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yemenmocha
12-01-2009, 10:46 AM
I'm probably late to the show on this one and I didn't quite find what I'm looking for on the search function.

I learned to play in the 1980's and I watched a lot of VCR tapes with the strokes of Stan Smith's forehand (the cybervision tape) and Jimmy Connors. As a right-hander I've always learned to step off the right foot (back foot) and forward onto the left one as part of the forehand. See Connors or Stan Smith clips and you'll see it.

Apparently I'm doing it all wrong according to this mini-lesson I saw on the Tennis Channel. Is the "modern" forehand open stance or not entirely closed, with the opposite foot not clearly forward?

Is it a demonstrably better technique or is it more about preference for hitting more topspin and less flat?

Is there this classic vs. modern distinction?

Thanks

Netspirit
12-01-2009, 11:34 AM
The modern (open) stance is popular because of the modern grips (more Western) which result in more topspin and the "windshield wiper" follow-through. Apart from topspin, the ball speeds have increased, so more and more shots are hit on the run and off-balance, which again facilitates the open stance.

The reality is, some forehands (like flat winners) are still hit with the neutral stance as it allows to transfer the body weight forward better, while others (like defensive loopy shots) are hit with the open stance. Federer, for example, has like 25 different forehands, can hit from both stances and something in-between, and choses one depending on the amount of time he has to prepare, the height of the contact point, and other things.

LeeD
12-01-2009, 01:37 PM
As explained above, the classic eastern and continental forehand grips need a more closed stance, and shoulders well turned.
The modern SW and W grips can be hit really well with more open stances, or even fully open.
Which grip do you use?

yemenmocha
12-01-2009, 01:42 PM
Eastern FH grip.

fuzz nation
12-01-2009, 01:43 PM
Good input from Netspirit.

Don't assume that you're doing it all wrong because you don't completely adhere to the mechanics of the "modern forehand". I think that anyone can hit a good fh stroke that's anywhere from classic to modern or anywhere in between.

If you're transferring your weight as you hit and driving off your back leg to power your stroke, you're doing a good thing by using your stronger muscle groups to fuel your swing. As you go toward a more modern style of forehand, that usually includes a more extreme grip (with more of a closed racquet face) and a more open stance to facilitate good contact. The more modern style typically demands more angular contact that occurs farther out in front of the hitter. While it can be a good stroke to use on a ball that's around waist level or higher, it's not especially useful for lower balls.

I was playing high school tennis in the early 80's, but I grew up more of a serve and volleyer on grass courts. Only in recent years have I become more proficient with my baseline game and while I appreciate the modern style, the legwork that's used for that forehand always seems odd to me. Instead of moving through the ball, it calls for more of a stationary vertical lift while the hitter's upper body rotates through contact. My best forehand uses a semi-western grip, but I definitely need to "get off my back foot" as I swing to churn out a good stroke.

Depending on your style of play, you might benefit from a slightly more modernized stroke to make your forehand more reliable, powerful, etc., but there are also some limitations to it that can make a more classically styled stroke a good option. That more classic style can be easier on some of your body parts, too. If you like the spin potential, power, and consistency that you get with your current stroke, there's probably not much call for retooling the forehand you already have.

LeeD
12-01-2009, 01:43 PM
EFH needs full shoulder turn with at least a partial footwork closing. Better to line up the feet with the target, fully closed.
NOT for SW or W forehand grips, this is for EFH grip.

jmjmkim
12-01-2009, 02:37 PM
It's hard to change old habits

ScoopsHaaganDazs
12-01-2009, 03:49 PM
I also use a closed forehand because i have an eastern FH. There's nothing wrong with it. In my opinion it is better. There is a good amount of weight transfer which gives quite a lot of power to your forehand. The only problem is that you're not always allowed to use the closed forehand because you don't have enough time. Even if you improve your footwork a lot, there will be times open stance is needed (or a much easier choice).

