15/Love Vol. 4: The Land of Backhand

October 19, 2011
by Justin

Every athlete has one weakness. What Barry Sanders lacked in speed, he made up in field vision, agility and quickness. It takes a greater athlete to adapt; to take their weaknesses and make them strengths. As Michael Jordan got older and he started to lose a step, he developed an automatic, turn-around jumper. Tennis is a different story. Out of all the tennis skills, the backhand seems to be a universal weakness in most tennis athletes.

If that happens to be your tennis game’s downfall, www.scoutme.com has got you covered. Volume four of 15/Love is here to save the day with some helpful tips to bring your tennis game to the next level. In volume one (http://www.scoutme.com/tennis/15love-vol-1-why-lateral-quickness-is-the-difference/ ) we touched on lateral quickness, while in volume two (http://www.scoutme.com/tennis/15love-vol-2-shoulder-the-load/ ) the focus was shoulder strength. The last installment (http://www.scoutme.com/tennis/15love-vol-3-restore-the-core-with-estrada-fitness/ ) was brought to you by Estrada Fitness, as trainer Jason Estrada showcased his cutting-edge, tennis-based, core strength workouts. Volume four is all about the backhand. Here are some tips and techniques to improve your backhand.

 

It’s All in the Grip

Whatever tennis grip style you prefer is up to you; my suggestion is that you try whatever makes you feel comfortable with. Now if you want more topspin, the Eastern Grip will do the trick. This grip style is one of the most natural, and is most commonly known as the handshake grip. To properly execute the Eastern Grip the index finger should be slightly separated, with the top knuckle over the fourth bevel. Here is tennis pro Brent Abel showing you this grip:

 

http://youtu.be/uGMUTxSjKQY

 

The Full Follow Through     

A very common problem with most tennis players’ backhand is the fact that they don’t accelerate the racquet through the ball. When this occurs, you lose velocity and forfeit rotational spin power. Consequently, your trajectory will be flat and your opponent will naturally gain an advantage. Be sure to follow through on each backhand, just like you do on your forehand. You will see a drastic improvement in your tennis game. Here is a great training video emphasizing this aspect of the backhand skill:

 

http://youtu.be/VDuQ07MeYxk

 

Foot placement

You can’t achieve greatness in almost any sport without great footwork; tennis is no exception. On the backhand, you must start with your feet in the shoulder-width ready position. The next thing you should do is bring your base leg back with a slight bend. Do not turn your feet to far to your backhand’s direction, in case you have to adjust your position because of ball spin. Bring your lead leg forward and power through keeping the L-shaped form in your upper body. The most important aspect of this footwork, is the heal-to-toe weight transfer. This movement is similar to a championship boxer’s progression when throwing a power punch, or a home run hitter’s swing; it’s all good physics. Here is a video breakdown of Roger Federer’s backhand:

 

http://youtu.be/vq3Pi1KIkT8

 

Andy Roddick is a prime example of a great tennis player, who never fully developed a solid backhand. It never fails; almost every time he loses, his opponent forces him to work his backhand. This goes to show you that it doesn’t matter how fast you serve, on the next level you will be exposed for any lack of fundamentals. Check back next week for another installment of 15/Love. Until then, this is Yorick Hempstead signing off.

 

Yorick Hempstead is an ex-college athlete who is a sports blogger for Scoutme.com. He is always talking sports on twitter @HempsteadHuddle. 

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