Single handed backhand for juniors...

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by Ash_Smith, Jun 19, 2011.

  1. Ash_Smith

    Ash_Smith Hall of Fame

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    Something I've been pondering for the last couple of days, so I thought I'd put it out there to the coaches (and others) on the forum...

    With the advent of Mini Tennis, Quickstart, Hotshots, Play+Stay etc etc why do we not teach single handed backhands at Red (I am, of course, using 'we' as a gross generalisation!) All the traditional reasons for not teaching single handed at that age (Red ball is 8&u) are taken away by the mini tennis system, yet the vast majority of coaches still teach 2 hands without fail.

    I am considering an experiment!

    What are your thoughts?

    Cheers

    Ash
     
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  2. FedExpress 333

    FedExpress 333 Professional

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    I have used a 1hbh from the start, cuz i always wanted to be like Federer (foolish, ik). But the main thing is it is still harder to coordinate your legs, trunk, shoulder, and wrist(the kinetic shain for the 1hbh) than it is for the 2hbh. i mean, I worked on my 1 hander for 2 months, then tried a 2 hander for fun, and the 1hbh was only slightly better! Plus, you need to have developed leg muscles and shoulder musces for a powerful 1hbh, and an all court game, but which take time to develop. the 2 hbh you can say: bring the armss back, then forward again. not for the 1hbh! It might help i started at 11 instead of really young (im 13 now, btw, and my BH s better than most of my peers 2hbhs)
     
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  3. TennisCoachFLA

    TennisCoachFLA Banned

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    I have had sports doctors tell me that single handed backhands when combined with also using the dominant side for forehands, can harm the child's spine. They feel it causes a muscular imbalance that literally pulls the very pliable young spine to one side. So they recommend exercises to balance the muscles.

    I think the 2 handed backhand first teaches them to rotate their shoulders as they have no choice. My feeling is to teach the 2hb first, then show them a 1 hander at an older age, just in case there is something to that muscular imbalance theory.
     
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  4. Ash_Smith

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    @FedExpress - don't agree with it being harder to coordinate i'm afraid.

    @TCF - yeah, I can see how there may be some potential muscle imbalance issues, but if you continue to work to balance out the body with other exercises then there should be less/no issues.

    cheers
     
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  5. BevelDevil

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    How about teaching the Bjorn Borg backhand? In that stroke I see much of the mechanics of a 1hbh, from body posture, positioning, backswing, contact, and follow-through.

    From the Borg backhand, the kid could easily progress to either a pure 1hbh or 2hbh.

    The biggest deterrent I see is that the stroke looks weird and a coach might be negatively judged for teaching it.



    Will teachers, parents and/or kids really want to switch from a 2hbh to a 1hbh given the popularity and success of the 2hbh, and the competitive pressures to win at a young age?


    Btw, I suspect the real reason coaches teach the 2hbh has little to do with health and a lot to do with its perceived superiority as well as ease of teaching.
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2011
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  6. Ash_Smith

    Ash_Smith Hall of Fame

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    I think the last point is probably the main reason, not enough coaches know how to teach a technically correct one hander. That said, I see far too many who teach the 2 hander badly :(

    cheers
     
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  7. BevelDevil

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    But that's another advantage of the 2hbh: Even if it is taught poorly, it is often still good enough for a player to get by with. Whereas a 1hbh taught poorly is just a disaster and possible health hazard.


    One other point, the standard grip for the 1hbh in the U.S. is the Eastern grip. Nowadays this grip is just too limited in range (esp. for high balls), which necessitates a lot of forward/back footwork discipline and probably requires the student learn to hit a decent slice as well.

    So unless the default grip changes to Strong/Extreme Eastern or "SW", the 2hbh will have too many relative advantages in learning and performance.
     
