Push through’s and Pull back’s
Achieving good technique is essential in tennis. Also important is that we can explain how to achieve good technique in simple language.
Footwork on forehand and backhand has evolved so much. Back in the old school, a ‘closed stance’ was once taught in an effort to achieve linear power. Now the closed stance is used for a one handed backhand and sometimes as an improvise for a down the line stroke.
But most forehands and two handed backhands use a combination of ‘open stance’ and ‘neutral stepping stance’ which most coaches now understand. You can also argue that a ‘semi open’ stance will be used. A difference of opinion can happen with the ‘neutral stepping stance’ and what happens to the leg at the back. From what I have observed, the rear leg is best to follow through and rotate through to the front. I do agree that during a down the line passing shot the back leg may not rotate forwards but I find that is an intuitive thing to do rather than the other way around.
Therefore what we teach at Scarborough Tennis Academy is for kids to learn about pull backs and push through’s and use this as a way to improve their footwork, rotation and recovery in their forehand and two hand backhand.
Pull Back – A pull back is an open stance shot where the player leans against their back leg before rotating into the shot. It is used as it is quick and easy to set up and the elastic energy from the rotation helps you to hit crosscourt
The player will ‘Pull Back’ into their ready position located in the same line as them.
Push Through – A push through is a neutral stance shot (sometimes semi open) where the player steps forwards and pushing their energy forwards and around before landing back into a new ready position in line with the stepping leg.
The player will ‘Push Through’ into their ready position located in front of them. In other words they recover forwards.
Areas to monitor
In the Pull Back’s you need to make sure the player rotates their hips before playing it so its not front on. In the Push Through’s you need to make sure the player makes contact before the leg recovers forwards and around.
This could be seen as too simple but I have found the simplicity is the best quality of using these cue words. Players can feel this action and the words tie to a feeling which makes it easy to learn. By using the ready position as the end point it helps the players efficiency and recovery.
There are more than 2 types of footwork patterns!
Yes there are but some of them do not need to be explicitly taught until perhaps into teenage years. This may be what we call a jumping push through and front leg hopping approach shots but there are so many variations. However many of them are intuitive and if you get the Pull Back’s and Push Through’s working well then its organically grows and evolves from there.
David Bailey is a footwork specialist and has some really great information. Below he does cover all the varying footwork patterns but if you look at where their recovery ready position is it easily be classified into a Push Through or Pull Back.
So as you watch this, consider whether the recovery is in the same line (pull back) or whether the recovery is forwards (push through).
Director of Tennis