Making Your Backhand Better

I can’t count the number of players who are looking for tips to make their backhand better. Players who are self taught have some obstacles to overcome to improve their stroke, but the most important one is something they overlook: you have to be willing to make some changes to your current comfort zone. This might mean a different stance, stroke and timing. You might have to train your body to move differently. This takes patience and a lot of practice outside of a game playing situation. Players need to play less and practice more when working on a skill. It can reap big benefits down the road in your matches, but requires that you feel uncomfortable for a while. That’s a hard pill to swallow because it means that you’ll be worse before you become better.

Start with a check of your grip. A forehand grip should feel like you’re shaking hands with the racquet (NOT the flat side, but the frame edge of your racquet). When you need to hit a back- hand, that grip should rotate ¼ turn (or so) to the left, if you’re right handed, or a ¼ turn to the right if you’re a leftie. If you don’t change your grip, you will be more limited in your ability to hit flat, level shots without contorting your arm. This can cause a lower percentage of success and possible pain in your arm and elbow over time. Switching to a backhand grip is an essential part any game.