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  8. Tennis Is Magic

    Tennis Is Magic Semi-Pro

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    Look at how many Spanish players and "clay courters" use the 1hbh. If THEY think it's appropriate to use a 1hbh at the pro level on high-bouncing courts in Europe, then it is most definitely applicable to anyone. The trick is to not use an Eastern grip, which is where most people go wrong. The one-handed backhand hasn't been modernized like the forehand or 2hbh was. If you teach a SW 1hbh, it's even better than a 2hbh imo because you still have the advantages of a one-handed backhand, you hit high balls VERY well, and it will make your return better because you can use the same grip for forehand (assuming you use SW forehand) and don't have to switch grips. It will make it harder to teach a junior how to volley, though, because using the same side of the racquet face will come so naturally, that on a reaction volley, they may try to do the same thing (sometimes I do it, very rarely though), but with repetition, this will be a non-issue). One other issue that's tougher to deal with is the contact point is VERY far out in front of you, and hitting crosscourt takes a great deal of early preparation. If you're even slightly late, the backhand will go straight, and that can be a problem if that's not where you wanna go.

    All in all, the SW 1hbh is superior to the EBH in just about every way IMO, with the SW 1hbh even having a slight edge over the 2hbh.
     
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  9. junbumkim

    junbumkim Professional

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    Don't quite agree with that.. A lot of Spanish players with one hander use eastern backhand grip - Albert Costa, Lopez, Corretja..Warwinka and Hass have Eastern backhand grip... There are ones with semi-western backhand grip as well like Robredo, Gasquet, Kuerten etc.

    With one hander, timing is more difficult, longer take back, and it's more difficult to get the weight behind.

    Bad one hander quickly becomes a liability and it's difficult to have a "solid" one hander. On the other hand, even a bad two hander becomes a relatively stable shot.
     
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  10. dennis10is

    dennis10is Banned

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    Don't you know that the 1bh has been conclusive proven that it is inferior to the 2bh? That is a fact. I'm surprised that the USPTA and other coaching organization have not banned the teaching of such an inferior technique.

    At the very least, if a parent wishes their child to be taught a 1bh, the pro should be protected by having the parent sign a release form.
     
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  11. CoachingMastery

    CoachingMastery Professional

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    From 35 years of experience teaching, (of which the first eight years we only taught one-handed backhands), the two handed backhand offers several extrensic advantages that both objectively and subjectively has proven more advantageous for almost all the 3000+ players I have taught:

    1. It is easier for most players to first learn a two-handed backhand (and two-handed forehand too), and then, if they feel the propensity, switch later.

    It is almost always far more difficult for players who first learned with one hand on the backhand to switch later to a two-handed backhand.

    (There are some exceptions...I'm talking about the preponderence of general examples.)

    2. I've NEVER had a two-hander not be able to hit a highly skilled one-handed backhand. I can't say for sure if it is just our methods of teaching, (or that we assimilate one-handed backhands for the slice very early on because we teach the correct volley skills very early on), or that the two-handed backhand as an initial learning method seems to help players understand the dynamics of a topspin backhand better and with a more repeatable, reliable swing pattern.

    3. VERY few kids and even most adults, don't have the understanding, conception, or feel for hitting one-handed backhands correctly...even when they are given the proper dynamics to learn the stroke from.

    Many players end up developing many flaws in trying to hit a one-handed backhand. They spend their lives then, trying to find quick fixes and bandaids to their most mediocre backhands. (A process many find a practice in futility!)

    4. The most important aspect of any shot is the ability to create a reliable, repeatable swing path on command. This is where the two-handed backhand is superior as a stroke. Two hands, implementing both halves of the body, (and, as research shows, employs both halves of the brain better), players can create a far more stable swing that they can control and replicate faster and with more reliablity.

    5. Two hands creates much better balance of stress, minimizing short and long term potential injuries.

    The majority of players with tennis elbow are one-handed backhanders. It is almost rare indeed to find two-handed players get tennis elbow. (If they do, it usually can be traced to poor backhand volley form.)

    These are just a few of the less obvious...but, in my opinion, far more influencial in terms of deciding to teach two-handed strokes.
     
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  12. BevelDevil

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    Just curious: Prior to the days of 2hbh dominance, how did young children start off?
     
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  13. CoachingMastery

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    Most of us, as children, prior to the recognition and establishment of the two-handed backhand worked to emulate those one-handers who were good.

