
We discussed the disadvantage too. The disadvantage would be that I would be opening up my forehand side more.
Weighing the pro's and con's it quickly became evident that for Dave to exploit the disadvantage he had to hit a much more difficult shot ...
He had to hit an attacking backhand down the line, from the deep in the court on a ball that I had hit with a lot of topspin.
While I am sure he can do it, it's a lower percentage shot even for him, and definitely, a lower percentage shot for someone that I would regularly play.
We then worked on that for our next series of rallies and it proved to be true. Those few extra steps it took me to run around my backhand so that I could hit a forehand were proving very effective.
I was able to get the ball deeper to his backhand, with more topspin and was keeping him back and from attacking. I even got a few shorter balls that put me in a good position to come in and attack behind ...
... That's a topic for another blog post though.