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The inside out forehand as a tactical pattern in men’s professional tennis

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The so-called inside out forehand has an active role in the baseline strategy because it offers the players new possibilities of hitting the incoming ball with their preferred shot by covering their weaker side and, at the same time, playing the ball with more open angles and directions which create more aggressive patterns of play. The purpose of this study is to analyse the use of this shot as well as its incidence on the men’s professional game both, right- and left-handed players. Eighteen matches corresponding to Grand Slam and ATP finals played between 2011 and 2014 were analysed. Eleven players (men) with ATP rankings between 1 and 14 were studied. Data show that the inside out forehand is used as a tactical weapon to counter the shots directed to the left-hand side zone of the court. The use of the inside out forehand has multiple consequences and, especially, the relationship between the use of the inside out forehand and the impact zone since it has been shown that as the player moves away laterally from the centre of the court, the percentage of transition shots is reduced, while the percentage of winners and errors increases.
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International Journal of Performance Analysis in Sport
ISSN: 2474-8668 (Print) 1474-8185 (Online) Journal homepage: http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/rpan20
The inside out forehand as a tactical pattern in
men’s professional tennis
E. Martin-Lorente, J. Campos & M. Crespo
To cite this article: E. Martin-Lorente, J. Campos & M. Crespo (2017): The inside out forehand
as a tactical pattern in men’s professional tennis, International Journal of Performance Analysis in
Sport, DOI: 10.1080/24748668.2017.1349528
To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/24748668.2017.1349528
Published online: 26 Jul 2017.
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INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF PERFORMANCE ANALYSIS IN SPORT, 2017
https://doi.org/10.1080/24748668.2017.1349528
The inside out forehand as a tactical pattern in mens
professional tennis
E.Martin-Lorentea, J.Camposb and M.Crespoc,d
aDepartment of Sport and Physical Education, University of Valencia, Valencia, Spain; bDepartment of Sport
and Physical Education, Faculty of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences, University of Valencia, Valencia, Spain;
cDepartment of Health Psychology, University Miguel Hernandez, Elche, Spain; dSpain – International Tennis
Federation, Valencia, Spain
ABSTRACT
The so-called inside out forehand has an active role in the baseline
strategy because it oers the players new possibilities of hitting the
incoming ball with their preferred shot by covering their weaker
side and, at the same time, playing the ball with more open angles
and directions which create more aggressive patterns of play. The
purpose of this study is to analyse the use of this shot as well as its
incidence on the men’s professional game both, right- and left-handed
players. Eighteen matches corresponding to Grand Slam and ATP
nals played between 2011 and 2014 were analysed. Eleven players
(men) with ATP rankings between 1 and 14 were studied. Data show
that the inside out forehand is used as a tactical weapon to counter
the shots directed to the left-hand side zone of the court. The use of
the inside out forehand has multiple consequences and, especially,
the relationship between the use of the inside out forehand and the
impact zone since it has been shown that as the player moves away
laterally from the centre of the court, the percentage of transition
shots is reduced, while the percentage of winners and errors increases.
1. Introduction
Performance analysis is part of the overall training process following a strategic and sys-
tematic plan with two levels of development: (1) evaluation of the conditional and technical
capacity of the athlete, and (2) evaluation of performance in competition. e information
obtained from these two levels of analysis will monitor the evolution of the athlete through-
out the season and help us to identify the eects of training on their specic performance
(Campos, 2013).
e forehand (FH) drive has a great importance in the male professional tennis and it
is considered the most important stroke aer the serve (Reid, Elliot, & Crespo, 2013). In
modern tennis, 75% of strokes played during a match are forehands or serves (Roetert &
Groppel, 2001). Moreover, the forehand oers easier court coverage. e natural longer
reach on the forehand side allows an average player coverage of 65% of the court with the
KEYWORDS
Tennis; tactics; performance
analysis
ARTICLE HISTORY
Received 16 April 2017
Accepted28 June 2017
© 2017 Cardiff Metropolitan University
CONTACT J. Campos jose.campos@uv.es
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2 E. MARTINLORENTE ET AL.
forehand (Brabenec, 2000). Apart from the implications of this data on the physical features
of the game, it is fundamental to conclude that the forehand is probable one of the two most
determining shots of our sport.
