Enough Is Enough: Should I Switch to Open Stance FH?

Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
I have a long, sad history with my FH. It has never been any good, and I have taken much instruction and lots of practice. Still not getting it.

For background, I changed to SW grip a few years ago, which was a good move. I am 59 (geez, where did the time go?), but reasonably fit. I play only doubles. My swing is mostly OK, or so I've been told. But I just cannot swing toward the target, often hitting off of my back foot, or reaching too far in front, or almost spinning in a circle. Even if I do hit a few good ones in a lesson, I never seem to hit one in a doubles match -- partly because I don't trust it and I bail out. And I really struggle to hit a cross-court FH -- I always feel like I am reaching or the ball is not in the right place or something is just off.

This spring, I decided to really get after it and improve my FH, because this is silly. Here it is September and my FH is still pathetic.

On Saturday I was doing that and decided to see what would happen if I tried open stance. It felt much more natural. Just plant the right leg and shift weight to left during the swing.

I am thinking of asking my pro to switch me to open stance. I know he will try to discourage this because we have discussed it in the past. He thinks most rec players like me (read: older 3.5 ladies) who hit open stance do not do it correctly in that they do not transfer weight and hit only with their arm. He says that my real problem is my footwork, and open stance won't fix that.

So. Do you think it is worth my trying to change to hitting open stance FH? Or is my pro right that this is likely a mistake?

Now, I know what most people at TT will say to a post like this: (1) post a video, and (2) get a new pro. No, to both. I'm not posting a video because this is a theoretical question -- I do not think that seeing me hit closed stance FHs badly will lead to useful answers about whether I could or should hit open stance. Second, my pro is a very good and experienced, and I do not think any of the other pros I could possibly use would be any better.
 

sureshs

Bionic Poster
By open do you mean full open (line joining the feet parallel to baseline) or semi open (line at some angle to the baseline)?
 

pumpkinpi

Rookie
At the risk of sounding stupid, what's a player's "pro"? Is it like your coach? And personally, I would ask a few other people as well, maybe not get a new pro but ask them (other pros) a few questions.
 

OnTheLine

Hall of Fame
Likely no middle-aged female will ever post a video here ... I cannot imagine the comments.

Curious are you talking only about a topspin FH? Or all FHs? (slice, chip, lob ...)

As you are a lefty and play deuce court (IIRC) how are you returning serve if not cross court?

Is this only from the baseline or is this an issue on mid-court approaches as well?
 

smg

New User
I think the question is less of the specific mechanics of your forehand and why you would try to force yourself to avoid hitting in a way in which you are more comfortable. I came to tennis late (45) after having grown up playing many different sports. When I started playing a teaching pro told me I should absolutely learn a 2 handed backhand. I spent countless hours and hit thousands of balls over the course of about 9 months; it never felt right, ever. I decided, forget that, I'm going to hit it the way that feels natural to me and went to a 1 hander. That swing just feels natural to me and the 2 hander never did. It's not a big weapon for me, but it's not a big liability either and I don't get nervous when I have to hit it. Is it possible I could eventually have developed a solid 2 hander? Sure. But it was taking some of the fun out of the game for me and there were (are) other areas of my game that need work.

So, what is the benefit to you of hitting your forehand in a way that feels less natural to you?
 

Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
Sorry, I wasn't clear. By open, I mean semi-open to open, depending on situation. I suspect I am semi-open at times already, like when running wide, but I never intend to hit open.

By "pro," I mean the guy who works at a club and teaches me.

I'm talking about baseline shots. For background, I am a righty, but I play a lot of deuce. This is mainly because I like to come to net, and my BH volley is better than most 3.5s. I survive by standing in to receive serves and hitting slice returns. Many women at my level are not at all aggressive with their poaching (and they definitely don't poach if the serve is wide to my pitiful FH), so I can get away with this. Alas, I often get smoked out in matches when people start realizing that the way to beat me is not serving up the middle to my BH on deuce court, but is with serving wide.

