How To Master The High One Handed Backhand


Just about every player wants to know how to master the high one handed backhand. In fact, it’s one of the trickiest shots in tennis. Even the greats, like Roger Federer, sometimes struggle with the high one handed backhand. The good news is that there are a few things we can learn from the best players who have great one-handed backhands.

I’m going to guide you through a step-by-step progression to show you how to master the high one-handed backhand. After following these tips you won’t fear hitting your one-hander anymore, and your weakness will soon become a strength.

Hit The Ball At Shoulder Height


First off, you want to make contact with the ball at about shoulder height.

If you make contact with the ball above shoulder height, you will probably have to hit the ball more defensively, causing the ball to land short making it easy for your opponent to attack.

Instead, get your feet into the correct position so that you can push off the ground at the right time to handle the high backhand at shoulder height.

One Handed Backhand Footwork


If you want to learn how to master the high one-handed backhand, you must use the correct footwork.

In this case, the best choice is the back to front footwork pattern.

Here is how to successfully use this footwork pattern.

Load your outside leg behind the ball.

When it’s time to swing at the high ball, push off the ground, and make contact when both legs are off the ground.

After contact, you will land on your front foot, while your back leg kicks back behind you for balance.

This footwork pattern will let you transfer all your weight into the ball, adding natural power to your shot.

Moreover, it will be much easier for you to hit the ball at shoulder height, as you leave the ground to make contact.

Stay Sideways

One handed backhand technique

While using the back to front footwork, it is important that you stay sideways while you hit the ball.

If you rotate too much into the ball, towards the net, you’ll end up muscling the ball.

This will cause you to make more off-center hits and lose control.

There is a good chance you will also dump the ball into the net.

Thus, keep your body close to a 45-degree angle to the net while you hit the ball.

You’ll be able to get full extension on your swing, have the proper body alignment, and feel stable as you make contact.

One Handed Backhand Swing Path

One handed backhand swing path

You’re probably trying to clear the net by swinging low to high and aiming high over the net.

This is very hard to do on a ball that’s being struck at shoulder height.

Instead of using a conventional low to the high swing path, I recommend swinging across the body more.

This will help you get more stick on your shot, hitting a flatter drive that is aggressive and penetrating.

Head At Contact

One handed backhand finish

Keep your head at the contact point when you hit the ball and as you follow through.

If you ensure that your head is stable at the contact point, your body will stay more sideways.

This means you’ll be able to swing across your body, giving you more extension, power, and control.

Roger Federer is the perfect role model to follow here.

He’s even on record saying that he can see the ball deform on his strings when he hits the ball.

This might be tough to do yourself, but keeping your head at contact longer is certainly critical if you want to master the high one-handed backhand.

That’s a wrap on this five step-formula to master the high one-handed backhand.

Give it a try the next time you’re on the court, and you’ll start to have more fun handling those high balls.



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.

P.S. – Ready to take it to the next level with your tennis? Click here to get a free membership which includes 21 lessons covering all aspects of your tennis ($567 value). Learn the exact step-by-step system that has transformed the games of thousands of players worldwide.

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