Tennis Tips - The Backhand
Why do y'all have so much trouble with backhands? I think it has something to
do with playing baseball. Why? Because hitting a backhand is like swinging a
bat left-handed when you are a natural right-hander.
Well, listen to Ace - the backhand is the most natural stroke for anyone to hit!
And it should be the easiest because, unlike the forehand, the rest of your body
is out of the way when you swing!
Here are two common symptoms people have when struggling with their
backhands along with two tips to cure them:
Symptom 1: "Gee, Ace, why do my one-handed backhands keep going straight
up in the air, like a lob?"
This is a pretty common problem for lots of folks - but it's simple to fix. The usual
reason for this is that sometimes people try to hit a backhand while using a
forehand grip - therein lies the problem, the wrong grip is being used.
First, before you hit any shot, you need to have your wrist behind the racket
handle relative to the ball when you hit it. If you don't, it's impossible to hit a
strong solid shot - unless you're Superman, as explained below! So, if you use a
forehand grip and then put your wrist behind the handle and try to hit a
backhand, you'll screw up. Why? Because by doing that you'll open your racket
face (the strings face the sky more than the net) and when you swing the racket,
the ball goes vertically instead of horizontally. Don't believe me? Go grab a
racket right now, hold it in a forehand grip, and take a swing at an imaginary
backhand. Look at where your strings are pointing.
Second, if you simply close the racket face (using the same forehand grip), then
you'll still have problems. Why? Because then your wrist is in front of the handle
and you can only hit a weak, pantie-waist stroke that way. If you try to swing hard
that way, then you'll probably break your wrist, sprain your elbow, and all sorts
of other bad things!
Tip 1: You have to switch your grip to a proper backhand grip!!!
From a forehand grip, use your other hand to turn the handle to the right until
your index knuckle is on top of the handle. That's an Eastern Backhand. (You can
use a Continental grip too.) Then let it rip, following through over your shoulder
like I'm doing in the photo above!
Check out the Grips link in my Tennis Tips page for more info on holding the
Note: There is an exception to this - if you use an extreme Western Forehand
grip, you can actually hit a solid backhand without changing your grip. Just rotate
your wrist so it's behind the handle and the ball. It's almost the exact same grip
as an Eastern Backhand.
"Ace, you're full of crap! I did what you said, but my backhand still goes up in the
air and too long! What do you have to say about that, Bigshot!?"
Tip 2: Now calm down - I said there are two cures for this common backhand
problem. If your strokes are still going high, even when using the correct grip,
there's another simple fix. You're probably lifting your front shoulder when you
strike the ball (and maybe hitting off your back foot too).
Concentrate on keeping your front shoulder (the one closest to the ball) pointed
down as you swing into the ball (see above photo). This helps you to lean into the
If you remember to do these two things, I guarantee you'll be ripping screamers
down the line!