How do you execute a tennis backhand?


The tennis backhand is one of the least practiced shots in a player’s book of techniques. However, it is one of the main shots and like the forehand, allows you to keep a game going and when done correctly could be used as a good offensive weapon. Whether you are using a one handed or two handed backhand, these are the common areas to look out for while executing a backhand.

Step 1: Preparation

Like the forehand, getting in proper position is the most important element. It sets the foundation for good footwork and racket preparation which gives you the power, control and balance to produce a consistent shot.

For a two handed backhand, grip your racket with your right hand on the bottom and your left hand on top. While moving towards the optimal position on the court to return the ball, pivot your body sideways with your right arm towards the net. Your racket should be behind your body in position for the backswing.

Step 2: Backswing

Take your racket back with your right elbow close to your body. Your right shoulder should be facing the net with your left hand gripping the racket, leaning slightly on your back leg preparing to shift the weight to the front. While extending your racket in front of you, move your weight onto the front leg and load your body for power to hit the ball.  

Step 3: Swing and contact

Gripping your racket tightly, keep your eye on the ball and turn your body towards its direction. Locking your elbow, continue extending the racket to the level of the ball. For one handed backhanders, focus on where the ball is to remove your left hand and quickly swing your racket forward. This creates the velocity and forward spin needed for a powerful single handed shot. For a double handed backhand, it is ideal that the racket should be parallel to the ground and positioned below the ball until moments before contact.   

Step 4: Follow through

After contact, continue to keep your eyes on the ball and move your racket in the direction you want the ball to travel towards. Your body should have pivoted to face the net to keep your balance for the transition onto your next shot. Finish your follow through by keeping your arm relaxed and ensuring your racket is completely past your shoulder.