How to deal with fast balls with the one-handed backhand

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by johnchung907, Jun 6, 2013.

  1. johnchung907

    johnchung907 Rookie

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    Medium to low pace balls give me no problem. However, recently I've started playing tennis signifantly better. Yesterday I and my hitting partner were hitting balls 80-90 mph... about 5.0-5.5 play. And most were staying in. However, I was having trouble with the one-hander in dealing with the pace. Sure I hit a sick passing shot and more but it broke down constantly. Please don't suggest slicing in this situation.
     
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  2. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Well, you can switch to 2hbh ....:)
    Or, like any good player, prep earlier, set your feet earlier, get your racket back earlier, to counter faster moving balls.
     
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  3. Wilander Fan

    Wilander Fan Hall of Fame

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    Add some lead.
     
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  4. LeftyRighty

    LeftyRighty Rookie

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    Besides giving a 2hbh a try, Go to the gym. improve your arm strength. add more topspin sometimes. turn your shoulders more away from the court before you swing, then youll have even more rotation in them, or be able to hit it flat back dtl just like a 2hbh. Jump into it. be careful not to forget to bend your knees. Think of it as a service return.

    IDK, just throwing things out there, I just woke up...my imagination is a bit slow lol.

    Could be your racquet is too light now that you play higher up. Or your strings need an adjustment. Could a number of things.
     
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  5. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Great topic. The sideways stance and preparation of the 1 hander causes delay, and that is a major disadvantage in today's fast game, as you are experiencing first-hand. I suggest trying out an open-stance 1 hander if you cannot switch to a 2 hander.
     
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  6. johnchung907

    johnchung907 Rookie

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    Na... I have a prostaff 6.1 90 at 50 something tension. I mean I originally strung it at 65 so I have no idea now. And yes I can switch to my two-hander (given that I played with it when I first started) however, my coach suggested the one-hander so that's the one that I must focus on. As I mentioned before, medium to low pace balls give me no trouble. It's just that finding my grip fast enough gives me difficulty (extreme eastern). Now thinking about it... it's kinda funny that I have extreme eastern for my forehand too... HAHA I just like being an extreme eastern :p
     
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  7. johnchung907

    johnchung907 Rookie

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    Usually I run around my backhand so it's not a shot that I use too often. Maybe that's why my backhand can't deal with the fast pace balls.
     
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  8. magnut

    magnut Hall of Fame

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    Make sure your contact point is out in front. Most people strugleing with this kind of stuff start hitting late. Thats a big advantage to a two hander. You can actually hit late and still be effective. Thats pretty tough to pull off with a one hander.
     
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  9. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    I am suprised no one has mentioned the obvious. Hit a BH slice instead of a topspin drive.
     
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  10. johnchung907

    johnchung907 Rookie

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    I specifically said not to mention the slice (see above to first quote)
     
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  11. SharkysMV1

    SharkysMV1 New User

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    good point, you may be delayed on your preparation for the fast balls if your mind seems to think "run around" first.

    otherwise, as stated above, try a OHBH slice
     
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  12. 10isfreak

    10isfreak Semi-Pro

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    The pace is your problem. Even for a top ten ATP pro, having your average ground strokes travel beyond 80 mph is HUGE. Federer hits 75 mph on average when he's on hard courts -- similar with Djokovic. With 80, you're starting to look at Nadal, Berdych, Soderlign... guys who just kill the ball every time they hit it. Either you are exaggerating or your ground strokes are sufficiently weak to let your opponent attack all the time -- which means they're just out of your league.

    I would suppose a 5.0 or 5.5 would be able to hit a 90 mph winner; I would never in a thousand years consider that a 5.5 would rally with balls above 80. If so, he's not a 5.5 and he's ATP material.

    How do you change your grip? Does your dominant hand moves around the handle or do you use your off hand to do it? A good way to make your grip change easier and quicker is to loosen up your dominant hand and let your off hand to turn the racket. After all, you wait with your off hand on the throat of the racket and you'll start your one handed backhand with your off hand on the throat, so why not use it to make the grip change easier and quicker?

    You have to commit yourself to hitting backhands if you want to get good at it. People who are known for having great 1HBH prefer their backhand to their forehand... Wawrinka, Haas, Gasquet, Kohlschreiber, etc. They all enjoy using it to work their point. Even Federer got better at using his backhand since he accepted more often to enter into a backhand rally.