However, the forehand is not any more a shot that is played just from the forehand side
of the court, in fact since several decades ago players use it from all over the court. us,
oensive players, whether men or women, are able to hit forehand winners practically from
every court position and towards any direction on the opponents court with inside-in or
inside-out forehands. In this way, any forehand shot variation has become a serious menace
for the opponents (Bolletieri, 2000).
e so-called inside out forehand has an active role in the baseline strategy because it
oers the players new possibilities of hitting the incoming ball with their preferred shot by
covering their weaker side and, at the same time, playing the ball with more open angles
and directions which create more aggressive patterns of play. is shot has been dened as
“a type of forehand that is played from the backhand side of the player in which he avoids
to hit a backhand and plays a forehand instead which, generally, is directed diagonally to
the backhand of the opponent” (Blandón, 2008).
As per its execution, the inside out forehand can be hit towards two directions, down the
line (inside in forehand) and diagonally (inside out forehand). e onset of the inside out
forehand as a clearly dierentiated shot in tennis play should be associated to the “modern
forehand shot” according to the term used by the French Tennis Federation (Federation
Français Tennis [FFT], 2001) which considers that it all started 30years ago, era in which
the wooden racquets with small heads did not forgive the errors of o-centred impacts. In
this stage, the forehand shot was essentially a stroke played basically with the movement
of the arm.
However, even before this period, there were initial signs of modern tennis that can be
seen nowadays. Several players started to use a moderate topspin eect in their forehand,
as it was the case of the Australians Rod Laver and Neale Fraser and the Spaniard Manuel
Santana (FFT, 2001).
e modern forehand hit with topspin was popularised by the Swedish player Björn Borg,
who used a truly revolutionary technique for the times, which decisively inuenced the
evolution of the forehand shot. is player was the one that imposed the use of the topspin
eect in the forehand in order to clear the net with more safety. e main characteristics of
the modern forehand were the following: the player would adopt an open stance and hold
the racquet with a Western grip, during the backswing the racquet head was kept low and
there was a short pause at the end of this movement. At impact, the player would have the
shoulders facing the net and move the forearm abruptly. ese were the precursor elements
of the modern forehand shot that is used nowadays. In the 80s, the inside out forehand
arises with the intention of being a weapon of the attacking game, but mostly built around
generating a change of rhythm during the baseline rally. Ivan Lendl or Boris Becker are
examples of this tactical pattern in the 90s.
Scientic studies on the inside out forehand, albeit scarce, cover several aspects related to
its use. Taylor and Hughes (2002) compared patterns of play of the best British junior tennis
players with players of the rest of the world; Huys, Smeeton, Hodges, Beek, and Williams
(2008) studied the components that explain the anticipation of the cross court forehand
and the inside out forehand in tennis; Huys et al. (2009) in a later study examined the
importance of the dynamic structures identied in the previous research for the anticipation
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INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF PERFORMANCE ANALYSIS IN SPORT 3
manipulating the visual stimuli presented by creating dynamic dierences in specic body
areas for the cross court and inside out forehands using occlusion or neutralisation; and
Smeeton, Huys, and Jacobs (2013) investigated the implications of feedback to anticipate
the direction (le or right) of the inside out forehand.
However, in the light of the few studies carried out on the use of the inside out forehand
as a tactical pattern from the baseline, the purpose of this study is to analyse the use of this
shot as well as its incidence on the mens professional game. More specically, the conse-
quences of this shot depending on the zone of the court, the previous shot and his direction.
2. Methods
Eighteen matches corresponding to Grand Slam and ATP nals played between 2011 and
2014 were analysed. Eleven players (men) with ATP rankings between 1 and 14 were stud-
ied. Specically the rankings at the time of the study were the following: 9 players ranked
among the top 10 players in the world (Djokovic, Nadal, Federer, Murray, Ferrer, Raonic,
Tsonga, Nishikori and Wawrinka) and 2 ranked among the top 20: Dimitrov (11) and Cilic
(14). e maximum number of matches one player participated in was ve. e following
webs which included complete recording of the matches analysed were used: youtube.com,
vimeo.com and dailymotion.com.
