Now we shall have a look at some of the most common errors.




1. The player executes the back-swing by first taking his elbow back, and then the racket. See the video clip here to get a better idea of how this error is committed.




This could cause a number of problems. First of all, the player’s back-swing will be slow and he will not have time to feel the racket’s position before hitting the ball. The back-swing may be slow to the point of not being able to respond with any accuracy to a fast shot by the opponent. A slow back-swing would also hamper co-ordination and make the player generally slow, even in his court movement and retrieving ability.




Taking the elbow back instead of the racket head, would  also  make it  very  difficult  to use the wrist well and keep the racket face open.             The photos  illustrate how the racket would consequently arrive on top  of  the  ball with the racket  face closed. 

The natural development would be an incorrect impact and lack of racket speed. See the video clip again by clicking here.


The racket head is consequently not whipped through and does not gather speed.

The racket cannot be seen from this viewpoint, but the racket face is closed as can be deducted by looking at the player's arm.






All the coach or player has to do is insist on using the wrist to take the racket head quickly behind the shoulder before taking the arm back to complete the back-swing. Click here.






2. The player starts the back-swing well, but then takes his racket back too high and raises the elbow excessively.







This may be fine for expert players, but not for beginners. This may easily cause over-slicing of the ball and loss of power if the starting position is that seen in the photo furthest to the right.    ( see the error in video).


If the player loses control of the elbow just before hitting the ball, he may ruin the timing of the shot and bring in the racket head too late, thus sending the ball towards the sidewall. This is demonstrated in this video clip. This mistake of raising the elbow even higher at the last moment is due to over eagerness to hit the ball harder.


Another consequence could be that of bringing the arm forward with the forearm turned downwards, hence, hitting the ball with slight top-spin instead of slice. View clip here.








All the coach has to do is make the player take a shorter back-swing, ask him not to look for power, but instead, feel the position of the elbow throughout the whole movement.






3. The player extends his arm completely before hitting the ball. View this error in video form. Note how in the video clip the player's arm is already extended before swinging at the ball.






The player starts fairly well, but then…


..extends his arm before the swing.




Such a defect would cause grave consequences. The player’s shots will have limited speed, even when he puts in all his strength. There will also be a lack of control and very poor volleying ability when the ball is above shoulder height. The player’s swing will also take up too much space, and getting deep shots out of the back corners would be problematic.











This error is quite common and is often difficult to correct. The first step to take is to emphasise the importance of holding the arm still, with the elbow bent, for half a second before swinging at the ball. This may work, but that would depend on the player's will to learn and ability to concentrate hard. The coach should therefore, try this exercise. The player is instructed to stay in the position seen in the photo above left.  The trunk is leaning towards the racket side, while the elbow is bent and placed in front of the player’s abdomen. From that position, he must hit the ball very gently by extending his arm and using the wrist. The feed must be accurate and the player must stand very far from the point of impact.


See this corrective exercise in video form. When the player gets this action right, he should take his racket slightly further back, as seen in the photo (below left). Upon feeling comfortable, he should be instructed to take the racket further still, as seen in the photo (below right). Having successfully accomplished that, he should continue to try the correct technique, as explained above.







Another method to solve this defect would be to make the player simulate a tennis serve. Obviously, this works best with players who have played or watched tennis. The video clip demonstrates the various stages. The player starts off by simulating the tennis serve. He should then imagine serving a lower ball, further away from his body. He then finally uses the same arm action to hit a forehand shot. This method often attains incredible results.  play video




4. The player places his left arm forward.




This error impedes rotation, resulting in loss of power, a short follow-through, and more effort to return to the T.








The player must make every effort to push his left elbow backwards. As he hits the ball, he should also pull his left shoulder backwards, allowing the racket arm to come through.




5. The player keeps his "racket shoulder"  (right shoulder)  high as he hits the ball.




This error too, impedes rotation and will almost definitely cause the racket face to remain closed. Reaching for a low distant ball becomes very difficult, and in doing so, the player would lose his balance. Loss of balance would lead to very poor court coverage. The section covering court movement, explains this situation very clearly.