For mid-court approaches, I slice (although my 2HBH is fine so I sometimes use that). You will never see me wind up at the T and hit a flat or FH approach shot, unless I plan on losing the point with a ball that goes long or into the net.
 

J_R_B

Hall of Fame
Well, I agree with your pro on his two points - (1) a vast majority of "mature" 3.5 level women trying to learn open stance likely will not transfer weight properly and will arm the ball and (2) the problem is actually most likely your footwork in closed stance. However, even so, I wouldn't necessarily discourage you from trying it. If it feels more natural and gives you better results, then why not? It's not like you're training for the WTA, you're training to win 3.5 level women's doubles matches.
 

socallefty

Hall of Fame
Some questions to help understand the issue better.

1. If you change to hitting an open FH against your coach’s wishes, how do you think his reaction will be? Will he be willing to continue to coach you cheerfully or will you be forced to change your coach anyway?

2. You said your coach thinks the issue is your footwork. Can you give some specifics on what is wrong with your footwork according to your coach? Have you tried to work on those footwork changes and what do you think is preventing you from making the changes he recommends successfully?

3. Do you know if your eye-dominant side is the same as your handedness? For instance if you are left-handed, are you also left-eye dominant? If that’s the case, you might do better with an open stance and it is worth trying. Many players who struggle with the FH are same-side eye dominant and sometimes see the ball better with an open stance.

With many rec players, a common problem with footwork is getting too close to the ball and not having enough space to swing out freely with proper weight transfer. If your coach wants you to stop further away from the ball, that’s definitely something to work on. The other common problem is not bending the front knee enough while hitting the closed/neutral stance to get low with the racquet head starting from below the ball - your chest should be somewhat upright, but your knee should be bent to get low. Many players fall over with their chest and head bending forward while keeping their knee straight and reach for balls. All the best with diagnosing the reasons for your errors.
 
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OnTheLine

Hall of Fame
Sorry, I wasn't clear. By open, I mean semi-open to open, depending on situation. I suspect I am semi-open at times already, like when running wide, but I never intend to hit open.

By "pro," I mean the guy who works at a club and teaches me.

I'm talking about baseline shots. For background, I am a righty, but I play a lot of deuce. This is mainly because I like to come to net, and my BH volley is better than most 3.5s. I survive by standing in to receive serves and hitting slice returns. Many women at my level are not at all aggressive with their poaching (and they definitely don't poach if the serve is wide to my pitiful FH), so I can get away with this. Alas, I often get smoked out in matches when people start realizing that the way to beat me is not serving up the middle to my BH on deuce court, but is with serving wide.

For mid-court approaches, I slice (although my 2HBH is fine so I sometimes use that). You will never see me wind up at the T and hit a flat or FH approach shot, unless I plan on losing the point with a ball that goes long or into the net.
How on earth did I get it stuck in my head that you are a lefty .. no idea! Sorry.
On deuce you will certainly see more backhand opportunities so that is good to be able to hide the weakness.

To me it seems that the s/w grip requires that everything else in terms of footwork, timing, etc. has to be totally on or it will go awry.

I am only open-stance on my inside-out FH .. which is one of my favorite shots.

I agree with some others that what feels natural is a good way to go. HOWEVER, open stance makes it very easy to hit late and can lose both power and top spin.

If it were me I would work on my footwork more .... it seems everything I do less than well is about those feet!
 

Cashman

Hall of Fame
On Saturday I was doing that and decided to see what would happen if I tried open stance. It felt much more natural. Just plant the right leg and shift weight to left during the swing.
This is pretty normal and common. On the surface, an open stance is more forgiving of poor footwork and late contact. If you struggle with those things, then switching from closed to open will immediately feel better.

It’s a trap, though. Without fixing the underlying problem you will still struggle with shot penetration, and you’re at high risk of arming the ball in a way that will cause injury.

