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  • Writer's pictureJackie Bradbury

Four Hand

Often, with our new students, we're working on strikes.

Long story short, you can break down strikes into two basic types - forehands, and backhands.

Explaining the mechanics of each can be tricky. Not everyone is a visual or kinetic learner and can copy what you do, so you have to work on ways to help students remember the proper mechanics in various ways - visual, kinetic, aural/verbal, and written.

I've found myself relying on a little verbal coaching method to help students remember the forehand and the backhand. While it's not the only way to teach this stuff, it's one of the many cues I use to get students on the right path.

So, let's take the backhand first.

Ever consider why it's called a backhand? Well, I don't know for sure if this is the reason, but I think it's called a backhand because when you make a strike that way... you can see the back of your hand.

I can see the back of my hands from here!

Explaining the forehand mechanic is a little trickier, but here's one way that seems to help.

In a forehand strike, you can see the four fingers of your hand.

Yes, I know a thumb is a finger but work with me here.

I can see my... shoot, already made that joke.

If you do a forehand properly, as the strike approaches the target, you should see your four fingers.  A FOUR hand, see?

If you think I'm kind of amused by that, you'd be correct.

But here's the thing - the "FOUR FINGERS!" prompt helps both kids and adults double-check if they're doing the strike they intend to do, quickly, without having to know our strike numbering system or to think much about it.

Try this sometime with a student struggling with the mechanic, and let me know how it goes.

Do you have little tricks like the "FOUR FINGERS!" or "FOUR HAND" cue that you use with your students?  Tell us about it!

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