Have you ever heard the expression, backhanded compliment? It means to appear to be saying something nice, but actually be saying something quite different. It comes from backhanded being an old expression for left-handed, which in turn was associated with the word sinister, or cruel. Your tennis backhand can certainly feel that way when you first try it out. The ball goes everywhere but where you aimed it, or you end up on the sideline with an ice pack on your wrist. But it doesn’t have to be that way for long. A few tips and a fair amount of practice and the compliments can be sincere.
There are two types of backhand shots; one using only one hand to hold the racket with the dominant hand, and the other using both hands at the same time. Most often, tennis players use the two-handed technique, so let’s focus on that for now, with three tips to start you off.
# 1: Strengthen your less dominant hand: The two-handed grip is usually the first backhand we learn if we start as children, because we need both hands to hold the heavy racket in that awkward position. But as we grow stronger, we can make better use of that non-dominant hand. If you make a conscious decision to use it more when you strike, you will notice the difference in the quality and consistency of your shots.
# 2: Take the Right Stance: When you’re dealing with an easy shot, you normally place your dominant leg in front of your body. But to develop your less dominant side, the next time you face any shot which requires you to spring forward, try making a conscious effort to place your less dominant leg in front of your body. This will help you get used to using both legs equally to take the dominant position when striking the ball. It will also improve your stance and give you versatility when returning a shot.
# 3: Constant Practice: Well, duh. Practice makes perfect. If you diligently practice improving your backhand, you will see a difference in your technique. Commit to spending an additional 10 minutes each time you are on the court. It will make quite an improvement in a few months. Once you master the basics of the backhand shot during practice, you can make it a regular part of your game.
There are many tips for improving your backhand technique, and everyone will offer them, but ultimately it comes down to you. If you’re motivated to improve, you will. Because becoming a great player requires you to work on your strengths -- and your weaknesses.