I say keep using your eastern FH with the closed stance. Hitting a closed stance forehand is fairly easy IMO. The only hard part is the footwork. Just improve your footwork if you're having trouble with the stroke. However, it would be useful to learn open stance for things such as saving shots or service returns.

aimr75
12-01-2009, 04:21 PM
I also use a closed forehand because i have an eastern FH

the stance isnt governed by your choice in grip.. federer hits many balls with an open stance and uses an eastern grip

LeeD
12-01-2009, 05:16 PM
Older EFH has one handed takeback, so less shoulder rotation.
Modern forehands, unit turn, and even EFH can benefit from that, allowing more shoulder rotation for the windup, so you don't necessarily need to move the feet to a closed stance.
Loopy swings (takeback) also allow more open stances.

spacediver
12-01-2009, 09:52 PM
I can understand how the grip affects the racquet face angle and follow through, but I don't understand why one particular grip is more suited to a linear transfer of energy (closed stance) and others to rotational transfer (open stance).

Perhaps I'd understand better if someone explained what would happen if you attempted to use an EFH grip with an open stance, or an extreme western with a closed stance.

5263
12-02-2009, 06:02 AM
I can understand how the grip affects the racquet face angle and follow through, but I don't understand why one particular grip is more suited to a linear transfer of energy (closed stance) and others to rotational transfer (open stance).

Perhaps I'd understand better if someone explained what would happen if you attempted to use an EFH grip with an open stance, or an extreme western with a closed stance.

IMO it is more about where your contact point is than what stance you use. If your CP is more to your side, that fits better with conti and eastern, but more out front with the contact, the better semi and western tend to work. You can hit out front or to the side with neutral or open stance, but it might not be as natural if you mix and match like that.

Stance is a factor, but more about the range of shoulder turn than contact point (CP)

eagle
12-02-2009, 06:15 AM
I play with an old school guy in his advanced years.

As such, he has the closed stance forehand.

He has the classic continental grip and is very effective at net with precision touch volleys.

He hits with moderate pace and mostly flat balls that skid. With hardly any spin, his errors are either hitting the net or hitting long.

He is comfortable when I hit flat with him but as soon as I give him a lot of deep topspin balls, he resorts to defensive mode by blocking or slicing the ball. His excursions to the net drops considerably which allows me to approach the net with more frequency and end the point quickly.

I don't particularly enjoy hitting back flat balls that skid but deep topspin balls seems to work for me most of the time.

2 cents.

r,
eagle

LeeD
12-02-2009, 07:08 AM
EFH can work with open stances, if you unit turn takes the racket back, and the backswing can be shorter.
Like return of serves with shoulder turn, but no feet movement, is possible, but drive is affected, of course.
EFH doesn't usually have the same swing speed as SW or W, so to compensate, some forward body movement is used. Without the body moving forwards, but with full shoulder turn, you CAN hit EFH, but it doesn't have the full pace of foot alignment and kinetics.
Try hitting a golf ball with open stance. You CAN, it doesn't go far.

5263
12-02-2009, 07:37 AM
EFH can work with open stances, if you unit turn takes the racket back, and the backswing can be shorter.
Like return of serves with shoulder turn, but no feet movement, is possible, but drive is affected, of course.
EFH doesn't usually have the same swing speed as SW or W, so to compensate, some forward body movement is used. Without the body moving forwards, but with full shoulder turn, you CAN hit EFH, but it doesn't have the full pace of foot alignment and kinetics.
Try hitting a golf ball with open stance. You CAN, it doesn't go far.

Agree that EFH is not the best match for open stance AND agree that Fed doesn't hit the normal EFH grip, but with his variation the open stance works quite well. That is why I don't like to put anything much in stone, as soon as you do, someone can always find a way to make it work good. Clearly there is wiggle room in matching grips and stances to some extent.

spacediver
12-02-2009, 07:47 PM
interesting - thanks for the insights. I've got a practice on friday so I look forward to experimenting with these ideas.

Netspirit
12-03-2009, 12:48 AM
Agree that EFH is not the best match for open stance AND agree that Fed doesn't hit the normal EFH grip, but with his variation the open stance works quite well.

To the best of my knowledge:

1. Roger Federer's career has spanned over the following 3 generations:

a) very end of the "classic all-court" (Sampras)
b) most of the modern "topspin baseline" (Nadal)
c) beginning of the future(?) "tall and flat" (delPo? and others)

His style evolved over time blending different elements from different generations.

