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    There are two footwork patterns for the two-handed backhand. The first one is the closed or neutral stance and the second is the modern open stance.

    The first movement to a ball hit to the backhand is to turn the upper body and step out towards the ball with the leg closest to the ball. From this position you will be able to complete your body turn to run to the ball.

    The closed or neutral stance backhand footwork involves the back leg coming to a stop and the front leg stepping into the ball during the swing. This closed, neutral or some call it a “square” stance allows the body weight to move forward during the swing. We call this a linear backhand because the power comes in the weight transfer forward.  The square stance backhand should used mostly on shorter hit balls or when you have to move forward to hit the ball. 

    The open stance backhand is now a big part of the modern game. The footwork begins in the same way with the leg closest to the ball is used to step towards the direction of the desired movement as the shoulders turn. The big difference is when approaching the ball, you need to plant the outside leg (left leg for righthanders) next to the path of the oncoming ball. The other leg is ready to receive the weight transfer in the direction of the planned recovery. We call this an angular backhand because the body is twist and coiled like a spring. The power then comes from the angular rotation of the body as it uncoils into the shot. The open stance backhand should be used on most wide hit balls because it facilitates a better recovery. 

   Neither backhand footwork stance is superior to the other but both are used and needed by most every player. To put it in simple terms, hit from an open stance on the wide balls to aid in recovery and step forward into your backhand on short balls.


Doug Hofer, USPTA​                            January 16, 2005

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