View Full Version : Decisions Decisions! - 2-hander???

12-14-2012, 03:46 AM
Hey all

Sorry for the long post, hope you give it a chance ;-)

Oh, I just can't make my mind up! My coach keeps telling me to stick with my 1 hand backhand as does my training partner, but I suspect part of this is because they are also 1-handers and just favour it. I am no spring chicken, and am not going to be making the pro tour, so I am still keen on taking up the challenge of re-associating myself with the 2 hander.

I am 34 years old and a British 6.1 rating, so play at a decent standard already.

For singles, my 1-hander is not actually a major issue, though I dont drive it as much as I should (I have a very good slice and a decent drive, when I have the time and confidence). But in doubles, which I really enjoy, my single hander is such a liability!

I have stuck with the 1 hander for 8 months now, prior to that I tried a 2-hander for a year, and prior to that i was ALWAYS a single-hander (Though I stopped playing from 16-29 almost completely, so I basically started over about 5 years ago).

In doubles, when facing a decent left-arm server, and returning on the left, it is hit or miss with my 1-hander. If I get it in then it's almost never with enough angle. When I tried the 2-hander for a year, the one thing I LOVED about it was that Iwas very good using it as a return weapon on the left in Dubs, against good servers. I wasn't soo good with the inside out 2-hand return from the Deuce side, where my 1-hand backhand is slightly better I *think*.

In general, What I struggled with most on the 2-hander was generating my OWN pace using it. If I had to run a slowish ball down and generate power of any kind, I found this very tough.

What do I DO!!

I think I WANT the challenge of developing 2-handed power and precision, so I was intending to take the slow approach and essentially spend a few months with my ball machine trying to hit left-handed forehands, and see if I can get really good at that shot, then apply the right-hand.

For the timebeing, whilst training the leftarm forehands, I'll use my 1-hander in my singles games, until I am ready to transition....which I think will take some time. I'm not a complete 2-handed novice, but it isn't a proficient shot.

In the past year I have significantly improved my forehand and serve consistency, as well as smash, so in 2013 I want to concentrate on foot speed, net game and BACKHAND.

Does this sound silly???

12-14-2012, 04:03 AM
I started with a 2 hander as a junior and used it from 14-16 years old. I switched to the 1 hander from 17-18 years old. I played very little until I was 30 years old. I started back with the 2 hander for 9 months and went back to a 1 hander because of exactly what you described. Lack of power when I had to generate my own pace was killing me with the 2 hander.

Fast forward almost another decade and I've had mild tennis elbow all year so I switched back to the 2 hander. Because my right arm is a little tender, I use a left hand dominant 2 hander now. This was the solution to my original problem. When you are using your left hand to drive the ball, you won't have that problem of generating pace.

In general, the 2 hander is more friendly to your arms and balances out the use of your body as a tennis player since you are not using your right arm for everything. I would not bother with the left handed forehand training, just use a left hand dominant backhand to train. It sounds like you want to arrive at the 2 hander, just do it.

12-14-2012, 06:21 AM
It's hard to tell you whether or not you should switch, but your problems with the 2hbh all solvable.

As mikeler said, I wouldn't bother with the left hand fh thing. If you're going to switch, then switch and practice a left hand dominant 2hbh. The key to generating your own pace is that you have to get some whip into the stroke just like I assume you have on your 1hbh. That's harder to do with two hands on the racquet. The trick is to keep one of your hands soft on the racquet during your normal swing, generally the right hand and use it to help the natural whipping action. There's a point in the swing where the right hand becomes very involved, but you don't want it killing the naturaly whipping action. However when you need to punch back a 120 mph serve you can use both hands to do it. That's the beauty of a 2hbh.

12-14-2012, 06:46 AM
I don't think an adult should switch.by age 12 you should have your basic technique down and then stick with it and just fine tune.

12-14-2012, 07:19 AM
I would ordinarily recommend sticking with what you started with as a youth. Your case is a bit atypical though in two ways. First, after many, many years with the 1HBH you still get beat with it. Second, you have actually gone through the trouble of trying the 2HBH already. Because of this second fact, any advantage your 1HBH had in never being messed with by switching, has already evaporated, you can't go back and pretend you never dabbled with the 2HBH. You have already confused the muscle memory in your stroke. Given that, I guess I would be the lone voice for either switching to the 2HBH full time or at least using both. 2H when it works and 1H in situations where it is best.

12-14-2012, 08:10 AM
Cheers guys, lovin' the inputs!

I've heard the same about not changing so late in life, but it's not like I'm going to be a pro so why not change something that you don't feel comfortable with. I wouldn't do it if I didn;lt think i could dedicate myself to it and give it a good go.