2. His racket used to be the classic PS 6.0 85 but evolved halfway to the modern ligher 100-inchers.

3. His grip is something between the classic "big volleying grip" (he is supposed to use 4 1/2) and the modern "thin wristy topspin grip" (4 1/4 of Nadal) - Federer is using 4 3/8.

4. Fed hits with either the normal EFH or possibly Extreme Eastern (between E and SW). It is hard to identify his grip because of the smaller grip size.

5. He uses different forehand stances in different situations.

6. He uses the pure neutral stance very rarely. His "neutral" stance is actually "3/4 open" - his left foot is only slightly ahead of his right foot, which allows for greater shoulder rotation and better directional disguise. In this stance, he transfers some of his body weight on the left ("front") foot - a bit forward. This resembles the classic technique.

7. When hitting from the pure open stance, he transfers the weight of his body laterally to the right foot, pushes up and rotates ("corkscrews") around that axis. This is a modern technique.

8. He has the classic straight arm forehand and relies on footwork to position himself relative to the ball. The modern technique (the double-bent arm) allows for less-precise footwork and is better suited for hitting on the run.

9. The first part of his forward swing is relatively flat, as in the classic technique.

10. The second part of the swing is notable for his forearm pronation, which generates topspin and results in the wristy "windshield wiper" follow-through motion so that the racket face finishes somewhere around his waist. He does not "lock" his wrist allowing energy to flow through all of his kinetic chain - from his feet to his fingers. This is a modern technique also used by Nadal.

11. His head is turned towards the expected contact point, his eyes track the ball up to the contact point and remain there for a split second.

12. On the run, Federer uses whatever stance he happens to be in (even the closed stance) and can use the "mountain-skier" footwork to absorb the inertia and recover.

...Borrowing some of Fed's elements is probably fine. Copying the whole style is arguably pointless. What may deserve copying is his adaptive approach - do not throw things away just to make some textbook happy, pick up elements that bring you incremental rewards.

MasturB
12-03-2009, 01:14 AM
Fed's forehands are reactionary. He puts himself in the best position because of his footwork possible for the time he is allotted to retrieve the ball.

Unless someone hits a very weak shot where he has time to fully prepare, his forehands are improvised, but consistently improvised.

I've seen him do the buggy whip, I've seen him finish across his head, his shoulder, around his bicep, each all with closed,open, on the run, or neutral stances.

He's great because he doesn't setup the same way for every shot, he just reacts, but reacts the fastest way, in the shortest amount of time possible.

papa
12-03-2009, 05:16 AM
Some good posts here. However, don't forget the benefits of recovery time from an open stance and quickness on faster paced balls. The ball is moving a lot faster than it was twenty/thirty years ago because of racquet technology, bigger and better trained players, and so forth.

You certainly can get wrong footed a lot easier now than in the past and I'm not taking anything away from past players but the game has changed - some may argue that it hasn't but it has. We have 10 and 12 year olds who can hit the ball faster than a lot of pros just a while back - they manage to get every ounce into every shot and the ball is really moving. If you don't agree, that's ok but when you get a chance get to a major tournament and take a look - you'll be very surprised.

I happened to bring a very good college player from maybe forty years ago to watch some matches yesterday and to say he was amazed would be an understatement. This is a guy who has kept up with the game from a standpoint of "still playing status" after all those years. This isn't the same game and your just kidding yourself if you think it is.

Are their stroke new or just discovered, no, they have evolved over time and there isn't one person/situation that has brought about the changes. Tennis is also becoming more popular again after several decades of decline so we're seeing more kids play the sport with is an absolute positive.

5263
12-03-2009, 05:33 AM
To the best of my knowledge:

1. Roger Federer's career has spanned over the following 3 generations:

...Borrowing some of Fed's elements is probably fine. Copying the whole style is arguably pointless. What may deserve copying is his adaptive approach - do not throw things away just to make some textbook happy, pick up elements that bring you incremental rewards.

a lot of interesting things you mention about Fed,
but not sure how it relates to the point I was making.
Maybe you missed my point that,-
different grips and stances can be made to work together, despite how it may not be clear that they would. Another poster suggested that EFh would not be powerful with an open stance, where I replied that Fed was able to do quite well with it (even though I understand his grip is not considered pure EFh).
Nowhere did I suggest to copy him, but only was showing him as an example that there are lots of ways to do things.

