backhand smash myth?

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by ark_28, Oct 13, 2012.

  1. ark_28

    ark_28 Hall of Fame

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    Hi guys

    Was just curious about this found this very interesting! I know on TV most experts always say the backhand smash is the hardest shot in tennis!

    The other day at training we were working on the backhand smash and our coach made us do some drills to work on it.

    Our coach is very knowledgable and I really enjoy the insight he gives us, but he said he disagrees with experts who says its the hardest shot in the game.

    He said to play it is not hard but court poisition after the shot at our level is the hardest thing because he said pros have the wrist snap to hit that shot for a winner but we can forget that because too much skill and practise so have to place it and then decide are we too far back and retreating in which case stay back or in a position to really attack the net!

    Is this argument about the backhand smash not being such a hard shot a fair one?
     
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  2. Netspirit

    Netspirit Hall of Fame

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    It is undeniably hard due to the human anatomy. Multiply every tear shed about the high one-handed backhand by 10, and you will get it. The scapula, the elbow - everything gets in the way. If you have a chance NOT to hit it - do not, hit the forehand smash or even just the forehand.

    I think it is harder than the half-volley, harder than the swinging volley, on par with the tweener.
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2012
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  3. travlerajm

    travlerajm Hall of Fame

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    I think the reason the backhand smash is considered so hard is that it's arguably the most underpracticed shot in the game.

    If you regularly practice it every time out (wish I did) it's not really that tough. Sure, it's much harder than a regular overhead. But if I practiced my backhand overhead as much as my forehand (which still sucks compared to the rest of my game), I've have a killer bh smash. Also, the bh smash is much easier to execute with power when using a high-swingweight racquet.
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2012
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  4. Bagumbawalla

    Bagumbawalla Hall of Fame

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    Well, I don't think its that hard to hit the ball and get it in the court (if that's what you mean), but to hit a backhand smash really well, really hard, and place it for a winner- is much less likely than when hitting a conventional forehand smash.
     
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  5. bhupaes

    bhupaes Professional

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    I think one would need to have exceptionally strong rotator cuff muscles and wrists to execute this shot well, especially if one is using a high SW racquet. Not my favorite shot, for sure!
     
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  6. Ash_Smith

    Ash_Smith Hall of Fame

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    I don't think it's particularly hard, at not really harder to teach than other shots - I do however think that many coaches don't necessarily know how the shot is played (at least technically speaking), which is probably why it has a reputation as the hardest shot in tennis (if indeed it does have that reputation).

    Cheers
     
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  7. FrisbeeFool

    FrisbeeFool Rookie

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    You're probably just not using the right technique. What does high SW racquet mean? If you mean you're using a semiwestern grip, that would explain why you're putting so much strain on your wrist and shoulder.

    You should use a continental grip to execute this shot. I learned this shot just through trial and error. No one really ever formally instructed me in this shot. It's one of those finesse shots, that most people just figure out on their own. In an entire match, you might only have to hit one or two of these. The continental grip makes the shot a lot easier. Try it out.

    For volleys, half-volleys and overheads you should be using the continental grip. If you are trying to use a groundstroke grip to hit backhand overheads, then yeah, it would put a lot of strain on your shoulder and wrist. It hurts my arm just thinking about doing that.
     
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  8. FrisbeeFool

    FrisbeeFool Rookie

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    Yeah, I've had people tell me I have a good backhand smash, and I rarely ever practice it. I don't see much need to practice it, I rarely ever use it. I usually go for angle and not power on this shot, if I'm forced to hit it. Almost all overheads, I can just hit with my conventional overhead, like it's a serve. If I'm pulled wide enough, where I have to hit a backhanded overhead, my back is almost turned to the net, and I try to angle the ball sharply crosscourt. People don't set up properly for this shot. When I hit it, my back is turned so far towards the net, that I usually turn all the way around in a circle and look over my left shoulder to see if the ball made it in. It's almost a no-look shot it you hit it right, because your back will be almost facing the net as you make contact.

    If someone if using a game-improvement racquet it will be a very difficult shot to hit. It's one of those finesse shots where you need feel and touch.
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2012
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  9. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    Here is a backhand smash that comes off the racket well in excess of 140 mph (he has also hit some in excess of 160 mph).

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eEsARpxuYTM

    There are some top tennis pros that can hit high BH volleys/smashes with this kind of authority (even if not quite at this speed).
     
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  10. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    Sounds like he ends up agreeing it is the hardest in the end though, right?
    If not, what shot is harder? the tweener?? LOL
     
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  11. bhupaes

    bhupaes Professional

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    I meant a high SwingWeight racquet, in response to travlerajm's post. I do use a continental grip for the shots you have mentioned, and for the BH smash I've even experimented with an eastern backhand grip (it does add power, but it feels awkward).
     
