Historically, it turned out that a stroke from the left (backhand) was defined as stroke, where the back of one of the hands in the attack is turned towards the enemy’s side. For the tennis player, who plays with right hand, this situation occurs when the ball is approaching to the left side of his body.
For tennis players, playing with the left hand, it’s the opposite. However, the appearance and the current popularity of a backhand stroke, played with two hands, have cursed some rethinking of the established definitions. As the position of the hands on the racquet differs much in different variants of a two-handed backhand, the most simple definition now is following: backhand — it’s a stroke, at which the ball is played from the left side of the body of a player, who plays with his right hand, and on the right side of the left-handed player.
For more than hundred years backhand was carried out exclusively with one hand. However, in recent years the number of tennis players, who use two handed backhand stroke, significantly exceeded the number of those who play with one hand. In the 30′s and 40′s of XX century Australian Vivian McGrath introduced backhand with two hands into the tennis practice. Ironically, only two handed forehand, used by Pancho Segura in the 50′s and 60′s of XX century, began to attract the attention of many players.
However, only the success of Chris Evert in the 70′s and 80′s of XX century has caused explosive interest to the use of a backhand stroke with two hands. Once women saw Evert holding the main trophy at Wimbledon, this event has completely shut down the future road in women’s tennis to the athletes with one handed backhand. In men’s tennis Bjorn Borg and Jimmy Connors have established the nature of the game for tennis players, the kick on the left with two hands.
In the 90 years of XX century, Pete Sampras and Steffi Graf proved that one handed backhand stroke was not completely obsolete, because these two athletes completely dominated in tennis during this decade. The most prominent tennis players, who preferred a one handed backhand stroke, since the 40′s and till the 90-ties of the XX century, were following players: Don Budge, Pauline Betz, Maureen Connolly, Lew Hoad, Ken Rosewall, Margaret Court, Rod Laver, Ivan Lendl and Martina Navratilova.
The trajectory of the racket at backhand shot
If you want understand how to hit a backhand, you might work through the trajectory of backhand stroke, which would be suitable not only for the amateur, but professional level as well. It should has the following four characteristics, made in tennis backhand slow motion:
- racquet should move forward and up with the angle approximately equal to 30 degrees to the court’s surface
- string surface of the racket should be almost vertical at the moment of contact with the ball
- string surface of the racket should be oriented towards the target at the moment of contact with the ball
- racquet should move quickly enough to make the ball after the stroke fly with a speed of about 50 miles per hour (80 km/h).
According to this tennis backhand instruction, as a result of such stroke, made by the tennis player with average skills, the ball will fly at a height of five feet (1,5 m) above the net, and will have a slight topspin and will land very close to the baseline on the enemy’s court side.
Tennis backhand technique when hitting with one hand
Relatively easy is to learn the slice stroke or backhand chop, used in some cases for the attack and following appearance at the net, return the serve with slice stroke, which can be resorted when there is no time left for preparing to other strokes. One handed backhand slow motion is shown at the picture 1.
From the starting position the process of preparing to the stroke begins according to the following tennis backhand instruction:
b) make sure that the shoulders line is ahead of this perpendicular by the end of the training. Depending on the speed and direction, given to the ball, the player’s back turns on a quarter or half to the net;
c) at the same time with the body rotation the racquet is moved back with right hand, the arm is bent during this movement, the elbow and forearm are located close to the body. The left hand supports the racket, helping to take it back. String surface is slightly «open» at the beginning of preparing stage, and the racquet side that will touch the ball, is turned up. Tennis backhand technique demands the racket to describe a curved, slightly prominent trajectory (Picture 1, a, b, c).
The movement, which should take the racket from swing to contact with the ball, is made due to the changes of the body position, which turns around and slightly leans forward.
This movement begins with locating the right foot forward and to the side:
a) the hand is lowered and the racket head slowly moves a bit below the height of the future point of contact with the ball. At the time of the contact with the ball the arm is stretched (Picture 1, d);
b) the point of contact with the ball is in front (about 10-15 cm) of the vertical line drawn through the right shoulder.
After straightening up, the arm takes the position, where the back of the hand rotates to the net nearly at the very moment of contact with the ball; racket strings appear to be perpendicular to the ground. This position significantly influence at the motion of the racket head.
The last stage of learning backhand technique is following the ball through. It begins at the moment of contact with the ball. The arm, that is thrown ahead, continues to follow the ball in the hitting direction and spontaneously rises to the level of the shoulder.
During the hitting and following the ball the arm stays close to the body to keep the balance and prevent the rotation. If the shoulders from the preparation position will move to the position, that is typical for the moment of contact with the ball, then such a motion will be correct, especially for beginners (Picture. 1, d, e).
Tennis backhand technique when hitting with two hands
Answer to the question how to hit a backhand with two hands requires from the very first lessons a comprehension of a specific sense of the trajectory and direction of the ball flight, as well as clear and quick footwork.
In tennis backhand technique the recommended racket grip is a grip for the stroke from the right. It may be more closed than usual, although this does not give any advantages. The guiding hand is located on the edge of the racket’s handle. The second hand is ahead, with little finger located next to the index finger of guiding hand.
Two handed tennis backhand slow motion is shown at the picture 2. Preparation to the stroke goes in following way:
a) the body is turned sideways to the net, as when hitting with one hand,
b) racket is taken back with two hands – the swing is made. During backhand loop racket’s head describes the trajectory, which can be horizontal or concave. The player will feel very fast, what trajectory suits him more.
This preparation provides the hitting of closed averagely or strongly twisted backhand stroke (Pic. 2).
Hitting motion occurs due to rotation of the upper body and arm’s movements that send the racket forward to the point of contact with the ball. The latter is located very close to the body that provides the best control of the ball and helps to avoid the backhand fail. The usual hitting plane is located in the perpendicular, which is drawn through the right thigh to the ground.
Shoulders and hips are open at the time of racket’s contact with the ball (approximately 30 °), at that time when while playing backhand stroke with one hand they are perpendicular to the grid.
During the following the ball through the racket continues a hitting movement for a while and finishes it at upper left from the player — a logical continuation of the body rotation. The shoulders are almost fully turned to the net by the end of following through.
Here are several additional backhand tips. If you use a two hand backhand stroke, do not change the grip when serving and hitting smash. The efficiency of your backhand can be reduced to zero due to the weakness of the other two strokes.