The Neutral stance on the Forehand.

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by Djoker91, Feb 1, 2012.

  1. Djoker91

    Djoker91 Rookie

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    I had a problem with my forehand that I finally was able to fix. My forehand was way to high and loopy even when I tried to have lower net clearance. Couldn't fix it for a while. Was hitting with a really open stance, closed it up more to neutral and ka-ching! And the thing that helped the most was being able to transfer weight much easier allowing the shot more power and thus a lower net clearance, roughly 3 feet right where I want it. Used to be 10-13 feet. Awful right? Lol though I'm glad I found and fixed my troublesome problem, I have a very hard time getting into position with the neutral stance since its new to me. When I do get into position and it works out, I can spank a winner. I.e. a weak second serve. But sometimes during a rally my footwork won't work out. Not that I don't have enough time, but I'm taking to many steps or not enough. Timing off half the time. Any tips to help be into position every time?! Please help! Thanks!
     
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  2. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Anything new, you gotta spend the practice time, then match time, before you can use the new style.
    In your case, we all know a closed stance would hit lower. You know this from hitting CC as opposed to hitting DTL.
    Get used to your new stance, or adopt a stronger grip to force your open stance to hit the ball lower. Always your choice.
     
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  3. Djoker91

    Djoker91 Rookie

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    Thanks Lee for the quick reply. I definitely tried experiment with grips but didn't work out to great. Using the neutral to semi open stance feels pretty good, just every now and then there are some kinks. I think your absolutely right. The time needs to be put in in order to perfect it. Just to clarify, you can't hit down the line with the neutral stance?
     
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  4. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    IMO you would have been better to correct your problems with the open stance as your problem was not because of the stance; it was because something you were doing wrong.
    Now you have a whole new set of problems to work thru as the neutral stance actually does have some challenges built into it (unlike the open stance, which does not have built in flaws).
    good luck
     
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  5. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    You can hit any possible shot with any possible stance, you just need to practice enough.
     
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  6. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    Very true, but with closed and neutral stance a lot of that practice is due to the inherit limitations of the stance.
     
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  7. Djoker91

    Djoker91 Rookie

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    Good point. I don't know, I just got back from hitting a while ago and couldn't hit the ball right for my life. And I'm way better then that. I mean way to high and long about 7 feet. Embarassing really. But I dunno, going to neutral felt better and showed some results! Stay with it? Or what do you think the problem might be for a high loopy weak forehand? In yur opinion
     
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  8. Djoker91

    Djoker91 Rookie

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    I 2nd that. Thanks again. Ill put in the work. Made some great progress today and will make some more.
     
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  9. Djoker91

    Djoker91 Rookie

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    #9
  10. spun_out

    spun_out Rookie

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    I think the issue of stance is a lot like other things in tennis that confuses more than helps. The name of the stance depends on the left foot (for a righty fh), but what is important in the groundstroke is the back foot (right foot for a fh). The back foot should be the anchor. It should be placed at a proper distance from the anticipated location of the ball at strike point (aided also by your left arm/hand). If you have time to step in with your left foot, then that's obviously ok/good, but if you don't, then just make sure that you step somewhere with the left foot to facilitate a proper weight transfer. Obviously, there will be times where you will have to reach with the left foot to get to the ball.

    I hope this helps.
     
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  11. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    Sounds like something is causing your racket face to open excessively. Maybe you are leaning back or even starting with the wrong grip.

    The other thing is do you know to hit up and across the contact?
    Maybe you are trying to get too much forward lifting extension up and directly over the ball?
    Ever see the slight sidespin on Nadal's topspin?
    Swing to meet the ball from below, then at contact pull up and across the ball.
    More across for a flatter shot. More upwards for higher net clearance.
    sounds like you need more "across" on your shots.
     
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  12. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    DJ91, we assume you are using something between SW and EFH grip?
     
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  13. Djoker91

    Djoker91 Rookie

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    Awesome points, helped a lot, thanks!!
     
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  14. Djoker91

    Djoker91 Rookie

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    Yes, usually right inbetween the 2 actually, right between bevel 3 and 4. Sometimes full on semi western.
     
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  15. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    I believe it should clearly be just the opposite, step to neutral or closed if there is a lack of time and you need it to get there, then know how to compensate for the weaknesses of the stance, but
    always step to open stance when you have time and there is no compensation required for this excellent stance.

    Notice how the pros nearly always lift up and off the ground to compensate for using the neutral stance at times. In the air they will usually rotate and land open and beyond.
     
