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Tennis Forehand Tip: Early Preparation vs. Late Preparation

Hi, it’s Nadim for Online Tennis
Instruction. Today I’m going to show you an exercise where you really can see the
difference between proper early preparation in live ball scenarios, and when the
preparation with the split step, the unit turn and the racket take back is too
late! So let’s take a look at it in real
action. Ok we’re going to look at early preparation which is properly done right
when he makes contact, I get into my split-step and then my unit turn. I’m early
prepared! Ok that’s barely it. I have no hesitation
and I have absolutely no stress when I have to hit the ball. Now let’s take a look at that in
super slow motion. I’m sure that you have heard coaches and other people say “prepare earlier” “take your racket back earlier” and in my
experience many players are very confused by these statements. Now what we want to reference our preparation to is the contact point when the other person
on the other side or the ball machine releases the ball. What happens at
that moment is we initiate our split-step, you can see I’m actually initiating
it right before he makes contact. So you will see right here he makes contact and at that time i’m in the air. Now watch my movement after I realize that the ball is coming to my
forehand. So we’re talking a split second right here. The ball is about to
leave his racket and you can already see how I am initiating a movement as I come
back down after the split-step and now the split-step is completed, you can see
I’m already preparing, my shoulders are already moving. The ball at this
point right here is passing the net and you can see my posture is
already going into the correct direction. This is what i mean by early preparation!
You want to see that you’re tracking the ball over your non-dominant arm. So the ball is traveling for quite a bit longer. I’m
still not moving my arms as you can see. I have used my unit turn but I’m still
not really using my arms which is very important to point out. Only after
the ball is about to drop, you can see that my arm is going down! I’m not really going
back much further but as the ball is rising, I have more than enough time to
just drop the racket under the ball and then have a ‘low to high’ swing path to
contact. I don’t have a very big take back. You can
see the racket is continuously on the right side of my body. Now i have no rush in making
contact with the ball. In comparison to that let’s take a look when i
exaggerate it, but it does look like this a lot of times when i watch players play.
now I still have the split-step. Although it’s a little bit shorter. I
now stop my movement and what you can see is the ball is traveling but there is
no unit turn at this point. Nothing has really happened. You can see i’m still
facing the ball with my chin over my chest, rather than my non-dominant arm/shoulder. So I’m tracking the ball in a open
position and depending on the pace of the ball now I’m at the mercy of the
ball. If I’m not prepared at this point the ball comes in fast, deep
or both…. then i will be in trouble and most
likely not be able to generate loose power, be late on the ball, not get
under the ball and over use my arm rather than my body. So you can see
the ball is about to bounce and only now I start the turn vs before I was
long gone in this position already you could
clearly see my left arm coming out. Now it all becomes an arm
movement. My shoulders are barely doing anything. It’s all an arm movement and my
swing in turn becomes much bigger and I can’t possibly generate as much power
also because you can see right here my swing path to contact from this
position out to the ball is rather linear. So making sure that when you
think of the unit turn and early preparation…. it is your body that does the talking
not your arm! So now after watching it in super slow
motion and clearly seeing the difference between proper early preparation and late
preparation. I hope you have a visual that you can
take on to the court with you next time and when your coach references “early
preparation”, “prepare early”, “you’re late”… You now have a visual that you can
actually go back to and say okay this is what my coach means when he says “You’re late on your preparation” So go out next time when you play, have fun improving and let me know how you do!

David Frank



  1. Kris Tuttle Posted on May 11, 2016 at 1:21 pm

    Excellent video. Early prep is so simple and powerful but we don't do it enough. needs to be a mental exercise before every time on court!

    BTW do you know how hot it is in southern florida during the summer? Ouch! 😉

  2. Patricio Mora Posted on May 11, 2016 at 1:50 pm

    Super clear about early prep when playing long balls… Could you explain the early prep when encountering short balls? Perhaps for a future video. Big fan of your videos!!

  3. Claudia Gonella Posted on May 11, 2016 at 1:53 pm

    Very good instruction on early preparation. I will test it out on court. Hopefully it will help me stop me from falling back on my forehand.

  4. Walter Christen Posted on May 11, 2016 at 2:00 pm

    Excellent video… better than a thousand words! 😉

  5. mayank bansal Posted on May 11, 2016 at 4:30 pm

    i like very much it is very impressive but i cant find any link here

  6. enrico ranieri Posted on May 11, 2016 at 8:24 pm

    Great video

  7. rmrib5 Posted on May 11, 2016 at 11:04 pm

    I think this is exactly my problema in my forehand now, but it is funny that I dont have this problema in my backhand

  8. Tim Puckett Posted on May 12, 2016 at 1:46 pm

    This is a great video. I know I am late on a lot of shots.

  9. Josiah Chan Posted on May 12, 2016 at 4:11 pm

    Nice video. I like your 1st move and finish. I would like to also point out that early preparation on the 1st move with a momentary pause of the racquet far to the side makes it easier to get the correct spacing.

  10. DK Ang Posted on May 12, 2016 at 8:40 pm

    Terrific demonstration of the timing. Thanks, Nadim!

  11. Schnooks Dad Posted on May 13, 2016 at 7:52 pm

    excellent clear illustration of a critical ground-stroke fundamental….pay attention to this lesson and for sure you will

    see remarkable improvement.

