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Old 03-08-2008, 06:26 AM   #1
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Default The One-Handed Backhand

I've played quite a lot of tennis so far in my life, and the thing that has bothered me the most is the regular topspin/flat one-handed backhand. While many people consider it my best shot, I find it very uncomfortable playing most of the time. Although I seem to hit the ball very cleanly and watch the ball all the way until contact, it is only because I wait until the ball is exactly in my hitting zone which is usually in a defensive position on the court (for example, behind the baseline - I typically like to hug that baseline during rallies; I don't like to be pushed back). Of course I try to stay on the baseline but when you play top junior players, it is a bit tough especially when chasing down winners. What usually happens is while I'm running to the ball to hit a backhand, I get to the ball too late to be able to hit on the rise so I am forced to either move backwards to hit the ball coming down, which is quite dangerous tactically, or hit quite a defensive slice. Of course if you play in the top juniors, you know that you are just asking for a beating if you get caught being defensive. I've tried to find out how I can hit a ball that is too high with a one-handed backhand and so far it hasn't been pretty, so I have been using the slice almost exclusively these days unless I get ball that is just right.

Just two years ago, I used to play with a two-handed backhand so I had never experienced much of a "hitting-zone" problem since I was able to hit the ball firmly no matter what height it was at. The only reason why I changed it to a one-handed backhand was because my private coach decided that since I generally never miss with my backhand slice and forehand, I could afford to add a little more offensive capabilities to my game. Since then, I have worked on it tirelessly however I can't seem to get to that next level where I can hit outright winners in most position like a forehand can. I've watched all these amazing one-handed backhand professionals such as Gasquet hitting these balls that seem too high for my hitting-zone and I don't really see much different except maybe a bit less extreme in the grip hold.

Any help is appreciated!

Extra Question: Do you find that the regular one-handed backhand is inferior compared to the two-hander in this era of tennis? Only 3 of the current top 10 players use one-handed backhands compared to the past where virtually no one at the top of the sport used two-handers.
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Old 03-08-2008, 06:54 AM   #2
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Default Re: The One-Handed Backhand

The high one handed BH is a very tough shot.

You can't really hit it completely flat and be consistent. You have to try to get a bit under it and drive through it with your weight moving to your front foot.

The extra question - no its no inferior. A lot people use 2 handers because as a junior its easier to hold the racquet with 2 hands.
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Old 03-09-2008, 05:13 PM   #3
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Default Re: The One-Handed Backhand

Wow, I'd highly recommend you speak to a coach about this shot. I won't even try to give you advice on the technique as it's so tough!

I would say this though, don't be so quick to dis-count the slice. A bit of creative slicing can go a long way, especially if you're a one-hander and they're hitting to your backhand with heavy top-spin...it kicks up awkwardly for a backhand drive but nicely for an attacking slice high to low.

Just hit the shot you feel most comfortable with I'd say. If it feels awkward to hit a drive, then be creative (easier said than done, I know!).
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Old 03-09-2008, 09:21 PM   #4
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Default Re: The One-Handed Backhand

Don't try to hit flat. Loop it back with a lot of spin.
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Old 03-10-2008, 02:40 AM   #5
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Default Re: The One-Handed Backhand

Quote:
Originally Posted by TidusZidane View Post
Wow, I'd highly recommend you speak to a coach about this shot. I won't even try to give you advice on the technique as it's so tough!

I would say this though, don't be so quick to dis-count the slice. A bit of creative slicing can go a long way, especially if you're a one-hander and they're hitting to your backhand with heavy top-spin...it kicks up awkwardly for a backhand drive but nicely for an attacking slice high to low.

Just hit the shot you feel most comfortable with I'd say. If it feels awkward to hit a drive, then be creative (easier said than done, I know!).
I would just stop complaining and use the slice but I'm not getting anywhere with a regular deep slice. Of course in the past when I played against weaker opponents, the slice would be useful since they wouldn't be able to handle a low skidding ball, but the slice against the top players doesn't do much unless I angle it pretty nicely, but that is quite difficult to pull off unless I'm in a good position off the court to do so.

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Originally Posted by sheeter View Post
Don't try to hit flat. Loop it back with a lot of spin.
That isn't the problem. The problem is to hit the ball cleanly when it is high in the first place. I'm not asking whether I should hit the ball flatter or with topspin, I know that. The problem I find with the one-hander compared to the two-hander is the backswing. With the two-hander, you can have a short backswing and muscle through most shots that you need two, but with the one-hander it is tough to hit the ball firmly without a good, full backswing. So when I play somebody who uses a lot of topspin, they'll first hit the ball flat to my backhand which is fine, and then they'll throw in a heavily topspin shot which then sometimes make the ball just sit there on the bounce taking like what seems like an eternity to kick up causing me mistime the backswing.

