Would You Like To Watch The Full-Length Detailed Video Lesson On The Backhand?
First, to learn how to hit a devastating backhand in tennis, it is important for you to recognize that the Backhand doesn't play second fiddle to the Forehand. In fact in many ways it can be even more important than the forehand if you want to elevate your tennis game.
The backhand can be developed into a weapon much like the forehand or it can provide you with a consistent and reliable shot. It can enable you to defend or attack and a backhand down the line is one of the most coveted shots in the entire game!
The key is to develop your backhand into a shot that isn’t easily attacked and optimally into a shot that can be as aggressive in nature as the forehand is typically for most players. Legends of the game that have been able to attack with their backhands include, Andre Agassi, Novak Djokovic, Steffi Graf, and Bjorn Borg to name a few.
THE GRIP: The first decision you need to make is whether you want to hit a one handed or two handed backhand? There are pros and cons to both strokes. Ultimately, you will decide on which backhand you want to use based on a variety of factors, such as your strength, foot speed, the style of your game, and what feels the most comfortable to you. For instance, if your game is a baseline centric game and you are primarily hitting groundstrokes, it is more likely that a two handed backhand is your best option. However, if you prefer to serve and volley or attack the net, then the added flexibility and range of the one handed backhand may serve you better.
- One-Handed Backhand is easier to reach for more shots, low balls, wide balls, and high balls. Angles are more easily created and it is easier to switch to the one handed slice for approach shots or defensive shots. Conversely, the cons with the one-hander is that it can be difficult to handle high bouncing balls due to a lack of arm strength with many players.
- Two-handed Backhand will give you the added stability and strength of using two hands so it is easier to take balls on the rise and to handle high bouncing balls. You will also have the ability to generate more power with this type of backhand, as you accelerate through the strike zone with two hands. The Drawback with the two handed backhand is that you will need to have quicker feet and better footwork as it will require additional effort to be properly positioned to hit the ball, because you don't have as much range.
THE STANCE & FOOTWORK: The most important aspect, as in every shot in tennis is the FOOTWORK. This is going to be of paramount importance in order to hit a consistent and powerful backhand shot that will be a weapon for you. Good footwork will get you properly positioned and balanced to hit more clean balls especially on the two handed backhand. To begin you should be light on your feet with the knees slightly bent, this is the typical ready position that we have established in the Elite Tennis Program. The movements are very similar for both backhands, you can either hit with an open stance or the closed stance. In the closed stance version of the backhand your body and/or shoulders will be perpendicular to the net as you face the side of the court, your feet should be side by side pointing out to either the right or left side of the court (depending on if you are left or right handed). In the open stance variety your shoulders will be parallel to the net with your feet facing forward towards the net, with either two or one hand on the racket. If you are hitting a one handed backhand then your non dominant hand will move up to the throat of the racket to provide extra control of the racket head.
PREPARATION & ROTATION: The next movement will be to make a half turn with your shoulders. This half turn of the shoulders will bring the racket back behind your body and the racket head should now be facing straight back towards the back fence behind you. The elbows and the arms should be relaxed, and your wrists should be relaxed but still firm. The next movement is the trunk rotation as the hips rotate backwards and the legs are loaded, this leg loading technique will provide the balance and explosion for you to complete the proper swing with the right amount of racket head speed.
THE STROKE: The racket then begins to travel towards the point of contact, this occurs as you transfer your weight forward. As this transfer begins, the racket head dips down to create the proper path to be able to brush up on the ball and create the lift and topspin needed in order to elevate it over the net and deep. The hips should rotate backwards as the racket dip goes into motion, as the racket travels forward the hips start to rotate forward as well following the racket momentum. You will want to pronate the wrists to close the racket face and lower the racket head to get it under the ball completing the preparations needed to brush up on the ball. The arms should extend out to the point of contact, which should be located in front of the body, while brushing up and through the ball, accelerating the racket head through the strike zone will create more topspin and a more effective shot .
THE FOLLOW-THROUGH & RECOVERY: The follow-through should continue out away from the body as the wrists turn over and the racket should finish above the opposite shoulder. If you are hitting a closed stance backhand, you should experiment with how it feels to bring the back foot around and in line with the front foot, essentially returning you to the ready position and enabling you to push off that outer or non dominant foot back to the center of the court again.