>I am switching from a single to a double handed backhand
>due to recurrent tennis elbow. Do you have any experience with the
>double? Pls encourage me!!! I love it when the ball is timed well but as
>of now I am hitting a lot of moonies...its just been a week though and
>the body movement is still that of a single!! How much time before I can
>whack consistently??? And are there any tips I can follow to make the
>And finally.....Will it be worth it!!!!?
>Thanks for any and all feedback!
It used to be said, and accepted as true, that the reach of a two hander
(2H) is shorter than for a single handed backhand (1H). Fact is, there is
no truth to that notion, as illustrated by several people, including Dr.
Jack Groppel ("High Tech Tennis" Leisure Press, 1992), several years ago.
The reach is the same, and when either type of player is stretched beyond
the comfort zone they both do exactly the same thing: lunge with a single
outstretched arm in a defensive effort to get to the ball. There is no
evidence that the 1H player has a better capacity to make that stretched
out defensive lunge than the 2H player.
There are, however, many other differences in the strengths and weaknesses
between 1H and 2H backhands. A short, low ball to the 2H backhand
requires more bending of the knees in order for the player to return the
ball offensively. 1H players have a better ability to hit slice. There
The bottom line is, some people are more comfortable with one over the
other. Most youngsters, playing tennis at 4 to 8 years old, require two
hands on both sides just to drive the ball. They often continue to use
both hands on the backhand as they get older even though they are
stronger. It's what feels most comfortable.
When you learn tennis after physical maturation, you don't necessarily
need both hands, but some beginnners feel very unsteady and weak with
their backhands, and find a 2H shot helps. Certainly you can learn to hit
effective topspin with more power and confidence faster when you start
with two hands. Modern tennis is very topspin oriented, and the faster
you become proficient at generating topspin, the higher the level of
competitiveness you achieve.
In changing from a 1H to a 2H backhand, for reasons such as tennis elbow,
you should allow yourself more time than you might imagine to make the
switch. The longer you have used the 1H, the longer it will take you
switch, in many cases. You must re-learn the spatial relationship for the
contact point, as well as get comfortable with driving the racket with
your off-hand. Do not make the transistion longer than it has to be by
worrying about where your feet are, or how far your shoulders are rotated,
etc. As with learning any tennis stroke these things are best allowed to
take care of themselves in the natural way your body deals with movement.
You will know quickly when your body position does not allow you to apply
yourself to the ball, and make it go where you want it to go, and you will
most efficiently adjust yourself toward a more effective position. When
balance, power and timing are best achieved, you are in the right
position. This is a different consideration for each individual. Trying
to imitate someone else's most balanced, powerful and fluid physicality is
not necessarily what will work for you.
The 2H backhand is an off-hand forehand with your *** hand helping,
pure and simple. Just as a forehand on your off-side would finish with
your off-hand over or touching your shoulder, this is usually the case
with the 2H backhand. It takes a while to become accustomed to mostly
driving with the off-hand with somewhat less pulling with the ***
hand, but most 2H players report that they derive their power more from
the off-hand than their *** hand, something that controlling people
sometimes find difficult to allow to happen. It requires that you permit
your weaker side take over. Some people, in fact, are such control freaks
that they never permit this to happen, and are better off with 1H
backhands. People who are somewhat ambidextrous have less difficulty
allowing their off-hand to take over. These are simply observations made
over years of teaching and are not from a refereed journal of scientific
There are several hitches that people can fall victim to when trying to
master a 2H backhand after having developed a 1H shot; the most frequently
occuring is the wrist action required. Briefly, on a 1H backhand, the
wrist, to help generate topspin, rotates the way it does when you turn a
doorknob. The thumbnail starts the stroke more or less facing the ground
and ends up facing the sky. On the 2H backhand the *** hand wrist
moves differently, with more flexion occuring in a manner than shortens
the distance between the forearm and knuckles. This is because the
off-hand is driving the racket from butt-facing-the-ball to butt-facing
the back fence. The *** wrist must allow this movement to happen,
which is enough different than what it does in the 1H shot that it can
cause awkwardness and discomfort, the two wrists fighting each other a
Watching the pros, as always, can be very helpful in your own discovery of
what works best. There is such a wide variety of mannerisms finding the
one that works best for you, if in fact one will, might take a while. Do
not reject any high level player's style as a possible insight to your own
best effort. You may, in fact, be wired more like Jim Courier than
Michael Chang, more like Bjorn Borg than Todd Martin.