Tennis Open Stance Forehand
In the prior tennis forehand post I discussed the two main types of forehands, the open stance forehand and the neutral stance forehand. I highly recommend reading the prior post to get caught up on which forehand stance is best in particular court situations. As well as the different perspective coaches have on both stances and why they think one stance is better than the other.
Open Stance Forehand Tennis Grip
When it comes to forehand tennis grips there are 3 main grips to choose from. The eastern grip which is generally considered the easiest grip for learning the forehand, the semi-western grip, and the western grip.
On tour, most of the pro players use a semi-western grip. This is due to players needing to generate more spin on the ball as the power and pace of the game has risen. One way to find the semi western tennis grip is to lay the racquet on a table or the ground and place your palm face down onto the grip of the racquet.
For the complete guide on finding the different grips click on the link.
Open Stance Forehand: Preparation
The key to each stroke in tennis is preparation and the open stance forehand is no different. One key component of preparation is footwork. When you are at the baseline waiting to see which direction your opponent is going to hit the ball you want to focus your eyes on judging when his racquet will make contact with the ball. You want to time your split step, a little hop, to get your body ready to react toward the direction the ball is traveling. This split step is seen in others sports such as soccer when the goalie hops slightly to get ready to react to the opponents shot.
After you split step and recognize the ball is going to your forehand you want to begin rotating your shoulders and hips as you are reacting toward the ball, this will allow for your racquet to naturally begin to be taken back as well. Now that you have reacted to the ball and you are running you want to focus on ensuring you have enough distance between you and the ball and the ball is going to rise or drop to your comfort zone, generally around waist high, before you set your feet. This is important because later on you will want to lean into the shot with your body weight going forward.
Open Stance Forehand: Set Up
Now that you have established the proper distance between you and the ball and you have the ball around your comfort zone you want to set your feet properly for the open stance forehand. Place your right foot (if your right handed and vice versa if left handed) between 45 degree angle to parallel in relation to the baseline (your foot will naturally land closer toward parallel as you get stretched further off the court or take larger steps, such as when hitting a running forehand) and load your body weight onto your right foot. At this point your shoulders should be turned with your hips loaded. Your opponent will be able to see part your left shoulder and part of your left hip.
One tip for loading your weight onto your right foot is to bend your right knee slightly as if you were going to begin to sit down.
Open Stance Forehand: Swing
As your shoulders and hips rotate to load, your racquet will begin to be taken back as well. When taking your racquet back your hitting elbow rises slightly up and away from the body. You can choose to have your racquet held like a glass on the backswing loop, with your racquet above your wrist when taking your racquet back or with your palm facing down in order to keep your racquet face closed. Your non hitting hand will be extended out around chest to shoulder high, allowing your left shoulder to close, or load.
Once you take your racquet back you are going to drop the racquet head and ensure your racquet face is pointed down by having your hitting hand palm facing down. At this point your hand should be loose and accelerating toward the ball with the butt of the racquet facing the net. The racquet head is now approaching the ball from below, swinging low to high, preparing to swing up through the ball to generate topspin. As your racquet accelerates toward the ball your non hitting hand will move along with your shoulders and hips as they open up to unload into the ball.
Think of the loading of your shoulders and hips on the forehand to be similar to loading up to toss a medicine ball. To toss a medicine ball you would hold the ball with your arms extended, back straight, and toss the ball with your shoulders and hips.
The Goal of the Preparation, the Set Up, and the Swing
The goal of the preparation phase and the swing is to ensure your body weight transfers into the ball and that you make solid contact with the ball. The contact point for the open stance forehand is out in front of your right hip if you are right handed. The ball should feel light and travel toward your target when done correctly.
Open Stance Forehand: Follow Through
At contact you want to ensure your hand is loose, this will allow for increased racquet head speed and for your racquet to naturally follow through, or finish the stroke, with your hitting hand finishing over your left shoulder or around shoulder level.
Share Your Thoughts
I hope you enjoyed the article and took away some key points to bring to the practice court. If you found value in this guide follow the link provided for a complete list of guides on tennis technique.
Please share with us what types of shots have you found are hit more effectively with the open stance forehand groundstroke when you play?
See you on the court!