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  16. Djoker91

    Djoker91 Rookie

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    Makes a lot of sense, thanks! By across do you mean out in front or like pulling across towards the right? (Righty FH)
     
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  17. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Lower balls, you hit the outside of the ball.
    Medium height balls, you hit topspin.
    Really hit balls, you wipe across your body after contact, creating some sidespin as well as top.
     
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  18. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    your vid link is not working for me

    For a righty, you swing up and out to contact, then start to pull your hand strongly up towards your left shoulder. Centrif force will still carry it out some, but your move is to pull up to finish over your shoulder, leaving the wrist sort of naturally laid back until the last part of the finish near the left shoulder.
    you may have to focus on pulling more to the left bicep to hit flatter.
     
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  19. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    look at this very first Fh

    notice how hand goes up and out toward the contact,
    dragging the racket.
    notice how the hand starts across to move to follow thru to left shoulder,
    right prior to contact
    (even though the racket head is still thrown out to contact and through)

    also notice how she stay open if there is time.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E_mNZGq8TfE
     
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  20. spun_out

    spun_out Rookie

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    I agree that in the high-speed baseline exchange of the pros, open stance is preferred for recovery. I am assuming that the instances when the pros compensate for their neutral stance are during a baseline rally.

    In rec tennis, though, many of the groundstroke shots require you to be moving in at the same time (because they are slow and short), and in these cases, I feel that stepping in (not closed but between open and neutral, closer to neutral) helps add power and direction to your shots.
     
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  21. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    Open stance is good for recovery, but that is misleading as open stance is superior anyway. It gives more direction, net ht control, spin and as much power, but with more control of max pwr.

    That my be true about stepping in if you have probs with your stroke, but with open stance is so powerful I can't see why you would need to step in. usually you have to step up to shorter balls and sometime the feet don't work out just right, but stepping with the right foot up would be better if only one step is needed.

    As to direction, what you say seems right but is not the case. Open stance hitting up and across the ball actually improves directional control over stepping in. I agree it's not logic on the surface, but there are reasons of course.
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2012
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  22. spun_out

    spun_out Rookie

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    What about 0:40 on the Stotur video you posted? That's basically what I mean by stepping in.

    I think that you are basically talking with the goal of teaching the perfect pro stroke, but in my experience, trying to power a shot that is coming at you slowly leads to a breakdown of stroke in majority of rec players. Is this because of a stroke flaw? Most likely. But stepping in acts as a safeguard against over-rotating. It also has the additional benefit of natural (not necessarily the correct) move into the net.
     
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  23. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    Don't mean to be over technical, but she is still slightly open to her target line in the stroke at 40.
    On that stroke she is doing a step to balance, which is fine to adjust her distance.

    But to your point, where does the idea of over rotating come from? and
    how would something like that be a problem?
    Only over rotation I see is girls in neutral and closed stances who over rotate too far back on their tk back.
    I think rotation is good and don't ever recall having a student over rotate in modern stroke instruction.

    Yes, I agree that at times it may be the most natural step towards net on balance; so yes, it is fine then, but you have to learn to compensate for it if you want to hit strong. It is fine for pushing and med hitting. To go big though, you must know how to account for the aspects where it lacks.
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2012
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  24. spun_out

    spun_out Rookie

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    If you are calling the shot at 0:40 open, then yes, you would only be using neutral or closed for reaching.

    As for over-rotating, I guess it is not the correct word. What I mean is the tendency, when trying to hit hard, to lean back to facilitate what feels like a larger swipe at the ball (obviously ending with the ball being launched over the baseline). Stepping in, like Stotur does, seems to help with keeping your upper body from leaning back as you rotate.
     
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  25. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    Honestly I would not address that stance as an example, as it is only slightly open to target line, but I just can't call it closed either, you know? I admit I probably would if I was touting neutral stance though, lol.

    You bring up a great reason why open is better. The problem you cite and as you state, is leaning back, which takes you off balance. Open stance forces you to focus on the all important aspect of "balance" during your shot.
    Balance is the biggest key to making shots with control.
    Why fix that with another stance that may even encourage lack of balance (excessive wt shift forward) along with other weaknesses?
     
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  26. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    I hate to say this, but, I think you're going in the wrong direction. IMO, modern a forehand should be hit with an open stance. An open stance allows you to transfer your weight much further than a closed stance, and helps you maintain your balance and timing better as well. A closed stance literally stops your upper body rotation before you finish your swing.

    And, 10-13 feet over the net, if you are going corner to corner, is not too high if you're hitting heavy topspin. 3 feet is way too low, unless you're going for a sharp angle. I would reconsider going back to open stance and hitting with a bigger margin over the net.
     
