The two-handed backhand is one of the most reliable and powerful shots you can learn. Master it in these six easy-to-follow steps!
1. A great two-handed backhand starts with the perfect set-up. First, the grip. The most commonly used grips are the Continental Grip for your dominant hand and an Eastern Forehand Grip for your non-dominant hand. As the ball arrives, split-step and then execute your unit turn, shown here. Your shoulders and your racket will turn together. The leg closest to the incoming ball should step out a little as you turn, so you do not close yourself off to the ball. You will need space to step into the shot.
2. How much shoulder turn is ideal? Enough so that you have to look over your dominant shoulder at the incoming ball. As you prepare to hit this shot, all of your weight should be on your back foot, ready to transfer to your front foot. Take your racket back above the level of the ball (10 o’clock or 2 o’clock, whichever is easier for you to visualize, is an ideal height). Your shoulders should be level and your knees slightly bent.
3. Relax your hand and let your racket head drop below the height of the ball just before transferring weight to your front foot, and step into the shot. Do not strangle your racket handle. This looping motion needs to be fluid in order to generate racket-head speed so that you can create both power and spin by brushing up the back of the ball. The butt cap of your racket should be aimed at the ball. Your forward swing will begin as you transfer your weight.
4. Uncoil your shoulders and make contact out in front. You will notice that professional players have different arm positions at contact. The most effective for a club player is to have both elbows slightly bent. At contact, all of your energy from your legs, shoulder and arms should be driving forward and through the ball, toward your target.
5. You have heard coaches say, “Stay with the shot.” Even after the ball has left the racket, your momentum should be forward and your arms should be extended out toward the ball. Your stroke should have length. If you pull off the shot too soon, a lot of your energy will be wasted and you will hit a much weaker and less accurate shot.
6. On the follow-through, your elbows should finish high. Your non-dominant hand pulls your rear hip through the finish and you will face the net. Notice that at the start of this shot, you were looking over your dominant shoulder at the ball. Now you are looking over your non-dominant shoulder—that’s how much shoulder turn is required. When you plant your outside foot, you will push off of it and recover with a shuffle or a crossover step, depending where you are on court and the trajectory of your opponent’s next shot.
John Evert is the Founder and Managing Partner of the Evert Tennis Academy. John has developed and managed top junior, collegiate and professional players for over 35 years. Prior to establishing the Evert Tennis Academy, John was the Vice President of IMG’s Tennis Division where he served as an agent for recruiting and developing tennis talent. John has been a consultant for the USTA, Chinese Tennis Association and works closely with coaches and Federations located in Central America and the Bahamas. John also advises Lacoste, Wilson and Nike on their junior sponsorship programs.