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  12. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    I'm a skinny, old weak guy.
    I find backhand overheads no harder than any other shot. To SMASH them, that takes some snap and strength, which I don't have. To hit a winner off them, easy. Default backhand overhead is the short angle, shorter than service line, as near the sideline as you can safely hit. Second choice is to push it deep DTL. That's a clean winner, because your opponent is running full speed to dig out your short angle CC backhand overhead, and you just hit behind him.
    No putaways from center of NML, unless you are Kiteboard, who can hit 90 mph backhand overheads from anywhere inside the court, using a Hawaiin grip, a strong W. Geoff just happens to be 6' and 215 lbs, strong as an ox, and just as stubborn.
     
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  13. Off The Wall

    Off The Wall Semi-Pro

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    I'm with Bagum. Hit forehand smashes.

    Story time:

    I was in the high school team finals. My partner and I were a strong team. We had won a couple of SoCal junior doubles tournaments. The team we were to play included a guy who was better than either of us. (He had been a 12s or 14s national champion.) He was paired with a hack who had maybe played for a couple of years during the tennis season.

    I thought we would crush them. Well, we were at 6-6 in the first set. Their stud player was all over the court. (Alas, at 7-7 we would have to split the points for that set.)

    Now for the point.

    At 6-6, it was a critical moment, maybe game point for them. My partner and I were both back. They were both up. We put up the weakest lob in the history of lobs -- to their stud player's backhand side in the ad court. All he had to do was slide 2 or 3 steps to his left and he could have bounced an overhead over the side fence. Instead, he wound up for a backhand overhead. :confused:

    I, in our ad court, couldn't understand WTF he was up to. Why not take the almost sure winner? I mentally raced to run through the scenarios: DTL? DTM? CC? Bingo! It had to be an angled CC. I took off into the court. I caught his angled overhead in stride, like Brady to Welker. We won the point and closed out the match easily.

    Conclusion: hit forehand smashes.

    Epilogue: A few years later I overheard him talking about my doubles sense. He was relating that very point! He said, "all of sudden, he was there."
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2012
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  14. xFullCourtTenniSx

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    I don't see how this would relate to the strength of your rotator cuff. Wrists, yes. Triceps and forearm muscles yes. Rotator cuff? I barely use my shoulder to hit the shot, and I have a weak rotator cuff (which I should do something about).

    And I'm using a higher swingweight setup. Nothing super high, but it's probably reached at least the 350s or 360s.

    I feel like it's mostly to do with preparation, coordination (to have your wrist put the racket head cleanly on the ball, especially if you intend to hit it harder), and wrist strength.

    I feel like it's better off to learn hitting this shot defensively (that way you won't try to hit it at 100%). You learn the preparation and coordination more easily that way. Then when you have the chance to hit it offensively, you have everything you need to spank the crap out of the ball for a winner.

    Whenever given the opportunity to hit a standard overhead though, ALWAYS take it. Federer has one of the sickest backhand overheads I've seen, and even he will run around it plenty of times to hit a normal overhead. The only times you see him do it, is when it's a tough, deep lob to his backhand (hence why his backhand overheads are always in highlight reels). Even a high backhand volley is preferable.
     
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  15. FrisbeeFool

    FrisbeeFool Rookie

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    Right on. Sorry I got the wrong idea.
     
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  16. vil

    vil Semi-Pro

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    It needs good timing and loose wrist. Pat Rafter had a teriffic backhand smash.
     
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  17. kazamzaa

    kazamzaa Rookie

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    What really helped me to understand this shot is:
    1. Continental grip
    2. Imagine hammering the ball with the frame. You naturally pronate wrist and flick it in the end.
     
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  18. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    I believe that there usually is an external rotation of the shoulder, along with some other shoulder actions, involved in the execution of the BH smash. Not clear what you mean by a "weak rotator cuff". Each shoulder actually has 4 muscles that comprise the rotator cuff. The rotator muscles are responsible for internal rotation, external rotation and abduction of the arm. You may be weak in one of these functions without any significant impairment of the other articulations.

    Supination of the forearm is undoubtedly also present. Supination involves forearm muscles as well as the biceps (if the arm is bent).

    Note also that the wrist is a joint and there are no muscles in the wrist itself. When speaking of muscle strength or power with regards to the wrist, we are actually talking about muscles of the forearm.

    Not always possible. I agree that many players hit a high BH when they should be running around the ball to hit a FH smash. However, for quick, lower trajectory lobs, this might not be practical. This is where the BH smash comes in.
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2012
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  19. bhupaes

    bhupaes Professional

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    ^^^ Agreed, SA.
     
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  20. Frank Silbermann

    Frank Silbermann Professional

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    Taking a half-volley on the backhand side and returning it as a topspin lob, maybe.
     
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  21. Off The Wall

    Off The Wall Semi-Pro

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    Absolutely. There is a time and place for the BH smash. It is off a certain type of lob. You have done a good job of identifying on which type of lob to try it. I tried to illustrate when not to try it.
     
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  22. davced1

    davced1 Rookie

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    I played a lot of badminton before I started tennis and it is an essential shot in badminton so I don't find it hard at all. But I can imagine that it is hard if you are not used to it so there is probably some truth in the myth.
     
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  23. Off The Wall

    Off The Wall Semi-Pro

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    I played some badminton, too. What I got from that sport was a forehand smash over my backhand side. A great shot, BTW.
     