I think I have a state of mind that migrates to the 2-hander, in that I think it gives me a *secure* feeling, (specifically when returning on the lefthand side in Singles or doubles). I also like the little dinks, nurdles, lobs and angles I was able to do more confidently with the 2-hander last year

(In my mind, the 2 hands just provided that *fulcrum* that prevented a wild or uncontrolled swing - in saying that, perhaps this was a part of my issue generating power!)

My 2 failings on it were:

1) Generating power of heavy topspin shots, or off weak shots.
2) Being too heavy to run balls down.

Thankfully, I *think* I have mosty conquered the latter, as I have gone from 196lbs to 172lbs since July this year, in an effort to help my singles tennis and generally just to see if I could maintain the discipline.

But point is, I feel ready to give it a proper go. I am certain I need to get my technique sorted and get the muscle memory adjusted (As luckyR has suggested).

Aside from learning to generate power with the lefthand dominant approach, and I presume speed about the court is also vital (for the singles anyway), are there any other crucial points\tips I should consider when it comes to switching and committing?

12-14-2012, 08:18 AM
If a teaching pro has analyzed your strokes and said that your 1hbh is good and advises that you shouldn't switch, then I would respect his opinion and stick with your 1hbh. Work with him to perfect it.

In regards to your two "failings" with it, those two things are easily solvable if you work with a coach.

you can fix the need for more TS by swinging more low to high as opposed to straight through the ball... that will generate more TS.

Secondly, in regards to "running the ball down", I've said in another thread that 1hbh's take more time to properly setup. If you don't have the footwork and shot preparation to hit a running 1hbh, then just slice it. Sometimes you just don't have enough time, but you have to anticipate that, and decide up front that a slice is appropriate.

12-14-2012, 08:23 AM
I think you should do both, as too generating power with 2-handed practice makes perfect,i use a two handed backhand so I dont get one arm dominant, I like my left arm to do more than ball toss and point at the opponent.


12-14-2012, 08:28 AM
most of the times 1hbh can be improved significantly. if you have good footwork already try this. during prep keep the elbow high at shoulder level and coil the wrist to the max. this makes your arm wrapping the front of the neck instead of chest. combo of wrist extension and deviation. then during the forward swing try to keep the torso upright and swing in a flatter swing path as you pull back the shoulder. forget about low to high swing for the time being and try the new swing path and find the new contact point, which should be slightly less forward toward the net. with this technique you can hit flat 1hbh shoulder high. also you can significantly shorten and quicken the swing for fast reaction. with a proper footwork it's possible to make good returns. I would at least try to improve your 1hbh before switching.

12-14-2012, 09:06 AM
I don't think an adult should switch.by age 12 you should have your basic technique down and then stick with it and just fine tune.

I would ordinarily recommend sticking with what you started with as a youth. Your case is a bit atypical though in two ways. First, after many, many years with the 1HBH you still get beat with it. Second, you have actually gone through the trouble of trying the 2HBH already. Because of this second fact, any advantage your 1HBH had in never being messed with by switching, has already evaporated, you can't go back and pretend you never dabbled with the 2HBH. You have already confused the muscle memory in your stroke. Given that, I guess I would be the lone voice for either switching to the 2HBH full time or at least using both. 2H when it works and 1H in situations where it is best.

I think people a bit more adaptable than you're giving them credit for. Anyone can change aspects of their game. You have to willing to invest some time, learn the new stroke, and to suck for a while. There's lots of conversation that can be had about whether or not you should make some particular change, but I really don't agree that it can't be done or that it's going to be a near impossible task.

12-14-2012, 09:18 AM
why not use both hands on the racket when you see fit, and use one hand when it would best benefit you? I think people over think things. i see it as forehand and backhand. you can either hit the shot with one hand on the racket, or two, your choice.

12-14-2012, 10:31 AM
I was in the same position as you. After a year of work I have effectively switched to a 2-hander that is as good as my old 1hbh. My biggest problem was letting my left arm be dominant. I think this is pretty common for people that have hit a 1hbh for a decade+.

By far, the biggest breakthrough for me was letting my RH pinkie finger hang off the buttcap. It makes it impossible for your RH to take over. I immediately hit it better when I started doing this. It's still a work in progress but I at least have some degree of confidence now.

Connors Fan
12-16-2012, 05:47 PM
I like what Larry said, sometimes technique and commiting to one thing gets in the way of playing. If you have a good slice, work on the two handed return (which I think is maybe its greatest strength) and then just use whatever stroke works best during play. If my 1h backhand slice was more reliable, I would only hit it to be honest. I switched to 2hbh as like you I was getting hammered by good servers to the backhand. So my back hand is decent returning now, but lacks oomph at times during rallys. I switched at 50 by the way. This is rec tennis we are talking about, not rocket science or pro tennis. I know mine will never be great, and that I will always rely on my forehand and try to hide my backhand when I can. I would work on your 2hbh for service returns and just hit whatever shot you want during rallys.

