The Evolution of Footwork in Tennis

Traditional footwork was to hit the tennis ball in a squared way using the closed stance. It needed an extra step to hit the ball and developed a much longer recovery distance. With the advanced tennis racquet technology, the point (tempo) got faster and recovery time played a big part in the evolution of tennis.

Stepping out was the solution. When you are facing the net, you step out with the foot closest to the ball. For a right-handed player to hit a forehand, you have to move your right foot. It is important to have the right leg outside the ball when you hit it. That will allow you to step into the court pivoting, towards the center of play (“middle of the court”). This is called the “Load and Explode” method. If you have time, you can hit the stroke in a more squared, classic way. But, if you have no time, you can hit the ball in an open stance.

Open stance footwork didn’t happen in the old days, because you would often mishit the ball. Bjorn Borg was the first player to use the open stance with his phenomenal timing.

On the return of serve, stepping out is the key. You can often take a one-step move. In a wider ball, you can take a three-step move. On the baseline, three steps can get you to any ball. When the ball is placed short, then you need a five-step move.

On the left side it’s the same thing. You step with the left leg (1) then your right leg (2) and left leg (3) load and explode. Always use the unit turn. Don’t just bring your racquet back. Turn your shoulders and get in the initial position to start your swing.

Working on your step out technique will improve your movement on a tennis court and will help you to recover more easily. Try it next time you practice your game.

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Narberth Tennis Club

612 Montgomery Ave.
Narberth, PA 19072

Tel: 610.664.2696




Gulph Mills Tennis Club

610 S. Henderson Rd
King of Prussia, PA 19406

Tel: 610.265.3677



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The club is open 7 days a week. From 6:30am to 8pm.

Summer hours may vary

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The club requires 24 hour notice of cancellation or full payment is due. Clinic groups and matches are formed according to ability and age. We ask that you please respect the pro’s evaluation in matching you with other players. Proper tennis attire is required on court. Shoes must have non-marking soles. The club reserves the right to dismiss without refund anyone whose conduct is detrimental to the enjoyment of the other players. There is one make-up clinic allowed per session. There are no carryovers to the next season.


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