At the end of the day, nobody should really be learning a specifically ‘open’ or ‘closed’ forehand anyway. Stance should be a function of the incoming ball, not your fundamental shot mechanics.

Fix those mechanics, then you can hit open or closed as required.
 

zipplock

Hall of Fame
I have a long, sad history with my FH. It has never been any good, and I have taken much instruction and lots of practice. Still not getting it.

For background, I changed to SW grip a few years ago, which was a good move. I am 59 (geez, where did the time go?), but reasonably fit. I play only doubles. My swing is mostly OK, or so I've been told. But I just cannot swing toward the target, often hitting off of my back foot, or reaching too far in front, or almost spinning in a circle. Even if I do hit a few good ones in a lesson, I never seem to hit one in a doubles match -- partly because I don't trust it and I bail out. And I really struggle to hit a cross-court FH -- I always feel like I am reaching or the ball is not in the right place or something is just off.

This spring, I decided to really get after it and improve my FH, because this is silly. Here it is September and my FH is still pathetic.

On Saturday I was doing that and decided to see what would happen if I tried open stance. It felt much more natural. Just plant the right leg and shift weight to left during the swing.

I am thinking of asking my pro to switch me to open stance. I know he will try to discourage this because we have discussed it in the past. He thinks most rec players like me (read: older 3.5 ladies) who hit open stance do not do it correctly in that they do not transfer weight and hit only with their arm. He says that my real problem is my footwork, and open stance won't fix that.

So. Do you think it is worth my trying to change to hitting open stance FH? Or is my pro right that this is likely a mistake?

Now, I know what most people at TT will say to a post like this: (1) post a video, and (2) get a new pro. No, to both. I'm not posting a video because this is a theoretical question -- I do not think that seeing me hit closed stance FHs badly will lead to useful answers about whether I could or should hit open stance. Second, my pro is a very good and experienced, and I do not think any of the other pros I could possibly use would be any better.
If you don't try something different you can't expect a different result ...
 

Bagumbawalla

Hall of Fame
You don't need anyone to make/justify/support your decision to hit the ball as you wish.
I am seeing the difficulty more as a moral dilemma than a stylistic choice. Why have lessons/coaching, only to
turn from the path of self improvement toward the easy and expedient? Like Cashman, above, I would suggest developing your timing and positioning- then you have more options to do what is required in a particular situation. Until
you do develop those skills- well, you do your best with what you have.
 
@Cindysphinx,

I'm more for a pragmatic approach: how does it feel? How does it fit into your overall game? Is it causing any undue strain?

It sounds like you should at least give it a shot rather than letting someone convince you that theoretically it's a bad idea. You won't know until you try.
 

jered

Rookie
If you've been playing for a long while there is absolutely no reason you shouldn't be learning all aspects and footwork patterns of different stroke mechanics. You'll be better at some than others but that's rec tennis. Who knows, trying something new might unlock the issues he says you've been having and allow you to progress.
 

Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
Some questions to help understand the issue better.

With many rec players, a common problem with footwork is getting too close to the ball and not having enough space to swing out freely with proper weight transfer. If your coach wants you to stop further away from the ball, that’s definitely something to work on. The other common problem is not bending the front knee enough while hitting the closed/neutral stance to get low with the racquet head starting from below the ball - your chest should be somewhat upright, but your knee should be bent to get low. Many players fall over with their chest and head bending forward while keeping their knee straight and reach for balls. All the best with diagnosing the reasons for your errors.
Yeah, um.

I habitually get too close to the ball, so I don't have enough space to swing out freely with proper weight transfer.

I don't bend my front (left) knee enough. Part of this is habit, but part of it is that I have had two surgeries on my left knee. It feels fine, but I think I still don't trust it and don't feel as stable on it as I should. I wonder if I will be more successful planting my left knee and then transferring?

