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Old 06-16-2013, 09:38 AM   #1
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Default Backhand question

I`m a big tennis fan but I don`t play tennis myself. I`ve watched the discussions about single or double handed backhands here and I`ve an question. Is one of the two backhand more difficult to execute? Because so few players use a single handed nowadays I get the feeling that the conclusion also is, on this forum, that the shot is more difficult to learn. But in the past mot players used a single handed backhand. This would mean that the players nowadays would be less talented over a whole scale than they were in past times. Could someone give me a, non biased, answer to this. Thanks in advance.
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Old 06-16-2013, 10:02 AM   #2
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Default Re: Backhand question

I think it stems from coaching.

It is extremely difficult for a young child to hit a single handed topspin backhand, they simply lack the strength. It is also more difficult to hit accurately. Most reasonably coordinated young children can hit a double handed backhand, it is a more stable shot and the contact speed doesn't have to be very fast for a decent amount of power to be produced.

I know a lot of coaches these days who don't even bother trying one and two handed backhands on their pupils, preferring to go straight to the two hander. I would prefer they give a decent amount of time to trial a single hander when the child is old/strong enough, but I can see why they often don't bother.

I think single handers were still more popular until recently due to coaches keeping to tradition. They saw it as a more elegant shot that has worked for so many years, so why change it? But now there is too much evidence in favour of two handers to ignore.

Another reason has to do with play styles. Back in the days of more serve and volley, having a single hander generally meant easier transition to the net (and I think better backhand volleys and slice, yes I know, a big generalisation).
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Old 06-16-2013, 10:03 AM   #3
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Default Re: Backhand question

Quote:
Originally Posted by c.schoenmaker View Post
I`m a big tennis fan but I don`t play tennis myself. I`ve watched the discussions about single or double handed backhands here and I`ve an question. Is one of the two backhand more difficult to execute? Because so few players use a single handed nowadays I get the feeling that the conclusion also is, on this forum, that the shot is more difficult to learn. But in the past mot players used a single handed backhand. This would mean that the players nowadays would be less talented over a whole scale than they were in past times. Could someone give me a, non biased, answer to this. Thanks in advance.
The current prevalence of the two-hander is not an indication of lack of talent, but an indication of popular ideology in the modern game.


The biggest overall advantage of putting an extra hand on the backhand is the added stability it provides the player. This advantage is critical in today's game, where extended rallies are the norm and grinding is at an all-time high. To add to that, consider that the average weight of spin of the shot has gone up as a result of modern stroke techniques and the latest racquet technology. Players aren't hitting flat with continental grips anymore, the ball plays heavier, and chipping the ball is much more punishable than it used to be, so the appeal of "stability" is compounded.

Furthermore, the "support" benefit is especially important for youth, who are commonly unable to execute an OHBH with much success due to weakness in the arm, so they're taught two-handers early and have little incentive to switch from them thereafter.
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Old 06-16-2013, 10:29 AM   #4
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Default Re: Backhand question

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Originally Posted by StatRacket View Post
I think it stems from coaching.

I know a lot of coaches these days who don't even bother trying one and two handed backhands on their pupils, preferring to go straight to the two hander. I would prefer they give a decent amount of time to trial a single hander when the child is old/strong enough, but I can see why they often don't bother.
And even if player already has learned one handed BH, some coaches are not supporting it. Some time ago we were practicing backhands at our local club and when this guy was hitting quite decent and aggressive single handers, coach said: "Why are you doing that, you have a good two hander also?". I couldn´t have telled which style was his stronger one. Funny thing is that the coach also had a single handed BH.
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Old 06-16-2013, 10:32 AM   #5
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Default Re: Backhand question

When I was younger I struggled to hit a two handed backhand. I have poor coordination and the fact that the two hander has your weaker hand (presuming you're not Nadal) driving the shot, really threw me off.

I could hit a single handed back hand, but it wasn't exactly great, got it over the net, but with no power. So in a way yes exectution wise it was tough. I had another go at hitting two handed backhand the other week and something clicked for me. Although it took me longer to learn, I find the execution of it a lot easier. Can generate more power, and control the direction I want to hit the ball to more. One thing I need to do though is to work on my follow through technique because right now I keep on clipping my shoulder on follow through
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Old 06-16-2013, 10:32 AM   #6
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Default Re: Backhand question

I don't think there's any question that a singlehander is much harder to learn at least in its initial stages.
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Old 06-16-2013, 10:36 AM   #7
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Default Re: Backhand question

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Originally Posted by Tenn1sAdd1ct View Post
And even if player already has learned one handed BH, some coaches are not supporting it. Some time ago we were practicing backhands at our local club and when this guy was hitting quite decent and aggressive single handers, coach said: "Why are you doing that, you have a good two hander also?". I couldn´t have telled which style was his stronger one. Funny thing is that the coach also had a single handed BH.
This is a pretty common sight at tennis facilities. All but one of my immediate co-workers are one-handers teaching two-handers to kids. Most of them are products of a previous era (read: older).

