A question that every novice tennis player should always ask when they progress in their training is how to hit a bullwhip in tennis. Roger Federer, arguably the greatest tennis player of all time, has utilized this forehand motion in many of his victories. Fluid and effortless, this is what describes the bullwhip (or the whipping forehand as it is more commonly known). Instead of the unadulterated power that registers grunts and screams from many tennis players around the globe, the bullwhip is a basic example of a volley return that seems to draw its energy from another source and not just pure might. Taken from the bullwhip, which was made famous from all the Indiana Jones movies out there, the whipping forehand imitates the motion of cracking the whip itself. It is a powerful return with the absence of a backswing.
To learn how to hit a bullwhip in tennis, you will need:
- A standard sized tennis racquet
- Large area for practice, preferably a tennis court
- A player partner to serve or return volleys to you
- Lots of patience and practice
- Get into position. One of the most important aspects in practicing a whipping forehand is position. You will need to position your body at a 45-degree angle facing the court. If you’re right-handed, you should be facing slightly towards the right at a 45-degree angle. If you’re left-handed, facing slightly to the left at a 45-degree angle.
- Practice wrist fluidity. With the absence of a backswing, the bullwhip forehand relies most of its power in the wrist movement and the fluidity in handling the racquet. The power does not lie in the backswing or in the elbows; it relies on how efficient the wrist movement is when trying to hit the bullwhip in tennis.
- Getting ready to execute. In a ready position with the racquet in front of you, prepare for the approach of the ball. When the ball does get to your position, instantly pull your hips into a figure eight (drawing an imaginary number eight using the hips). As you do this, allow your racquet arm to curve as if you’re drawing a figure eight from the ready position.
- Hitting the ball in middle of the figure eight. To hit a bullwhip in tennis, both your hips and your racquet hand will be drawing imaginary figure eights. As you pull your hips around the corner through and through, your racquet hand should also already be halfway the imaginary figure eight that it is doing. It is at this point that it should make contact with the ball. Your arm should be stretched out at this point reaching the apex of the figure eight and the racquet head should be making contact with the ball and lays flat up against the hit.
- The follow through. As with all tennis forehand and backhand strokes, the secret to a perfect hit is excellent follow through. After hitting the ball, the follow through will always guide the direction and your arm and hips should be completing the imaginary figure eight and should go back to the ready position. The whole process should be like you’re reaching around the outside of the ball and continuing in your figure eight to the inside of the ball as you hit it.
The bullwhip or the whipping forehand is one of the more difficult returns that any tennis player can master. Around the world of professional tennis, only a handful of players have managed to master this elegant yet powerful aspect of the game. These players are at the top of the game, namely Federer and Rafael Nadal. In time, given a fairly good amount of effort and practice to learning the bullwhip, any player can achieve the mastery those two have managed to acquire.