It's weird. I have had to break countless bad habits over the years. For volleys, I had to address wristiness, had to stop backswinging on half volleys, had to keep a continental grip inside the court. I cannot figure out how to space myself from the ball on my FH -- which is doubly frustrating because I do not have this problem with any other shot.

I am sure my pro will teach me whatever I ask, but he will surely let me know if it is a bad idea. And if it doesn't work out, he will cheerfully take my money until I realize he was right all along, and he won't say "I told you so" more than once. :)
 

socallefty

Hall of Fame
Yeah, um.

I habitually get too close to the ball, so I don't have enough space to swing out freely with proper weight transfer.

I don't bend my front (left) knee enough.
If you don’t bend your front knee to get low with a closed/neutral stance, you probably don’t have a low-high swing to generate good top-spin as you probably don’t start with your RH below the ball. If you don’t have enough spin, your FH will always be inconsistent especially if your footwork doesn’t take you to the right spot early. You likely hit too flat or bunt the ball to control it and it is hard to generate good pace and be consistent in that case. So, I would prioritize that.

If you usually bunt and poke at the ball, you typically will be stopping closer to the ball as your arms won’t be extended when you hit the ball - this is how most rec players below 4.5 play. If you make a commitment during lessons and drills to hit hard and deep with topspin, you will likely try to hit the ball much earlier more in front of you as you will start extending more during your swing. This will automatically make your body realize that you need more space and you will slowly start the process of stopping further from the ball.

So, make the commitment to get low with a bent knee and hit the ball earlier with full extension and heavier topspin and I bet your FH will start improving. Incidentally, you need to learn to plant first with your back foot and then transfer weight forward by moving your front knee forward, bending it and then hitting the ball with full extension. If you hit with an open stance, you plant with your back foot and then you transfer weight more by leaning your upper body forward rather than moving forward with your bent front knee. Open stance works well for crosscourt shots, but you will still need to learn how to hit with topspin with a closed/neutral stance typically to hit DTL and to hit short balls aggressively.
 

ktx

New User
Hitting a really good forehand slice is pretty hard, and hitting it well enough to make it your bread-and-butter rally shot is even harder.

It’s easier to just fix your regular forehand.
Since she plays exclusively doubles I was assuming she already had a FH slice, realize now that may not be true.

As for fixing the regular FH, if you hit with a semi open stance but can’t get enough rotation in your core to not just arm the ball you are asking for injury for sure. Some of the fun of tennis is constantly working on things, right? I struggle with my BH footwork And for me it’s a balance/center of gravity thing.
 

travlerajm

G.O.A.T.
Hitting a really good forehand slice is pretty hard, and hitting it well enough to make it your bread-and-butter rally shot is even harder.

It’s easier to just fix your regular forehand.
My forehand suffered from the same issues described by @Cindysphinx . In my case, turning my forehand slice into my bread-and-butter at an advanced age in order to take a big step up in my competitive results proved far easier than fixing my regular forehand.

I can’t use the slice on every situation (I still need something else for low balls from the baseline), but on balls above the waist, I now feel confident using a forehand slice as a go-to option in a rally against good players.
 
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Cashman

Hall of Fame
In my case, turning my forehand slice into my bread-and-butter at an advanced age in order to take a big step up in my competitive results proved far easier than fixing my regular forehand.
I would be curious to see what your opponents think of it. I value a good forehand slice, but it’s a very difficult shot to hit with depth, consistency and penetration.

To get it good enough to use as a rally ball would require a hell of a lot of work. Mine is fine as a change up, but if I was to hit it consistently off that wing I would make a lot of errors, and it would be little disincentive for my opponent to attack the net.
 

Arak

Professional
Imho, just play the way you feel most comfortable. Your body/brain will slowly find solutions. I would drop the coach without hesitation.
 

travlerajm

G.O.A.T.
I would be curious to see what your opponents think of it. I value a good forehand slice, but it’s a very difficult shot to hit with depth, consistency and penetration.

