Tennis Backhand Technique With One or Two Hands

Tennis backhand technique gives you two variations. You can hit the shot with one hand (of course keeping your non-hitting hand on the throat of the racket during the preparation). Or, you can hit with two hands.

Chris Evert, Jimmy Connors, and Bjorn Borg made the two-handed backhand popular. They actually sparked a revolution in this “out of the box” technique. For decades just about everyone hit the one-handed backhand. It was fluid and graceful.

Then came the “Brash Basher from Belleville” as Bud Collins called Connors. (Jimmy was from Belleville, Illinois.) The two-handed backhand gave Connors, Evert, Borg, and others lethal passing shots. They had more control and ability to hit angles with the extra hand on top. The down side was they gave up a bit of reach. But they made up for it with superior footwork and court coverage.

The two-handed backhand is easier to learn. When I coach beginning kids, they can get this in a day. But the one-hander could take years to master due to the lack of arm strength. So you may want to start with a two-hander, if you’re learning the game (or coaching beginning players). If you already have a one-handed backhand, then watch Federer and imitate what he does.

There have been some great one-handed backhands in the game including Laver, Roswall, Lendl, and Becker. I don’t think anyone has hit it like Federer though. But even he has trouble with Nadal’s high kicking left handed forehand to Federer's backhand.

Whether you have a one-handed backhand or two, it takes practice to perfect. We do tennis ball machine drills where the player has to hit 20 balls in a row down the line. Once he gets this, then we go 20 in a row cross-court. We also work on the slice backhand, a one-handed shot. This takes a lot of strength and racket control to hit consistently.

In singles, hit your backhand cross-court until your opponent is expecting that target—then send the ball down the line. In doubles, hit the backhand down the middle (splitting the players), down the line, or right at the opponent. Or, try a sharp may need the two-handed backhand for this unless you have a lot of strength and feel with the one hand.

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