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THE OPEN STANCE FOREHAND

    The open stance forehand has become one the games biggest
changes in the past 4 years. Most tennis pros now hit most of their
forehands with the legs in an open stance (legs parallel to the baseline).
   There are several reasons for this. The first reason is that the open
stance allows for more power. Let’s look at the power aspect of the
swing.
   The hips and the shoulders rotate back with the racquet, the legs must
bend and flex. This flexing of the body creates a dynamic loading of the
muscles of the legs and body. This loading is like a rubber band that is
stretched and when let go creates a quick, powerful action. When these
loaded muscles begin to contract in sequence they create a kinetic chain
that when unleashed offers a potent power source. Unlike the closed or
neutral stance (feet turn sideways with the body), there is very little
loading or stretching of the muscles. This neutral stance should have
some leg flex but the main power comes from shifting the weight from the
back leg to the front leg during the swing. Although this is good, it has
become archaic or old. Today’s game demands more strength and
power.     
   The second benefit comes from a quicker recover from the open
stance. Even before the swing is completed the body weight is shifting
from the right leg to the left leg (for right handers). But now this shifting is
lateral or sideways and has the body moving back towards the center of
the court even before the finish of the swing. Once the swing is
completed, the body is already moving back into position because the
legs are still parallel to the baseline. Today’s players must react and
recover more quickly because of the power involved in the game.
   To hit the open stance forehand you must place your outside leg
almost directly in the path of the oncoming ball. The weight of the body is
placed on this leg while the legs bend and the torso turns sideways.
During the swing, the legs begin the motion by straightening as the hips
rotate forward followed by the shoulder rotation. The arm and the
racquet are the last components to be brought into the sequence of the
swing. This sequencing is what we call the kinetic chain and it very
important that the timing of each of the body segments are happening
one right after the other.
   Watch today’s pros and advanced players to see if they are hitting
their forehands without the feet turning sideways. Even now the open
stance backhand is picking up more and more converts to this power
potential and recovery quickness, but that’s another story.

Doug Hofer, USPTA      January 16, 2004