Tennis WINDSHIELD WIPER Forehand | Topspin Forehand Technique Explained

by | Jul 12, 2019 | Technique | 0 comments

The windshield wiper follow-through is the pinnacle of modern tennis.

You see it used by Federer, Nadal, and Roddick when they blast their forehands.

Now, this modern-day forehand is becoming immensely popular these days.

Obviously, the windshield wiper follow-through is the key to generating immense topspin and building your modern-day forehand.

Everybody wants to learn it. But the question is, how can you learn it and make it stick?

What’s up athletes! You’re here because you believe that you can max your potential on the tennis court with the law of success: Learn, Apply, and Win.

So, let’s get right into learning about this modern-day forehand called the windshield wiper follow through.

Let’s go!

The Wiper Motion Explained

The follow-through of the modern-day forehand is a lot different from the follow-through of the traditional forehand in the past.

Today, you can see an intense amount of SPIN on the ball brought about by the hand, arm, and racquet rotation described as the windshield wiper forehand stroke.

Now, you’re probably wondering why it’s called the windshield wiper follow through.

Well, it’s simple. The way the racquet follows through in the modern-day forehand resembles the quick, rapid movement of the windshield wiper in a car.  Hence, the reason why it’s called the windshield wiper follow through.

Now, I must warn you. As simple as it may sound, there is nothing simple about the windshield wiper follow through.

According to John Yandel over at TennisPlayer.net, the windshield wiper follow through is the most complex biochemical motion in sports.

While it’s also one of the most misunderstood, it’s no doubt a dynamic element in the modern-day forehand.

There are a lot of variations to the wiper. It really depends on the kind of shot you want to make.

One thing is for sure, the wiper is here to stay. Once you master it, it’s a winning shot.

So, athletes, watch this video all the way to the end.

John Yandel defines the windshield wiper forehand as the unitary counter clockwise rotation of your hand, arm, and racquet in your forward swing.

So the question is, what drives your hand, arm, and racquet to turn over to create the windshield wiper action. Well, it’s the power that comes from the rotation of your upper arm in your shoulder joint.

It’s hard to imagine that such power can come from just your shoulder joint. But it can. You see, the internal rotation of your upper arm at your shoulder joints plays a critical role in your forehand stroke.

The Shoulder Joint

To understand that fully, take a good look at your shoulder. It is a fine piece of machinery. As a matter of fact, your shoulder has the greatest range of motion in any joint in your body.

Your shoulder is made up of four joints. These are the glenohumeral joint, the acromioclavicular or AC joint, the sternoclavicular or SC joint, and the scapulothoracic joint.

The glenohumeral joint is your main shoulder joint. This is where the ball of the upper arm bone or the humerus fits into a shallow socket on the scapula. This shallow socket is called the glenoid.

Your clavicle or collarbone meets a bony projection off the scapula called acromion to make up the acromioclavicular joint or the AC joint.

Your arms and shoulders are connected to the main skeleton on the front of your chest through another joint called the sternoclavicular or SC joint.

The fourth joint, which is the scapulothoracic joint is quite unique. It actually isn’t a joint. It’s more of a sliding joint.

The scapulothoracic joint is a false joint. It is formed where your shoulder blades glide against your rib cage. This is the joint that keeps your muscles that surround your shoulder blade working together.   It is what keeps the socket properly aligned during shoulder movement.

The rotation cuff is a muscle on your shoulder that contributes a lot to the internal rotation of your upper arm at your shoulder joints. It lies just outside your shoulder joint. There are four muscles that make up your rotation cuff. These muscles are the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor, and subscapularis. The supraspinatus muscle contributes to the stability of your upper arm. It is also the muscle that holds your humerus in place. The main muscle in your rotator cuff is the infraspinatus. This is the muscle that allows you to rotate and extend your shoulder. 

The four muscles in your rotator cuff not only help raise your arm from the side; they also help rotate your shoulder in any direction. They also keep your shoulder joint stable.

There is another muscle in your shoulder that can contribute massively to the power of the windshield wiper follow through. This muscle is the deltoid muscle. Now, the deltoid muscle is the largest muscle in your shoulder. It forms the outer layer of your shoulder muscle. The deltoid muscle  is the part of your shoulder where you can harness a tremendous amount of power to lift your arm once it is away from the side.

