Super Charge Your Backhand Groundstroke with the Over Closed Stance


The Men's Pro Tour started the Summer U.S. Open Hard Court Series this week in Atlanta, GA.  This is a swing of 5 consecutive hardcourt tournaments played in North America that lead up to the U.S. Open.  When watching matches in these tournaments and the U.S. Open, tennis fans will see far more power groundstrokes hit down the line than they did at either Wimbledon and the French Open.  That's because the Deco-Turf 2 hardcourts in Flushing, NY have the truest bounce of any of the grand slams, so players can really step forward, take the ball “on-the-rise,” and hit for winners down-the-line.  That feat Is far more difficult to pull off at Wimbledon or the French Open due to the uneven and often unpredictable bounces.  With that increased power shot thought in mind, players must be able to generate enough racquet head speed on their backhands to consistently hit effective shots down-the-line.  The use of the overclosed backhand stance can help players of all levels increase their racquet head speed on the backhand groundstroke.


So what is the overclosed stance on the backhand groundstroke look like? Here's a couple of guys from the ATP Tour to demonstrate:


Stan Wawrinka - One Handed Topspin Backhand Over Closed Stance

As you can see from the video clip, an overclosed stance on the backhand just means the front foot steps diagonally towards the ball, and is far close to the ball before contact than the back foot.  The back foot ends up beside the front foot due to momentum carrying through the shot.  Here's what the Two Handed Topspin Backhand usiing an Overclosed Stance looks like:


Jo-Wilfried Tsonga Over Closed Two Handed Backhand Groundstrokes

So on both one-handed and two handed topspin backhands, the principle is still the same: arrive at increased racquet speed because the racquet head was initially moved further away from the ball than it normally does.  Result: with more distance to build up racquet speed, 


Players of all levels can easily this stance to start the racquet head further away from the incoming ball, provided they pass 2 tests:

  1. The upper body, though beginning overclosed, will not finish that way. The hips and shoulders must  rotate forward through the shot.  At the point of contact player  hips and shoulders should end up in towards the ball.  The player should take a gravity drop step away from the point of contact for the fastest possible recovery.
  2. While this method of adding speed to your backhand definitely works, players must continue to use the right backhand stance for the incoming balls. ATP Tour Players use open, closed,  and semi-open for stances, along with a one-handed slice backhand, throughout any given point.  Pros tend to use the most effective form for any given shot.  See below to watch ATP Pro Fernando Verdasco of Spain demonstrate the closed, open, semi-open, and overclosed stances on his backhand groundstroke:Ferrnando Verdasco Two Handed Backhand Grounstroke Series

One big technique method has to be paid attention to on this shot; start in overclosed, but don't hit in overclosed. While the idea is to prepare for the incoming ball in the overclosed stance, notice none of the players in the videos are still in overclosed stance upon contact.  They've rotated  their upper bodies towards the oncoming ball enough to cause an increase in shot power and cause momentum to be carried away from the ball.  That's why you see both one and two handed hitters finish with their back leg landing next to their front leg. 


I encourage players of all levels to head out to the practice courts and try this foot stance out.  Executed correctly, it can really supercharge your backhand and help you crush some winners down the line!