There are certain aspects to the game of tennis that simply must be mastered by anyone serious about playing the game at the competitive level. Basic techniques are learned at the very beginning stages of learning the game itself and as a player develops their game, one hopes they become better at each and every technique as they go along.
Footwork, how to best handle a volley, these are both important aspects to any game but there is one very important type of swing, the backhand, that should and does get more attention than others. That’s because mastering the backhand is absolutely essential to learn and learn well. All tennis players, serious or not, must learn to use the backhand swing effectively in order to play the game correctly.
The backhand is a more difficult swing to master when compared to the forehand. First, some mechanics. The player performs a backhand swing by pulling the racquet across their body to strike the ball, usually with two hands but a single arm backhand is often used as well. Because of the extra length of movement involved in executing the swing, the backhand is slower than a forehand swing and more complicated because of the awkwardness of the motion. The angle of contact with the ball is often a source of frustration with new players because this can send the ball in an unwanted direction.
The dominant arm of the player is pulling into the shot and thus the backhand also lacks the consistent power of other shots. More players are beginning to utilize more two handed backhand strokes in order to maximize its effectiveness and there are in fact many strategies in the game that attempt to exploit the inherent weakness in the backhand. For players that can play tennis with two hands equally, the backhand can be mastered somewhat easier.
So which is better, the two handed or single handed backhand swing? There are distinct advantages and disadvantages to either.
The two handed backhand has several advantages, including being more accurate. Using two hands means the swing is more stable and thus the player will have more control over how the contact with the ball is made. The player can use more accurate topspin in comparison to one handed backhand strikes need more finely tuned motor skills that generate less accuracy and consistency over longer rallies.
Another advantage to two handed backhand is the ability reach in power the same level as the forehand swing, whereas one handed can almost never do this. It can also be done with a wider stance in comparison to a single armed backhand, can change the direction swing easier and are generally easier to learn for beginning players.
The single hand backhand has advantages as well and may surprise some players in their uses. Using a backhand with one hand allows the player greater reach to hit the ball, albeit with les power. Because of this greater reach, players are able to hit much lower return balls than with two hands. This also allows greater forward movement towards the net for players using this one handed backhand. Hitting a backhand shot with only one hand, while more difficult to master, and can help a player achieve more consistency in put away shots, due to their more penetrating nature and fatter hit impacts on the racquet.
Choosing which particular back hand to use will depend on the player, their experience and which specific situation they find themselves in on the court. It will also be conditional upon their opponent and what tactics they employ as the game progresses. Learning to adapt to the court, whether it be outside, inside, clay, grass, or what have you, is an important part of developing a solid backhand game.
Do not avoid learning this very important aspect to a complete tennis game, for your game can only improve.