Play Like a Pro: How to Not Let Your Backhand Beat You

In your average drop in game, there aren’t a lot of players that have a dominant backhand like Matt Wright and Ben Johns. Some of the pros don’t even have a trusty backhand (Tyson McGuffin, anyone?).

What is important for your game is how do you make sure it does not become a liability on the court?

In watching the PPA Semi-Finals I noticed the regularity in which Thomas Wilson attacks off his forehand and doesn’t make mistakes with his backhand. 

Just to emphasize how Wilson approaches the match: 

  • Backhand – Dink and drop conservatively, don’t make mistakes and don’t give them attackable balls. Play the points out and don’t be over aggressive.
  • Forehand – Ultra aggressive in going for winners and attacking the ball (potentially too aggressive at times)

In three games vs. Wright/Newman in the semi-finals.

  • Unforced Errors
    • Backhand: 1
    • Forehand: 9
    • Serve: 2
  • Winners
    • Backhand: 1
    • Forehand: 16

Wilson hit 16 forehand winners for every backhand winner. The other three players on the court were 1.1 forehand winners to backhand winners. A drastic stylistic difference, to say the least. 

Check out the following point. Wilson (in the pink) plays a series of backhand dinks, always locating the ball low and in an un-attackable position, playing the point out until a ball is left high for Koller to finish. 

Again in this 2nd clip, it shows incredible patience as they repeatedly play to Wilson’s backhand. Then, a series of balls played cross court to Newman and then down the middle to force Newman/Wright into defense. Eventually Newman takes a red/yellow light ball and tries to force the action. Wilson was never presented with the opportunity to win the point but made sure to extend the point until they could go on offense or force the opponent into a mistake.

Ideally we are all going to develop that two handed backhand to roll the ball over the net or slam one handed backhands when the action is sped up, but if you really need a game and are playing against overzealous opponents, play to your strengths of your forehand and don’t let your backhand beat you.

One thought on “Play Like a Pro: How to Not Let Your Backhand Beat You

  1. Regardless if what anyone says, I think the backhand can be a great tool if you choose not to ignore it lol! Like for the longest time I hear references to it being a difficult shot or a chink in the armor. Well, not if you develop proper technique w/ esp a classic one handed backhand. Case in point the silky smooth, flawless and yes even seamless Roger Federer, Stan Wawrinka and Dominic Thiem to mention 3 from Tennis weapons. The other reason to develop it is to gain a distinct advantage over those who don’t develop it. Also they assume the opponent would not use it much esp as an offensive weapon lol! So, it can be a win/win weapon in your arsenal or repertoire. The two handed one next and there are several examples. The same ought to apply to Pickleball. Cheers!

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