The one handed backhand, or single backhand drive, when executed correctly, is a very elegant and beautiful stroke. Pete Sampras, Roger Federer, Amelie Mauresmo, Justin Henin, Richard Gasquet, Stan Warwrinka, Grigor Dimitrov, Dominic Thiem, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Denis Shapovalov and ITF 35+ World Number 2 Alburo Lourelu (Coach Bo Alburo) all have beautiful one handed backhands. In this article, TAG Coach Bo Alburo shares his 9 tips to hitting your best one handed backhand.
- Proper footwork is essential to the single backhand;
- Use a grip between modified eastern grip to the full eastern backhand grip;
- The non-dominant hand plays a very important role in holding the racquet;
- A compact unit turn to engage the kinetic chain to store energy is essential to facilitate the uncoiling of the body into the shot;
- A circular swing path to create leverage into the lock in position, and a racquet lag will create tremendous racquet head acceleration into the impact zone;
- For aggressive topspin, drop your racquet head below the ball and come up towards impact;
- The impact should be square and stable with the ball, and have an extended impact zone, and keep your eyes focused on hitting the ball;
- Have a back blast with the non-dominant hand as a counterweight to stretch the chest and prevent your body from over rotating to create “explosiveness” on the ball; and
- A long follow through with a high finish as a consequence will indicate that you have hit the shot correctly.
Proper footwork is essential to the single backhand
The one handed backhand requires proper footwork to be most effective. Stepping forward is critical as a large amount of power is generated from the linear transfer of your body weight towards the contact zone to create ferocious racquet head speed at impact to hit a powerful backhand shot.
As you plant your front leg with the step in, your weight will smoothly be transferred from your back leg to your front leg, until the point where you back leg is completely free of any weight , and it is all transferred into the front leg at the moment when your racquet head is impacting the ball. A broad base to set up a solid foundation will be most useful, as what Coach Bo Alburo has done in this photo.
Use a grip between modified eastern grip to the full eastern backhand grip for a one handed backhand drive
The modified Eastern backhand grip is ideal for most of the tennis players wanting to hit a flatter, more powerful single backhand, while the Full Eastern backhand is well suited when a player wants to hit topspin on the tennis one handed backhand. If you need information about grips, you can find it HERE.
The non-dominant hand plays an important role in holding the racquet
A lot of tennis players think that the non-dominant hand does not have any role to play in the one handed backhand. This is a myth, for the left hand plays two important roles.
The first role of the left hand is to hold the tennis racquet for the right hand in the ready position, and also during the unit turn phase, into the lock-in for the backhand shot. In the ready position, you should hold your tennis racquet on its throat with your non-dominant hand. As you go into your unit turn, your left hand should be doing all of the work by taking your racquet back in a circular motion, while your grip “slides” into your ideal grip for the one handed backhand.
A compact unit turn to engage the kinetic chain to store energy is essential to facilitate the uncoiling of the body into the shot
A full body rotation with a compact unit turn is crucial for a single backhand. The coil will engage the kinetic chain to store rotational energy through the hips, torso and shoulders. By creating this stored energy and releasing through the impact zone, you will be able to create a tremendous amount of racquet head speed, which will in turn be imparted into the tennis ball resulting in a fast, heavy and powerful shot.
As Coach Bo Alburo demostrates in this photo.
A circular swing path to create leverage into the lock in position, and a racquet lag will create tremendous racquet head acceleration into the impact zone
A circular swing path led by your non-dominant hand will allow the racquet to be travelling a greater distance before it enters the impact zone. This longer circular distance (compared to straight back and forward) is most helpful as the racquet is already moving and through a longer distance and thus there is “leverage” and the racquet has momentum to accelerate through the impact zone to create ferocious racquet head speed to strike the tennis ball. It is also important to create a racquet lag by holding the racquet at the throat with your non dominant hand, with the racquet’s butt cap pointing towards the ball. At the very last moment, the racquet accelerates through the impact zone to strike the ball, resulting in tremedous racquet head speed for a powerful shot using the elbow and wrist which are the last levers of the kinetic chain.