To get it good enough to use as a rally ball would require a hell of a lot of work. Mine is fine as a change up, but if I was to hit it consistently off that wing I would make a lot of errors, and it would be little disincentive for my opponent to attack the net.
Just imagine a 4.5-5.0 version of Santoro, but with 1hf. That’s how I play the baseline these days.

I grew up as a S&V’er. My serve isn’t what it used to be. But my fh volley is still very good. The fh slice is exactly the same stroke as my fh volley.
 
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Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
A couple of things.

You've all diagnosed me correctly without even seeing me hit. Impressive, that.

I do have a FH slice -- it's the only way I can survive in mixed -- but I would not want to have it be my only FH. One needs to use the right tool for the job, and sometimes a slice is not the right tool.

Interestingly, the problem with my current ball is not that it is flat. It is that it is too spinny, lacking penetration. I often do the opposite of bending my front knee, almost using it like a brake. Staying on my toes and consciously keeping distance from the ball helps a lot. Oddly, slowing down my swing also helps a lot, and this makes no sense to me. Maybe I just have better control if I swing slower?

I dunno. Part of me thinks that I cannot exist on the planet without having a decent closed stance FH, so I should keep working on it. The other part of me wants to put some time into closed stance and see if there is a magic bullet there.

But the last part of me knows that the only way I have been able to make big progress on a shot is by sticking with it, even when it isn't working. I spent almost all of 2019 working on my volley, and I think it improved massively. So maybe I give this FH a year and see what happens . . .
 

sureshs

Bionic Poster
Sorry, I wasn't clear. By open, I mean semi-open to open, depending on situation. I suspect I am semi-open at times already, like when running wide, but I never intend to hit open.

By "pro," I mean the guy who works at a club and teaches me.

I'm talking about baseline shots. For background, I am a righty, but I play a lot of deuce. This is mainly because I like to come to net, and my BH volley is better than most 3.5s. I survive by standing in to receive serves and hitting slice returns. Many women at my level are not at all aggressive with their poaching (and they definitely don't poach if the serve is wide to my pitiful FH), so I can get away with this. Alas, I often get smoked out in matches when people start realizing that the way to beat me is not serving up the middle to my BH on deuce court, but is with serving wide.

For mid-court approaches, I slice (although my 2HBH is fine so I sometimes use that). You will never see me wind up at the T and hit a flat or FH approach shot, unless I plan on losing the point with a ball that goes long or into the net.
Semi open FH stance is OK for club players. I find neutral sideways stance natural for my 1 handed BH, and semi open natural for my FH.
 

zaskar1

Semi-Pro
I have a long, sad history with my FH. It has never been any good, and I have taken much instruction and lots of practice. Still not getting it.

For background, I changed to SW grip a few years ago, which was a good move. I am 59 (geez, where did the time go?), but reasonably fit. I play only doubles. My swing is mostly OK, or so I've been told. But I just cannot swing toward the target, often hitting off of my back foot, or reaching too far in front, or almost spinning in a circle. Even if I do hit a few good ones in a lesson, I never seem to hit one in a doubles match -- partly because I don't trust it and I bail out. And I really struggle to hit a cross-court FH -- I always feel like I am reaching or the ball is not in the right place or something is just off.

This spring, I decided to really get after it and improve my FH, because this is silly. Here it is September and my FH is still pathetic.

On Saturday I was doing that and decided to see what would happen if I tried open stance. It felt much more natural. Just plant the right leg and shift weight to left during the swing.

I am thinking of asking my pro to switch me to open stance. I know he will try to discourage this because we have discussed it in the past. He thinks most rec players like me (read: older 3.5 ladies) who hit open stance do not do it correctly in that they do not transfer weight and hit only with their arm. He says that my real problem is my footwork, and open stance won't fix that.

So. Do you think it is worth my trying to change to hitting open stance FH? Or is my pro right that this is likely a mistake?