A spread sheet was created in Numbers for Mac, 2014, (Apple Inc., Cupertino, CA) which
allowed the collection of all shots played, not only the direction of the ball hit, diagonally
(inside in forehand) and down the line (inside out forehand), but also the consequence of
each shot winner, rhythm change, error, rally and approach.
Shots were codied according to the following categories: (a) zone of the court in which
the shot was hit; (b) previous stroke to the inside out forehand; (c) direction of the shot and
its consequences in the point and (d) technical consequences.
2.1. Zone of the court in which the shot was hit
It relates to the space of the court in which the inside out forehand is played, the zone in
which the incoming ball bounces. Using the ocial measures of the tennis court, 5 sub-
zones were established: 4C: Central zone of the baseline; 3I+1: From the centre of the court
(baseline) up to 1.37m; 3I+2: e middle of the observed zone (between 1.37 and 2.74m);
3I+3: Side line of the singles tennis court; 3I-Ext: Doubles alley (Figure 1).
2.2. Previous stroke to the inside out forehand
is section is divided into 8 items, which relate to the stroke played by the opponent before
the observed player hits the inside out forehand: S.C: Serve to the centre zone of the service
box; S.T: Serve to the T zone of the service box; FH. Return: Forehand return; FH. Rally:
Forehand stroke, which does not alter the action of the opponent, it could be also called as
an exchange without tactical intention; D. Defensive: Forehand with a defensive intention;
R. Return: Backhand shot played aer the serve of the opponent; R. Rally: Backhand with
no tactical intention; R. Defensive: Forehand played to defend from the opponent. As in
the forehand side, it included both topspin and slice backhands.
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4 E. MARTINLORENTE ET AL.
2.3. Strokes related to the direction of the inside out forehand
Inside-in: ball directed down the line to the open court (Figure 2).
Inside-out: ball directed cross court behind the opponent (Figure 2).
2.4. Technical actions as consequences of the inside out forehand
It consists on the recording of all the actions, which occurred aer the use of the inside
out forehand on the opponent. Five actions have been identied and dened as follows:
winner: Inside out forehand with a result of winning the point (the ball bounced twice
without being retrieved by the opponent).
Figure 1.Zones of the tennis court for the analysis of the inside out forehand for a right-handed player.
Figure 2.Directions of the Inside-in and Inside-out Forehand.
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INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF PERFORMANCE ANALYSIS IN SPORT 5
rally: Stroke with a “neutral” tactical intention since there is no intention of provoking
any change in direction, speed, height and, thus, the opponent can play the ball back
with no diculty
approach: Shot that has the intention of getting closer to the net
rhythm change: Shot that has the intention of causing a tactical “unbalance” on the
opponent by increasing the speed of the ball, opening angles or changing the height
of the ball. It is considered a key moment during the point since aer this shot the
point is usually decided.
unforced error: It is a mistake not caused by the action of the opponent but by the
player himself, which causes the point to be lost.
Data obtained by the observation of the matches were exported to a Microso Excel
Mac version 11.5 (2014) (Microso, Redmond, USA) database. e statistical analysis was
done using the soware SPSS version 21 for Windows (SPSS Inc., Chicago, Illinois, USA).
Descriptive data were calculated (frequencies and percentages). In order to measure the
degree of association among variables, contingency tables were calculated with analysis of
the corrected standardised residuals (Haberman, 1973) with the use of a contrast based on
the statistic Chi-square (χ²) to identify the dependency relationships among them and with
the value of statistical signicance being p≤0.05.
e intra-observer reliability test was evaluated by Kappa Coecient (Cohen, 1960)
on a series of observational categories selected from the zone of the court in which the
shot was hit; the direction of the shot and its consequences in the point, and the technical
consequences, corresponding to one of the analysed matches. In the intra-observer test, a
period of 3months was maintained between the two registries tested in order to minimise
the eect of memory and to verify if there had been changes in the categorisation of the
data. e values on Kappa (k) coecients oscillated between 0.82 and 1.0 as presented in
Table 1, which resulted in indicative values of high concordance and reliability in the data
obtained by the observer according to the interpretation of Altman (1990).
