7 Steps To Perfect Backhand Technique

It is entirely natural for a tennis player to struggle with their backhand. A forehand is a more natural motion for almost every player, while a backhand takes practice to get just right.

Whether it is a one-handed backhand or a two-handed backhand, a player is only going to find real success if they turn it into a bit of a weapon. If they are unable to at least keep it a consistent shot, the opposition is going to attack the weaker wing continually.

Looking to find the perfect backhand technique? Keep these tips in mind, as they work for both one-handed and two-handed backhands.

1. Focus On Small Steps To Prepare

Backhand preparation is crucial, as a player usually has less ability to reach for balls than on a forehand. Without those smaller steps to approach any shot, it is going to be hard to track everything. Many people fall into the trap of taking larger steps, but it does not allow for a quick movement at the last second to power up for the shot.

All the best players in the world make those small adjustments right before they are about to hit the ball. Keeping the feet moving means that a player is always going to be in a much better position to get a clean look a the ball. With a strong base, the rest of the stroke has a much better chance of being successful.

2. Bend Your Knees

With any shot, it is important to bend the knees and prepare for hitting through the ball. A lot of players tend to be too stiff, which messes up the entire stroke. A proper knee bend is a habit that would help a lot of players in all facets of the game, but especially when trying to hit a backhand.

Not only does bending knees get a person in the right athletic position, but it helps with tracking the ball as well. Getting on the same plane as the ball can help a person understand where it is located, how to explode through the ball, and where it needs to go to keep the fun going.

3. Quality Shoulder Turn

The shoulder turn in a backhand is very important, whether it is a one-handed backhand or a two-handed backhand. The approaches are going to be slightly different, but it is important to coil the upper body before hitting the shot. This is going to give the shot quite a bit of power from the arms. It is a timing issue for a lot of people, as they try to understand what they need to do to explode to the ball and have the time to recoil.

Of course, a person gets themselves in trouble if they are not keeping their arms relaxed when they are performing a solid shoulder turn. If the arms feel like they are way too stiff through the entire shot, is going to put a person in a vulnerable position. The arms need to be in a great loaded position, but keeping stiff is usually going to result in shots not going where they need to.

Relaxing the arms will be a way to make the shot a little more fluid overall. A fluid motion when hitting a backhand leads to more spin and power in the end.

4. Rely On Multiple Backhand Shots

Off the backhand, a player should be able to hit multiple types of shots to give themselves an advantage in certain situations. Slightly different preparation is needed for all the shots, but a person also does not want to show their hand too early.

With a flat or topspin shot, the goal is to get there fairly early for a good amount of power. The preparation and taking the racquet back will be mostly the same, but a player will brush up on the ball more with a topspin shot.

A slice or lob is more of a scrambling option, unless a player sees an excellent opportunity to hit one. Even if a player hits a two-handed backhand most of the time, they might opt for just one hand to hit these shots. It allows for a bit more reach, which comes in handy if a player finds themselves in a situation where they are scrambling a bit and playing defense.

The more variety a player can develop on their backhand, the better. It can end up being a major weapon if opponents have no idea what might be coming back their way in specific scenarios.

5. Consistency

There are so many opportunities out there that allows players to build up consistency. Not only is it always worth finding a partner and practicing on crosscourt backhands, but setting up the ball machine also works. Hitting against a wall can nail down the proper form and make a player feel comfortable as well.

Consistency is a tip for any stroke, but the backhand is a little unnatural at the beginning for players to hit. It can feel awkward and stiff at first, but it does not have to be that way.

Part of consistency is not only working on the backhand, but picking which backhand option is best. Some like the one-handed backhand, and the advantages to that is it allows for better reach, a more natural slice, and more disguise on different types of shots. It used to be almost exclusively the type a backhand every player played with, but the modern game has a lot of two-handed backhand players as well.

One-handed vs Two-handed Backhand

Power is a major reason why people switched to two handed-backhands when the game sped up. Youngsters who learn tennis need that power, and they continue to develop with two hands for the rest of their life. That extra hand put a little more power, depth and movement on shots.

It also helps with not only control, but hitting certain angles. Players with one-handed backhands have tough times with relatively high balls, but two-handed players can get on top of the ball a bit.

While some players do transition from one style to another later in their career, it is best to stick with one option and go with it. The footing, preparation, and stroke, in general, is just so different to try to learn. For most players, the two-handed backhand feels more natural, but if the one-handed feels more natural for you, stick with it.

6. Balance Throughout

Everyone knows that balance makes a pretty big difference at the beginning of a backhand stroke, but what about finishing things off? Unless a person hits a winner, a backhand is just one stroke during a point. It is important to have balance before, during, and after a shot so that a player can continue playing at a high-level.

As soon as a backhand is hit, it is time to prepare for the next shot. A player always needs to be on balance so that they can continue moving around and take control of the point. As soon as a player finds themselves out of position and off-balance, it ends up costing them dearly.

One tip on practicing how to hit a backhand and still have balance is to exaggerate the pose at the end. Do this during practice and see if there could be a slight pause after every shot without falling over. It might seem a little silly to some, but it is an excellent way to get a good idea on just how balanced the body is.

Those small steps talked about earlier? They help out with balance as well. Since the steps are smaller, the body is set.

7. Transfer Your Weight During The Shot

When a player is going through the preparation phase of a backhand, they have their weight back on their rear foot. The final step when a ball comes towards a player is to push that weight forward into the ball

To make things a little scientific, a player is trying to build momentum when powering through the ball. Momentum is simply mass times speed, so if the racquet and ball collide the right way, the racquet transfers some of its momentum to the ball.

Try to have a pronounced weight transfer in the beginning, and it will start to come a little more naturally as time goes on. Step into the ball when confidence starts to build, going for more and more power when there is enough time to load up.

Also, give a neutral or open stance to see what feels more natural when trying to power through the ball and transferring weight. There is not necessarily a right or wrong option, but players will gravitate towards one or the other.

If people are still having trouble powering through the ball, try to start further back and move into each shot to drive the point home. It is obviously not going always to be the option on certain shots, but moving back and then forward into a backhand will give people some free power just by doing that subconsciously.

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