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Tennis skills: THE BACKHAND - IT'S A LOVE/HATE THING

There was a time when running around the backhand to hit a forehand was all the rage. It was pretty much a law of tennis a few years ago.

tennis-backhand-it's-a-love/hate-thing

"Run-around forehand! Run-around forehand! ", our coaches told us over and over. The backhand was always seen as a player's weak point. But things have changed, and now it's an essential stroke. Watch any elite-level match these days and you'll see a lot of well-grooved backhands. Like the forehand, it's a stroke that can dictate rallies and help build points. One hand or two? It doesn't matter. Just get hitting that backhand.

To start off with, let's take a look at the differences between these two backhands.

The one-handed backhand:

• Advantages: Greater angle and spin on the ball, touch, style

• Disadvantages: You need to be stronger to control the racket with one hand

The two-handed backhand:

• Advantages: Accuracy, helps compensate for poor positioning (thanks to the second hand), power

• Disadvantages: You need to be fast on your feet and precise

WHY THE NEED TO CHOOSE BETWEEN ONE BACKHAND OR THE OTHER?

The top four players in the world in 2015 are a microcosm of the debate that has raged in the tennis world since the emergence of the two-handed backhand. Two of them use the one-handed backhand and two the two-handed backhand. It's become such an issue that national federations are not always sure which type of backhand to teach their best young players.

So what's the answer? Unfortunately, we don't have it. All we can suggest is that you choose one of them and make it an essential part of your game.

HITTING YOUR BACKHAND PROPERLY

The good news? It doesn't take natural talent or a gift; just a little bit of technique.

As Nicolas Escudé says, players will sometimes target their opponent's backhand. They see it as a strategy for winning a game. The more at ease you are playing it, the more confident and relaxed you will be hitting a backhand in a rally. Ready?

Here are a couple of videos that can help you improve or fine tune your backhand.

1. THE ONE-HANDED BACKHAND

Tennis skills: Hitting a good one-handed backhand

2. THE TWO-HANDED BACKHAND

Tennis skills: Hitting a good two-handed backhand

Damien's tip: Want to work on your weaker hand? Here's a very simple drill: If you're a right-hander, hit a backhand and take your right hand away. Then, without changing your left-hand grip, hit shots without using your dominant hand (do the reverse if you're a left-hander).

WANT TO FIND OUT MORE?

The supination of the right wrist (for a right-hander) is vital when playing a backhand. Supination is a movement that involves the wrist moving from a palm-down position to a palm-up position.

That's why it's important that the racket head moves below the ball and then comes up.

You now know everything you need to know to make your backhand an extra weapon for disarming and overcoming your opponent. So stop worrying about your backhand and get working on it with the aid of these two drills.

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