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To me, it is not the great debate: Which stroke is better for the tennis player – The one-handed backhand style versus the two-handed backhand stroke? It appears the only real argument for the one-handed backhand is the reach argument. Proponents of the one-handed stroke claim that the two-handed stroke is inferior when moving to sharply hit wide balls. However, this opinion is easily disputed. Most important, there are just too many solid reasons why we should coach new players the ‘two-hander’ versus the one-hander:
• Service return
• High balls
With today’s racket and string technology, most top-ranked players hit their serves well over 100 miles per hour and it is very difficult for a one-handed backhand player to hit through the return. In other words, with the speed of the serve so fast, most one-handed, backhand style players like me, often block the return of serve. Conversely, no matter how fast the serve travels through the air, the two-handed, backhand style player swings completely through the stroke finishing with a good follow through.
There are many ramifications to the strength of the two-handed return: It is almost impossible for players to effectively serve and volley against the two-handed stroke. Due to this intimidating long finish, doubles players are more reluctant to poach. Today’s modern strings totally enhance spin and when the ball rises on impact, the one-handed stroke struggles to return the ball deep into the court.
Rafael Nadal’s high-spinning forehand stroke completely overwhelmed Roger Federer’s one-handed backhand during a recent French Open final. Was Federer’s stubbornness the reason he lost at Roland Garros? Roger’s fans felt that his desire to hit “over” the ball was his downfall and, had he made some small adjustments, he might have been the victor.
As the ball rises on court, the two-handed player, like Novak Djokovich, strives under pressure as he is able to hit his backhand down the line or crosscourt with ease. Unfortunately, when a one-handed backhand player is faced with a high bouncing ball, it is high risk to place the ball down the line. Have you noticed that the majority of our ATP/WTA stars who possess two-handed backhands also have the ability to hit the one-handed backhand slice? So, when Nadal hits a vicious wide angle to Djokovich’s left side, Novak is able to release and hit a one-handed slice to stay in the rally.
So, there is no good concrete reason for someone not to hit the “two-hander.”
For a coach, most new players are able to hit the two-hander with ease and they are consistent and confident with the stroke. Sure, the two-handed may deal with a few wide balls but the player can always use the lob to get out of trouble. No matter how you slice it, give me the two-handed backhand all day long – it is a no brainer!
Doug Browne is the Hideaway Beach Tennis Director and the new Collier County USPTA Pro of the Year. Additionally, Doug has been the International Hall of Fame Director of Tennis this past summer. Doug has been writing his tennis column for the past fifteen years and welcomes your feedback.