One-Handed Backhand – Technique for the Tennis One Handed Backhand

The advanced tennis backhand is an essential part of a winning tennis game. This tennis backhand stroke can be difficult to master and it takes time to fully develop the tennis technique. The advanced tennis backhand requires synching all of the fundamental components of the one handed tennis backhand technique perfectly in order to produce the results that every tennis player is looking for.

The one handed backhand used to be a very popular tennis stroke in modern tennis. Roger Federer, Amelie Mauresmo, Justin Henin Hardenne, and Richard Gasquet are examples of professional players who are popular for their powerful one handed backhand stroke.

One Handed Tennis Backhand Fundamentals

The one handed backhand requires that a player learn the proper tennis grip for the backhand. This is the backhand grip. The index knuckle of the dominant hand should be on the top bevel. This backhand grip will allow maximum power and spin and permit a player to fully achieve maximum benefit for the tennis backhand. A continental grip or a forehand grip for the one handed backhand will only inhibit the stroke.

A advanced tennis backhand is hit with the backhand grip, because this is the grip that is most suitable for the stroke and allows the best leverage in the stroke to handle the various different balls.

Development of the One Handed Tennis Backhand

The one handed backhand often has a steep learning curve, because it is not a natural stroke to most people. The One handed backhand is hit on the left side of a player’s body for a right hander, or the right side for a left handed tennis player. The opposite side is usually less developed, and the mind and body often less oriented to hitting on a side that is their non dominant side. It will require lots of repetition and it may be necessary to strengthen up the arm muscles that will be specifically involved in the advanced tennis backhand stroke.

Backhand Grip

In a one handed backhand in tennis, the grips used by pro players are the Eastern backhand and modified Eastern backhand grip. The Full Eastern backhand is well suited when a player wants to hit topspin on the tennis one handed backhand. The modified Eastern backhand grip is easier to use for most of the tennis players. However, both grips generally do not differ that much.

One Handed Backhand Backswing

The one handed backhand technique requires a firm understanding of the fundamentals of the stroke. The first part of every world class tennis one handed backhand is the preparation.

When the player is in the ready position, the player should hold the throat of the racket with the left hand. Remember that the right hand (right handed player) is gripping the handle of the racket. The left hand is just a support for the backhand shot. This is why it is only holding the throat and not the racket handle like the right hand. While the left hand is supporting the racket, the player’s feet is positioned in such a manner that both of them are pointing towards the net. Putting the left hand in the racket’s throat is necessary for the player to execute a complete shoulder turn as he begins the backswing, resulting to a well coordinated swing.

Height of the Backswing for the One Handed Backhand

Once the backswing is initiated, the player should be moving towards the ball while completing the shoulder turn. It’s important to step forward with the right foot (right handed player) and meet the ball early on this stroke, allowing for an attacking on the rise shot.

Stepping forward is also done in other tennis strokes, but it is critical in the one handed backhand tennis technique. This is because the power will be coming from the linear transfer of power from forward momentum of the body. Once the player steps forward, it keeps the player’s weight in a forward direction. It also helps to keep the player in his sideways stance and as a result, he is able to move forwards and upwards using the legs.

At the same time, the player must maintain a steady head position focusing on the ball. During the backswing, the racket comes back above the waistline, while the left hand continues to support the racket, which is essentially the same as in the first stage of the swing.

Down Swing

In the one handed backhand tennis technique, the player generates his power to hit the ball with speed from the force he creates as he move his arms, legs and body in a forward and upward motion.

Once the ball is approaching, most professional players choose to remove the left hand support and swing the racket forward. At this stage, the racket should be leveled with your bent back knee or left knee (right handed).

The next stage in the one handed backhand shot is positioning the racket under the approaching ball (approximately 1 foot) to produce topspin. Topspin is produced here because with the racket under the ball, it creates the brushing effect once the ball touches the racket face. As you move the racket in a forward motion, the power exerting in both an upward and forward direction will create power to produce an explosive hit. At this stage, the weight of your body should be concentrated in you right leg.

Before contact

Seconds before your racket face makes contact with the ball, the racket head has to drop more, this time it should be more or less level with your front foot or right foot (right handed). For beginners, it is advised not to drop the racket head (the whole head of the racket) when the racket face (the string bed) is about to make contact with the ball. However as you become more experienced, it is better to do it always. It should be noted however that if you drop the racket head before the contact, make sure that when you hit the ball, maintain the horizontal axis position of the racket head. This is necessary to create the brushing effect on the ball as it hit the racket face hence producing top spin.

Point of contact

When your grip is the Eastern backhand grip, you should hit the ball in front of your body. However, if you are using a continental grip, you should hit the ball a bit farther back. But remember, if you want to create topspin; do not use the continental grip with the tennis one handed backhand technique. The Continental grip is ideal to produce slice.

At the point of contact, the racket should be positioned parallel to the ground with your body in a sideways position. The head and eyes should still be fixated on the ball that is coming towards you at the same time.

After contact

Seconds after the ball comes in contact with the racket face, you racket should move upwards by one foot, indicating that you are successful in creating topspin as the racket face brushes upwards to the ball from the contact point (1 foot under the ball before contact).

The back foot or left foot (right handed) which at the moment should be free of any body weight, moving forwards in a sliding motion. If you are a beginner, practice this technique by moving or sliding your foot in forward movement and making sure that your body weight stays in the right foot or front foot as you execute the one handed backhand stroke.

