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Thursday, May 14, 2009

HOW TO…single or double-handed backhand

There are some very good reasons to consider a double-handed backhand. It provides more stability on a less-comfortable side of your body, and it also eliminates strength as a factor since two hands, arms and shoulders provide a very solid connection to the body core. Many also believe that the two-hander becomes more of a weapon and thus provides a greater dilemma for the opponent. High balls in the backcourt tend to be easier to handle when hitting flat or with topspin, and some believe that the nature of this shot helps mask the players’ directional intent of cross court or down-the-line. Although these are realistic arguments, one can find both strengths and flaws in both single and double handed shots.

Single vs. two-handed backhand:

Body Mechanics

  • More connections to the body core create a stronger foundation
  • Hitting hard for a one hander is a product of more shoulder rotation and less arm and therefore eliminates strength as an issue
  • The additional support of two arms probably provides more protection from injury
  • A one hander never needs to change his grip in order to grasp the racket with two hands
  • All two-handed players will need to let go with the opposite hand for the very wide balls that just cannot be reached when the second hand holds onto the grip

Shot making

  • The amount of shoulder rotation determines placement on the court on both shots
  • The same preparation for down-the-line or cross-court keeps the opponent guessing on the one hander; similar for the two hander
  • Low balls are more difficult to handle with two-handed shots
  • The slice shot is easy with one hand but challenging with two
  • Topspin is easier to generate with a two-hander, but no better in quality than a good one-handed topspin (just watch Roger Federer)
  • Volleying is usually always done with only one hand on the grip

Positioning

  • Deep, high balls are easier with two hands if you insist on returning the ball flat or with topspin
  • A high ball to a one hander is easily handled by using the slice or underspin, but it carries less  power than flat or topspin (but usually great control)
  • Since the racket is pulled closer to the body while holding with two hands, the reach of the player is shortened

One of the greatest players of all time, Roger Federer, hits one handed. And even better, Federer is chasing the record of six-year world #1 champion who began his career as a two hander but gained prominence only after switching to a one handed backhand in his late teens. His name? Pete Sampras.

But one could counter with the incredible records of two-handed backhand champions Chris Evert, Bjorn Borg, Andre Agassi and todays Raphael Nadal.

You should try both types of shots with all their variations of flat, topspin, underspin and sidespin and see which works best for you.

(Note: I may add more to this at a later date)

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