    One of the point in hitting an inside-out forehands is that you're playing an inside ground stroke (the ball is moving toward you) and it's easier to control the ball that way than when the ball moves away from you (as it would if you played a CC backhand against the CC shot of your opponent). If you run around your backhand simply to cover your backhand, you'll sooner or later get into troubles... you can't become confident hitting it if you don't try to use it when you're under pressure.

    As a last piece of advice, if you want to get better at hitting faster balls, prepare early. Many players do not bother carrying their racket in its vertical position with the off hand on the handles when they move to hit the ball... they'd rather play their stroke just in time. They move, then begin their set up and swing... all at the last instant.

    Pros do not do this: they set their racket and then they move (unless the ball is way too far). As soon as they know if it's a forehand or a backhand, they turn their shoulders and get the right grip. If your racket is already set and ready to drop, all you have to do once you're near the ball is hit the ground heel to toe and let it go. If you do not already do this (at 5.0, I would doubt that you don't) or use some sort of pendulum swing, it's a good thing to know.
     
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2013
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  13. 10isfreak

    10isfreak Semi-Pro

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    1- Nearly all top pros would rather use a neutral stance to hit their 2HBH, which is equally long to set up for;
    2- A closed stance is a disadvantage when you recover, not when you hit: if you have to step to get to the ball, stepping with one feet or the other makes virtually no difference;
    3- If the ball goes well beyond 80 mph, your problem is not the shot you will play, but the shot you have played before since your opponent shouldn't be able to rip shots this hard all the time.
     
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  14. johnchung907

    johnchung907 Rookie

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    Let me point out that this was a rare occasion for both of us.
    A. It was our "on" day like serena williams today :)
    B. We were "killing" every ball.

    I understand your point, usually it would be around around 70 mph. But please understand that we were also in the "zone" and as Chris Evert said, it's the "best feeling in the world."
     
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  15. crosscourt

    crosscourt Professional

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    You have to adjust the length of your stroke and preparation when the balls are faster or deeper and you are out of position. Don't abandon your basic side on stance. Do shorten your backswing, eliminate any loop and track the height of the ball with your preparation. So if the ball is low take back lower, if high, higher. Use your opponent's pace to generate your own lace and depth.
     
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  16. boojay

    boojay Hall of Fame

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    Damn, you beat me to it! LOL

    I was going to make the exact same comments, even the 75 mph estimate (I've seen a video between Federer and Safin where each stroke was measured and it was an intense rally).

    Hitting 80-90 mph at the club level is not impossible, but doing it consistently (at any level) is almost impossible, particularly if you're moving your opponent and are being moved around yourself.
     
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  17. johnchung907

    johnchung907 Rookie

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    We were just emotionally and spiritually inspired by this guy right next to us (grunted EXACTLY like sharapova) who was ripping balls 80-90 (I think he also was in the zone cause I swear I have never seen a ball travel so fast even with the professionals).
     
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  18. boojay

    boojay Hall of Fame

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    I'm not sure how accurate this is, but it seems reasonable:

    *AVERAGE GROUND STROKE SPEED*

    Verdasco 73.8
    Seppi 73.5
    Berdych 73.1
    Söderlin 72.6/69.9
    Robredo 71.1
    Nadal 69.5
    Tsonga 69.5
    Monaco 69.0
    Roddick 68.5
    Ljubicic 68.1
    Murray 65.3

    Source: https://groups.google.com/forum/?fromgroups#!topic/rec.sport.tennis/VDMw_OWkru4

    So if you guys were hitting on average 80-90 mph, you guys would be better than most pros. Again, it's not impossible to hit a single groundstroke at that speed, I do it all the time, but to do it over and over again without missing is like a rally between Soderling and Del Potro at their absolute best, trying to crush each ball for a winner.
     
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  19. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Besides prepping earlier, you can also stand BACK a few feet, like the pros do when they get into baseline rallies.
    No way, if you're 5' behind the baseline, can a fast ball get past you if your opponent is also hitting from 5' behind the baseline.
    If you give up a NML ball to him, you have to scramble, of course.
     
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  20. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    AVERAGE askews things because all the pros use slice, all hit loopy balls at times, and oftentimes, all hit rally balls besides their fastest shots.
     
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  21. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    You are right - I actually meant semi-open (leaning towards neutral), not open in the sense of body parallel to baseline)
     
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  22. ShoeShiner

    ShoeShiner Rookie

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    The problems to deal with fast balls are :

    ① There is not much preparation time
    Hitting likes we use BH returning serve : half back swing + step and turn + using unit turn.


