Tennis player hitting a backhand

How to Hit a Tennis Backhand

If you’ve ever watched a tennis match and marvelled at how effortlessly players seem to whip their backhands across the court, you’re in the right place. Today, I’m diving into the art of the tennis backhand, a shot that can make or break your game. Whether you’re a budding enthusiast or an experienced player looking to refine your technique, this post is for you.

As someone who has spent countless hours on the court perfecting my backhand, I can tell you that learning how to hit a backhand in tennis is a journey filled with trials, errors, and, yes, a few accidental racket launches (we’ve all been there, right?).

I’m here to guide you through mastering this crucial aspect of your game. From grip to footwork, we’ll cover everything you need to transform your tennis backhand from a mere shot into a formidable weapon. Let’s embark on this journey together, and who knows, you might just become the envy of your tennis buddies!

Tennis Backhand: A Step-by-Step Guide

Perfecting the tennis backhand is like crafting a fine art piece – it requires patience, precision, and a bit of flair. Let’s break it down into manageable steps to help you master this elegant stroke.

Stance:

It all begins with your stance. Position your feet shoulder-width apart, with your weight evenly distributed. This balanced stance is the foundation of a powerful backhand. It’s essentially the opposite of your forehand stance, in terms of your feet and how your racket is positioned. However, on the backhand, both hands are placed on the racket’s grip, which is different from where your left hand is placed during a forehand.

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Grips:

Your grip is your connection to the racket and can significantly influence your backhand. The Continental Grip, used for volleys serves and slices, is also used for two-handed and one-handed backhands. Many people also call it the ‘hammer grip’, the Continental Grip is a must-have for all of these tennis shots, especially the backhand

a tennis racket showing the continental grip

Backswing:

Rotate your shoulders and hips as you take the racket back, preparing for the impending strike. This motion is crucial for generating power. Make sure the racket head goes down below your waist as you progress your loop, don’t rush it.

Swing:

Here’s where the magic happens. Drive the racket forward, focusing on a fluid and controlled motion. Ensure your swing path matches the type of shot you’re aiming for – be it flat, topspin, or slice.

This is the moment of truth. Strike the ball in front of your body, ensuring your racket is perpendicular to the ground at the point of contact. This is key for accuracy and power. Take a step in with your front foot (if your right handed, your right foot) to create extra pace with your body weight. Proper footwork is important through the entire backhand stroke.

Mastering topspin on your backhand can be a game-changer. It involves brushing up the back of the ball during contact, which requires precise timing and wrist action.

Follow Through:

Don’t stop once you’ve hit the ball. Continue your swing in a natural arc, finishing high and over your opposite shoulder for a one-handed backhand, or across your body for a two-handed backhand. This follow-through is essential for maintaining control and direction.

What backhand should I use, one-handed or two-handed?

If you’ve watched any amount of professional tennis, then you will have noticed that there are two different techniques: the two-handed backhand, which is used by most professionals like Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic, and the one-handed backhand, which Roger Federer makes look effortless and beautiful. Let’s dive into the characteristics of the two backhands and which one you should use.

One-Handed Backhand: The one-handed backhand is often seen as the more classical style. It offers greater reach and the ability to generate a lot of slice. With this style, your backswing is crucial; it needs to be fluid and well-timed. The stance tends to be more open, allowing for a fuller rotation of the body and a more pronounced follow-through. The grip most commonly used here is the Continental or sometimes the Eastern. This style allows for a precise contact point and elegant topspin, although it often requires more wrist strength and control.

Two-Handed Backhand: The two-handed backhand, on the other hand, is known for its power and control. It’s easier to learn for most beginners due to the added stability and strength of using both hands. Your stance with a two-handed backhand will be more closed, providing a solid base for the swing. The backswing is generally shorter, which can be advantageous in fast-paced rallies. The two-handed style allows for a consistent contact point and is excellent for generating topspin.

Ultimately, the choice depends on your playing style, physical strengths, and comfort level. Some players relish the control and finesse of the one-handed backhand, while others prefer the power and stability of the two-handed version. Experiment with both in your practice sessions, and you’ll soon discover which backhand resonates with your game. Remember, whether you choose the elegance of one hand or the might of two, it’s the mastery of the fundamentals – stance, swing, contact point, follow through, and grip – that makes your backhand a formidable part of your arsenal.

How Do You Hit a Stronger Backhand in Tennis?

Hitting a stronger backhand in tennis is a bit like stirring your favourite stew – it’s all about the right ingredients and technique. To add more power to your backhand, let’s revisit the fundamentals and sprinkle in some advanced tips.

  1. Stance: Start with a solid base. A wider, more athletic stance gives you the stability needed to generate power. Think of your legs as springs, coiling and uncoiling to add force to your shot.
  2. Backswing: A longer, more pronounced backswing can increase the power of your backhand. However, it’s crucial to maintain control and not overextend, as this can lead to inconsistency and errors.
  3. Swing: Power is not just about strength; it’s about speed and fluidity. Accelerate your racket through the ball, focusing on a smooth, whip-like motion. This acceleration is key to adding extra speed to your shot.
  4. Contact Point: Hitting the ball at the optimal contact point is critical for a powerful backhand. Aim to strike the ball when it’s slightly in front of you and at waist height. This allows you to transfer your body weight into the shot effectively, which is important in all tennis strokes.
  5. Follow Through: A robust follow-through is essential for a powerful backhand. Extend your arm and racket through the ball, finishing high (for one-handed) or wrapping around your body (for two-handed). This ensures that you’re transferring all your kinetic energy into the shot.
  6. Topspin: Incorporating topspin can add both power and control to your backhand. Use a strong wrist snap and brush up against the back of the ball to create that heavy, dipping shot that can baffle opponents.

Remember, a stronger backhand isn’t just about brute force; it’s about technique, timing, and practice. Regularly working on each of these elements will gradually increase the strength and effectiveness of your backhand, making it a formidable weapon in your tennis arsenal.

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