On another note- are you quite sure that he plays with a 100 racket?

tennis angel
12-03-2009, 11:33 AM
The modern (open) stance is popular because of the modern grips (more Western) which result in more topspin and the "windshield wiper" follow-through. Apart from topspin, the ball speeds have increased, so more and more shots are hit on the run and off-balance, which again facilitates the open stance.

The reality is, some forehands (like flat winners) are still hit with the neutral stance as it allows to transfer the body weight forward better, while others (like defensive loopy shots) are hit with the open stance. Federer, for example, has like 25 different forehands, can hit from both stances and something in-between, and choses one depending on the amount of time he has to prepare, the height of the contact point, and other things.
I would disagree that Federer has 25 different forehands. He has more like 3 forehands which he applies in countless situations. It is club players who have a dozen different swings because they don't have control and command of the basics of modern methodology. The pros play a very simple, natural game based on fundamentals that are executed to an extremely efficient degree. The rest of us tend to hit inconsistently, mechanically and with too much thinking and not enough naturality.

tennis angel
12-03-2009, 11:42 AM
To the best of my knowledge:

1. Roger Federer's career has spanned over the following 3 generations:

a) very end of the "classic all-court" (Sampras)
b) most of the modern "topspin baseline" (Nadal)
c) beginning of the future(?) "tall and flat" (delPo? and others)

His style evolved over time blending different elements from different generations.

2. His racket used to be the classic PS 6.0 85 but evolved halfway to the modern ligher 100-inchers.

3. His grip is something between the classic "big volleying grip" (he is supposed to use 4 1/2) and the modern "thin wristy topspin grip" (4 1/4 of Nadal) - Federer is using 4 3/8.

4. Fed hits with either the normal EFH or possibly Extreme Eastern (between E and SW). It is hard to identify his grip because of the smaller grip size.

5. He uses different forehand stances in different situations.

6. He uses the pure neutral stance very rarely. His "neutral" stance is actually "3/4 open" - his left foot is only slightly ahead of his right foot, which allows for greater shoulder rotation and better directional disguise. In this stance, he transfers some of his body weight on the left ("front") foot - a bit forward. This resembles the classic technique.

7. When hitting from the pure open stance, he transfers the weight of his body laterally to the right foot, pushes up and rotates ("corkscrews") around that axis. This is a modern technique.

8. He has the classic straight arm forehand and relies on footwork to position himself relative to the ball. The modern technique (the double-bent arm) allows for less-precise footwork and is better suited for hitting on the run.

9. The first part of his forward swing is relatively flat, as in the classic technique.

10. The second part of the swing is notable for his forearm pronation, which generates topspin and results in the wristy "windshield wiper" follow-through motion so that the racket face finishes somewhere around his waist. He does not "lock" his wrist allowing energy to flow through all of his kinetic chain - from his feet to his fingers. This is a modern technique also used by Nadal.

11. His head is turned towards the expected contact point, his eyes track the ball up to the contact point and remain there for a split second.

12. On the run, Federer uses whatever stance he happens to be in (even the closed stance) and can use the "mountain-skier" footwork to absorb the inertia and recover.

...Borrowing some of Fed's elements is probably fine. Copying the whole style is arguably pointless. What may deserve copying is his adaptive approach - do not throw things away just to make some textbook happy, pick up elements that bring you incremental rewards.

Very interesting and accurate observations - I would only suggest that the second part of his ww forehand is not "wristy" or "locked" but moves naturally in concert with his shoulder turn, arm pulling in and across and hips rotating as he finishes across his left side.

His split step (present in virtually every shot unless he is in a dire emergency) is another unique and extremely important part of his "kinetic chain" - watch carefully and I think you will agree.

Your remark about his weight transfer (#7) is well stated. I have just addressed this on another thread here this morning. This is a huge element in the modern game.

VaBeachTennis
12-03-2009, 04:04 PM
I would disagree that Federer has 25 different forehands. He has more like 3 forehands which he applies in countless situations. It is club players who have a dozen different swings because they don't have control and command of the basics of modern methodology. The pros play a very simple, natural game based on fundamentals that are executed to an extremely efficient degree. The rest of us tend to hit inconsistently, mechanically and with too much thinking and not enough naturality.

