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Sunday, April 12, 2009

Backhand Tips

Here are some tips to consider when beginning to hit a one-handed backhand:
  • Accept the fact that the backhand is on the non-dominant side of your body and therefore will feel less comfortable.
  • The muscular strength that can help compensate for bad contact or late rotation (on your forehand side) is not as readily available on the backhand. The mechanics of the stroke, that place your shoulder in front instead of in the rear, changes your strength-to-hit ratio.
  • Never let the racket head trail the elbow on the backhand. Do not thrust the elbow forward and flip your wrist to bring around the racket head.
  • Rotate your trunk so that your shoulders are at least perpendicular to the net and you are sighting-up the ball over your lead shoulder.
  • When drawing your racket back with the opposite hand, begin with the racket high and the racket head pointing upward. The swing will proceed downward as you rotate your shoulders and contact the ball at waist to thigh level.
  • Upon beginning your shoulder rotation towards the contact zone, never plant your front foot (right foot) on the right (right-handers) while your back foot (left foot) trails to the left. Feet should be aligned for a solidly closed stance.
  • Be certain to rotate your thumb downward on the grip (from the forehand grip position) in order to move your hand into the backhand grip position.
  • Hit the ball in front of your body on contact, but do not over-extend. This leads a “pushing” of the ball instead of solid contact.
  • Rotate your shoulders through the ball path and notice the angle of your arm-to-racket. This angle should be the same on the finish as you strike the ball from low to high to bring the ball over the net.
  • After hitting your shot, immediately begin to move towards the area of the court that is now vulnerable. In singles, begin the return to the middle area behind the baseline.
  • Keep moving at all times since a smart opponent will sense a resting moment and take advantage of it.
  • Be prepared to hit lots of backhands since this is what most players will attack. If players consistently attack your forehand instead of your backhand, there is a reason.
  • NOTE: see sidebar for slideshow of crosscourt backhand drive

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