3. Results
e highest number of shots played with the inside out forehand is hit from zone 3I+1
(36.3% of the total) and from zone 3I+2 (33%). e rest of the zones have less number of
shots since 19% are played from zone 3I+3, 9.4% from zone 4C and lastly, 2% from 3I-Ext.
Table 1.Results of Kappa Coefficients on each of the observational categories evaluated.
Categories Kappa Coecients (k)
Shot in zone 4C 0.96
Shot in zone 3I+1 0.84
Shot in zone 3I+2 0.82
Shot in zone 3I+3 0.89
Shot in zone 3I-Ext 0.96
Inside In direction 1.0
Inside Out direction 1.0
Winner shot 1.0
Rally shot 0.96
Approach shot 0.92
Rhythm change shot 0.91
Unforced error shot 1.0
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6 E. MARTINLORENTE ET AL.
e backhand shot in the rally is the previous stroke that in the most number of occasions
precedes the use of the inside out forehand with a 25.5%. is is followed by the forehand
shot in the rally with 17.5%, the backhand return with 14.9% and the defensive backhand
with 14.1% of the total.
e values obtained shows that the inside out forehand shot is more used than the inside
in forehand, 58.8% versus 41.2%, respectively.
Data analyse the consequence of the use of the inside out forehand throughout a match
when hit from zones 4C and 3I. According to the 5 items aforementioned: winner, rally,
approach, rhythm change and unforced error.
From the data it can be concluded that in the majority of the cases the inside out forehand
is not used as an attacking shot from the baseline but as a neutral shot during a rally (37.6%)
or as a shot to change the rhythm of the rally (32.8%). Winners were 14%.
In general, the consequences of the inside out forehand (rally and rhythm change) are
the most common in all zones except of 3I-Ext, in which change of rhythm and winners
are predominant (Table 2).
Results of contingency analysis reveal that there is a signicant relationship between
the zones in which they are played and consequences (χ2: 167.11; p: 0.000). e values of
the typied residuals indicate that the inside out forehand winners are mostly played from
zones 3I+3 and 3I-Ext and less from zone 3I+1. Transition shots are mostly played from
zone 3I+1 and to a lesser extent from zones 3I+3 and 3I-Ext. Approach shots are mostly
played from zone 4C and less from zone 3I+1. e change of rhythm shots are mostly played
Table 2.Total inside out forehand shots played according to the court zone and its consequence on the
point.
Consequence on the point
4C 3I+1 3I+2 3I+3 3I-Ext
N%n%N%n%n%
Winners 37 1.4 116 4.1 126 4.2 105 3.7 16 0.6
Transition 121 4.3 494 17.5 325 11.4 126 4.5 5 0.1
Approach 23 0.8 46 1.7 57 2.0 27 1.0 2 0.0
Rhythm change 51 1.8 303 10.8 343 11.9 217 7.4 21 0.7
Unforced error 35 1.2 100 3.5 69 2.4 68 2.3 15 0.5
Totals 267 1059 920 543 59
Table 3.Consequences of the inside out forehand by zones and direction.