My backhand plays extremely well against people who play pretty flat through most of their game since the ball stays low enough to always be at my hitting zone. But the other day, I played against the number 3 in our US region-division who uses quite a lot of topspin especially off the forehand side and my regular flat/topspin backhand was horrible in that match and was probably the only thing that cost me which got me thinking on what I could do.
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Old 03-10-2008, 02:43 AM   #6
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Default Re: The One-Handed Backhand

This is why Federer loses to Nadal so much on clay, so dont feel too bad that you cant do it either

Another suggestion is to try to take it earlier
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Old 03-10-2008, 04:31 AM   #7
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Default Re: The One-Handed Backhand

i've seen a player I know who, when he gets in those situations, leaps like nalbandian and takes it pretty high. Otherwise, i really don't what to say. you could let its come down, take it early, or just run around it. the best thing to do in my opinion is to get a ball machine, set it send nasty spin to your backhand, and just hit a @@@@ load of balls until you get used to it. You could even have someone vary the settings a little bit every ten balls or something
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Old 03-11-2008, 12:07 PM   #8
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Default Re: The One-Handed Backhand

The single handed backhand is a very difficult shot even for the pros and generally it will have nowhere near the consistency of a double handed one. The high ball is especially difficult particularly for club level players who aren't the same height on average. I myself use a single handed backhand and while I hit a lot of great winners off it, its nowhere near consistent and I have basically the same problems as you do.

That is why you must appreciate it when you can witness the backhands that the likes of Kuerten and Haas possess.
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Old 03-12-2008, 04:10 AM   #9
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Thumbs up Re: The One-Handed Backhand

Hkz,

You pose a problem that MANY players face. Regardless of the forehand or backhand side, hitting a high ball is one of the harder parts of tennis. Here is some help. I am a tennis pro, and college player, so I know what its like to play top juniors, in fact, Im playing top division 2 players.

My first advice, when you refer to "hitting the ball on the rise."

1. Make sure you are not hitting the ball too early. Hitting a ball on the rise is dangerous and although it gives your opponent far less time to react, I suggest hitting the ball at the APEX. This means at the highest point. (assuming you are not getting loopy shots from these top players you should have no problem hitting the ball at the highest point because it will be in your comfort zone). My main point being dont hit the ball too early! Hit it that moment before gravity takes over!

Secondly, regarding the high backhand troubles. The reason you need to hit a high backhand is because you missed your optimal contact point (the apex). Therefore, you are hitting a defensive shot! You must fist admit that. At your level right now, Your NEXT best option is to hit the ball on the way down. What important here is that you are still hitting in your comfort zone, the second you step out you are caught up in a shot you are not used to practicing.

Remember how I said if you are hitting the ball up high you are hitting a defensive shot...well, therefore your next best option is a slice.

Lastly, if you plan on hitting topspin on your high backhand you have to remember two things
1. Get under the ball! Even though its a high ball, if you dont get under the ball you will not produce and spin.

2. Secondly, you need to have a low follow through when you hit a high ball (or a low ball). The low follow through will drive the ball rather than produce a loop which is what will happen if you dont have a low follow through.


Good luck, hopefully this will help
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Old 03-12-2008, 05:06 AM   #10
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Default Re: The One-Handed Backhand

Quote:
Originally Posted by Blaze-2004 View Post
This is why Federer loses to Nadal so much on clay, so dont feel too bad that you cant do it either

Another suggestion is to try to take it earlier
It is a bit tough to take everything on rise when you play top players Unless I predict every single shot, but I'm pretty sure that is a bit difficult. But I mean when I do have to time to get to the ball nicely, I take everything on the rise off my backhand side.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sheeter View Post
i've seen a player I know who, when he gets in those situations, leaps like nalbandian and takes it pretty high. Otherwise, i really don't what to say. you could let its come down, take it early, or just run around it. the best thing to do in my opinion is to get a ball machine, set it send nasty spin to your backhand, and just hit a @@@@ load of balls until you get used to it. You could even have someone vary the settings a little bit every ten balls or something
But Nalbandian has a two-hander. Two-handers can do that because they can muscle most shots through. I practice with a ball machine regularily, but the spin is quite unrealistic, Lol.

Quote:
Originally Posted by leng jai View Post
The single handed backhand is a very difficult shot even for the pros and generally it will have nowhere near the consistency of a double handed one. The high ball is especially difficult particularly for club level players who aren't the same height on average. I myself use a single handed backhand and while I hit a lot of great winners off it, its nowhere near consistent and I have basically the same problems as you do.

That is why you must appreciate it when you can witness the backhands that the likes of Kuerten and Haas possess.
Well I am at a decent height, almost 6 foot 2 inches. Consistency is not the problem. I can go all day long without missing, my level is past that. The problem is to just hit a high one-handed backhand AS cleanly/solidly/firmly as a low/hitting-zone one-handed backhand. It isn't like I am not getting it back decent; the problem is the ball doesn't land deep enough or get enough topspin to keep the opponent back.