    ② Swing speed cannot catch up the ball timing

    Use full swing but starting swing early than usual.
     
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  23. Tennisguy3000

    Tennisguy3000 Semi-Pro

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    I also go for a slice... Of pizza ;-) (since we are not allowed to mention the S word).
     
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  24. Lukhas

    Lukhas Legend

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    This part is quite the most important one IMO, even if I agree with quite the whole post.
     
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  25. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Well, that's why 90% of us would use slice, isn't it?
    If you slice a ball slow and short, low and skidded, you will not have to face a fast moving ball coming into your court.
     
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  26. BevelDevil

    BevelDevil Hall of Fame

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    I'm not sure what the exact problem is, but this is what helped me against pace:

    1. When I've faced pace, I'd often get excited and want to rush ahead to the forward swing. The result of this is an "incomplete" backswing/drop. By "incomplete," I mean my arm stays bent and my shoulders don't turn back enough. Sure, you can shorten your backswing, but make sure you don't actually skip any steps. So I make an effort to make a complete backswing by making sure my chin is on my shoulder and my arm is straight and tight across my chest.

    2. Tighten up the follow through and avoid "over-rotation" on fast balls. The easiest way to hit a clean ball is to keep your shoulders neutral on the forward swing. This will be a more forgiving shot, though possibly less powerful. But deflecting a fast ball is often good enough.

    3. Footwork: Be able to cross step laterally into a forward swing. In fact, you should be able to cross step to the left and slightly backwards into your shot. This helps a lot on deep balls or balls you're late to. You may fall backwards on the follow-through, but that's okay.

    4. Hit off back foot: I've found this incredibly useful for wide balls, but also for deep and low ones where I'm shuffling backwards and don't have time to move my weight back forwards. It's a more muscular shot and I feel myself arming the ball a lot, but it bails me out.

    5. Hit on the rise defensively: There are a lot of times where it's easy to do. I half volley a lot on deep balls hit close to me. I find myself arming the ball a bit, but it works. Don't shy away from it.




    What grip do you use between strokes?
    Have you tried using a conti ready grip?
    What about switching grips the other way around the handle?
    Another option is to use your bh grip as a ready grip (if you find it easier to find your fh grip).
     
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  27. hawk eye

    hawk eye Hall of Fame

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    #27
  28. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    OK.

    I have a question: what is the opposite of black? (BTW don't mention "white")...
     
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  29. tennis_balla

    tennis_balla Hall of Fame

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    Michael Jackson
     
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  30. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    Funny, though inaccurate.
     
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  31. GuyClinch

    GuyClinch Hall of Fame

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    How do you hit an open stance one hander? Should you go out and drill on it? Do you just load up the leg and swing more across and up?

    No one really teaches this I find..but I can see it would be handy.
     
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2013
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  32. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    What?
    Don't you return first serves (when confident) with 1hbh topspin? Dont' need to move legs, but better to move them somewhat. Most important is to turn shoulders and stay forwards, never retreating during the stroke.
     
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  33. The Meat

    The Meat Hall of Fame

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    If it's a bomb you could spread your fingers out a little more than normal and stay sideways and block it back, that's what I usually do and it works fairly well. Easy to redirect it cross court or down the line.
     
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  34. johnchung907

    johnchung907 Rookie

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    All the colors of the spectrum combined. ROY G BIV
     
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  35. johnchung907

    johnchung907 Rookie

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    Now thinking about it... I might have measured a tad bit incorrectly (sorry guys). I'm pretty sure we had winners going off at 80 to 90 mph but regular balls were around 60-70. I apologize for my mistake.
     
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  36. Timbo's hopeless slice

    Timbo's hopeless slice Hall of Fame

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    yes, I'm just going to ignore the stated speed which is just ludicrous.

    however, split hard and prepare early, timing is the thing, make sure your contact point is out in front, don't let the ball get behind, or even beside you..

    ( a really, really basic thing that can help, keep your head down and still until you have finished the follow through, it will help, honest)

    ps, if it's THAT fast, I would, you know, ahem, slice it...
     
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2013
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  37. marosmith

    marosmith Professional

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    Come on guys, I'm sure he had hawkeye give him those stats before he posted that they were hitting 80mph groundstrokes. Because, he wouldn't just make that up, would he?
     
