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Frequently Asked Questions about Tennis Technique by Mark Luyk

Hello tennis friends,

Over the years, some questions about tennis technique keep coming up. I have decided to answer a couple of them for you here.

Q 1. Do I prefer an open or a closed stance?
A 1. I don't really prefer one or the other. It's probably best if you know how to use both!

For example if you are playing a baseline duel and you suddenly get a shorter ball that you can take on the rise, often a closed stance will work best. You need some forward action; maybe you want to play an approach. The step forward will help you. (Not that it is absolutely necessary to use a closed stance on an approach, mind you!)

When you have to run to your forehand corner and want to play a defensive shot (and recover to a good position) an open stance will usually be your best option.

One more thing: the stance you use is related to the grip you use. People with extreme western grips (hitting the ball with their hand under the grip) will use an open stance more frequently than people playing in a continental grip (putting their hand on the grip.)

Q 2. Do I have to stand still when I hit the ball?
A 2. NO! You don't HAVE to This is one of the most common misconceptions amongst beginning tennis players. (No offense, we've all been there! ;-) When people start out playing tennis they are usually told to stand still when they hit the ball, because that way it's easier to feel their balance. When you look at the top players you will see a lot of them hitting the ball on the run, or at least moving. Are these players hitting the ball off balance? For the most part they are not.

They're using 'Dynamic Balance'. You could say 'balance on the move'. How do they do it? Simply by avoiding sudden movements around the time they make contact with the ball and by keeping their body's center of gravity between their feet. Look at Roger Federer. He's a master of Dynamic Balance! You will also see him still looking at the point of contact long after the ball has gone, especially on very important points. No sudded movements there!

Q 3. Can I change my grip when I'm playing volleys?
A 3. Yes, however...

When you can play both forehand volleys and backhand volleys using the same (continental) grip, you are saving time AND it's the same grip you should be using for the overheads.

It's pretty hard to keep a stable wrist especially hitting the backhand volley in a continental grip, but if you squeeze your grip a little harder than you would on a baseline shot and you make sure to hit the ball in front of you, you should be fine.

If this proves to be too difficult you can adjust your grip a little. The argument in favor of this is that if you have enough time to turn your shoulder you also have enough time to adjust your grip. Don't change it too much, because then the low volleys will become extremely difficult.

One thing is absolutely clear: If you hit your forehand volley in a 'forehand grip' (eastern to semi-western - hand on the side of the grip) then you MUST change your grip for the backhand volley. Hitting the backhand volley in a forehand grip is DANGEROUS. You're likely to injure your wrist and/or elbow if you don't.

Okay, that's all for now. Remember to check out my Tennis eBooks on strategy, tactics and mental skills at

Mark Luyk
When you play better, you have MORE FUN!

About the Author:
Mark Luyk is a fully licensed tennis pro from The Netherlands with international coaching experience.

Other articles by Mark Luyk