For aggressive topspin, drop your racquet head below the ball and come up towards impact
If you are aiming for a one handed backhand shot with aggressive topspin, then at the final moments just prior to impact, the racquet head has to drop below the ball, so that it can thereafter come upward and create the “brushing effect” on the ball with the tennis strings to produce the necessary topspin. It is important to emphasise that it is NOT THE ARM that comes under the ball. Quite to the contrary, the arm maintains its horizontal axis along the line of the contact point with the ball and the eventual racquet head. It is only the racquet head that is dropping and then coming upwards to meet the ball.
The impact should be square and stable with the ball, and you must have an extended impact zone. Keep your eyes focused on hitting the ball
A lot of tennis players try to keep the best ball in play by “shading” the racquet face so that it is more closed in hope that it will help to keep the tennis ball from sailing long but land inside the tennis court. While this may work to some extent, it is tremendously inefficient as too much energy is lost through the shaded impact, resulting in a very slow, short and inconsistent topspin ball that will be very easy for your opponent to handle.
Instead, as Coach Bo Alburo shares, you should just drop your racquet head below the line of the ball and brush up on it, with a square racquet face. You should hit the tennis ball well out in front of you, and it should be a confident and purposeful swing rather than a controlled one so that you can accelerate your racquet head through the impact zone in a powerful and effortless manner. Get more of the ball by extending your impact zone linearly through contact. The energy you have created will be transferred directly into striking the ball towards your intend target powerful, rather than brushing the ball and losing much energy to imparting spin. As the racquet head is accelerating through contact at such a tremendous speed, your head and eyes should be fixed on the ball through impact to avoid mishits. You should not lift your head until you have finished the shot. Doing so will throw off your shot and you may end up mishitting the ball. Hold off on looking up until you are at the follow-through stage.
Have a back blast with the non-dominant hand as a counterweight to stretch the chest and prevent your body from over rotating to create “explosiveness” on the ball
As tremendous racquet head speed is created, it is important to prevent the over rotation of the body. If you rotate a little bit too much, not only will you play the ball closer to your opponent in a down-the-line shot, but you will also be off balanced at the end of the impact zone, and also not be able to create the final “leave” on the ball to explode the ball towards the target, but run a high risk of shanking the ball through an over extended contact zone.
The best way to prevent over rotation when playing the single backhand is to extend the non-dominant arm backward during the stroke. This prevents rotation and helps you to align your shoulders towards the intended target of your shot. Your non-hitting arm swing in the opposite direction for counter balance is essential to hitting a powerful and effective one handed backhand, especially towards the down the line target.
A long follow through with a high finish as a consequence will indicate that you have hit the shot correctly.
The follow-through in single backhand is to lift your shoulder and at the same time straighten your front foot or right foot (right handed) to push your body upward and the back foot pivoting around. The follow through is a consequence of all that has happened before and thus, an emphasis on creating the perfect outward and high follow through will result in your racquet head accelerating through an extended impact zone while creating viscious topsin. A perfectly hit topspin single backhand will result in a beautiful follow through where your racquet would be at the back of your head as the result of the force you exerted when you hit the ball.
The One handed Backhand – Wrap Up
We hope that you have found this article on how to hit the best one handed backhand by Coach Bo Alburo useful. If so, please Share it with your tennis playing family members and friends.
Now that you have all the information, it is important to get a lot of practice through training, doing repetitive drills through basket feeds and hitting live balls while constantly getting correction and feedback.
If you are keen to learn from some of the best tennis coaches in Singapore from the best tennis academy in Singapore, you may contact us at +6598395232 or contact us HERE. Coach Bo Alburo, Coach Michael Mantua, Coach Ray Paler, Coach Rocky, Coach Peter and Coach XT have beautiful one-handed backhands.
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