Direction Consequence
4C 3I+1 3I+2 3I+3 3I-Ext
n(%) n%n(%) n(%) n(%)
INSIDE IN Winners 12 4.5 51 4.8 47 5.0 40 7.5 9 15.3
Transition 43 16.1 203 19.3 133 14.5 53 9.9 2 3.4
Approach 11 4.1 25 2.4 29 3.2 15 2.8 2 3.4
Rhythm change 16 6.0 103 9.8 152 16.6 98 18.3 10 17.0
Unforced errors 8 3.0 44 4.1 31 3.4 23 4.3 8 13.6
Totals 90 33.7 426 40.4 392 42.7 229 42.8 31 52.7
INSIDE OUT Winners 25 9.4 65 6.2 78 8.5 56 10.4 7 11.8
Transition 78 29.2 290 27.5 192 21.0 73 13.6 3 5.1
Approach 12 4.5 25 2.4 28 3.0 10 1.9 0 0.0
Rhythm change 35 13.1 190 18.0 191 20.8 123 22.9 10 17.0
Unforced errors 27 10.1 57 5.4 38 4.0 45 8.4 8 13.4
Totals 177 66.3 627 59.5 527 57.3 307 57.2 28 47.6
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INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF PERFORMANCE ANALYSIS IN SPORT 7
from zones 3I+2 y 3I+3 and less from zones 4C y 3I+1. Finally, unforced errors with the
inside out forehand are more common from zones 3I-Ext y 3I+3 and less from zone 3I+2.
In zone 4C, the highest percentage of the inside out forehands is played in the direction
out” (66.3%) versus 33.7% played in the direction “in” and, in both cases, the highest per-
centage of shots is transition/approach (29.2 and 16.1%, respectively). Winners and change
of rhythm shots are more frequent in the direction “out” (9.4 and 13.1%, respectively) than
in the direction “in” (4.5 and 6%, respectively) (see Table 3).
In zone 3I+1 the highest percentage of the inside out forehands is also played in the
direction “out” (59.5%) versus 40.4% and, in both cases, the highest percentage of shots is
transition/approach (27.5 y 19.3%, respectively. Winners and change of rhythm shots are
more frequent in the direction “out” (6.2 y 18%, respectively) than in the direction “in” (9.8
and 4.8%, respectively) (see Table 3).
In zone 3I+2 the highest percentage of the inside out forehand is played in the direction
out” (57.3%) versus 42.7% and, in both cases, the highest percentage of shots is transition/
approach (21 y 14.5%, respectively). Winners and change of rhythm shots are more fre-
quent in the direction “out” (8.5 y 20.8%, respectively) than in the direction “in” (5 y 16.6%,
respectively) (see Table 3).
In zone 3I+3 the distribution of inside out forehands is similar to the one in the rest of
the zones with more played in the direction “out” (57.2%) versus 42.8% and, in both cases,
the highest percentage of shots is transition/approach (22.9 y 13.6%, respectively). Winners
and change of rhythm shots are more frequent in the direction “out” (10.9 y 22.9%, respec-
tively) than in the direction “in” (7.5 y 18.3%, respectively) (see Table 3).
In zone 3I-Ext the distribution of inside out forehands diers from the rest of the zones
since in this case the highest percentage is played in the direction “in” (52.7%) versus 47.6%
played in the direction “out”. e highest percentage of shots is change of rhythm with 17%
in both directions. Winners are more frequent in the direction “in” (15.3%). Finally, errors
sum a percentage of 13.6% for both directions.
e relationship between the direction in which the shot is played (in-out) and the zone
from which it is played is not signicant. Chi Square values obtained for shot direction and
consequences were 4.23 in zone 4C (p: 0.376); 6.41 in zone 3I+1 (p: 0.170); 3.81 in zone
3I+2 (p: 0.432) and 5.55 in zone 3I+3 (p: 0.235). It has been impossible to calculate these
values in zone 3I-Ext due to the fact that less than 20% of the cells had values lower than 5.
4. Discussion
e results obtained show that the inside out forehand shot is mostly used from the le
zone of the baseline (98% of all inside out forehands of a match). It is the zone comprised
from the centre of the court (zone 4C) up to the doubles alley (3I-Ext), a total of 5.45 m,
subdivided in four sub-zones of 1.37 m each one (Figure 1).
Regarding the results obtained, the impact zone corresponds to the le side of the base-
line. Which is the space in which also a higher number of displacements of the players.
According to Pieper, Exler, and Weber (2007), 60–80% of the displacements of the players
throughout a match are side to side and occur on the baseline zone, data that coincide with
the results of our study.
