In modern tennis the open stance has emerged as a popular way to hit the ball, especially on the forehand side. I will go over the positives of the open stance and then discuss when the closed stance is a must.
In the above picture is the forehand open stance, the picture below is the forehand closed stance.
As the game has become more powerful, due to equipment, the open stance forehand allows a bit less footwork when responding to the oncoming faster shots. Power can be generated by exploding upward off the bent back knee when making contact with the ball, make sure not to be completely erect off that knee before contact or your shot will generally end up in the net due to the ball contact on the face of the racquet will too low. You want to hit topspin by making contact with the ball from the center of the racquet on up-you will be able to brush up more of the strings which will give you more spin. Personally I like to hit the forehand with a closed stance when the shot is in the middle of the court and an open stance when pulled further out wide, you have options.
The backhand, one or two hand, is more consistently hit with a closed stance. Where I preach the open stance on the backhand, especially the two handed, is when you are pulled wide. (picture 4) On both the forehand and backhand wide shots the open stance allows you to get to the ball faster and return to the center of the court more quickly after making that wide shot.
The other shot that the open stance is an asset is the mid court swinging volley. Make sure you stop before you hit so your forward momentum will not carry your shot too long. (picture 3)
When is the closed stance a must when hitting a shot? The answer is the service return and the conventional volley. Both of these shots are fundamentally the same. They both require a split step right before your opponent’s contact, a short backswing and early contact. The early contact cannot be attained if there is not a cross over step with your opposite leg. On the service return the contact point is usually higher than a normal ground stroke due to the trajectory of the oncoming serve, without the forward step the ball will be hit late. When at net the oncoming shots are arriving much quicker and require a forward reach (no backswing) that is only accomplished by a cross over step. In both cases the closed stance will get you moving forward to help you take the shots earlier.
Practice the different stances for your ground strokes and be committed to the closed for returns and volleys.
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