Offset forehand technique

Popularized in the 80s, the offset forehand is characterized as the action that “turns around the backhand”. It involves using a forehand to hit a ball coming towards the backhand side by taking extra side steps or backward steps. This hit, used by both men and women, is essential to a player’s training no matter the level. It is used primarily on clay courts.


The definition of forehand preparation

Every player sets up a hit according to a game plan and all hits require preparation. While in the initial phase of the attention stance, the player must be ready to make his next move. We believe that it’s important for a player to take a balancing step between each hit. Why? In the case of an offset forehand, the balancing step allows the player to already be in motion when it comes time to take little steps to bypass the backhand. In the attention stance, heels should be off the ground, the upper body relaxed with arms and racket in front of the chest. Setting up for the hit should start as early as possible, notably once the ball leaves the opponent’s racket. It’s important that the hand on the racket handle remains relaxed so that this first step doesn’t slow down the rest of the technique.


Managing your grip while in movement

The forehand has many grips including the closed grip, semi-closed grip, continental… Each player must therefore adapt his grip to his own preferences and to the hit he wants to carry out. We recommend using the closed grip. It is recommended for beginners but also when one seeks to perfect their game. Gripping the racket, supination will be used to open the head to the sky. Moving to hit an offset forehand means taking little steps that close in around the ball in order to refuse the backhand. The grip as well as the initial preparation stance must be maintained as the player moves.

For most players, the forehand is considered the strongest and most used hit. Players must find their grip as soon as possible when setting up the technique because simultaneously positioning the racket and moving the legs already requires a fair amount of technical skill.


Positioning the body after movement

The player must already begin to position his body while moving. The set up is nearing an end. Having finished moving to meet the ball, the player will find himself in the last phase of his attention stance. For an offset forehand, preparation must happen during movement. The body will begin by pivoting to a profile angle away from the net. The head of the racket will tend upwards and the hand holding the racket will move backwards.

Feet are anchored to the ground and the offset forehand stance is established. Now, the player begins to prepare to thrust forward. Different stances like spread legs or semi-spread legs can be used depending on where one wishes to hit the ball.

But several exceptions exist where players use a lined-up stance to facilitate transferring body weight forward.


Transfer of the hips and shoulders

Before initiating the weight dispatch, we recommend achieving perfect equilibrium and being firmly anchored to the ground. After this, the free hand should come to rest next to the body, slightly forward in order to balance the movement and serve as the taking off point. We need to use the thrust of the back leg in order to bring the hip forward and create muscular tension in the upper body. Should you seek to complete an elevated forehand, the shoulder on the side holding the racket will begin to shift forward as the racket falls downward.


The hit

The hit takes place in front of the body, left shoulder pushing forward, which explains the racket’s considerable crossing effect on the ball. Fixing the upper body and head create a strong general balance. The shoulder holding the racket is thus completely passed in the hit, as is the racket that comes to a halt over the opposite shoulder.


The benefits of an offset forehand

We believe that an offset forehand should be used when:

  • The forehand is a strong point. Indeed, there’s no point in trying to reverse a backhand if you have an average forehand.
  • Time allows . You must choose the balls that allow for it. It’s impossible to reverse everything even if it’s your strong point. There must be enough time to move in order to hit a strong forehand instead of a backhand. We recommend that you improve your reaction time, anticipation abilities, and leg game using diverse exercises.
  • The ball in play is not too far from the centre. The more you move from the court to reach the ball in time for an offset forehand, the more you are taking a risk. It’s important to know how to adapt your tactic depending on how likely the hit is to succeed.
  • Your opponent frequently uses his backhand. This can be good reason for reversing a hit from time to time. This will force your opponent to change his tactic and allow you to destabilize him.


Different effects to use

When completing an offset forehand, you can play:

  • Low: A low flying ball will pass close to the net. This effect creates the most power because the ball follows a straight trajectory. It allows the player to close the point.
  • Lifted: The lift is frequently used by players of all levels. The lift is a secure effect because the ball passes high above the net. It follows a bombing trajectory. The rotation given to a lifted ball means that it falls faster than a low flying ball, for example. It is often used as an attack and for defense.
  • Sliced: The rotation movement of a sliced ball rotates both forward and backward. This type of ball tends to slow down after the rebound. One can also apply a backspin, a variation of the sliced shot.


The purpose of this type of hit

We will outline several essential aspects of using an offset forehand. We can:

  • Attack along the opposite diagonal: this reduces the risk of making an error since the target zone is bigger.
  • Attack down the line: this hit lets you take the advantage during a rally and even close the point.
  • Target the opposing backhand: the hit must be carried out high enough and crossed enough to send the opponent backward. Always keep in mind that you must gain territory and have a game plan.


In conclusion, we can say that carrying out an offset forehand requires following a series of important steps. Every detail must be observed in order to make this choice of hit effective. Coordination of the upper and lower body is imperative.

Suggested articles