In a more detailed analysis according to the zone identied above, the inside out fore-
hand is mostly played from zones 3I+1 and 3I+2 (69.3% of the total). is data means
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8 E. MARTINLORENTE ET AL.
that the player hits with the forehand from the le zone of the court at a distance between
1.37 and 2.74m. From the centre of the court, with zone 3I+2 the one from which more
inside out forehands are played.
ese data are similar to those found by Brabenec (2000) who pointed out that the inside
out forehand allows the players to cover 65% of the court easier.
Regarding the direction of the shot, the inside out forehand is played towards two direc-
tions: crosscourt and down the line. When played crosscourt, the ball is directed to the le-
hand side zone of the opponent, which coincides with his backhand. According to our data,
this happens 59.9% of the shots. As per the technical execution of the crosscourt inside out
forehand, Crespo (1995) suggests that the player should move around the ball so that the
shoulder line exaggerates the rotation adopting a semi-open lateral position. e down the
line inside out forehand is less common than the crosscourt one this is due to the fact that,
aer the shot, the player leaves around ¾ of the court open, and the opponent can counter
attack with a forehand shot to the open court.
However, with the crosscourt inside out forehand, the counter attack from the opponent
is more dicult due to the angle of the direction of the shot, and the down the line backhand
from the opponent is the best response to this as is suggested by Farrell (1998). As per the
technical literature, the execution of the down the line inside out forehand implies a higher
technical diculty than the crosscourt one, due to the fact that the player needs to rotate
the shoulders and the hips more placing more demands on the footwork. Another aspect
that is highlighted from the data obtained is that the use of the inside out forehand provides
a high number of points won; 5.8% down the line and 8% crosscourt.
Another important question is related to the previous shots of opponents. e analysis
of the shot previously hit to the inside out forehand shows the cause-eect relationships
among two shots: the previous shot and the inside out forehand. e results show that the
speed of the ball is a determining factor. In fact, when the previous shots are slower, the
player has got enough time to run around his backhand and play the inside out forehand.
Another determining factor is the direction from where the previous shot comes, as
indicated by the experts interviewed. When the direction is diagonal, when it comes from
the opponents backhand, the player leaves the most part of the court open and playing an
inside in forehand (down the line), could be a good option to counter that previous shot.
When the previous shot comes from the forehand of the opponent, the use of the inside
out forehand is determined by the lack of time to position due to the fact that the space
of the open court is smaller than in the previous option, so that the use of the inside out
forehand would be less recommended.
ese two factors, speed and direction, are linked to the more usual shots that precede
the use of the inside out forehand: the defensive backhand and the neutral backhand.
Both shots are characterised by having less speed than the rest of the shots. ese data are
similar to those presented by Brabenec (2000) who indicated that when the ball is slower,
the player moves to the le side to avoid playing with the backhand and to play with the
inside out forehand.
e inside out forehand is mainly associated to a situation in which the player tries to
cover his backhand and, to a lesser extent, to a shot associated with the change of rhythm
or direction. Brabenec (1996) suggests that when the opponent directs a slow shot to the
backhand zone, as much as possible, the player should move towards his le-hand side and
play with an attacking forehand. Regarding another circumstances in which the inside out
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INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF PERFORMANCE ANALYSIS IN SPORT 9
forehand should or not be played, Martínez Cascales (2002) emphasises the use of this shot
when the player receives a ball directed to the middle of the court. Farrell (1998) on another
hand, points out that when the incoming ball has a higher bounce, the inside out forehand
should be used as an attacking shot. Dent (1996) already considered it as an attacking shot.
Finally, when analysing the use of the inside out forehand in the return of serve, according
to our data, this shot is used as a return when the serve is directed towards the le zone of
the service box, mostly during the second serves and in break-point situations in order to
return the serve with an oensive tactical intention.
From the tactical point of view, the data obtained indicate that the main tactical conse-
quences derived of the use of the inside out forehand are rstly, the transition shots, secondly
the change of rhythm, and thirdly the winning shots. As per the errors and the approach
shots, they do not reveal to have a relevant consequence.
e transition shot is the main tactical consequence derived from the use of the inside
out forehand. Our data are similar to those obtained by Miller, Carré, Dixon, and Starbuck
(2015) who indicate that the inside out forehand has both an objective related to the tran-
sition of the point and to protect the backhand.
