Possibly a basic preparation question about the open stance forehand

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by JavierLW, Jan 30, 2009.

  1. JavierLW

    JavierLW Hall of Fame

    Apr 29, 2007
    Hopefully I can relay this well.

    Over the past year Ive altered my game from a more closed stance forehand to a open stance forehand. So some real basic concepts may be new to me as I mostly just sort of picked it up by playing certain players.

    Also I should mention that when I used the closed stance, I had a bad habit of catching the ball way too late in the swing and pushing it thru, rather than always swinging the racquet and meeting the ball out in front.

    I played a few players over the summer (4.0 or 3.5 who became 4.0's) where I found that if I didnt correct this I couldnt even rally with them so it was an easy fix.

    In our drill this week, they had a court where the pro had a video camera and he would record you as you hit whatever groundstroke you wanted to work on. The ball machine would feed balls, he'd record maybe 10-15 shots and then you'd sit down with him and he'd go over with you what you are doing.

    When we watched what I was doing, the positive to it is I was surprised that it looked like my movement was really decent as far as how my feet would get to the ball. (he made us hit a ball and then move over so he could watch this part of the stroke) He said that it was very good for the open stance.

    But the one obvious bad thing that I was doing is sometimes I would still be in the ready position with the racquet and shoulders forward as late as when we'd finally see the ball in the frame, and then I'd pull my shoulders back and swing (seemingly at the last possible moment)

    I thought about this, and I think what is happening is that I am not used to moving with the racquet back in that position (or wherever the racquet is supposed to be).

    So I am moving and adjusting my feet until the very moment that I actually know for sure where the ball is going to be, and then I set and pull my shoulders back.

    So I figure either one or both of these is occuring:

    1) Im reading where that ball is going to be way too late and if I was better at that I could set earlier?

    2) Somehow I need to load before I set, or the racquet needs to be in a more ideal place until I set?

    Hopefully that makes sense. Im sure it's very basic stuff but Im finding that Im missing a lot of very basic ideas (I took beginner lessons a LONG time ago and it seems common to forget really easy concepts that can makes things really complicated).

    I also believe that this is definately contributing to my match play.

    When I play players that I know very well or they are predictable I seem to always be on top of the ball, but when it's either someone who's a complete unknown or someone who hits very challenging shots (like tons of topspin or backspin), I seem to have a lot of trouble even maintaining my technique sometimes.

  2. naylor

    naylor Semi-Pro

    Jul 26, 2004
    New Zealand
    I've got the same problem... being late!

    Like you, I've been switching to a more open-stance forehand, to play with more topspin. The problem I have when I'm late is that I let the ball get too close, so in order to make room for the swing I then have to push off my right foot (I'm a righty) and move my body away.

    Instead, what I should be doing is moving my body momentum into the shot. To do so I have to swing for a contact point about a foot further forward than my current one (so, if I'm still in an open stance, racket and hand at contact are ahead of my chest). Easier said than done, putting momentum forward, when your body is busily doing an "exit stage left" routine to make room for a badly cramped swing! And of course, if the body is moving left, then the swing follows, so instead of forward straight through the ball and then naturally around the front of the body, the "forward straight" bit turns into a "diagonal left" slash.

    I'm now working with my coach hitting forehands with a more semi-open (or even closer) stance, with my left leg ahead of my right one. The idea behind this is that with a closer stance, as you step into the shot the weight shifts from the back (right) foot to the forward (left) foot, so this creates forward momentum into the ball. Also, the impact position naturally shifts further ahead (about level with the left knee). Then, once I get this earlier, more forward contact point grooved, we can work on maintaining it with an open stance.
  3. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

    Dec 28, 2008
    East side of San Francisco Bay
    Not saying it's the right thing to do....
    I hit mostly openstance forehands in a defensive posture, meaning I don't go for lines or winners, I just topspin back towards an open court.
    When I need a pass or want to dictate the action, I close my stance and move foreward into the stroke.
  4. JavierLW

    JavierLW Hall of Fame

    Apr 29, 2007
    It sounds like you just had trouble adjusting to the footwork required to get the ball lined up in the correct contact point for the open stance.

    That's something I had struggled with years ago when i would try it for fun, although I always noticed if I was pressed and pulled out wide I just did it naturally without thinking about it.

    I actually line the ball up pretty close to me (left and right close). I was reading an article today about how you line it up with the right foot, which seems to make sense to me.

    But it's probably easier said then done, I was just lucky enough that I think I picked up on that part (moving my feet to lineup the right contact point), I just may have an issue with the set and takeback order and where my racquet belongs as Im adjusting for the ball.

    As far as switching back to closed that's a personal choice and like you, I would trust your pro on that.

    The open stance seems to also consist of transfering your weight from the right foot to the left foot, but you have your upper body pulled back so it's the upper body uncoiling that sends the racquet forward (instead of sideways). I guess if someone had trouble lining up the contact point that would probably make it very difficult.
  5. JavierLW

    JavierLW Hall of Fame

    Apr 29, 2007
    LeeD, I dont mean to pick on you or anything, but that REALLY has nothing to do with the OP's post.

    I could get into a long competitive argument about you in general, but I dont want to detract from my subject.

    As far as your content this is what I know:

    You are right, for some people using open stance is a defensive measure. In all of my drills, most of my peers actually use the closed stance and they will show us how to use the open stance if we got pulled way out wide. (although I found that I was doing that anyway without even thinking about it, it usually meant I hit my best forehands from over there)

    Also hitting a topspin shot from out wide so you have time to get back into the point is a good concept as well but Ive heard that a lot. Otherwise if you drill it when you dont have a clear winner, the ball will come back into the open court before you have time to recover. (anyone who's better then 3.5 should know that, and anyone who's successful even at 3.0 or 3.5 probably does that without knowing it)

    However I am using an open stance forehand for all of my forehands so Im working on that. The reasons why I would do that versus the closed stance is not something I need to go on and on about.

    As far as closing your stance when you have time to take the offense, that is because obvoiusly you use the closed stance. If someone used the open stance then they would stay in the open stance and hit their aggressive shot.

    So nothing you said was necessarily wrong, but it's not groundbreaking or anything.

    Thank you for your input.

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