The Groundstroke Hitting Track – To Nadal or Not to Nadal

The Groundstroke Hitting Track – To Nadal or Not to Nadal



Rafael Nadal may look great on TV, but his stroke doesn’t work for everyone. Take a look at this simple way to execute a solid, high percentage groundstroke. Focus on your hitting track and see the results. Feel free to leave questions in the comment section!

Blair DiSesa Henley is a USPTA Certified (P1) tennis professional with over ten years of teaching experience. She is also a writer for Tennis Now.

For more easy to follow groundstroke tips, check out these videos:



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37 Comments

  1. The logic behind this video that Blair employs is quite baffling to say the very least. I honestly think that Blair is telling her audience bullshit on purpose. The logic being that the correct, sound, stable striking technique that the worlds best players use is no good for the aspiring learner & beginner because it's too hard to conceptualise & then do is downright bogus, intentionally misleading, & on the verge of being narcissistic.

    When you try to learn a new skill, you practise exactly what you see being done by the master which whom is demonstrating the skill. If that means slowing some footage down to see exactly what is happening, then so be it. If that means questioning the master about what they say, so be it. Most importantly, if that means practising it one-hundred thousand times before getting that hang of it, so be it.

    Trying to accelerate the learning process that a student can cope with by relaying thought concepts & ideas that have no relevance to the task at all is a bit like smashing your head against a brick wall in order to get the blocked ear wax out of your ear. Living in fairyland for the sake of not wanting to do the study, the study being focusing on what the difference is between the beginner & the gun player is only wasting the students time by essentially scamming them out of knowledge, & pocket, & only cultivates a bad reputation for the instructor. At best.

    What Blair is saying to you, in this video, is push the ball. Push the ball. You don't have to take my word for it though. No, you can prove this to yourself right now, in front of your monitor. Stand up, grab your racket, find a space to swing it. First, swing it down a "hitting track". Then just swing it. Now… what's better…? What feels more ergonomically sound, easier to do? What feels faster?

    Here is a clue to help explain what you are experiencing.

    Clue: The ball never allows you to swing the head of the racket down a "hitting track". Never.
    You can't swing something in a straight line. That's not what a swing is.

    Whether Blair truly believes what she is saying or not… I don't honestly know. But the way Blair hits the ball herself & the way she then describes how she does it, are different. Ladies & gentlemen. It is not that hard to time the ball. You don't need some false sense of security "hitting track".

    0:34. That's how it's done. If I (Will) can do it that way, you definitely can too.

  2. Quality coaching. I wonder what state Blair Henley coaches out of?

    I would hope she has many students learning her techniques – perhaps some that will become international competitors.

    I coach in Illinois – with the USTA's Midwest District.

  3. Hi Blair, I think that your teaching philosophy is JUST RIGHT ON to what 99% of population needed. At least for me, I never aim myself to become Federer or Nadal. It would great if you could re-make this video in SUPER SLOW motion? Thanks  

  4. Great video.
    Your racquet move has to be linear before and after ball contact for you to have a good control of the ball. On top of that, a linear move will allow you to move your body forward rather than spinning around.
    Don't forget that contact has to take place close to the body with a bent (cocked) wrist otherwise you will never manage to pull off a linear trajectory.
    Have fun 🙂

  5. Hi Blair — from your examples strokes it looks like you swing a bit "inside out" on your forehand.  Is this correct?  So, it looks like your swing is more in line with the target line but that it still cross the target line from inside out and then you cross back over the target line when you finish your swing.  Thanks.

  6. This is amazing. I've started playing again after about 25 yrs, and for some reason my 1bh feels better than my fh. This idea had really helped. I think I was being pulled in the buggy whip direction by what I've been seeing, and I had lost track of the classic forehand swing. This swing, combined with making sure to push off that back foot, feels so good. 
    Also, really pushing off the back foot instantly reminds me why an open stance, when you don't' have to, is inferior.
    Love your videos, they remind the 99% why the fundamentals have to be learned, they are not intuitive, and are by so incredibly important.

  7. Some writers here "know better" than Blair about how the top players hit their shots. But super high speed video at more than 220 frames per second demonstrates that the swing angle through the contact zone for most of the top pros rises at close to 18 degrees, just as what she demonstrates here. The racket crosses their body after rising through the contact point and extending toward the target. This way they generate good velocity and the spin to bring the ball down.

  8. well blair – I've been playing 40+ yrs so I grew up playing and believing in 'old school' tennis like you advocate, but I've become a believer in rotational vs linear acceleration – especially on the FH.

    clearly almost every male player swings across their body on 90% of their FHs and they are whacking the hell out of the ball and are consistent as heck and they are doing it this way because it's more efficient and easier to recover to the next shot. now most guys will still step into the ball if they are moving forward towards the net – or if they are trying to put some extra weight on their shots, but they are still generating most of their force across their body and not towards the opposite fence – at least on the FH. They are doing it this way because it's more efficient, easier to replicate and easier to recover to the next shot. It took we awhile to come around, but the light bulb went on this past yr and it's helped my FH become more consistent.

    BTW – Roger hits open stance 70-80% of the time and swings across his body even if he hits closed stance. DelPo is the one guy that hits pretty linear on his FH (even when he hits open stance) and he's got a huge FH so it can be done effectively at the highest level, but he's an exception. again – I agree – you can't/shouldn't over rotate – but the oscar wegner method definitely works for beginners and the pros.  

  9. Hi Milund – I'm sorry for the delayed response. I understand what you are saying, but I'd like to clarify. You aren't necessarily coming straight through the shot. The "straightaway" portion is the important part, but that's not to say you can't be brushing up the back of the ball as you go. The key is to have your strings moving in the direction of your target for as long as possible. Many people whip around their body so quickly that the ball has no stability or guidance.

  10. Hi! Roger Federer's stroke is simply a more advanced version of an "old-fashioned" classic stroke. That's why it's a great idea to build a foundation with the long hitting track – as a player improves, he or she can start accelerating faster with more feel. My instruction is geared toward those not aspiring to a pro career. Would I coach an exceptionally gifted child the exact same way? Probably not, but most of us are not exceptionally gifted children;)

  11. Blair Henly is fantastik! Her instructions are clear and easy to follow! Definitely has improved my game and made me realize many of the things I was doing wrong!!! Thank-You!!!!!

  12. Sorry but this makes no sense, Roger Federer swings fully around his body, sure he's on track and he's also fully whipping his racquet around his body. Why would you not teach the strokes of the best players on this earth? To say that only a small percent of people should try this is simply ridiculous, I have a 7 year old student who completely mastered this technique and he is now ahead of his peers and excelling in the boys 10's, it's time USA start teaching their youth line European way.

  13. This blondie thinks is right to write an article full of baseless speculations about a great champion as Nadal and doping. No, Mrs Blondie! Rafa's commitment to fair play is indisputable and he's past all the doping tests throughout the years. Shame on you, disrespectful nobody! She's a disgusting excuse for a human being.

  14. Also in your forehand you drop the racquet by supinating your forearm which produces very little spin. If you watch federer hitting his forehand, He rotates from the shoulder, follows a diagonal path from low to high. His body rotates through the ball and his shoulder rotates counterclockwise to uncoil and produce topspin. yes its harder to make contact with the ball but it produces more spin. The more diagonal your racquet path, the harder it is to make contact and the more spin you get.

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