Open Before Neutral Forehand: A Guide for Advanced Tennis

If you’re an advanced tennis player, you’ve likely heard of the “open before neutral” forehand technique. This technique involves stepping into an open stance before transitioning into a neutral stance to hit the ball. Essentially, you’re starting your forehand with your feet in an open position, then pivoting and shifting your weight to hit the ball with a neutral stance.

So, why is this technique important for advanced players? For one, it can help you generate more power and control on your forehand shots. By starting with an open stance, you’re able to load up your body and generate more torque, which translates into more power when you hit the ball. Additionally, the open stance can help you get into position more quickly, allowing you to set up for your shot and hit the ball more accurately.

Technical Breakdown

The Open Stance

When it comes to the basic tennis stances, the open stance is often used in modern tennis forehand. In this stance, your upper body is facing the net while your non-dominant arm is extended towards the incoming ball. The closed stance forehand, on the other hand, involves positioning your right leg forward and your weight on your left leg.

One of the advantages of the open stance forehand is that it allows for more power and shot angles. However, it also has its disadvantages, such as time constraints and recovery. It is important to master this stance in order to achieve tennis mastery.

Foot positioning and weight transfer are crucial in the open stance. Your right foot should be placed slightly behind your left foot, and your body weight should be on your back foot. As you prepare to hit the ball, you should transfer your weight to your front foot and rotate your body, with your right foot moving towards the ball.

The “Before Neutral” Transition

While the open stance forehand is effective, it is not always the best option. It is important to know when and why to switch from the open stance to a neutral position. The transition from open to neutral stance is often referred to as the “before neutral” position.

Timing and footwork drills can help you make a smooth transition from the open to neutral stance. As the ball approaches, you should take a split step and move your front foot towards the ball. This will allow you to transfer your weight from your back foot to your front foot and rotate your body for the shot.

Situational Use

Knowing when to use the open stance forehand is crucial for success on the court. It is most effective when dealing with deep balls, crosscourt attacks, and high balls to the side. However, there are situations where it is better to avoid the open stance and use alternative techniques.

The neutral stance forehand is often used on clay courts, where the surface is slower and requires more control. It is also useful when dealing with short balls or when you need to change direction quickly.

Advanced Applications

Slice and Topspin Variations

When it comes to shot shaping, the “open before neutral” forehand stroke can be a valuable tool in your arsenal. By starting with an open stance, you can generate more power and spin, making it easier to hit topspin shots. Additionally, the open stance allows you to disguise your shots better, making it harder for your opponent to read your intentions.

On the other hand, if you’re looking to hit a slice shot, starting with a neutral stance might be a better option. This allows you to get under the ball more easily and generate more backspin. However, it’s important to note that you can still hit a slice shot from an open stance if you adjust your swing path accordingly.

Adapting to Different Opponents

One of the most important aspects of tennis is being able to adapt to different opponents and their playing styles. With the “open before neutral” forehand, you have a versatile stroke that can be adapted to a variety of situations.

For example, if you’re playing against an opponent who struggles with high balls, you can use your topspin forehand to keep the ball high and force them to hit uncomfortable shots. On the other hand, if you’re playing against an opponent who likes to attack the net, you can use your slice forehand to keep the ball low and force them to hit difficult volleys.

It’s also important to be aware of your own mental blocks and adapt accordingly. If you find yourself struggling with your topspin forehand, for example, you can try incorporating more ball tennis drills into your practice routine to improve your technique and build confidence.

Drills and Training

Specific Exercises to Master the Technique

To improve your open before neutral forehand, there are several specific exercises you can do. These exercises will help you to master the technique and improve your overall game.

Footwork pattern repetition

One of the most important aspects of the open before neutral forehand is footwork. To improve your footwork, you should practice a specific footwork pattern. This pattern involves stepping into the ball with your left foot (for right-handed players) and then stepping back with your right foot. This movement will help you to get into the correct position for an open stance forehand.

To practice this footwork pattern, you can use a medicine ball. Hold the medicine ball with both hands and step into it with your left foot. Then, step back with your right foot and throw the ball. Repeat this movement several times, focusing on your footwork.

Shadow swings focusing on the transition

Another way to improve your open before neutral forehand is to practice shadow swings. Shadow swings involve practicing your swing without a ball. This will help you to focus on your technique and the transition from an open stance to a neutral stance.

To practice shadow swings, stand in front of a mirror and swing your hitting arm as if you were hitting a forehand. Focus on the transition from an open stance to a neutral stance. Repeat this movement several times, focusing on your technique.

Situational practice

Finally, situational practice is an important aspect of improving your open before neutral forehand. This involves practicing your forehand in different situations, such as hitting on the forehand side or hitting on the run.

To practice situational practice, you can work with a professional tennis coach or take private lessons. These lessons will help you to improve your technique and develop your situational awareness. You can also practice situational practice on your own by hitting against a wall or using a ball machine.

By incorporating these specific exercises into your training, you can improve your open before neutral forehand and take your game to the next level. Remember to focus on your footwork, practice shadow swings, and practice situational practice to improve your overall game. With dedication and hard work, you can master the open before neutral forehand and become a better tennis player.


The “open before neutral” forehand reflects the ever-evolving nature of tennis. As courts get faster and rackets more powerful, players continuously find ways to generate pace and offensive angles. This technique may be advanced now, but in the future, who knows, it could become a fundamental building block for the next generation of champions.


Absolutely! Here’s a selection of FAQ questions and answers designed for both clarity and search engine visibility:


Q: What is the difference between an open stance forehand and a neutral stance forehand?

A: The main difference lies in foot positioning and initial body rotation.

  • Open Stance: Your feet are wider than shoulder-width apart and your body is turned more sideways. This setup generates more power for attacking shots.
  • Neutral Stance: Your feet are closer together, and you face the net more directly. This stance is more versatile for various shots but may sacrifice some power.


Q: Why is the “open before neutral” forehand important for advanced players?

A: This technique offers several advantages:

  • Power: The open stance lets you coil your body, generating greater force on your forehand.
  • Angles: It’s easier to hit sharp cross-court angles and down-the-line winners from the open stance.
  • Handling Deep Balls: The “open before neutral” helps you step into deep balls and take time away from your opponent.


Q: When should I avoid using the “open before neutral” forehand?

A: There are situations where it’s less effective:

  • Short balls: If you don’t have time to set up, it’s better to use a neutral stance or even a closed stance forehand.
  • High balls: High, loopy balls are more difficult to attack with an open stance forehand.
  • Recovery: The open stance can leave you slower to recover for the next shot.


Q: How can I improve my “open before neutral” forehand technique?

A: Here are some tips:

  • Practice footwork: Focus on transitioning smoothly from the open stance to the neutral stance as you make contact.
  • Shadow swings: Practice the movement without hitting a ball to master the body rotation.
  • Situational drills: Have a partner feed you deep balls so you can work on your timing.

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