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  27. Djoker91

    Djoker91 Rookie

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    Based on what you guys are saying, it sounds like the problem isnt my stance, but what I think is tht I'm leaning back whrn going to take that larger cut at the ball, as was mentioned by someone. But how do I make sure I'm not leaning back as that is a natural tendency? With an open stance of course. Obviously a neutral stance won't let you lean back much, so that's just normal. But when being open, how can I not lean back and crank winners like i used to?
     
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  28. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    You just need a spectator or a video cam to tell.
     
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  29. Djoker91

    Djoker91 Rookie

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    That's what im gonna do, tape myself. Tho my wife always calls me uncle rico when I do lol. I was thinking too, what if I have my right heel up and pivot really hard on my forehand swing with my back right foot? That should help in not leaning back and it making sure i go thru the shot right? What are your thoughts?
     
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  30. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    I am going to strongly disagree with this last assertion. A fundmental flaw with the open stance FH is the loading stresses placed on the right hip (for righty FHs), particularly stress to the hip flexor. I also recall a book and some other sources that mention that the open stance FH might also place additional stress to the hitting shoulder. Prolific employers of the open stance FH, such as Kuerten, Hewitt and others have exerienced serious problems with the hip flexor.

    Roger Federer, who uses a variety of stances (including the open stance) has been relatively injury free throughout his career. With myself, I've noticed that I started experiencing serious hip flexor pain when I started hitting a high percentage of my shots with an open stance. My suggestion is to follow the example of Federer and employ a variety of stances in your game.

    http://www.tennisplayer.net/public/.../hip_injuries_openstance_forehand_public.html

    http://www.usta.com/Improve-Your-Game/Health-Fitness/Injuries-Prevention-and-Recovery/Hip_Injuries/

    http://books.google.com/books?id=sZbVLzLr80kC&pg=PA78&lpg=PA78&dq=tennis+open+stance+hip+flexor&source=bl&ots=h-geC_I4qv&sig=gk-1Fc71igWVaqMyUGMfyFTM4ZI&hl=en&sa=X&ei=d_wqT7mLHY7umAXWxLnXDw&ved=0CFgQ6AEwBA#v=onepage&q=tennis%20open%20stance%20hip%20flexor&f=false
     
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  31. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    I personally have always stepped into my forehand whenever possible. I hit much harder and heavier shots this way. I use an open stance when I do not have as much time or am pulled wide.

    I watch a lot of pro tennis and whenever they can, most pros step into their shots with their left foot. The main thing is that you DO step out with the right like you are saying after turning to the side. So I always step so I am open, but then if I have time step in with the left as opposed to launching off the right foot.
     
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  32. Djoker91

    Djoker91 Rookie

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    Very good point. I don't want to risk any type of injury. Ill be sure to add variety, just need to get the open stance down. I have the neutral stance down pat.
     
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  33. Djoker91

    Djoker91 Rookie

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    I'm the same way. So what yur saying is when you move yur opponent around the court and finally get a duck ball from yur opponent, to go to a neutral stance and step into it for the winner? Cuz everytime i try to add pepper it goes to high and long with the open stance.
     
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  34. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    Yep thats exactly what I do. And thats what most pros do as well. Just watch matches and you will see. Whenever you can step into a shot, you do it. It's just easy power and less stress on you.

    Look at how the best players always always try their best to hit their 2 handed backhands with a closed stance. They need that power and leverage to really get the ball back with pace.


    forehand putaway :I move to the side of the ball and turn to the side into a neutral stance. Step out to the right with my right foot while prepped and then step into the court onto my left foot.
     
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  35. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    First, We were speaking of flaws related to working execution, not possible injury aspects, but

    I think that is a common misunderstanding and am a little surprised you would go with it except you have had some issues yourself, which may have swayed you some. Open stance has by no means been associated with more hip or knee problems than closed stance. Connors had hip surg as have others. No surprise that grinders like guga and Hewitt would have "over-use" injuries. They also both had that odd leg lift kick on their open Fh too, so is that it?
    Hewitt used variety in his stances as you suggest anyway like Sampras; so much for that.

    The Open stance is so good it may allow you to go harder and that could be a culprit, because with neutral you are forced to hold back or miss often.
    My point anyway is to learn and train open, which help with proper stroke path, but do not be stance depend in your strokes; be balance dependent.
     
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  36. Timbo's hopeless slice

    Timbo's hopeless slice Hall of Fame

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    I am 45 and hit with open stance most of the time, I haven't had any injury problems at all since switching over ten years ago. I play a lot, and on HC, so if there was an issue with the stance I think I would have at least had a twinge by now..

    To OP, I agree it is probably someting else rather than your stance, hard to say without seeing you on a court.
     