Hi I'm Ray
12-16-2012, 06:45 PM
You are right to suspect they might be recommending the 1hander mainly because they use it too. I'm sure you know by now how strongly people will insist on doing as they do.

Some coaches are good and some really make me shake my head. I've come across or had some pretty bad coaches. I started going to some new courts about a year ago - there's a coach there who is fast to criticize others around the court, he's got a student probably 16-24yrs old who stands planted at the center mark with her feet together w/no use of the body at all. Her groundstokes are totally paceless, go 8+ feet in the air, and accidentally end up with underspin quite often. Its been going on like this for about a year without much if any improvement. I can't believe anyone pays for that, and its just one example of many. Coaches don't always know best, make your own decision on this and if you really don't feel comfortable with the 1HBH then switch.

I had the same problem as you did, in college, solid 2hbh with good return of serve but not enough pace to be a weapon. The coach was absolutely no help with it either. I also took a long break switched to a 1hander coming back, found pace and angles but a big liability on return of serve or when rushed. Anyways, I found some better 2hbh technique and solved the power issue, you just have to find the right instruction. Also, I assume that almost everyone who trains their strokes with a coach is used to paceless feeds and can generate their own power whether the incoming ball is fast or paceless. Are your coach & trainer only hitting you balls with some pace from way across the court or do they give you paceless balls to practice on as well?

12-16-2012, 07:58 PM
You can hit the 2hbh hard. You must develop your left wrist strength, practice it, and learn technique. Once you get it down, you will actually have both types of backhands available to you, very useful.

12-17-2012, 12:29 AM
Thank you everyone, you have given me plenty to think on.

As to my coach, he is a very good teacher I must say.

Aside from the backhand issue which I am unsure of, he's very solid all round as a coach. An LTA Performance accredited coach in fact, who played on the Challenger tour 10 years ago.

So I am actually going against the advice of a good coach who 10 years ago was playing on the Challenger tour.

When we first started this once a week coaching session for 2 hours, he said it would take me years to develop the same power on the 2-hand backhand which I have on the 1-handed one. In truth, I was 196lbs in June 2012 also so perhaps my movement as well as years of hitting 1-handers made him think it wasn't wise.

However, I a much lighter now and my 1-hander is just not improving. I have power on it, but I am late on it far too often, and I am not getting better at the little angles around the net........nurdles and pushes and topspinners. I was very good at thelatter with my 2-hander.

I actually have a slightly weak right shoulder anyway from a rotator cuff injury 2 years ago, so getting *pop* off of it when the ball is shoulder high or off a strong serve to my 1-hand backhand is just so so tough!

I believe it is time to change. If it takes *years* to get the power (Surely it can't takes years!), then so be it, but the benefit is a more solid return in doubles and singles, and considering I play in a doubles league that has, on average, a USTA equivalent 6.5 rated player in each of the top 7 teams (We don't, but we have two 5.5 players), I WILL be facing big serves from time to time.

Hi I'm Ray
12-17-2012, 12:54 AM
That's great, a good coach can be hard to find (and afford). I'm not sure where you might need improvement on the 2HBH, but I'll tell you what I was doing wrong in college: I was "muscling" the stroke too much which was slowing down my swing and I was looking up/pulling my head up too early. Working on a fast, smooth, & relaxed stroke and keeping my gaze & head still has done a lot to improve power & spin. Of course there is much more than that to work on, but I've noticed that most players I see lack power on the 2HBH because of the same reasons that I mentioned. Good luck.

12-17-2012, 01:09 AM
Thank you very much ray.

What you have said sounds precisely like an idea I had. My forehand has improved a great deal this year, and it is almost entirely down to copying the swing of my coach.

He is a lefty and has an extremely smooth, languid forehand swing which just generates lots of speed off the court.

I adopted this approach and my forehand went from a muscly, whippy shot, to a smoother, slightly flatter but greater depth forehand.

If I can apply the same principle to a 2-hand backhand, then I should be able to generate good racquet head speed.

Just need to tell my brain that I dont have to *whack* the backhand, I must concentrate on smooth timing......? I think that sounds right.

12-17-2012, 11:23 AM
the 1h 2h question seems to come up ever so often.

to me it's a moot point.... you will want to play with what wins you the most points... just experiment and see what pays off.

12-17-2012, 09:49 PM
No doubt a 2-handed back hand can hit with pace and accuracy, the top 4 ATP men , 3 use 2HBH, 1 1HBH.