Ironically, I play with a two-hander but actually use one hand for convenience when coaching.
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Last edited by BackhandDTL : 06-16-2013 at 10:48 AM. Reason: Clarification
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Old 06-16-2013, 10:39 AM   #8
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Default Re: Backhand question

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Originally Posted by leng jai View Post
I don't think there's any question that a singlehander is much harder to learn at least in its initial stages.
yes, it is harder for a kid.

And the double hander has a couple percents advantage in the modern game, so naturally kids are more often taught the double hander.

I am playing a single hander myself and i'm teaching my kid the double hander, gotta keep up with the trends
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Old 06-16-2013, 10:45 AM   #9
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Default Re: Backhand question

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yes, it is harder for a kid.

And the double hander has a couple percents advantage in the modern game, so naturally kids are more often taught the double hander.

I am playing a single hander myself and i'm teaching my kid the double hander, gotta keep up with the trends
You're staining the future of tennis there.

I've been playing tennis for over 10 years and my single hander is still nowhere near what I would call consistent. The return of serve is still a nightmare but it's exceedingly easy to generate power if you have a decent wrist. At least there's always the killer slice as a back up.
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Old 06-16-2013, 10:55 AM   #10
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Default Re: Backhand question

Nice replies all, thanks. I already thought the one handed backhand was harder to learn than a double handed backhand. The only thing I always think with a double handed is how do they keep standing? The few times I play tennis myself I always find myself tumbling or losing balnce big time if I have to use two hands on a backhand. Now this can be relevant to my lack of skill, but still my logic keeps me thinking that without a free arm your balance is harder to keep, especially with a backhand on the run.
Well lets just hope they will gain some more support at the youngest levels in future times, would be ashame if they would be reduced even more than they are already.
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Old 06-16-2013, 10:56 AM   #11
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Default Re: Backhand question

For people that play other racket sports, like badminton or table-tennis, playing tennis with a single hander feels very natural.


The problem is many start learning tennis at young age and both the kids, parents and tennis coach often are a bit more obsessed with results and winning than they should.

Like said above, most kids can't get enough power in the 1H BH but kids that use 2H BH can hit the ball harder. So if this poor 1H BH kid plays the 2H BH kid he has to be A LOT more talented or the 2H kid will go "Serena on Errani FO 2013" on him.

It's a shame really because the results at young age are probably not as important as some kids, parents, tennis coaches think. But ofc if you lose a lot in a sport you will switch technique or switch sport. Meanwhile kids that win a lot will practice harder and get more coaching so suddenly which kid is winning and which is losing gets VERY important for what kid grows up to be a pro and what kid that quits the sport.
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Old 06-16-2013, 11:12 AM   #12
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Default Re: Backhand question

The only reason why I have a one-hand backhand is because of table tennis which I started playing at a young age.


Yes, I am being serious.
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Old 06-16-2013, 11:28 AM   #13
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Default Re: Backhand question

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Originally Posted by MaxPower View Post
For people that play other racket sports, like badminton or table-tennis, playing tennis with a single hander feels very natural.


The problem is many start learning tennis at young age and both the kids, parents and tennis coach often are a bit more obsessed with results and winning than they should.

Like said above, most kids can't get enough power in the 1H BH but kids that use 2H BH can hit the ball harder. So if this poor 1H BH kid plays the 2H BH kid he has to be A LOT more talented or the 2H kid will go "Serena on Errani FO 2013" on him.

It's a shame really because the results at young age are probably not as important as some kids, parents, tennis coaches think. But ofc if you lose a lot in a sport you will switch technique or switch sport. Meanwhile kids that win a lot will practice harder and get more coaching so suddenly which kid is winning and which is losing gets VERY important for what kid grows up to be a pro and what kid that quits the sport.
This kind of reminds me of the Barcelona and now also Ajax idea they have of training there youth. There youth teams, especially Barcelona, more often than not don`t win trophies or competitions they play in. They focus on player abilities instead of trying to win. The idea is that a player has to fulfil his potential technically. It`s a more difficult and maybe frustrating road, but the end result can be wonderfull.
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Old 06-16-2013, 11:31 AM   #14
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Default Re: Backhand question

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Originally Posted by BackhandDTL View Post
The current prevalence of the two-hander is not an indication of lack of talent, but an indication of popular ideology in the modern game.


The biggest overall advantage of putting an extra hand on the backhand is the added stability it provides the player. This advantage is critical in today's game, where extended rallies are the norm and grinding is at an all-time high. To add to that, consider that the average weight of spin of the shot has gone up as a result of modern stroke techniques and the latest racquet technology. Players aren't hitting flat with continental grips anymore, the ball plays heavier, and chipping the ball is much more punishable than it used to be, so the appeal of "stability" is compounded.

Furthermore, the "support" benefit is especially important for youth, who are commonly unable to execute an OHBH with much success due to weakness in the arm, so they're taught two-handers early and have little incentive to switch from them thereafter.
Racket technology hasn't improved in the last 15 years.
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Old 06-16-2013, 04:16 PM   #15
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Default Re: Backhand question

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Originally Posted by Burrow View Post
Racket technology hasn't improved in the last 15 years.
And two-handed backhands have only just gone on a rise, right?
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