Eh Haas? I don't find his backhand to be amazing. The only one-handed backhands I find nice are probably Kuerten, Gaudio and maybe Gasquet. Kuerten and Gaudio because they can hit the ball so well on clay and hit many winners using their backhands.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Topspin Sports View Post
Hkz,

You pose a problem that MANY players face. Regardless of the forehand or backhand side, hitting a high ball is one of the harder parts of tennis. Here is some help. I am a tennis pro, and college player, so I know what its like to play top juniors, in fact, Im playing top division 2 players.

My first advice, when you refer to "hitting the ball on the rise."

1. Make sure you are not hitting the ball too early. Hitting a ball on the rise is dangerous and although it gives your opponent far less time to react, I suggest hitting the ball at the APEX. This means at the highest point. (assuming you are not getting loopy shots from these top players you should have no problem hitting the ball at the highest point because it will be in your comfort zone). My main point being dont hit the ball too early! Hit it that moment before gravity takes over!

Secondly, regarding the high backhand troubles. The reason you need to hit a high backhand is because you missed your optimal contact point (the apex). Therefore, you are hitting a defensive shot! You must fist admit that. At your level right now, Your NEXT best option is to hit the ball on the way down. What important here is that you are still hitting in your comfort zone, the second you step out you are caught up in a shot you are not used to practicing.

Remember how I said if you are hitting the ball up high you are hitting a defensive shot...well, therefore your next best option is a slice.

Lastly, if you plan on hitting topspin on your high backhand you have to remember two things
1. Get under the ball! Even though its a high ball, if you dont get under the ball you will not produce and spin.

2. Secondly, you need to have a low follow through when you hit a high ball (or a low ball). The low follow through will drive the ball rather than produce a loop which is what will happen if you dont have a low follow through.


Good luck, hopefully this will help
I don't understand by having a "low follow" with a one-hander. Obviously you can do that with a two-hander since you can muscle the shot out, but I don't get how you mean it on a one-hander. If you are saying pull it more sideways instead of the usual pulling up, then that is what my coach has been telling me to avoid. Also I don't understand what you mean by "dangerous" when hitting a ball too early. I never have a problem when hitting on the rise, especially when it is early than hitting the ball before getting to the hitting zone. A clarification on your post is much appreciated.

Thanks for comments by the way everyone.
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Old 03-12-2008, 02:47 PM   #11
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Default Re: The One-Handed Backhand

No no...please do not pull sideways! You must pull up, but dont pull off (or up on) the ball as quickly. Imagine yourself keeping the ball on your strings longer at the point of contact (thus not pulling off the ball as fast). Your follow through needs to be "lower" than it ussually is. Your follow through should not change, it should be the same follow through, only lower.

Please remember, this was my last of suggestions.

First in foremost do NOT be afraid to develop a great slice and turn your defensive position around. Again, I assume you are on defense (or about to be) if you are not hitting it above your zone. Slicing high balls can be a huge weapon.

In regards to hitting "on the rise." I get extremely upset when i hear other tennis pros teaching juniors to hit on the rise. If you watch the ATP pros you will notice they are hitting the ball at its highest point... not early. Hitting The ball on the rise will rush your shot, hitting at the highest point gives you optimal time to set up, and will still be plenty of time to put your oppenent off guard (remember this is all assuming the highest point is also around your zone). Do not let the ball fall off of its peak. Once that happens, you hit the ball too late! Thats the key is to set up and make contact at the perfect point.


Hopefully this will clear some things up. Dont stress too much about the high backhand, my first recommendation is to use slice since you are on the defense anyway (just keep it deep and low)
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Old 03-12-2008, 03:00 PM   #12
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Default Re: The One-Handed Backhand

It's difficult to answer your question as it's the equivalent to someone with a two handed backhand saying they have trouble reaching angled balls - it's a weakness inherent with the shot.

If you have the talent and are willing to practice hard, you'll eventually master the shot. But if you don't, just remember you're struggling along with 99.99999% of us who have exactly the same problem, so don't sweat it!
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Old 03-12-2008, 04:15 PM   #13
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Default Re: The One-Handed Backhand

The guy i was talking about had a one hander.
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Old 03-14-2008, 07:20 AM   #14
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Default Re: The One-Handed Backhand

Looks like it is because of my backhand grip. I think I am going to change it to become more of a Western grip because seriously, slicing a high ball is stupid because once one of these top players sees that I am just going to slice their kick serve or high looping groundstroke, they immediately start coming into the net and putting those away.
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Old 03-14-2008, 12:18 PM   #15
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Default Re: The One-Handed Backhand

Maybe you should change to the double hander - you seem to have a lot more respect for that shot.
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