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Tennis Strategy 3 Exploiting Two Handed Backhands

Today is part two in a series on how to exploit the general weaknesses inherent in certain types of shots. This is all in the forthcoming book Tennis Strategy 201.



It seems that most players are hitting two handers, and according to my social research approximately only 20% of people are really suited to hitting a one handed backhand. The major strengths of a two hander are the increase shot tolerance against strong shots, because both arms are on the racquet. The other potential strength is that players can use their wrist angle to disguise their shots, and produce last microsecond changes to their shot, if they so choose. Some of you are old enough to remember when a two handed backhand was pushed on a player who didn't seem to have the strength to hit with one hand, they were too weak.


The Major Weakness in Two Handers


The weakness of the two hander is the relative lack of range of motion. There is slightly reduced effective reach, not in actual ability to reach, but to reach and develop a good shot. Where the range of motion becomes a much bigger issue is on balls directed to the body. You can jam a player, and confuse them about whether to hit a forehand or backhand, by curving your serve into their backhand side with a slice serve. You can also find the place on the court where the decision between forehand and backhand is difficult for them, and keep it slightly to the backhand side of that line. Craig O’Shannessy has often mentioned that better players with big forehands love to play forehands from C, but if you can get that ball to the line between C and D, or a few feet to the left or right, you will find the place of confusion. It all depends on how far that player moves to hit an inside out forehand. That place of confusion will be different for every player, as some really love to run long distances to get a forehand, and others are not capable, or their backhand is a strength in their game.


Compare To The One Hander


One handers have the strength of being able to reach more effectively, with a bit more touch, much better slice potential, and the ability to fend off balls to the body. One handers sometimes can be overpowered, and may have more difficulty with balls above the shoulder, as the musculature to hit up there takes quite a bit of gym time to develop. It’s also more difficult for the one hander to disguise their shot do to the bigger wind up. Finally time and space are naturally an issue, because the one handed player has to take the ball further in front of their body than the two hander, who can actually hit the ball quite late and still leverage it over the net.


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