  12. Josh Abraham Posted on May 14, 2016 at 2:36 am

    Wow! I never understood early preparation. I always thought it was bringing the racquet back early. Whenever I did that, my shot was not good since I was just waiting for the ball and did not have good racquet-head speed. Thanks Nadim for this great tip.

  13. Orlando Orlando Posted on May 17, 2016 at 2:44 pm

    In your early preparation slow motion video, it can clearly be seeing how easy is to apply the old fashion tip of "bounce-and- hit" . It feels likely you have plenty time to hit the ball earlier. Thank you, I have struggled with the preparation for quite a while. Orlando. May 17/16.

  14. 123a Posted on May 23, 2016 at 1:24 pm

    How would you guys break this skill down to coach it to a beginner?

  15. Hung Phan Posted on May 26, 2016 at 3:18 pm

    super coach!

  16. Tom O Posted on June 2, 2016 at 4:35 pm

    Great video — would like to see a similar presentation on the one-handed backhand.

  17. Thong Nguyen Posted on June 27, 2016 at 8:59 am

    thanks a lot for this helpful lesson, I just questioned myself why I have struggled to hit the ball while my friend feel so easy to hit. I always have my unit turn since the ball hit the ground, that's why I was always late and not to accelerate the speed (I got back injury as well for the late prep). Now I got it, thanks.

  18. Kim Chaewon Posted on June 30, 2016 at 2:53 am

    Prepare early. Not only on the tennis but also in the every activity you do. – (I am talking to myself)

  19. Rae Cook Posted on July 24, 2016 at 9:13 pm

    GREAT coaching!

  20. awaedin Posted on August 27, 2016 at 6:57 pm

    nice video, could you show the two side by side?

  21. IMS Benelux Posted on September 21, 2016 at 11:16 am

    This is a great video. I often know to late, but this aspect is cleared by you, but a lot of coaches dont talk about it, only say, you are to late. So thanks help me much. Hans from the Netherlands

  22. Donny brook Posted on December 14, 2016 at 11:09 pm

    Great video! One thing that makes a difference in your prep is the pace of the on coming ball. You'll notice that slow paced balls don't require very early preparation because you have lots of time to set up but as you advance your tennis and the balls are coming at you faster you need to prep very early. I teach my students to have the racket back by the time the ball has bounced. You should be ready to initiate your forward swing as the ball bounces. It's harder than it sounds. I have advanced students who still don't prep early enough and end up hitting late.

  23. d0s25 Posted on January 11, 2017 at 1:38 am

    Wow, bravo! Early prep by body not by the arm 🙂

  24. Charles Sandomenico Posted on January 24, 2017 at 1:21 am

    Good demo and info. 👍🏽🎾😀

  25. Bruno Coutant Posted on March 26, 2017 at 7:12 am

    Great video. it nails it. 🙂

  26. charlotte Posted on March 29, 2017 at 11:58 pm

    finally some more detailed info. Great video

  27. Nick Warshaw Posted on January 8, 2018 at 2:53 pm

    florian can i get teaching in germany from you?

  28. Rudy Lara Posted on February 19, 2018 at 2:30 pm

    Excellent video. Well instructed. Always serves as a reminder to me whenever I pull up this video thats saved. Thanks guys.

  29. Chris Constable Posted on February 19, 2018 at 5:02 pm

    Great, but some coaching instruction refers to the hips aligning to the 45 degrees point and making contact at 45 degrees . Could you clarify this please.

  30. LorneBellan Posted on February 19, 2018 at 5:37 pm

    I agree that this is a fantastic video that explains a lot. I found it very useful to understand the timing of when you start to swing your racquet as the ball is dropping. Could you please create a similar video for a one handed backhand stroke please?

  31. Andrei Paduraru Posted on February 20, 2018 at 9:41 am

    Very good video. I never knew when should i start my preparation for the incoming shot. The same unit turn during the split step applies for the two handed BH right?

  32. Vlatko Marjanovic Posted on March 5, 2018 at 1:06 am

    Just talks too much.

  33. Jack Quinn Posted on May 16, 2018 at 4:01 pm

    Great visual on a basic important fundamental of preparation, this is it, lazy are the people who do not obey this teaching but keep on being late and hitting with a stiff arm typically in a jammed position. Take a note and follow suit, folks!

  34. Hi Hi Posted on October 9, 2018 at 7:28 pm

    What racquet r u using?

  35. Mandy Posted on January 7, 2019 at 4:53 pm

    So wonderfully explained 🙂 my coach pointed out this problem in me, but I never really got to see it for myself. Thank you!

  36. Lord Byron Posted on February 5, 2019 at 11:36 am

    You described my problem precisely with your “late preparation” demonstration. My motion was all upper body and wrist … no leg rotation. I never knew it. Thanks.

  37. Joan Grennan Posted on April 4, 2019 at 11:33 am

    How useful is this ; just brilliant ! It is clear also that relentless emphasis on 'take back of the racquet 'can distract people from the more fundamental aspects of the game i.e using the feet and knees and getting the max from both . Well done Nadim

  38. Chuck T. Posted on May 29, 2019 at 3:55 pm

    swing path out towards the ball is supposed to be very linear.

  39. tennisace Posted on June 18, 2019 at 2:11 am

    However you didn't take the ball early