Groundstrokes are shots hit from baseline to baseline from either the forehand or backhand side. Executing a good groundstroke comes from how a player approaches the ball. In the past, just one hand was used to hold the racket and return the ball. Then a two-handed backhand was developed to give extra power on the groundstrokes, but now some players have reverted to using both hands on forehand and backhand shots.
When hitting a tennis ball, players use just about every part of the body, and each component must be positioned and moved correctly to execute a successful shot. If players so much as lift the head before striking the ball it is more than likely that the ball will follow the path of the head and go out of the back of the court. There are so many factors that can help decide whether a groundstroke is successful or not.
Using the best stance, moving the feet, and stepping into the ball are the first points to remember when attempting groundstrokes. The best stance for each shot is different and depends on many factors, including, a player's position on the court, the grip, and the angle and pace of the ball coming towards the player.
4 different stances are used in the game today, these include the open, semi-open, neutral, and closed stances. Just like the grip, stances have also changed since the 70s and 80s where the open stance would only be used in an emergency, but along with the semi-open, the open stance is now an essential part of tennis today. The closed stance of those years would be all but impossible to use against balls travelling at over 100mph.
The combination of the semi-open and open stances along with the semi-western and western grips has allowed players to gain more racket power and speed, contributing to the fast pace and power of the game today.
Open Backhand Stance
Adding this stance to the footwork of the backhand allows it to become an attacking shot for most players.
Explanation: Adding this stance to the footwork of the backhand allows it to become an attacking shot for most players.
How: A smooth swing is vital to any backhand shot. The backswing should be a fluent, one motion movement. This can be gained from rotating the hips, trunk, and shoulders at exactly the same time, this also adds power and control to the shot.
For right-handed player's the weight should be loaded onto the left foot. The shoulders should be turned before the ball crosses the net, and the weight kept on the left foot throughout the stroke to gain a strong foundation.
Extending the arm and racket towards the target will give better control and depth.
Points to remember: Keep eyes on the ball until the stroke is fully executed otherwise it can result in a loss of power and depth and in extreme cases can cause a complete miss hit.
The closed stance can be used on either forehand or backhand shots but is only recommended when a player is chasing down a ball on the run or is forced wide.
How: This stance closes the hips preventing them from rotating, and also requires extra recovery steps before any rotation from the shoulders or trunk can take place. Limited control, power, options, and slower recovery time are other drawbacks of this stance.
It involves the left foot (for the right-handed) stepping across and being the outside foot taking all of the weight, so the majority of the power has to be generated through the arms.
Points to remember: This stance often has to be used when a player has been caught off balance, breathing relaxes the body and allows for better footwork, which lessens the chance of being off balance. So remember to breathe.
Breathing can also help with racket speed. Players should exhale as they start the forward motion as this can also reduce overall tightness.
It is also one of the best ways to combat nerves so breathing through and between points is very important.
This is the basic stance, which can be used for both forehand and backhand shots, and is also the starting point for all the other stances.
Explanation: This is the basic stance, which can be used for both forehand and backhand shots, and is also the starting point for all the other stances. It allows beginners to learn about shifting weight and rotation of the body.
The neutral stance gives the best position to practice the follow through and recovery after shots, at least for easy returns.
This stance allows players to shift their weight towards the direction of the shot and for that reason is preferred when hitting either the one or two-handed backhand.
How: Again with this stance rotation of the hips, shoulders, and trunk is the start of the backswing. The player must then step out with the right foot and shift the weight here as well.
Players should then step forward with the left foot towards the net and shift the weight again onto the front foot before executing the forward motion of the swing. The weight should be kept on the front foot until the stroke has been completed through to the recovery.
To finish the execution the back foot (right) should be brought forward and around, helping to maintain strong and balanced.
Remember for left-handed players the opposite should occur.
Points to remember: Players of all ages and abilities can use this stance to experience the shifting of weight.
This stance is not much different from the open stance. Again it is mostly used when players lack time to prepare for the next shot.
Explanation: This stance is not much different from the open stance. Again it is mostly used when players lack time to prepare for the next shot. The only real difference is that players open up the step slightly more to the left for a right-handed player and load all their weight onto the outside hip (right).
How: For a right-handed forehand stroke players must again begin the backswing by rotating the shoulders, hips, and trunk at the same time.
The next phase is to step to the right with the right foot and shift the weight to this foot also. The key to this stance is players stepping into the court with the left foot, which does not occur on the open stance. This step with the left foot helps to maintain a solid foundation after striking the ball.
The weight should remain on the outside foot until the stroke is completed fully.
Use opposite feet for left-handed players.
Points to remember: To start with practice hitting the ball back into the same direction that it came from to give more control. If confidence grows players can try to change direction, or add spin or speed to the ball.
The open stance is often best used when a player has little or no time to prepare for an oncoming ball
Explanation: The open stance is often best used when a player has little or no time to prepare for an oncoming ball, which in today's game is fairly regularly. This is because a player has to step out, shift body weight, load the hip and turn the trunk before a ball traveling 100mph reaches them.
This stance allows players to load up on the hip and explode into the shot, producing forehand and backhand winners.
How: Players start with the backswing, which consists of rotating the shoulders and hips together, to about 90 degrees (side on), to the right for right-handed players.
The weight then needs to be shifted to the outside foot, (right for the right-handed), and remain balanced throughout the swing, follow through, and recovery.
Back to the shoulders and hips, after the backswing players will start the forward motion along the same path with speed and try to make contact with the ball as far out in front of the body as possible to give control and power to the stroke.
Points to remember: Try and keep the non-hitting hand pointing in the direction of the target, this should help with the height and depth on the groundstrokes.
Don't shift the weight too early, this will more than likely cause the ball to fall short.