For those starting out in tennis, getting to know the different types of strokes, stances, terms, grips, etc., can feel overwhelming. Not to worry, we have your back! In our new teaching series titled, “The Beginner’s Guide” (fitting, right?) we’ve enlisted some of Canada’s top instructors to provide us with their expert steps and hot tips on how to approach the various basics of tennis. A free lesson? Pretty sweet, right?
Background: After nearly a decade as one of Canada’s top wheelchair tennis coaches, Séverine Tamborero left her post as national coach and manager for wheelchair tennis to take up a position as national coach for the U12 program based out of the National Training Centre at Uniprix Stadium in Montreal.
For those just starting out playing tennis, it’s incredibly natural to want to always turn to your forehand, even if that means having to move your feet a little faster to get in position. Unfortunately, practice makes perfect, so in order master the backhand you first have to work up the courage to use it in play. When you’ve made the decision to commit to the backhand, decide whether you want to have one hand on the racquet or two. Either works, but a two-handed backhanded is likely your best option if you’re just starting out.
Once you’ve decided whether you’re a player with a two-handed backhand or a player with a one-handed backhand, you’re going to have to hold the racquet accordingly. The proper grip for two hands is a continental grip for the bottom hand, and an eastern grip for the top hand. For a one-handed backhand, hold your racquet in the eastern grip. Getting the right grip during play can be a bit challenging, but Tamborero reassures us that time and volume will inevitably lead to success. So in other words, spend as much time as you can hitting balls on the court!
Tamborero says to have your shoulders turned to your racquet side and have your racquet back before the ball passes the net. This will give you enough time to adjust your hands into the proper grip and prep for your shot. She reminds us again, in this moment not to chicken out and opt for a forehand. Then, when the ball comes your way, make contact with the ball a little bit in front of you and around your waist level. This sweet spot is where you will find the most control over the ball.
Always swinging low to high, make sure that you are able to go under the ball and to go through your shot to have the ball over the net with consistency and depth. Tamborero says that if you’re hitting a two-handed, at the end of the stroke your racquet should be on the other side of your body and over your shoulder, or a straight arm in front of you for a one-handed.
First successful backhand? Check! Now, get back in position and get ready for the next ball! And when practicing always remember: being confident and having fun are the best ways to improve your game!
Class dismissed! Go on, what are you waiting for? Pick up that racquet!
The basics of a two-handed backhand broken down step-by-step:
Want to hit your one-handed backhand like Stanislas Wawrinka? Here we go:
20 slow motion backhands from the best of the best: