Hitting up vs hitting through the backhand - MensTennisForums.com
 
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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 03-18-2012, 03:07 AM Thread Starter
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Hitting up vs hitting through the backhand

I'm going to keep this as short as possible, but today I think perfectly highlighted the difference in quality of backhands between someone like David Nalbandian, Andy Murray and Roger Federer (when he's hitting it well) in comparison to Rafael Nadal, Fernando Verdasco, and Andy Roddick. The first three players mentioned hit through their backhands. They get balanced for the shot, use their hips to rotate through contact, and use their non-dominant hands to power through the shot with extension, using their entire upper body and wrists to hit into the shot, which enables them get a lot of racquet-head speed with their backhands and make them significantly more potent and gives them a lot more natural options in which they can use their backhands.

Nadal today in the windy conditions and with Roger's excellent tactics had a major weakness of his exposed. He doesn't hit through backhands often. He hits up on them, he doesn't go through the contact point with the backhand. He sort of blocks the backhand by not using his non-dominant hand to hit through, he muscles through his backhand with his arms, it's sort of like a pop-up shots. It isn't a natural, free-flowing shot and it makes it much easier to mistime and reduces racquet-head speed, reduces sweet-spot contact and makes the shot a lot weaker. It makes it harder to hit backhands with penetration and generally makes it harder to defend off the shot, although Nadal is so strong he's able to pull off defensive backhands from outrageous positions often.

Verdasco is one of the worst at doing this. His backhand is ultra stiff and unnatural and he doesn't rotate his hips through contact, he doesn't position his feet and use little steps to get into correct position. Sam Stosur on the WTA tour is another perfect example of someone who muscles backhands with her arms instead of hitting through the backhand and rotating with her upper body and hips.

My questions are, have any of you noticed this and taken this into account, the differences between elite backhands and lesser ones? How much of an affect does these differences have in matches, specific match-ups, and in determining the heights a player can reach in their careers? Do you know any players outside of the ones I've mentioned that hit their backhands properly, and those have poor technique? And why do you think these players with weaker backhands haven't been taught to hit through the shot properly? Clay court players especially are the biggest culprits.
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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 03-18-2012, 03:26 AM
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Re: Hitting up vs hitting through the backhand

Nadal's backhand at one point was great because of his strong left hand. If he could hit two forehands he would as he was born right handed. Why his bh has become so weak is not so clear to me, it's a confidence issue imo but I guess we'll see at RG where his confidence is always high.

Tsonga is someone with a flawed stroke, he doesn't get his weight in the shot.
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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 03-18-2012, 03:31 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Hitting up vs hitting through the backhand

Tsonga's biggest problem is footwork-oriented, extremely sloppy overall. He also doesn't have a consistent backhand technique. He sometimes flicks it and it's really wristy, he sometimes just plants his feet in a stationary position and muscles it, then other times he rotates through the BH but overhits it. Then he uses the one-hander for passing shots. I don't understand why that hasn't been worked on since it's such a glaring weakness and the issues are so obvious.

Nadal's BH definitely is a confidence shot. But he's never been very good in dealing with high backhands. Whenever Roger tonight hit a topspin FH to Rafa's BH, Rafa would hit the BH down the middle usually, lacking pace. He did it vs Nalbandian, he does it vs Murray and Djokovic. He can't get direction with the shot if he doesn't have his feet perfectly set to hit it.
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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 03-18-2012, 03:32 AM
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Re: Hitting up vs hitting through the backhand

Quote:
Originally Posted by Filo V. View Post
Tsonga's problem is footwork-oriented, extremely sloppy overall. He also doesn't have a consistent backhand technique. He sometimes flicks it and it's really wristy, he sometimes just plants his feet in a stationary position and muscles it, then other times he rotates through the BH but overhits it. Then he uses the one-hander for passing shots. I don't understand why that hasn't been worked on since it's such a glaring weakness and the issues are so obvious.
He doesn't have a coach.

Want's to play 'free' or whatever. Mug.
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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 03-18-2012, 03:40 AM
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Re: Hitting up vs hitting through the backhand

Roger's shots are an example of the kinetic chain, all he does is conserve energy and set himself up for the next shot without having to run so much.

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2...r-graphic.html

Also he has the one handed advantage of being versatile with the shot, he can slice, dropshot, volley with it pretty well and it's hard to read what he's going to do next with that because you don't get the tell-tale letting go of the handle with the other hand moment that you do with two handers.

Of course this doesn't help him when he gets shoulder high balls with lots of topspin but that's a particular match-up issue more than anything else.

Rafa's backhand is a great defensive shot when he's confident but it has never been the centre of his attacking game, once the weaknesses on it are exposed, he's left without a wing practically speaking, nowadays it is a garbage shot (when was the last time he hit REALLY deep with it DTL?) and he's running around it to hit his FH.

Nalbandian's BH is like Roger's FH, a perfect example of kinetic chain and how to put all your power behind one shot without too much effort on your own part.

Another great BH was Safin's when on, he hit the ball so cleanly off that wing.

Rafael "The Matador of Spin" Nadal
Roger “The Magician of Precision” Federer
Del Potro, Ferrer, Haas, Zeballos


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