Now, I know what most people at TT will say to a post like this: (1) post a video, and (2) get a new pro. No, to both. I'm not posting a video because this is a theoretical question -- I do not think that seeing me hit closed stance FHs badly will lead to useful answers about whether I could or should hit open stance. Second, my pro is a very good and experienced, and I do not think any of the other pros I could possibly use would be any better.
CS
it wont hurt to try it out, but it will take some adjustment to change if you have been playing regular instead of open for a while.
sounds like you want to do it, so it cant hurt. if i were you i would emphasize to your pro that its something you want to try and he should support that.
if he doesnt, perhaps you can find someone else to help you
z
 

5263

G.O.A.T.
I have a long, sad history with my FH. It has never been any good, and I have taken much instruction and lots of practice. Still not getting it.


I am thinking of asking my pro to switch me to open stance. I know he will try to discourage this because we have discussed it in the past. He thinks most rec players like me (read: older 3.5 ladies) who hit open stance do not do it correctly in that they do not transfer weight and hit only with their arm. He says that my real problem is my footwork, and open stance won't fix that.

So. Do you think it is worth my trying to change to hitting open stance FH? Or is my pro right that this is likely a mistake?
This is simple so no need to post a video to answer and I'd suggest looking for a new pro if yours doesn't get how the semi-open can help your TS Fh. If he is missing that, no telling what else he is missing, since this is such a major item.
 

Cawlin

Semi-Pro
I am not sure an open stance is the right thing to do... if your footwork is giving you trouble, hitting an open stance forehand with poor footwork is not going to be much better for you - at least this was my own experience... my footwork was shabby, and open stance didn't help it. I used open stance to attempt to mask my crap footwork but in reality, doing so robbed me of power and control because of my crap footwork.

If you're looking to put more drive/penetration on your FH, open stance won't just magically make that happen for you without good footwork - further, I believe it will be harder for you to generate the kind of drive/power you're looking for with a SW grip and an open stance forehand... maybe try to slightly modify your SW grip to some sort of hybrid eastern/SW grip like Federer uses?

Another question for you: are you using the WTA or the ATP forehand? Have you considered whether or not one of those is better for you than whichever one you're using? There is plenty of youtube stuff on this if you search on "ATP vs. WTA forehand"...

*edit* further - I also agree with your coach, but wouldn't necessarily limit the concerns he expressed to just "older 3.5 women". The footwork on a "proper" open stance FH isn't any less tricky/important than a traditional stance... OS just "feels" easier because you can sort of fake it with bad footwork, but in the end, you usually wind up compensating with a poor swing mechanic - and I don't care if you're a 22 year old super fit male, or a 75 year old woman - footwork is the key, and again, setting aside some sort of compensation for an injury or whatever, PROPER OS footwork isn't really any less strenuous than traditional FH footwork. As we age, footwork just becomes more laborious, regardless of how fit we are - some of that just has to be accepted. I wonder if your coach could focus on some "footwork" and then maybe "unit turn" specific drills with you and whether that might help?
 
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sureshs

Bionic Poster
I am not sure an open stance is the right thing to do... if your footwork is giving you trouble, hitting an open stance forehand with poor footwork is not going to be much better for you - at least this was my own experience... my footwork was shabby, and open stance didn't help it. I used open stance to attempt to mask my crap footwork but in reality, doing so robbed me of power and control because of my crap footwork.

If you're looking to put more drive/penetration on your FH, open stance won't just magically make that happen for you without good footwork - further, I believe it will be harder for you to generate the kind of drive/power you're looking for with a SW grip and an open stance forehand... maybe try to slightly modify your SW grip to some sort of hybrid eastern/SW grip like Federer uses?

Another question for you: are you using the WTA or the ATP forehand? Have you considered whether or not one of those is better for you than whichever one you're using? There is plenty of youtube stuff on this if you search on "ATP vs. WTA forehand"...
Yes I told her in another thread to get an ATP forehand like mine.
 