On the other hand, the rhythm changes are the second tactical consequence derived
from the use of the inside out forehand. e positioning of the player on the back of the
court allows him to hit the ball at a higher speed in order to change the rhythm of the rally
and a possible unbalance in the exchange of shots to his advantage. is result mirrors the
opinion of Baiget (2011) who also refers to the relevance of both the positioning of the
player on court and the quality of the shot as crucial aspects in the change of direction and
acceleration of the forehand.
ese data are also consistent with the views of Dent (1996) who stresses the inside
out forehand as an excellent option to be aggressive during a match and with the French
Tennis Federation (2001) that believes that in the 80s the inside out forehand starts to be
used with an attacking tactical intention. Our results conrm the inuence of this shot in
the attacking game, both as a winning shot and as a shot used to change the rhythm of the
rally. Other authors such as De Subijana and Bielsa (2010) point out the importance of using
the forehand from ¾ of the court, as oen as possible, in order to attack.
Our data show that there are signicant dierences between the impact zone of the inside
out forehand and the derived tactical consequence, so that the position of the player on
the le-hand side of the court determines dierent tactical consequences of the use of the
inside out forehand. As mentioned in the Methodology section, the process of recording
data related to the impact zone and the tactical consequences derived from the shots has
followed the proposal of the dierent zones of the tennis court.
Regarding the percentage of winning shots, it is observed that the more the player hits
the inside out forehand to the outer zone of the court (3I-Ext), the higher is the percent-
age of winning shots with the inside out forehand. On the contrary, the winning shots are
reduced when the player hits the inside out forehand from an inner court zone (4C). is
situation is similar with the relationship of the use of the inside out forehand and the errors
percentage, since the percentage of errors is higher when the inside out forehand is played
from the outer zone of the court (3I-ext) and lower from the inner zone (4C).
It is important to emphasise that the error margin of the inside out forehands played from
the outer zones of the court is higher than when played from the centre of the court due to
the fact that the shot angle is reduced. is tactical action produces, on the one hand, an
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10 E. MARTINLORENTE ET AL.
increase in the percentage of errors but, at the same time, if the shot is accurate, it becomes
a winner. On the other hand, from the centre of the court the margin of error is lower with
the number of errors being lesser as compared to the one from the outer zones of the court.
As per the relationship between the percentages of the transition shots and the change
of rhythm shots, it is relevant to point out that as the player hits the inside out forehand
from positions that are closer to the centre service mark, the percentages of transition shots
obtained are higher than those of change of rhythm.
On the contrary, the more the player is far from the centre of the court, the higher are
the percentages of the change of rhythm shots and the lower the percentages of the tran-
sition shots.
Zone 3I+2 can be highlighted from the rest as the zone from which the higher number
of transition and change of rhythm shots are played. is result is similar to the one obtained
by Ferrauti and Weber (2001) who observed that around 80% of the total number of shots
played during a match are hit at a distance shorter than 3 m from the centre service mark.
Data obtained by Kovacs (2009) support our results since this author found that the
majority of ATP players usually move laterally from the centre service mark of the tennis
court up to 0.90–1.50 m to their le. e zone 3I+2 implies a lateral displacement of the
player between 1.27 and 2.54 m from the centre service mark. Due to this, the zone 3I+2
seems to appear as a favourable space to play the inside out forehand.
5. Conclusions
Data obtained in our study show that the inside out forehand is used as a tactical weapon to
counter the shots directed to the le-hand side zone of the court. e inside out forehand
counts up to 14% of the total shots of a tennis match. Specically, these shots are mostly
used as a stroke that provokes a change of rhythm.
Regarding the use of the inside out forehand as an attacking shot, it has been shown that
it has a determining inuence on the game due to the fact that, even though this tactical
intention is less common than the transition and change of rhythm shots, it has a high
percentage of success. is is shown by the fact that the use of the inside out forehand as
a winning shot implies one out of each three winning shots in the match. Due to this, we
consider that the use of the inside out forehand is crucial to the implementation of a game
tactical pattern from the baseline.