The player should be asked to start off from the position shown in the photo (below left). Note how the right shoulder is already low, and the player is leaning to that side. The player should then be instructed to hit the ball only with the use of the arm and wrist, without any rotation. As seen in the following two photos.




6. The player positions himself too close to the ball.


Standing too close to the ball forces the player to “shorten” the arm, and ruin his technique. His shots would lack power, and he would eventually move more on court. He would also allow too much room for his opponent by having to evacuate the T even for shots around the centre of the court. Standing too close to the ball and hitting it with a bent arm, would also mean banging the racket very often against the walls. Shots very close to the sidewall would be impossible.




The coach should hold the ball, and ask the player to position himself and take a slow swing, bringing the racket against the ball. The whole procedure is explained below for the same error on the backhand side. Click here to go there.



7. The player moves his head backwards as he hits the ball.


Moving the head backward may be due to a position that is too close to the ball, or too much urgency in returning to the T. Such an error would alter the racket’s path and result in very poor shot quality. The ball will almost always follow the player and pass close to the T. See this error in video action. Here, the mistake is exaggerated to clarify how leaning backwards would affect the shot. However, even a slight tendency to incline the upper body in the wrong direction would ruin the shot.




The coach must explain the grave consequences of this error. He should then ask the player to finish the follow-through and remain in that position while perfectly maintaining his balance, until his straight drive touches the back wall. Any loss of balance would identify a technical error. The player must be made to understand that the end of the follow-through is his link to the T. Any attempt to move the upper body towards the T before completion of the follow-through, would render the shot inaccurate. This error becomes more serious and entails greater disadvantages when the player has to move from corner to corner during a game. You will find detailed explanations in the section on court movement, where you may look at the headings concerning the forehand from the front and back corners, retrieving the power drive, and the cross-court.



8. The player places his foot forward too early.


Beginners may find that in doing so; they often misjudge their distance from the ball.




A good exercise would be to make the foot touch the floor in exact synchrony with the ball’s bounce.


9. The player crosses his legs.


This error is mostly due to fear of letting the ball go past, and not having enough time to make the shot. This would lead to poor balance and a short follow-through. Hence, scarce speed and control.




The half court line should be used as a guide for the player to place his foot, as seen in the photo. The coach must make the ball bounce around one metre before this line.


The point of impact is only a few inches beyond the line or player's left foot.




10. The player hits the ball too early and sends it towards the middle of the court.


This error too, is mostly due to fear of not making the shot in time.




The coach must explain that the ball loses most of its speed after the bounce, and that in any case, learning proper technique is the objective rather than being able to hit the ball every time. He must also demonstrate that the shot would still be easy if impact is slightly delayed.


11. The player goes down on one leg.


Many players and coaches do not realise the importance of bending the back leg (or trailing leg) before going into position to hit the ball. Bending only the knee of the front leg would not promote ideal balance and limits rotation or the twisting of the upper body, especially on the follow-through.

The photo to the right shows the player entering into position with the right knee extended. This move is the principle cause of the problem.





The player should be taught to bend his right leg before placing his left foot forward. (photo right) He should try to bring his hips close to the ground before stepping forward. More detailed information can be found in the section on movement.



12. The player pushes with his legs while hitting the ball. See this error in video form.


Beginners, who are unable to use their arm well, revert to this action, believing that they could hit the ball harder this way. In reality, their shots remain weak. This error causes them to lose balance and take a further step after each shot. This further step leaves them against the walls and into the corners. Pushing with the legs while hitting the ball causes loss of racket speed, greater effort to hit the ball, wasted energy in court movement, and inability to return promptly to the T.




The player must understand that the objective is to send the ball to the backcourt with the least possible effort. Again, he is advised to lower his racket shoulder and use the arm smoothly. After each shot the player must remain in equilibrium for at least 2 seconds.