Cawlin

Semi-Pro
Yes I told her in another thread to get an ATP forehand like mine.
I am certainly no expert on which is better... I use an ATP-style forehand, as does my wife. For my wife, she hits it that way because she started playing at age 45, with me coaching her, and that was all I knew... none of the pro coaches she's worked with since have seen fit to change this about her FH.

Anyway - I think it's a worthwhile question to ask if the FH is giving someone trouble - and also considering that neither males nor females are physiologically limited to one or the other...
 

sureshs

Bionic Poster
neither males nor females are physiologically limited to one or the other...
That is the topic of furious discussions in the Tips section. Especially about coaching junior girls, because that is the time a lifelong decision has to be made by a coach. It is not a decided matter.
 

Cawlin

Semi-Pro
That is the topic of furious discussions in the Tips section. Especially about coaching junior girls, because that is the time a lifelong decision has to be made by a coach. It is not a decided matter.
Oh I do realize this is not a decided matter - and I knew my remark about physiology would likely be somewhat controversial - but it's not like there is some sort of shape/angle of the hips or bone structure that truly limits males or females to one or the other... I suspect (without having read or researched about it much) that the traning methodology it boils down to musculature and the general tendency for post pubescent males to just physiologically have more muscle mass or more fast twitch muscles or whatever... but really... power is MOSTLY about RH speed and that is MOSTLY about technique... For rec players (especially at the 3.5 level) who haven't been coached their whole lives... I think the differences are academic, at best... Hell, most of us don't even use good enough footwork to make anything else REALLY matter.
 

davced1

Professional
It's not either closed or open. In my mind the stance depends on the situation. Watch Federer here he uses all sorts of stances. It depends on how much time he has, if he is on the run and what he want to do with the ball. It's fine to learn open stance but it's not always the best choice.
 

Dartagnan64

G.O.A.T.
open stance only works if you unit turn and get that left arm pointing in the right direction. Otherwise it looks like a million other ”headlamps facing the net” all arm FHs I see in rec tennis.

i have no idea what stance I’m in when I hit my FH. I’m too focused on spacing and getting my left arm in position. Provided those two things are set up all I need is an athletic base and I’m good to go.
 

ptuanminh

Hall of Fame
She wasn't describing it as "magical", IMO. More like "this seems to work better" [with presumably the same level of footwork].
Its true that using an open stance gives you a bit more time, but IMO, thats going for an easier solution with less reward. fixing the footwork is more rewarding.
However, what do i know about being 59 :).
 
Its true that using an open stance gives you a bit more time, but IMO, thats going for an easier solution with less reward. fixing the footwork is more rewarding.
Fixing footwork is typically a long, arduous process. Each person will have to decide for themselves whether it's worth it.

However, what do i know about being 59 :).
You will, my lad; you will. :cool:
 

ChaelAZ

Legend
Stance is more situational than a standard from what I see. So every play should be able to hit more open stance, but any forward movement to a ball usually requires more closed, especially if continuing to close the net.
 

EP1998

Semi-Pro
I have a long, sad history with my FH. It has never been any good, and I have taken much instruction and lots of practice. Still not getting it.

For background, I changed to SW grip a few years ago, which was a good move. I am 59 (geez, where did the time go?), but reasonably fit. I play only doubles. My swing is mostly OK, or so I've been told. But I just cannot swing toward the target, often hitting off of my back foot, or reaching too far in front, or almost spinning in a circle. Even if I do hit a few good ones in a lesson, I never seem to hit one in a doubles match -- partly because I don't trust it and I bail out. And I really struggle to hit a cross-court FH -- I always feel like I am reaching or the ball is not in the right place or something is just off.

This spring, I decided to really get after it and improve my FH, because this is silly. Here it is September and my FH is still pathetic.

