What is a Tennis Backhand and How to Hit It?

9th November 2019
The tennis backhand is a classic hit. It's the base of attack for many players because it makes the opponent move.

In this article, we’ll analyze one of the most powerful and characteristic hits in the sport, the tennis backhand. Among the tennis players who are renowned for their backhand, we can find Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, and Stan Wawrinka.

What is a tennis backhand?

For this hit, it’s very important to position the body the right way, keeping your distance from the net. And so, the right positioning is to face sideways with the shoulder pointing toward the net.

It’s important to make sure that the weight of the body is mainly balanced in the back leg when hitting the ball.

David Goffin performing a tennis backhand

Positioning the feet correctly is key, and it’s almost the same as with forehand. However, there are a couple of differences, they are:

  • With hard hits, the front leg is crossed to give more balance.
  • In limited situations, the front foot should be lateral, almost exaggerated. This doesn’t allow the body to rotate, making a comeback impossible.
  • Generally, you only use a tennis backhand with the feet facing forward, when the ball heads directly to the body and there isn’t enough time to move for a forehand.

The grip to perform the backhand is the Eastern Backhand Grip, for both topspin or flat shots. The advantage of this grip is that it transfers the weight optimally. However, its disadvantage is that you must perform another type of shot after.

How to perform a good tennis backhand

In order to perform a tennis backhand correctly, you must follow some steps, these are:

  • For the waiting position, the body must have a slight forward tilt. Also, make sure you use the Eastern Backhand Grip.
  • The second step is to move the racket behind the body. Additionally, you should position your body sideways at the moment of hitting the ball.
  • Just when you hit the ball, the racket must move from back to forward with a slight upward tilt.
  • Lastly, the final touch to the tennis backhand is to push the weight of the body forward, thus hitting the ball more aggressively.
David Ferrer hitting a tennis backhand

Types of backhands

This type of hit can be performed in countless ways, each with a different effect on the ball. The first is the flat backhand, which doesn’t put much of an effect on the ball, hence its name. Players use this type of hit as an attack when the ball approaches slightly higher than the net.

Another effect for the tennis backhand is the “topspin“. This hit gives the ball a strong effect upwards in order to make it go over the net and later fall in the court. To perform this hit, place the head of the racket back and down, finishing the hit forward and up. Thus, making the ball a difficult hit to respond to.

Lastly, we have the slice, which is a defensive backhand hit. Of the three backhand hits, this is the slowest one since the head of the racket goes from the back and up to down and forward. Thus, this hit makes the ball rotate backward, not allowing it to rise after it hits the floor.

You may use this type of tennis backhand to counter a tough serve, in hard to reach hits. Therefore, this is a highly defensive hit.