The backhand groundstroke follows closely to the principles of the forehand (see page on ‘Tennis Forehand Technique’), except that the weight shifts a moment sooner, and if you are right-handed, your front foot should be your right foot. If you are left-handed, your left foot should be in front as you prepare to hit the ball.

Just like with the forehand, judge the flight to anticipate where it will bounce and get yourself in position. You should put yourself within 3 to 4 feet of where the ball bounces.

Your body should also be at right angles to the net but as you prepare to hit the ball, your playing arm’s shoulder should be lower than your other shoulder as you pull your racket back (i.e. if you are right-handed, your right shoulder should be lowered to prepare for the backhand). Use your non-playing hand to hold your racket in proper position as you prepare for the shot. It is the other way around if you are left-handed.

Again, as in forehand, the ball should bounce on your non-playing hand’s side, slightly in front of your front foot.

Here’s an important difference between the forehand and the backhand. In hitting a backhand groundstroke, you do not hit the ball at the waist level. The ball should be met once it bounces in front of your front foot, instead of the waist. This is because of the great tendency in backhand shots to slice the ball and this will pull the ball cross court.

The racket face must be closed (not open) to aid in bringing the ball into the court. You may want to use a double-handed backhand to add more power to your shot and to help keep your racket face closed throughout the shot. Do not strive for too much top spin on your backhand. The backhand groundstroke is more effective if hit flat as it has more power this way.

After the ball is struck, follow through your shot with your playing arm extended all the way (unless you are using the double handed backhand).

I strongly urge that no one should ever favour one department of his game, in defence of a weakness. Develop both forehand and backhand, and do not “run around” your backhand, particularly in return of service. To do so merely opens your court. If you should do so, strive to ace your returns, because a weak effort would only result in a kill by your opponent.

For both forehand and backhand, aim to hit behind the service-line preferably within 3 feet of the baseline.

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