When a tennis shot comes to your non dominant side, do you use a single backhand technique or a two-handed backhand technique to return the shot? Or do you try to avoid it and run around the shot, to use your forehand?
In this lesson, you will learn how to use the two-handed backhand technique to play the shot and the simple progression exercises that you can follow.
What I like about the two-handed backhand
At first, when I started learning how to play tennis, I was sceptical about this technique. I felt that the stroke looks so unnatural and the reach is so limited.
However, as I got more comfortable with the technique, I realized that the two-handed backhand provides me great stability. I could handle the topspin shots from the opponents with ease and the return of serve is easy for me. I realized that the limitations of the reach can be overcome with efficient footwork and anticipation of the shots.
Therefore, these days I tend to advocate the two-handed backhand to new tennis learners. So, I think it will benefit them tremendously.
The Two-Handed Backhand Technique For New Learners.
Get the concept right: Your non dominant hand is crucial
Before I dive into the first activity, let me emphasize one concept. The two-handed backhand is a shot that is driven by your non dominant hand.
You have to visualise that you are pushing the ball forward with the non dominant hand and not pulling from the dominant hand. Your dominant hand, in this technique, acts as a support to give you the stability to drive the ball.
First Drill: Hit a forehand shot with your non dominant hand
The first drill that we are going to do is to warm up your non dominant hand. Now choke up the grip with your non dominant hand and hold it at the eastern forehand grip.
Hold the ball and drop it in front of your non dominant side and roll the ball over like a forehand shot. Remember the backswing, rolling and follow through still apply here. We are practicing playing a forehand shot with our non dominant hand. If you have a partner, you can get him/her to drop the ball for you.
Practice hitting about twenty balls and then we will move on to the next drill.
Second Drill: Add your dominant hand
It's okay if you are not used to hitting tennis balls with your non dominant hand. You may feel that your non dominant hand is awkward. That's totally fine.
The next drill that we are going to do is to add the dominant hand to the bottom part of the handle and hit the shot. So, now your non dominant hand is holding the eastern forehand grip at the top of the handle. Also, your dominant hand is holding the continental grip at the bottom of the handle.
If you have a partner, get him or her to drop the ball in front of your backhand side and practice hitting with this technique. You should be facing sideways to practice hitting the balls. If you are alone, you can drop the ball in front of the backhand side and then quickly add the dominant hand to the bottom of the handle and hit the ball.
You can watch the video on how I do it.
Third Drill: Face the net
For this drill, start by facing the net and get into the ready position. Note that both hands are on the racket. Get a partner to toss some balls to your backhand side.
The foremost thing that you have to do is to turn the shoulders and bring the racket back at the same time. In the next stage, step in with the right leg (for right handed players) and contact the ball. The success of this drill is to help you time the bounce of the ball and hit through it correctly. The most comfortable height of contacting the ball is at waist level so get a feel for it during this drill.
Fourth Drill: Check your follow through
I'm sure many players who are learning the two-handed backhand will be very conscious and deliberate in hitting the ball over the net carefully. By doing this, sometimes, it may lead to an incomplete swing. What I mean by incomplete swing is the lack of follow through.
I always encourage my tennis students not to be afraid of making mistakes. You may hit the ball out of the court by taking the full swing. It's totally fine. I believe making mistakes is part of learning. So, keep practicing and very soon you will learn how to adjust the contact in order to swing through the shot and make the target.
At last, what I want you to focus on is to finish the two-handed backhand shot with the racket up high over your right shoulder (for right handed players). There are two checkpoints that you can use. The first is if your left elbow is pointing forward when finished. The other checkpoint is the racket edge should be touching your right shoulder at follow through.
To summarize, I strongly encourage you to try out the progressions that I have shared to learn the two-handed backhand techniques. It may take some time to get used to the technique but I can assure you that it is worth putting the effort into learning it. Moreover, you will become more confident as a tennis player when you have more skills in your pocket.
Let me know how it goes and share with me your success or challenges in learning the two-handed backhand.