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  24. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    I have hit several of them, it is not difficult.
     
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  25. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    very good answer..:)
     
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  26. floridatennisdude

    floridatennisdude Hall of Fame

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    Great example. I'd bet most competitive badminton players feel the shot is more natural. Tennis players practice serves and OHs from a forehand stance and it is not very natural to rotate the body 180 degrees and reverse the swing motion.

    I play a OHBH and when I used to horse around playing beach volleyball, I could spike a ball with the back of my hand on an overpassed ball. Opponents were always surprised by that shot since it was unorthodox to them.

    Ultimately, not a difficult shot to those that practice it. Difficult for a 2HBH player that doesn't practice it.
     
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  27. kiteboard

    kiteboard Hall of Fame

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    I use the continental at net, including the back hand smash. Yandell filmed me for that shot and we did a whole piece on it. I hit them for an hour. In the next few weeks, every league match I played, I hit a bh smash over the rear fence or side fence. I also use a full western, uni grip, same for both sides on ground shots, and don't change grips at all from the baseline, except transition net to continental. If the rest of my game was as good, I'd be making money at the game, instead of posting here. I've also hit aces with the bh smash, serving with it from the baseline. Not too many people can make that claim honestly! I don't run around it that's for sure. I don't need to.
     
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  28. Off The Wall

    Off The Wall Semi-Pro

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    Seriously, you should submit your bh serve video to Whacked Out Sports. It's a homemade sports video show featuring spectacular flops and successes.
     
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  29. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Bad post above.
    I've seen Kiteboard hit backhand overheads as good as most 4.5 normal overheads. He's stronger than you. Older, maybe. But stronger.
    He's an inch taller than me, maybe 70 lbs heavier, and 50 of it muscle.
    The reason you don't take every overhead on the forehand side is that you end up out of position after leaping 4' to your oft hand side, then backpedalling to recover to a stop/split. It leaves the court wide open if it's not a clean putaway.
     
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  30. Off The Wall

    Off The Wall Semi-Pro

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    I was trying to compliment Kiteboard. I mean, that show does exist. And his BH serve would qualify as a spectacular success. (To me anyway.)

    Otherwise, I think we all agree there is a time and place for BH overheads. So what are you getting at?
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2012
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  31. dominikk1985

    dominikk1985 Legend

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    no shot is hard if you master it:).

    however it is certainly harder to exert force and control on a BH smash than on most other strokes. just not a good anatomical constellation to exert force. this is because the muscles that internally rotate and flex the shoulder forward are much stronger then the muscles that externally rotate and extend the shoulder back. those muscles (rotator cuff) are causing a lot of injuries in overhead throwing because they are weaker and can't handle the heavy internal rotation forces during the deceleration of the follow through.

    On top of this the ROM on this motion is also limited thus basically no follow through is possible.
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2012
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  32. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    OTW.... guys who posted before you say that you don't need a backhand overhead, I'm responding to them.
    Dominic.... you don't always need to apply serious power to every equation. A sharp angle forcing the opponent to run well wide of his doubles alley and short of his service line can set yourself up for the next open court winner. Once he thinks you're going short angle wide, you poke one deep DTL for a clean winner, wrongfooting him.
    Most overheads that you expect to be a forcing shot or winner is hit from within 3' of the service line. If you're hitting backhand overheads at your own baseline, it's probably not going to be a winner/forcing shot.
    From the service line, you have lots of CC short angles to play with. You practice hitting a BALANCED 1hbh backhand overhead, that goes short of the service line, and wide enough to run the opponent past his doubles alley.
     
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  33. rufus_smith

    rufus_smith Professional

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    #33
  34. kazamzaa

    kazamzaa Rookie

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    This is very true. I just won a point yesterday with a backhand smash as my opponent tried to pass me with a fast and high ball down the line.
    Beautiful point. This is a shot one rarely needs to execute. Not in every match.
     
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  35. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    kiteboard, is this roughly how your technique works?

    Weird how DJ can't get there on this with Fed just packing it nearly straight
    down with that soft high bounce. 2ond bounce was not very deep.
    I watched it 7 times looking to see if DJ just
    got a late start or what, but I guess the I/O angle was just enough.
    Pretty shot though.
     
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  36. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    To me, it looks like DJ made the initial effort, then decided a desperation dive to get ONE more ball back wasn't worth the toll it would take on his body, only to lose the following point because Fed had position.
    I'd reckon Kiteboard is bigger and stronger than Fed. Certainly outweighs Fed by 40 lbs.
    I have little power in my backhand overhead, but placement can trump power if the placement is good, and you hit the unexpected shot.
    Notice also that n the last couple years, lots of drop volley winners. You don't need to hit hard to hit a winner.
     
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  37. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    I was just wondering if that was basically how kite did it. Seems an odd way to
    serve. I just reach over and hit them like a badminton player, but still as a Fh.
     
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  38. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Possibly to Geoff, a 13 oz racket is light and easy to swing.
    To me, a 10 oz racket is the most I can swing.
    Different player, different perception and skills.
     
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