On Saturday I was doing that and decided to see what would happen if I tried open stance. It felt much more natural. Just plant the right leg and shift weight to left during the swing.

I am thinking of asking my pro to switch me to open stance. I know he will try to discourage this because we have discussed it in the past. He thinks most rec players like me (read: older 3.5 ladies) who hit open stance do not do it correctly in that they do not transfer weight and hit only with their arm. He says that my real problem is my footwork, and open stance won't fix that.

So. Do you think it is worth my trying to change to hitting open stance FH? Or is my pro right that this is likely a mistake?
Talk to your pro about learning a reverse finish. From what you describe a reverse finish forehand is a really good option for you, both in terms of what issues you describe on the closed stance and your game style (double, like to approach etc.). Here's a video describing it:
 

time_fly

Hall of Fame
So. Do you think it is worth my trying to change to hitting open stance FH? Or is my pro right that this is likely a mistake?
Hitting an open-stance forehand, especially a fully open one with your feet parallel to the baseline, requires a lot more physical effort to do properly than a traditional neutral-stance "stepping in" forehand. That's because the open stance gets all of its power from building rotation with your legs and core, whereas a traditional forehand uses forward weight transfer which is more natural and less effort. Many players struggle to get depth or get fatigued easily if they hit exclusively open stance forehands, and it also makes hitting low ball much more challenging. I personally would recommend using open-stance only in situations where it's more natural than squaring the feet, like when moving out wide.

By the way, don't think I'm saying this because you're a 59 year old woman. I'm always amused -- and I've seen this a lot -- with teens trying to hit everything open "like the pros" and they're jumping off the outside leg and grunting and the balls are barely looping to the opposing service line. It's not easy to do right and requires some strength and stamina.
 

Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
I had a lesson this morning, and I didn't say anything to the pro about open stance. Instead, I decided to focus hard on hitting off my front foot, swinging toward the target, and giving myself enough space.

There is still much work to be done, but it is already much better. I think the biggest challenge will be giving myself enough room. And crosscourt still feels really weird and awkward. But given that I play doubles and will have to learn a closed stance FH for approaches anyway, I think mastering these things makes more sense than trying to learn open stance.
 

travlerajm

G.O.A.T.
I had a lesson this morning, and I didn't say anything to the pro about open stance. Instead, I decided to focus hard on hitting off my front foot, swinging toward the target, and giving myself enough space.

There is still much work to be done, but it is already much better. I think the biggest challenge will be giving myself enough room. And crosscourt still feels really weird and awkward. But given that I play doubles and will have to learn a closed stance FH for approaches anyway, I think mastering these things makes more sense than trying to learn open stance.
My forehand Achilles heel got embarrassingly exposed yesterday during pickup doubs action at the big park.

I was matched up with a partner who has a good backhand but terrible forehand (that turned out to be worse than I remembered).

I selfishly asked if I could play ad, as I had my first 8.0 mixed match of the season coming up on Saturday, and I felt rusty having taken the last 2 weeks off to write my grant proposal. Well, we ended up losing the set 6-4, without winning a single return game, as my partner just couldn’t get a crosscourt return in play.

Next set, I suggested we switch sides. I never ever play deuce. But I thought might as well try, as I hate losing.

Unfortunately, my chip forehand return that works great in singles and ad court doubs was off. I had most success chipping lobs down the line. My forehand slice return is so much better going inside out than going cross court. I probably would have done better just trying to step in and hit over the top of it with forehand drives. We did get one break, but wasn’t enough. Sour loss in the park with audience in the bleachers.
 

Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
Yeah, I was having trouble getting my FH slice/chip to work on the deuce side. I subsequently learned that I was Doing It All Wrong. I was trying to get it deep and crosscourt, which is an issue if the serve is wide. It was going right to the net person. When I changed my target to be no deeper than the serve line, the net player couldn't catch up with it.

But . . . you already knew that, huh?
 
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