As per the consequence of the use of the inside out forehand according to the direction
in which the shot is played we have been able to nd that the higher number of inside out
forehands is played crosscourt. However, the higher number of inside our forehand winners
is played down the line.
Finally, when analysing the inuence of the use of the inside out forehand on the result
of the match, our data have shown that the players that hit the higher number of inside out
forehands are the ones that win the match. Likewise, the players that hit a higher number
of winning shots with the inside out forehand, win the match.
is last data could be used as valuable information to predict match results. However,
it should be conrmed with a wider sample of matches using a validation process through
the appropriate statistical analyses in order to establish the possible relationship between
the number of inside out forehand shots in a match and the possibility of being the winner
of the match.
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INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF PERFORMANCE ANALYSIS IN SPORT 11
6. Practical applications
e results show that the use of the inside out forehand has multiple consequences and,
especially, the relationship between the use of the inside out forehand and the impact zone
since it has been shown that as the player moves away laterally from the centre of the court,
the percentage of transition shots is reduced, while the percentage of winners and errors
increases.
ese data have derived in the proposal of a spatial framework, which will be called
the inside out forehand quadrant, that establishes the relationships between the inside out
forehand and the tactical consequence derived of its use (transition shot, approach shot,
change of rhythm shot, winners and/or errors).
With this goal in mind, based on the ve zones analysed beforehand in the Methodology
section, ve subzones were established taking as reference the court width (10.97 including
the doubles alley). As the observed zone is the le side of the baseline, the total distance has
been divided into two halves, le and right, resulting a zone of 5.48m.
Moreover, the observable zone (5.48 m) has been subdivided into 4 equidistant zones at
1.37 m, being 4C the rst one and, from this zone, the following zones have been established:
3I+1, 3I+2, 3I+3 and 3I-Ext, being 1.37 m the distance among the zones.
e observations of the study have allowed us to establish a cause-eect relationship
between the impact zone of the inside out forehand and its consequence. According to the
data obtained, the relationship between the impact zone of the inside out forehand and its
consequence is the following:
Zone 4C: transition shots
Zone 3I+1: transition shots
Zone 3I+2: approach shots
Zone 3I+3: change of rhythm shots
Zone 3I-Ext: winners /errors
e spatial quadrant of the inside out forehand proposes the possibility that this same
relationship between the use of the inside out forehand and its consequence, could also
happen when moving towards the net. us, the relationship would be:
Zone 4C: transition shots
Zone C+1: transition shots
Zone C+2: approach shots
Zone C+3: change of rhythm shots
Zone C-Ext: winners /errors
Regarding the graphic representation, the centre of the court has been determined (4C)
and the le side zones are: 3I+1, 3I+2, 3I+3 and 3I-Ext, for the lateral movements and
the zones C+1, C+2, C+3 and C-Int., for the movements towards the net. e naming
used refers to the inside out forehand shots from the le zone, in which the number refers
to the zone of the court, the letter refers to the side of the court, and the digit refers to the
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12 E. MARTINLORENTE ET AL.
distance from the centre of the court. us 3I+1 means an inside out forehand player from
zone 3, le, at 1.37 m from the centre.
As per the movements towards the net, C+1 means an inside out forehand from the
central zone at 1.37 m from the centre of the baseline (Figure 3).
In summary, this spatial framework of the inside out forehand allows to establish that
when the inside out forehand is played from central zones, the player tends to play a less risky
shot, but as the player moves away from the centre of the court, there is a more attacking
intention in the use of the inside out forehand. us, the zone of the centre of the court would
be related to a so called “safety zone” and the zones further away from the centre would be a
“risky zone”.
Disclosure statement
No potential conict of interest was reported by the authors.
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Figure 3.Distribution of the impact zones according to the consequences of the use of the inside out
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INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF PERFORMANCE ANALYSIS IN SPORT 13
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