Are you ready to discover how to absolutely crush your one handed backhand like the top professional tennis players? I know many passionate players who struggle to consistently hit their one hander with power, topspin, depth, and angle.
Therefore, in today’s tennis article I have decided to exclusively focus on the one handed backhand technique and execution. I will share five simple steps that can rapidly make a huge difference on your one hander.
I will go over the proper grip, first move, backswing, stance, and finish in great detail. Then, I will provide two powerful bonus tips to fix missing long on your one hander. Consequently, you can start to dominate your opponents and also master the high one handed backhand, one of the trickiest shots in tennis.
Let us get started now!
1. One Handed Backhand Grip
First, let us make sure that you have the right fundamentals on your one handed backhand, starting with the grip. If you have a continental grip, it is going to be hard to get the most out of your one handed backhand.
Therefore, I recommend using a semi-western style grip to hit your one hander with more spin, control, and power. In fact, most professional tennis players like Roger Federer, Stefanos Tsitisipas, and Dominic Thiem have this grip style.
To get semi-western grip, focus on getting the palm of your hand behind the racquet. In addition, ensure to relax your hand to drive through the ball, and hit your one handed backhand with more topspin.
Gripping the racquet too tightly creates tension and will slow down your racquet head. Thus, I always stress to my students the importance of keeping the hand as loose as possible on the racquet.
2. First Move On The One Handed Backhand
After you get the proper tennis grip, the next step is to have the right first move. If you think about the best one handed backhands in the modern game (Federer, Gasquet, and Wawrinka to name a few) they all have very similar first moves.
I recommend starting with the racquet tip up and having a smooth relaxed take back.
This will allow you to make a great shoulder turn, get more racquet head speed and accelerate through the ball quicker.
Going back to relaxation, reducing your grip pressure and staying loose with your hands is very important on your first move. When you take your racquet back, make sure your arm moves smoothly. Any kinks or disjointed movements will slow down your momentum and reduce your power.
3. The Backswing
Many tennis players consider that they have to keep their backswing short on the one handed backhand, just like they do on the forehand and two handed backhand. However, this shot is a different animal when it comes to the backswing.
Instead, you should take a big backswing and let the racquet drop under the ball naturally. Consequently, you can take a full swing, create massive racquet head acceleration, and hit your tennis backhand with more power.
Most great one handed backhand players get the strings to face the back fence on the backswing. Thus, become aware that your racquet will go back behind the body a lot further than on the two handed backhand.
4. One Handed Backhand Stance
Let us get into the lean back. A lot of players get into trouble when they swing, and they bring their back leg around. If you study the pros, you will see how they slightly step back with their back foot while swinging on their one handed backhand.
Leaning back enables you to keep great balance on your one handed backhand. Afterwards, you can split step and get ready for the next shot without losing your core position. There is simply a nice rhythm to it once you master this concept. You can even do this on your two handed backhand, so that you do not over rotate and run into the ball.
Likewise, I have seen many players who take a huge step and stride out to the ball when they swing. Then, they tend to keep their knees bent when they are done. I propose to have a narrow stance with a slightly bent knee and straighten the front leg after making contact. In fact, you will finish with your feet close together and your body totally upright.
That is a great little tip to help you improve your one hander. You will be able to crush your one handed backhand, when you have a narrower base and straighten your leg as you swing. Nevertheless, you do not want to straighten up too early and pull off the ball.
If you keep your head at contact and stay on your side, you should be able to straighten the front leg and still stay down on the ball. As a result, you will achieve great balance while hitting your one handed backhand.
5. One Handed Backhand Finish
Holding your finish is one of the five pillars to hit a perfect one handed backhand, and it allows you to do a number of things. For instance, you can assess your racquet position, relaxation, extension, and balance. Checking these key techniques at the end of your swing will help you identify what is causing your errors.
The one that I suggest you pay the most attention to is your balance. It is impossible to hit a perfect shot if your balance is off. If you are aware of your balance at the end of the shot, it will give you a set point to adjust. Therefore, you can start getting the right feeling at the end of your swings.
Another key to absolutely crush your one handed backhand is to “get more of the ball.”
This is a tip that I tell almost all students because it will not only help you get more power, but also help you improve your contact by avoiding mishits.
Getting more of the ball really comes down to hitting the ball flatter. If you hit the ball flatter, more of your energy is transferred directly into making the ball go forward instead of imparting more spin. Thus, if you want to get more power, then hit the ball flatter while extending out towards the target.
Likewise, practice getting on your front foot and feel your weight transfer all the way onto it. If you move backwards, or even to the side, you will not be able to transfer your weight into the ball as well compared to when you step in. You should be able to tap your back foot without losing your balance at the end of your swing. This is exactly how the top tennis pros move on their one handed backhand.
Now, let me go through a couple of bonus tips to help you get your one handed backhand completely dialled in.
If you want to fix missing long on your one handed backhand, you can focus on the following two tennis tips.
Exaggerate Aiming Lower
First, I recommend working on your aim as I consider this is the easiest way to fix missing long. Therefore, I recommend you start aiming lower on your one hander so that the ball flies closer to the net. Aside from it, I suggest paying close attention to your body alignment before and after contact.
If you are already aiming low, but still missing long, do not be afraid to exaggerate and aim at the net strap. If your pattern is to miss long, then it’s much better to miss the next shot in the net. This is better than making the same mistake over and over again. Let us take a look at the second tennis tip now.
Aim To A Spot On The Court
Another way you can play with your targets is to aim at a specific spot on the court. For instance, if you are missing in the net, aim at the baseline where your opponent is standing. On the opposite, If you are missing long, you should aim shorter in the court around the service line. This will help you adjust where your ball lands.
Even if you aim for specific targets, there is a good chance you will hit the ball in a different location. Thus, I recommend trying to exaggerate in order to make a different mistake than normal.
This is one of the reasons why you should play little games with your aim. Keep in mind that if you try to hit the net strap, or make the ball land in the court, then the ball might land deeper than you think.
I hope you have found these five steps on how to absolutely crush your one handed backhand useful. If you combine these techniques, you will start to rip your one handed backhand like never before and to win more tennis matches.
If you are struggling with your one handed backhand flying long, remember to start by identifying the type of mistake you are making. Then, you will be able to adjust your aim accordingly.
As aforementioned, both tennis tips described will help you to correct your backhand errors in no time at all. As a result, you will feel more confident in your ability to hit winners with your one handed backhand topspin stroke.
By Jeff Salzenstein, Founder Tennis Evolution
Jeff is a former top 100 ATP player and USTA high performance coach committed to helping players and coaches all over the world improve.
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