I have to admit: I’m pretty biased here.
I’ve mentioned before that my background is in baseball, and in baseball, I was a lefthanded hitter and a righthanded thrower.
Further, baseball has a lot of down time, and in said down time, I came to kill a lot of hours playing ping pong in locker rooms and clubhouses.
As such, when I found pickleball, I was already primed to be a decent player: throwing righthanded made me comfortable with a paddle in my right hand and a forehand, hitting lefthanded made me comfortable with my backhand, and ping pong both enhanced both of those skills AND helped me get comfortable putting spin on shots while also getting used to fast paced action near the net.
I’m far from a pro pickleballer, but this put me at a pretty decent level and learning curve starting out.
Of all these skills, though, the one shot I came to pickleball already being able to hit was the cut backhand, and I think it’s a shot everyone needs to consider adding (if they don’t already have it) to help them level up.
While it’s natural for me, it’s a shot that anyone can learn to hit- it doesn’t take an insane level of athleticism or timing like an Erne- and you’ll see immediate dividends in your game.
I’m glad you asked.
Here are 3 reasons you should consider adding a cut backhand to your own game:
It bounces lower, so it’s a hard shot to attack
The best thing about backspin is that when the ball hits, it checks up and takes a lower bounce (especially if it’s hit at a lower angle). And when the ball stays low, it’s more apt to stay in red light territory: low enough that your opponents shouldn’t attack it.
That doesn’t mean they won’t attack it, but it’s awfully hard to hit a ball hard from shin height over the net and keep it within the baseline. If they try, drop your paddle and duck: it’s likely going out.
It’s a shot you can use at the net and from the baseline
One thing I love about being able to cut a backhand is how versatile a shot it is. It’s my go-to way to drop balls in the kitchen from the baseline (see above note for how it bounces low) and also my favored way to dink (where it stays low- again!). Once you learn the shot, you quickly see how it’s a shot you can make use of time and time again.
It’s not a shot that you have to hit hard for it to be effective
I tend to think of my cut backhand as “offensive” defense; it’s not a shot I have to put a lot of pace on, but if I focus on keeping it low, it’s a largely unattackable shot (as I’ve now mentioned). As such, it puts the onus on my opponent to have to make an unattackable return back; I’ve now put the pressure on them to not make a mistake.
And guess what? Given that you didn’t hit it hard to them, they’re going to try to attack back more often than they should. They’re going to hit out balls or pop-ups that are going to be easy put aways on your end.
The first cut is the deepest…
Until next time,