October 12, 2015 - Back Foot Position on Forehand

One of the technique changes in the sport over the past few decades has been the gradual evolution of the back foot placement on the forehand from the standard position, with the right foot back (for a righty), to the feet often being parallel. This is not advisable for beginners, not until they have made the proper forehand rotation a habit. But as you learn to play faster and faster, and closer to the table, there's less time to move the foot back. This means some loss of power, but an increase in quickness – and that payoff is enough for most world-class players.

This only applies to shots taken near the table in a fast rally, where top players often take the ball at the top of the bounce or even on the rise. By keeping the feet parallel, they can execute these shots more quickly. (This is true for both hitting and looping, but these days loopers with tensor-like sponges dominate.) It's a riskier shot, taking good timing, but is often unreturnable, with the opponent often still recovering from the previous shot as yours whizzes past him.

There's an additional benefit. By keeping the feet parallel, you are forced to rotate backwards more at the hips and waist, which mostly makes up for loss of power from not having a foot back to push off from.

The question then is whether you should attempt this type of foot positioning on forehands. It depends on your level, quickness, fitness (in particular a supple waist), style of play, as well as your willingness to play riskier shots. Do you like living a little on the wild side, or playing it safe with the foot back?

Once you have reached an intermediate level, and can play forehands effectively, you can look to develop this shot. But it does take a supple waist to make up for that lack of the foot being back. If you train regularly and practice this shot properly, you'll develop that supple waist as well as the timing needed for the shot. It'll always be a somewhat risky shot, but the reward is both an often unreturnable shot, and the realization that you've just pulled off a genuine world-class shot.