Do we hit through the ball on the
backhand side? Absolutely not, just like the forehand all backhands,
whether it’s a slice backhand a one-handed backhand or a two-handed
backhand are circular rotational shots. And let’s start off with the one-handed
backhand. So the same advantages we have on the forehand we have these same
advantages and when we execute a one-handed backhand. We do not want to
push the ball forward because this is gonna result in a loss of control. So
what needs to happen is that at contact with the ball the hand and the arm need
to start going around the shoulder across the body like this. This is
true for flat backhands and topspin backhands. So on a flat backhand the arm, it’s going to go around the shoulder but the tip of the racket is going to go
forward like this and on a topspin backhand and the tip of the racket is
going to go more in a vertical fashion But the arm still goes across
and up the shoulder in this fashion. The advantage of this circular swing path on
the one-handed backhand is that we can achieve much greater control just like
we do on the forehand. We can allow the ball to rotate more, because we’re
gonna be going across the body with the racket and therefore the ball will
likely stay inside the baseline more. If I hit a forward on the ball not only am
I losing control by pushing on the ball, I’m also losing
power because I’m disconnecting and the ball from the body and my arm is further
extending away from my core and I’ll loose strength that way. So through the ball
backhand like this will be greatly inferior to a backhand where the hand
goes around the shoulder immediately at contact. The one-handed backhand has less
rotation than any other shot in tennis and this is due to the fact that the
one-handed backhand is hit with a straight arm and now from this position
we cannot contract the arm backwards it’s a straight arm and now in order to
gain the circular swing path we’re going to have to help with the body and what
usually happens is the player will drop the front shoulder in the preparation
phase. In addition to that the player will slightly bend the front leg and now
the body will have a slight v-shape in this angle and now as this player makes
contact with the ball the front leg will straighten and
to accommodate this upward swing path and also the player will then straighten
the torso and then squeeze the shoulder blades like this. The two-handed backhand is also a
circular rotational shot, however on the Pro Tour the two-handed backhand is mostly
struck with a flat trajectory and this is due to the swing path. So on Djokovic
for example his racket tip will point forward before it goes up like this. This
is the case on majority of the two-handed backhands on tour. So you can
see to achieve this swing path I’m going to lead the rotation with the right
side of my body. So the right side will rotate and will make the tip go
across and then back like this. Very few players have an topspin two-handed
backhand and some of the great topspin two-handers was Bjorn Borg and
currently Rafael Nadal. They both have a topspin two-handed backhand
where the tip of the racket is going more vertical and than the other players
and this is more difficult to achieve with both hands on the racket but it’s still
a rotational circular shot if we take a look at my upper body rotation you can
see that I’m gonna rotate to accommodate this swing path to help the racket go up
across and back like this. If a player tried to hit through the
ball on the two-handed backhand they would stop the rotation of the torso
very suddenly and both arms would need to extend forward. It would look
something like this, the upper body rotation would have to stop and one has
to further extend towards the target and this is not something that you see on
the Pro Tour, because this would drastically reduce the power and the
control of the shot. Instead what players do is they’ll lead the rotation with
their right side and then the chest will be pointing towards the side fence on
the finish The slice backhand can be hit both ways
across and through the ball and the through the ball slice backhand in is an
old-school shot that Ken Rosewall used to hit and it works okay to some degree
and it looks something like this the player will start high and then stay
sideways as the player makes contact and then finishes forward like this and this
works you can get under spin by going high to low on the ball, but again you
will drastically reduce the power of the slice and what the modern slice looks
like. Some of the great slice backhands of all time Rafael Nadal and Roger
Federer and actually Novak Djokovic has improved his backhand slice dramatically
in the last few years and these three slices have a little different technical
characteristics, however they all go around the body in a circular fashion.
The modern circular slice with the across the body swing path compared to
the old-school stay sideways and hit through the ball slice is that the
modern slice backhand has a lot more variety and there’s a lot more power
potential. There’s many more things that you can do to the ball if you have
your hand go around the shoulder this way. It’s a lot easier to create side
spin it’s a lot easier to create backspin and most importantly it’s a lot
easier to create power on the one-handed backhand slice, because we can apply
the same principles that we do on the one-handed backhand and kind of get the
power more from our torso and the back muscles and the power potential is
therefore much greater. So the old-school slice looks something like this. The
player will hit through the ball and stay sideways and immediately I find it
much more difficult to keep the ball short and get a low trajectory. If I hit
across the body like this it’s a lot easier for me to generate power under
spin and I can very easily get a low trajectory if I want to.

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Dennis Veasley

13 thoughts on “Hit Through The Ball? – Part 2 – The Backhand”

  1. Great video Nick! I used to hit through the ball mainly on my two handed-backhand. Now, i´m hitting with more circular rotation, but started overrotation and it cause me some misshits, do you have some advice for overrotation? Thanks

  2. Hi Mr. Aracic. We uploaded Alp's "slice" shots. Please have a look:)

  3. Great explanation Nik
    Are we stepping into the shot especially with the forehand? Would this add to the power?

  4. Nick, if the racquet is traveling in a circular path during the approx. 4" of the ball contact zone, then why doesn't the ball always come off with sidespin? I agree with you that the majority of the swing path is circular but the racquet must hit the ball square on to avoid imparting side spin. Looking carefully at your own videos I believe I see a brief instant around the ball strike where the racquet is traveling straight forward.

  5. Hi Nik, I have a question about this. I rely on the rotational path of the shoulder, so I never go forward through the ball. I have noticed though that the amount of rotation is less when I play down the line compared to a cross court. I play a one handed bh and usually at the end of the swing I have my right shoulder pretty much in the direction of the target, therefore more or less rotated depending on where the target is. That happens on my forehand too.
    I don' t actually do this on purpose, I guess it' s what happens to me intuitively. Wondering if the finish and the overall amount of shoulder rotation should be exactly the same no matter where the target is

  6. Hi Nikola – nice video. How would you characterize the difference between Novaks backhand and Nalbandians backhand? Both great shots but they look different and to me it looks like Nalbandian releases his left wrist more to end with the racket facing the right fence – is he using more wrist? Looking forward to your expert opinion and how we 5.0 players can benefit. Thanks!

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