Mastering the tennis forehand is a very important part of improving as a tennis player.
The forehand is a very important shot that some of the best players of all time have been able to center their games around.
One of the main elements that makes both of their forehands so impactful is their variety.
They can both generate a lot of power and spin, create acute angles and hit winners from anywhere on the court.
But, one of the things that sets Nadal’s forehand in particular apart from the rest is his use of the ‘buggy whip’ forehand. Now, this isn’t something we’ve made up…
This is an actual term used to describe a heavy topspin forehand that many players have used over the years, but Nadal has moulded to create one of the most lethal forehands of all time.
It is a major reason why he can generate such monster topsin on the ball, pushing his opponents back and dominating them from the back of the court.
So, is this something you too can replicate and implement into your game? Hell yeah!
What Exactly is the Buggy Whip Forehand?
Before we explain how to hit the buggy whip forehand and when to use it, let’s make sure we fully understand what it actually is!
Effectively, the buggy whip forehand is a variation on the ‘traditional’ forehand technique that is used to impart additional topspin and add more height to the ball.
It is used in a couple of different situations and effectively sees you finish the racket up above your head on the same side of the body that you started your forehand swing on.
This is different to what many coaches will teach you when you first start learning how to hit a forehand, as you will be told to extend through the ball and finish over your opposite shoulder.
Now, this is definitely the preferred technique for most situations when you have plenty of time to prepare, set up and hit through the ball.
This is because it generates the most amount of power and is arguably the most consistent way to hit your forehand.
However, there is certainly a time and a place to hit the buggy whip forehand and it can be a very effective weapon to have in your arsenal.
When Should You Use It?
The buggy whip forehand is typically used in three situations. These are when you are off balance and being pushed back, are hitting a very low ball or are hitting a ball on the run.
Aside from these situations, you would be best served to hit a traditional forehand (where your racket finishes across your opposite shoulder or arm), as this is best to maximise power.
However, when you are off balance and being pushed back, the buggy whip forehand can serve you very well indeed.
In this situation, you may have not been able to get your body behind the ball in enough time, may be recovering from a previous shot or the ball may have taken an unexpectedly high bounce.
In this case, hitting the buggy whip forehand with its more vertical swing path is a great way to still hit the ball with power, even when you are out of position.
In an ideal world, you would hit the ball at around waist height for the most comfortable and powerful strike possible.
However, if the ball has jumped up higher and you still want to hit with power, playing the buggy whip forehand means you can still get ample racket head speed as the racket is able to accelerate through the ball and has room to finish over your head.
Similarly, if your opponent is hitting a heavy shot (be it a groundstroke or a kick serve) and pushing you back, the buggy whip forehand could be your get out of jail free card.
In this situation, you are likely to be moving back behind the baseline and therefore your bodyweight will be shifting away from the court.
Therefore, the only real way to generate any sort of power is to use the buggy whip forehand to swing freely and accelerate through the ball.
Also, if you are hitting a very low ball the buggy whip forehand can give you that additional whip and power you need to produce a powerful and spinny shot, even from a tough position.
In this case, you’ll want to predominantly use the wrist and start the racker lower than in your normal takeback, as you’ll effectively be looking to flick the racket under the ball, brush up the back of it and produce a reasonably powerful shot from a low ball.
Finally, when you are stretching to hit a ball whilst on the run, the buggy whip forehand can really help turn the tables in your favour.
This is a great weapon to use for passing shots, as you can still shock your opponent with stunning power or curl the ball into the court with spin, despite being in a less than ideal court position!
When on the run, you may be hitting the buggy whip forehand as a passing shot or as a recovery shot to try and neutralise the point.
When using it in defense, simply try to get the ball high and focus on hitting with more spin than power.
When you’re defending, it can actually be advantageous to hit the ball higher and slower, as this gives you more time to recover and get in position to defend the next shot.
However, if you are hitting a passing shot on the run and using the buggy whip forehand there are two major things to consider.
The first is hitting the ball hard for a passing shot winner.
Here, you will probably be hitting the ball down the line as this is the easiest to control with the wrist, although if you have slightly more time you may be able to steer the ball cross court.
The aim here is to thread the ball down the line, past your opponent at the net.
So, aim to hit the ball hard and accurately in the gap between your opponent and the sideline.
Alternatively, you may want to hit the buggy whip forehand to produce a spinny, dipping passing shot that may then produce an easy put away.
Here, try to hit as much spin on the ball as possible but keep it low over the net. This will make it very difficult for your opponent to volley the ball as it will be low and heavy.
They will likely volley the ball high up in the air, leaving you an easy put away to finish the point.
How to Hit the Buggy Whip Forehand
So, we have discussed the situations in which you will likely hit the buggy whip forehand, but how exactly do you execute hitting it?
Well, let’s find out!
The first thing to remember when hitting the buggy whip forehand is that you are trying to use the momentum of your arm to produce power.
Since you can’t really use your legs or torso as much compared to hitting a traditional forehand, you’ll be relying on the natural power from your arm and shoulder to do the work.
With that being said, it is important to make sure you still brush up the back of the ball to some extent as you hit, so you can still produce topspin and get the ball dipping back into court.
In terms of setting up for this shot, you want to focus on accelerating as fast as you can through the ball (more through the ball and forwards if you’re aiming for power, more brushing the ball and upwards if you’re aiming for spin).
Regardless of which type of shot you are going for, you want to aim to start your racket in its normal high position, swing up at the ball, past your opposite ear, and finish over your playing shoulder.
So for a right hander, you’ll want to get the racket swinging up over your head, past your left ear and then finishing over your right shoulder again.
The opposite is true for left handers.
This technique applies for hitting the buggy whip forehand in all situations.
In some cases you may need to vary the technique slightly depending on how much time and space you have, but in general you should aim to get the racket swinging up above and around your head, then finish over your hitting shoulder.
Overall, the buggy whip forehand is a great tool to have in your racket bag as it adds a great deal of variation to your forehand stroke.
It is a great weapon that can help you generate additional power and spin even when you are in tricky or defensive situations, meaning you can turn a point on its head and shock your opponent.
There are a few different situations in which you can use the buggy whip forehand, but regardless of which one you are in, you should follow the same basic technique to get the best results.
We hope it serves you well on court!