After a quick overview of the joints and muscles in your shoulder, it’s quite easy to understand how the racquet can rotate at around 180 degrees or maybe even more to swing forward and bring about an immense amount of spin on the ball.

Can you remember a time when you were first learning how to hit a topspin forehand?

Most likely, you were told and taught to brush the back side of the ball with your racquet. For you to do that, you would have to vertically move your racquet up because that creates friction between the strings and the ball, causing the latter to rotate.

Vertically moving your racquet up to brush the back side of the ball can really put in a good amount of spin on the ball. The thing is, it could get quite confusing as to when you’re supposed to hit the ball.  If you have been practicing on slow balls to add more spin on your forehand, you’re most likely going to struggle in a game where the balls are coming in fast and furious. So, what should you do? Well, according to professional tennis coach, Tomaz Mercinger, you should just let the spin happen.

The best way for you to just let it happen is by hitting the ball in front of you. Of course, that’s speaking ideally but the point is, try to decipher the right contact point and when you do, rotate your hand, arm, and racquet over the ball to finish it off with a wiper follow through.

The question is, should you learn the wiper. The answer is yes! Absolutely. Of course!

The good news about learning the wiper is that you will be able to vary it in certain situations. You can manipulate your hand and arm to rotate, more or less, depending on the amount and kind of spin you want on the ball.

The wiper can also help you hit some short angle shots. Once you’re comfortable with the wiper, you will be able to hit on the run, crushing some mean low balls.

Now, let’s not get too a little excited here but the point is that you should definitely learn the wiper. Even with a classic forehand grip, you should still learn it.  

The classic grip gets the forearm to rotate at around 90 degrees in the forward swing. 

While the extreme grips get the racquet to rotate all the way through the swing, doubling the rotation of the wiper.  

So, no matter what grip you use, you can make the wiper a critical element of your forehand stroke.

Generating Massive Power

Here’s the million-dollar question. Can the wiper generate massive power on your forehand? John Yandell states that the wiper can create astronomical spin levels, reaching sometimes exceeding 5000 rpm.

If you watch the greatest players, it seems like they can hit just about any shot from anywhere on the court with the wiper.  They exhibit limitless variations of the wiper.

So before we really conclude that the wiper can generate massive power in the forehand stroke, we need to understand the three critical factors that affect the variations of the windshield wiper forehand.

The first of which is how much the racquet is turned over. With the windshield wiper follow through, you can actually rotate your racquet at 180 degrees or less. Of course, it depends on the kind of grip you use. The point is, the wiper allows you that extra movement so that you could turn your racquet over.

The second factor is speed. Depending on where the completion of the wiper rotation takes place, the stroke can be faster or slower.  

The third factor is how the hitting arm is prepared at the start of the wiper. For example, the hand, arm, and racquet can be rotated backwards and downwards so that the racquet tip points directly to the court. This position can increase the hand, arm, racquet rotation by 50 percent.

These three critical factors bring a wide range of limitless variations and power to the wiper. When used in combination with a full extension position or with a lower shorter finish, it can generate a powerful drive on angled balls. The wiper can also be used when dealing with high heavy balls. As a matter of fact, the wiper can be used to crush every single ball

How to Incorporate This

Here’s the thing. The best time for you to incorporate the wiper element into your forehand stroke is when you already have a good grasp of all the fundamentals of stance, preparation, and extension.

Initially, you can practice the wiper by swinging up your follow through. If you have been used to swinging through, then try swinging it up to get the hang of it.

If you want to have a feel of it, get your racquet and face a wall.  Put a distance between you and the wall so that when you try to hit with a swing through, your racquet hits the wall.

Now try swinging it up. If your racquet isn’t hitting the wall, then you’re okay.

Take it to the court and start practicing it. Incorporate the follow through and make sure your racquet is turned over to the other side, ending at waist level after you follow through.

Keep practicing because that’s the only way you can get the feel of it. Once you have a feel of the wiper, you will be able to manipulate and incorporate it in all your forehand shots.