How comfortable are you with your backhand? Or should it be asked- How much do you trust your backhand in stressful situation? Stressful situation can range from being on the run, to how well your backhand response to different kinds of spins and/or the depth of the ball in play(deep ball, short ball). So, again how much confidence do you have in backhand when confronted with these scenarios? These are certainly important questions when building a solid tennis game, and without a doubt, a strong backhand is a crucial component.
As we consider the backhand of today, we are presented with two options- the one handed backhand and the two handed backhand. But what’s the difference between the two? Furthermore, what’s the best choice for your style of play? This article will help shine a bit of light on the two styles, and hopefully make that choice a little easier.
In today’s game the two handed backhand in the dominate style of backhand , this is not to imply that the “one hander” does not have a place in today’s game, it certainly does! Both of theses backhands should be respected, and if possible, learned and utilized in certain situations. This of course, is a lot to ask of most players, so its best to use and prefect one style of backhand. We shall explore the differences later, but first lets examine the slight similarity between the two backhands- mainly the use of the eastern backhand grip. The Eastern backhand grip is the preferred grip for both styles of backhand. This grip offers a clean point of contact without much effort from the player. Other less notable similarity include racket preparation, and to a lesser extent footwork and unit(shoulder)rotation.
While the similarities are slight, the differences in the two styles are considerably more noticeable. The one handed backhand, without a doubt, offers a lot more flexibility/reach on the court. Many player’s find that becomes easier to cover more court with one arm than it is with two; this is a distinct advantage for the one hander, and should be treated as an advantage. Also, the use of only one hand also allows for a lengthy follow through, where as the “two hander” can only extend out as far as the second arm will allow. This again is a strong advantage for the one hander, not only is it not restricted by a second arm, a longer follow through help produce more power. Finally, a longer follow through gives players more room to make up for errors such as late preparation, misread spin, etc.. On the other hand, what the two handed backhand loses in extension, it makes up for in added control and heavier spin production. The one hander can control the ball and produce spin as well, but the production of these attributes increase greatly when assisted by another hand. It maybe better understood as such: The base hand(dominate hand, right or left) controls the rackets head, while the secondary hand is free to produce power, spin, or both. Players that use the two hander are now taught of the importance of unit rotation to make up for the loss of extension due to the second arm. This again, help will produce more power and add greater depth to balls.
So now we have a choice to make- Some of you may already have a style of backhand you‘re comfortable with, and others maybe contemplating the switch from one style to the other. I’ll start by saying that I myself use a two handed backhand and I teach it to any of my students- especially those with little to no tennis experience- junior players and adults alike. While I respect the one handed backhand, and use it from time to time, it is my belief that the two handed backhand is a much more versatile stroke over the long run. Versatility of a stroke is the ability to control the stroke under stressful situations, if we can do this, we can be better prepared for the challenges that come up in tennis. I shall close by saying, this is a great and very dependable style of backhand- I highly recommend it to any beginner or seasoned enthusiasts looking to improve their game.