Open Stance Footwork Variation

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Sometimes when you are pulled wide on the tennis court you have to hit a closed-stance forehand because you have to run through the ball. Here, we are going to look at a variation of the open stance forehand footwork that will allow you to hit an open stance on the run. I shadow this motion in the video above.

As I move out to the ball, my momentum is carrying me off the court, and it is carrying me sideways as I go to swing and make contact with the tennis ball. I position myself in an open stance, and load up all my weight on my outside foot. I then swing to the ball and make contact while at the same time hopping (or jumping) off with my outside foot. As I follow through, I come down and land again on my outside foot. From that position, I can again push off my outside foot and recover back to the center of the tennis court. The great thing about this footwork as opposed to hitting with a closed stance is that this doesn’t constrict your upper body rotation on your groundstroke.

If you hit with a closed stance, it is very difficult to rotate your body around fully, but with this footwork rotating fully is much easier to do because you are hitting with an open stance. Let’s now look at an actual hitting clip to see how this footwork helps me hit and rotate effectively (1:25 in the video above). I move out to a wide ball on my forehand side, and as I prepare to hit I position myself in an open stance and load up all my weight on my outside foot, swing to contact, and as make contact I hop up off my outside foot and then land again on my outside foot. You can see how this footwork enables me to rotate my upper body fully on my forehand.
At 2:10 in the video, I go to hit a closed stance forehand. You can see that as I hit and follow through, I can’t rotate my upper body any further around than facing the net. Because of this, I have to alter my swing path and follow through so the racket can decelerate properly. My swing is much more low-to-high than with an open stance, and I follow through up and around my head rather than across my body. This is called a “reverse forehand.” Rafael Nadal uses this reverse forehand very frequently on the pro tour.

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  • Matthew Wright

    Will – In the beginning of the video, you discuss how you should hit off of your outside foot and finish with the weight on the outside foot on the open stance forehand. I may be misunderstanding what you are saying. However, if not I disagree with this analysis. On a proper open stance stroke, the weight shifts from the outside leg to the inside leg in order to maintain dynamic balance. If you finish your weight on your outside leg, you (a student) will not be able to maintain balance or recover quickly. Please let me know what you think? 
    Btw – Thanks for the great website! I am a full-time PTR teaching pro and send students to your site almost daily!!!