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  37. rkelley

    rkelley Hall of Fame

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    I switched to a modern fh a year ago. Since then I've been hitting more and more open stance. At this point I pretty much take everything in open stance on my fh side if I have the time to set-up. Basically open stance, non-racquet arm across the body, legs bent, weight on the outside/back foot, then rip it. My weight transfers to the other foot during the shot. As others have said, the open stance allows for complete body rotation after the shot which allows for more power.

    Balls that are short and low I usually step forward in a neutral stance to start the swing but then swing my back foot around during the follow through so that I finish the stroke in an open stance. A kid I hit with a while back who plays 18 and mens open showed me this foot work and it works like a dream.

    I'm 49 and nothing's broken yet.
     
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  38. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    I agree with the open stance SW grip forehand.
    Now, what stance for you feeding the first ball in a rally situation. Do you stand wide open stanced?
     
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  39. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    We agree on a lot but not here. What I see is Pros using open when they can, and using others when it works to adjust for position on the ball. Even when they step up, they compensate usually by leaving their feet to rotate to open in the air.
     
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  40. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    No, not a good point at all. Did you go to the references provided?
    Pages of all kinds of sports injuries with only passing mention of
    possible risk with open stance, except for this,

    "Unfortunately, most tennis injuries are multifaceted so there are few easy answers to injury questions. There are no studies that statistically link open stance tennis strokes with higher rates of certain injuries at the hip joint."

    which states what you need to know about this.
     
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  41. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    Curious where you are going here, but I like most instructors feed from open.
     
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  42. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    Well watch the recent becker video. He acknowledges the open stance but says it always optimal if you can step in. I watched a lot of pro practice vids on youtube and they all seem to like to step in as well. I think open stance all the time is an extreme view honestly.
     
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  43. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    I'm from the old school, transitioning to new school forehands.
    I feed first ball closed stance, hit almost every forehand open. When I feed open, I feel I'm bouncing the ball too high for a first ball feed, like maybe shoulder high mostly. I want my partner to make his first ball back to my side of the court, not force him to hit a high bouncing ball......yet.
     
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  44. Timbo's hopeless slice

    Timbo's hopeless slice Hall of Fame

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    I feed open, and I find it a good exercise for a student to put both feet on teh baseline and use the left hand to drop the ball on the baseline and hit a FH with the right, gets the core rotation going automatically.

    I imagine 5263 probably does something similar?

    Agree with Power Player in some repsects, and I hit a lot of FH attacking shots with a neutral(ish) stance, but Becker hasn't been a force for almost twenty years!
     
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  45. rkelley

    rkelley Hall of Fame

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    I didn't mention the grip if you're replying to me Lee. SW is the most popular grip on both the mens and womens tour, but not the only one used. You can hit a open stance, modern swing path with anything from E. to W. I personally use a strong E. grip.
     
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  46. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Do we notice Fed tends to close or neutal his stance on almost all practice forehands? Strong E or weak SW.
    Seems lots of modern players neutral or close their stance on balls they try to hit for winners. I know rallyballs are hit openstanced.
     
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  47. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    Agree about becker obviously being older and much more classic but he understands the modern game quite well. I just dont think hitting open all the time is the way to go. I like the variation and also the power i can generate from a neutral stance.
     
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  48. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    Becker??

    share the link, but sounds like he's proving he doesn't understand the modern game so far, but
    I have an open mind. I'd like to see his take.
    Not only played a way back, but was not known for technique or thinking, and had Nick for a coach! Of course that was maybe good for his approach, which was not technical.
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2012
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  49. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    I answered that question in my last post.

    We all wish we could play like that guy regardless of style of play. Lets be real about it. He defintley gets the modern game and you should watch the video. But you seem deadset on one method of play and that is all, so i know nothing will change your mind. Nothing wrong with it, but we are not all clones.

    Regardless, i watch a lot of pro practice videos and they all step in when they can and hit open as well.
     
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  50. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    I edited that post after reading more,
    can you share the link? is it youtube?

    I'm not set, but have just moved past that and learned that stepping in with wt shift is holding back many players from learning to be real good at attacking the mid ct ball. Very few even in the pros are great at it and it's way worse in rec play. IMO this is largely due to the myth of wt into step in shot on mid ct balls.

    I know you keep citing where you see pros step in, but that means little, as I guess you don't see the compensations they make to adjust for it ( or else you would not keep repeating that). Often when you do actually see them step in with wt, they end up over juicing the ball out.
    I look forward to what you have with Becker though.
    I've just not see anything remotely convincing to go back where I spent 15 yrs of dealing with the shortcomings that we don't experience with open stance!
     
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