One handed backhand follow-through

The follow-through in tennis one handed 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 or left foot slides forward.

Generally in the one handed backhand, the final stage of the follow-though is to bring your body towards the net right after you execute the backhand technique. At this stage, the racket should be at the back of your head as the result of the force you exerted when you hit the ball.

Amelie Mauresmo’s Tennis One Handed Backhand Technique

High point backswing

The one handed backhand in tennis is a classical and elegant stroke when executed correctly. The form and technique usually requires more time to master. Here is an analysis of the Amelie Mauresmo One handed backhand.

Mauresmo’s signature is her one handed backhand backswing. Her backswing is higher than the other players in her generation. This creates a large loop which makes her backswing smooth and easy. She also supports her shoulder with the left hand holding the throat of the racket while using the modified Eastern backhand grip.

Farthest point of backswing

Amelie Mauresmo’s swing is also uniquely characterized by a full and complete backswing. As the ball is coming towards her, from the back she drops the racket and then moves the racket up as she hits the ball, creating topspin. At this point, the left hand is still supporting the racket. A low center of gravity allows Amelie to maintain a bend in her knees to enable her to position the racket below the ball and at the same time to prepare her legs to exert upward movement.

Dropping Below Contact

Mauresmo’s backhand contains a universal element that allows her to produce powerful topspin at contact. She tilts her racket downward with the butt of the racket facing down. At this stage, her weight is concentrated on her front foot while her right leg is pushing her body up as the ball is about to make contact with her racket face.

Point of contact

Prior to contact, the racket face is already vertical and her weight is 100% in her front foot with eye focused on the ball.

When everything is perfect, Mauresmo’s racket is normally horizontal and her front leg (with body weight on it still) continues to push upward. However when she is late in hitting the ball, (which means that her arm’s forward movement was late) Mauresmo bends her body (from waist up) in a backward motion to be able to hit the ball at the right point. This is to compensate the distance she lost by not moving her arm in front of her body early. Great players always find ways to adjust to remain their composure and hit the ball perfectly.

Just after contact.

In a perfect one handed backhand topspin hit, Mauresmo’s racket rises as the result of the powerful brushing effect to the ball. She then follows through high above her left shoulder. This is the signature of a world class one handed backhand tennis stroke.

Advanced Tennis Backhand Qualities

As the game of tennis has evolved, each generation of players have brought new changes to the game. Today, the pros are hitting the one handed backhand with much greater power and spin than they were in the past. The one handed backhand is now a stroke that must be developed into a power shot. In the past, players used to guide the one handed backhand in a linear fashion. There was often not much acceleration on the one handed backhand. But today, this is not the case because we see players hitting the one handed backhand harder than ever.

In many ways, the advanced tennis backhand is now becoming a power shot similar to the tennis forehand stroke. Even the one handed backhand is beginning to take on some qualities of modern tennis. It is amazing how much racket head speed the pros are acheving on the one handed backhand stroke. This shot has become a versatile, dynamic and explosive tennis backhand in today’s modern tennis.

Watch Roger Federer’s One handed backhand technique. See how quickly Federer gets up to the short ball and then immediately hits the one handed backhand – using a quick whipping action (similar to the windshield wiper on the tennis forehand) This allows Federer to accelerate his racket even more and this is a critical part on the advanced tennis backhand that allows the pros to hit the backhand harder than ever before.

Advanced Tennis Backhand – Keys

Once the correct backhand grip is ingrained, the next part is the tennis backhand technique. On the one handed backhand, the technique is very efficient and simple. There is very little swinging necessary for the one handed backhand.

Most recreational players make the mistakes of hitting the advanced tennis backhand using too much of a swing. Or worse, they may hit the backhand using all arm or wrist. The one handed backhand in tennis is not a arm only stroke. It is a stroke that requires the usage of the entire body.

A full body coil and unit turn is key for the one handed tennis backhand. Maximizing the amount of coil will allow for unleashing that energy later on in the stroke. Using the lower body to solidify the foundation to stay low will strengthen the power base of the stroke. The larger muscles, such as the hips, trunk and shoulders should be the driving forces in the one handed backhand. The elbow and wrist are the last levers and final part of the kinetic chain. By holding this stored energy and releasing the elbow and wrist as the final part of the stroke prior to contact, this will part all of the stored energy to be rapidly transferred into the tennis ball – resulting in a powerful and explosive shot.

Roger Federer’s One handed Backhand

The one handed tennis backhand of Roger Federer is a great model for tennis players. Federer’s one handed backhand is a efficient, simple and powerful stroke.

Notice the quick, simple and efficient preparation of the one handed backhand. Federer makes a quick body turn and coil which turns his body sufficiently.

As a result, most of the takeback has already been initiated with the body turn, and there is very little swinging.

Watch the One Handed Backhand preparation. With very little backswing needed, Roger Federer is able to hit a powerful tennis backhand return without much effort. All it requires is a quick body turn, a small pivot from the feet and the racket preparation takes care of the rest.

The One Handed Backhand is a Process

In order to perfect the one handed backhand, the same principles apply. Understanding the keys of the tennis backhand technique is important to learn and develop these concepts during practice. Learn to absorb the commonalities behind the advanced tennis backhand of the pros and observe the technique that will allow a tennis player at any level to improve the tennis backhand.

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