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Open Stance Single handed Backhand

A worthwhile investment? Developing the Open Stance Single handed Backhand
By: Simon Grieve

The following text forms the introduction to a facebook discussion. The link can be found at the bottom of the page.

Following the recent article on developing the mogul step on the wide ball. The question of 'which footwork pattern would be most appropriate for a under 12 single handed backhand player in order to hit a topspin backhand from a wide court position; Specifically, we are talking about dealing with a ball that has travelled wide (across the singles sideline). There were four responses, with each response being strongly supported by at least one coach (shown in the table below).

With these examples  in mind watch the following videos of Roger federer, James Blake, and Richard Gasquet, before reading on!




Looking through hours of video footage of the worlds best players, only James Blake was seen to use the running power step method with any regularity.  If we discard this method due to its desperate nature, it then comes down to hitting either; a sliced backhand, an open stance topspin, or a closed stance topspin backhand. Of the other three methods I was surprised to find that from footage of hundred's of wide court backhands only on a few occasions was the open stance used. This brings us to the question;

'is it worthwhile spending the hours and hours of time  requied to develop a strong open-stance, if the best players in the world are not using it'.

I have always believed that an open-stance backhand is an important part of the single handed backhand players toolbox. But is it?


An open-stance single handed backhand using a mogul balance/recovery step.

When discussing this question, conclusions from   coaches I have spoke to generally fall into one of three camps;

  1. Yes it is important - The open stance is a fundamental  position in modern tennis and time spent on developing it is worthwhile.
  3. No it is not worthwhile as an effective slice will do the job, and developing the slice has a greater impact on a players all court game..
  5. It depends on the individual.  
  6. Personally, I fall into the third camp. For example, for the attacking net player who is more than comfortable with the sliced backhand I would not spend time developing the open-stance topspin. I would however, encourage the defensive baseliner player to develop it futher if they have good core strength and balance. Am I missing something here though? I look forward to hearing your thoughts......... 

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