Good points.

Netspirit
12-03-2009, 04:45 PM
On another note- are you quite sure that he plays with a 100 racket?

He's using a 90 incher of course, sorry for unclear wording - in the middle between the "classic" and "modern" head sizes (just like his technique is something in the middle).

My point is that Fed is quite a unique dude, his game is eclectic and should be analyzed element-by-element. I seriously doubt that he can or should be a textbook model for modern kids, with all due respect to Roger.

user92626
12-03-2009, 05:00 PM
I beg to differ. Roger's game is very textbook and a great model to learn after. His FH and BH look right in the middle of everything. Footwork, sight, serve, court composure, etc are dead on. In fact I modeled my serve after his.


Now I can understand if someone says Fernando G. or Nadal are difficult to mimic. Those guys are just extreme in some ways.

Netspirit
12-03-2009, 10:07 PM
I beg to differ. Roger's game is very textbook and a great model to learn after. His FH and BH look right in the middle of everything. Footwork, sight, serve, court composure, etc are dead on. In fact I modeled my serve after his.

There are several elements (mostly "classic") that I would not recommend to teach by default. For example, there is a firm consensus that the 2-handed backhand suits the modern game better than the 1-hander: http://www.itftennis.com/shared/medialibrary/pdf/original/IO_27759_original.PDF (no, I am not biased - I have a 1-hander myself). The modern double-bent arm structure also appears superior, especially on the run where precise footwork is hard to achieve.

Here I am only speaking of teaching kids "from the ground up", and only the "default" technique to focus on initially. If someone already hits a decent 1-handed backhand and simply cannot hit a 2-hander, so be it. Everybody is different from the textbook player after all.

For adults who used to play in the classic era, copying Federer is probably a better/easier way to advance instead of re-learning tennis as a whole new sport.

Now I can understand if someone says Fernando G. or Nadal are difficult to mimic. Those guys are just extreme in some ways.

This is why I cannot stand Nadal's style - I have seen kids copying him setting themselves up for injuries. Nadal on TV should always wear a T-shirt that says: "SURGEON GENERAL'S WARNING: Playing Like Nadal Causes Knee Tendinitis, Muscle Ruptures, Joint Dislocations, and May Complicate Pregnancy" (almost kidding).

papa
12-05-2009, 06:28 AM
Well, the reality is that not many can really copy Nadal's style. I watch kids compete at the highest level and I don't see many trying to copy his style. Sure, every once in a while, but unless they have "unusual" abilities his style is pretty much out of reach.

yemenmocha
12-05-2009, 07:52 AM
Well, the reality is that not many can really copy Nadal's style. I watch kids compete at the highest level and I don't see many trying to copy his style. Sure, every once in a while, but unless they have "unusual" abilities his style is pretty much out of reach.

Maybe we're seeing different age groups or something but from what I notice, but I think MOST kids are emulating Nadal when it comes to extreme spin, buggywhip shots, etc. They even want his racquets and those damn sleeveless shirts that he made so popular.

I don't see any kids with an eastern forehand grip and small head racquet.

papa
12-05-2009, 10:14 AM
Maybe we're seeing different age groups or something but from what I notice, but I think MOST kids are emulating Nadal when it comes to extreme spin, buggywhip shots, etc. They even want his racquets and those damn sleeveless shirts that he made so popular.

I don't see any kids with an eastern forehand grip and small head racquet.

Well, Nadal didn't start these things. The Eastern forehand grip and small headed racquets have been out for years as you know. I think if anything, kids are playing with more power than extreme spin. The buggywhip shot, although used, is certainly not used on every shot basis. For one thing, most kids that play the game at high levels today are probably not as strong as Nadal - yes they are fit but not as strong. Just take a look at Nadals left arm, its like most peoples legs.

One thing Nadal uses, in addition to using very extreme spin, that may influence kids and others today is that he uses a very small grip but again, he's not the first to go to it but it helps in his flicking action. As I've mentioned in prior posts, Nadal's ball clears the net by an average of six feet.