How To Play A Single-handed Backhand

by Rodney J Smith - Date: 2009-11-04 - Word Count: 323 Share This!

There is no finer sight in tennis than a player nailing a single-handed backhand. Unfortunately this elegant shot seems to be going the same way as the serve-volley player, which is to say it's disappearing. Offhand I can think of only a handful of recent players who use the shot - the two most accomplished exponents recently are Roger Federer and Justine Henin on the ladies side.

Here are some of the things I remind myself of when my own single-hander goes south - perhaps they will help you too:

Turn your back to the ball
That's right, your back! Don't just turn sideways, you need to turn even further. This allows you to really wind up for the shot and transfer energy not just from your arm, but from your legs and core muscles when you unwind. It also gets your legs out of the way so you can take a proper backswing.

Keep your arm straight
Your arm needs to become an extension of the racket (or is it the other way around?) - either way you need to hold your form as you swing at the ball. I find this much easier to do if my arm is almost perfectly straight; if it's bent I tend to lose the feeling of my swing.

Swing through the line of the ball
Make sure you play down the line of the shot (which is where turning your back really helps). You really don't want the ball to be coming off your racket at an angle to where you want it to go, or you will have very little control over where it ends up. And you'll also find it has weird spin all over it, which admittedly can confuse your opponent, but can also cause the ball to drift out.

No doubt there are many other tips for playing a single-hander, but when my backhand is having an off-day, concentrating on these three factors is normally enough to get it back on track.

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