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  38. Bobby Jr

    Bobby Jr Legend

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    The tendency when you're being overcome by power/pace is to swing harder. For most players that means they'll be even later with their timing. With a 1hbh - as Federer and Sampras have shown - when someone cannonballs you it can often pay to shorten your swing, almost blocking it instead. This gives you a great scope to change directions too.

    Similarly, when you're facing heavier balls most club players tend to get worse with their footwork - often as part of being edgy/cautious - so will strike more backhands slightly further from the ball than is ideal. Some even think they can do that flick they've seen Sampras/Federer do so many times but fail to grasp that they usually got themselves into a good position to hit them first.

    Get moving, make sure you have a manageable contact point and shorten up your stroke - in the least you spray as many balls this way. Watch some videos of Federer or Sampras hitting serve returns for some inspiration.
     
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  39. Shroud

    Shroud Hall of Fame

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    My game evolved almost solely against pace and i love pace on the backhand. Less work.

    Heavy racket a must. Heavy rackets these days arent really heavy.

    Now you are on the precipice of the darkside with your extreme eastern fh and bh grips. But one cannot truly study the 1hbh without turning completely to the dark side of the semiwestern...on both forehand and backhand.

    I know i know. But those grips handle pace and are really designed for pace.

    Think about it. A sw on the back hand has some major advantages against pace

    1. Its one of the strongest grips. If you are falling forward and there is a wall in front of you and you put your hand out to break your fall it is exactly the sw grip, not any of the others

    2. Completely avoids grip changes if you use a sw on the forehand ( you are already so close). You could do the extreme eastern and a western fh and not have to change grips.

    3. If your waiting position is with a sw, a simple shoulder turn puts you in the position to block the ball back with little effort because of #1 above. Little or no back swing is needed.

    3.a. With sw you can hit open stance

    Embrace the dark side. To better understand the 1hbh you must embrace a larger view....

    Though it is probably easier to get a different partner.
     
    #39
  40. Timbo's hopeless slice

    Timbo's hopeless slice Hall of Fame

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    you forgot "and let your hate make you STRONG!"
     
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  41. johnchung907

    johnchung907 Rookie

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    I'm pretty sure we hit some winners 80-90. Most were in the 60s-70s. And though I don't have hawk eye, I have seen an app that measures ground stroke speed.
     
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  42. johnchung907

    johnchung907 Rookie

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    But let's get back on subject and forget the speed completely. My question was how do I deal with pace with a one-hander? Any thoughts? I've certainly heard some good advice. I hope you have some to impart as well.
     
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  43. FedError

    FedError Semi-Pro

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    Anyone recommend a simple backhand flick - one that just redirects the pace?

    Like in this vid: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sQYWytc8RmU

    But obviously they don't need to be passing shots, you could just bunt them back to the middle.
     
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  44. hawk eye

    hawk eye Hall of Fame

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    To hit a controlled shot, take it on the rise with a little shorter and slower , but still full motion. Just prepare as early as possible to prevent yourself being rushed.
    So good foorwork is key here.
     
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  45. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    My point exactly. The obvious answer (BH slice) by another name...
     
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  46. johnchung907

    johnchung907 Rookie

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    And the other name is??? Ha my reason why I don't want to hit the backhand slice too much is because well it gives my opponent the chance to attack. I mean sure if I cut it pretty well and it skids good for me. However, if my slice floats (nobody's perfect, nadal's slice always floats, unfortunately djokovic couldn't punsih him) then the opponent could easily put it away (drop shot, volley if he's at the net, topspin drive).
     
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  47. johnchung907

    johnchung907 Rookie

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    Actually on the court right next to us, there was this guy who had a two-handed drive backhand but seemed to slice a lot. His opponent was creaming his sliced balls back with topspin and tons of pace. The thing is this guy had a really good slice too (steffi graf like) that skidded nice and low, no floaties but he really got destroyed.
     
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  48. boramiNYC

    boramiNYC Hall of Fame

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    if you can figure out how to hit shoulder high balls flat with 1hbh, you can also figure out how to deal with fast balls by modifying the footwork a bit. like a hop switch to a closed stance before the swing. this shot is also similar to the return of fast flat serve with 1hbh. key is super fast and precise footwork with the ability to hit flat without losing the directional control.
     
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  49. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    Well if the very pinnacle of tennis ever played on this planet can't punish a floaty slice, my guess is that your competition isn't going to "punish" it too much, relative to your alternatives.
     
    #49
  50. BreakPoint

    BreakPoint Bionic Poster

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    Block the ball and use your opponent's pace against him. Federer does this exceptionally well. :)
     
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