    Just like people who high-jumped facing the bar before Dick Fosbury showed the world there was a better way to jump over it backwards.
     
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  14. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

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    what I find so confusing about this, is that the one-hander, from a mechanical stand point is much simpler than a two hander.

    I suspect that the reason for teaching a two-hander is because of the "instant gratification", and people for the most part are lazy. The perception that picking up something and swinging it with two hands on your non dominant side with two hands VS one is eaiser.
     
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  15. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

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    whole-heartedly disagree. Most players I run into who have developed tennis elbow is due in part to poor mechanics on their forehand.
     
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  16. aimr75

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    yeah I agree the mechanics itself for the 1hbh is simpler.. its just not that easy to execute when not in position.. as you say, laziness is the bane of most tennis players, including myself :)
     
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  17. TennisCoachFLA

    TennisCoachFLA Banned

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    And I totally disagree with you and agree with CoachingMastery. By far the most cases of tennis elbow can be traced back to something with the backhand, a bad 1 hander, bad volley form. I think any sports doctor or long time coach will agree with this. Some cases may be traced to the equipment, but rarely is it the product of just a bad forehand.
     
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  18. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

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    well, I could tell you this,,,,, I live at a tennis club (literally) with 23 tennis courts. Nearly everyone who has tennis elbow has it because of the terrible form on their forehands. They try to snap their wrist, contort their forearms, etc, in order to "achieve more spin".

    To add, whenever I see someone walking onto the court with a contraption to alleviate thier tennis elbow and watch them play, it is once again thier terrible form (especially on the forehand).

    Same applies at the shop where I string. They take practice cuts on thier forehand side and same thing.
     
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  19. BMC9670

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    I disagree with this. There are many pros who have been trained from the time they were 6, 7, and 8 with long term goals of becoming pros by some of the best coaches on the planet. Many of these use a 2HBH. We're they "lazy"? No, they were taught a very effective way to hit the ball in the modern game. Nadal, Djoker, Venus, Serena, the list goes on and on. I don't think they, nor the people who raised and trained them were considered "lazy".
     
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  20. TennisCoachFLA

    TennisCoachFLA Banned

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    Then our experiences are different. In my experience, the backhand and equipment cause way more cases than the forehand. Google any sports doctor and tennis elbow and they say the same thing. Many players have bad form on their forehands, bad take backs, bad shoulder rotation, many issues.....in most cases it just does not lead to tennis elbow like a 1HB or stiff frames and strings do.
     
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  21. NoQuarter

    NoQuarter Rookie

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    Who/Where/When has the 1hbh been proven inferior? Who wants to tell Federer, Sampras, Laver, Emerson they won all those Grand Slams with an inferior shot?
     
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  22. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

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    I have news for you,,,,, coaches are some of the laziest individuals you could find on a tennis court. They feed balls, talk a lot of doo-doo and do very little "teaching". Aditionally, they need to ensure thier students keep coming back, and the only way for this to occur, is for the student to become "better" quickly. Hence, the instant gratification.

    Yes. They are. In the "real world", where the vast majoty of tennis players are in the 3.0 range, they mostly try to hit forehands (their stronger side), and develop tennis elbow because of bad form.
     
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  23. Kunohara

    Kunohara Professional

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    ^

    Drakulie is correct.
     
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  24. TennisCoachFLA

    TennisCoachFLA Banned

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  25. TennisCoachFLA

    TennisCoachFLA Banned

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    100% correct. Teaching the proper serve for example is 100 times harder than teaching a 1hb. Many top D-1 players and pros have 2hbs, none have pancake serves. Any pro that takes the time to teach the serve correctly is certainly not looking for instant gratification and would teach the 1hb if they thought it was better for that student.
     
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2011
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  26. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

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    which explains why most beginners use a pancake serve, with the coach standing on their side telling them, "good" and tossing them another ball. :roll:

    It isn't until they are very good, and really begin showing a lot of improvement that they are taught to hit a serve with a continental.
     
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2011
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  27. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

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    No, sorry but you are wrong (again).

    the vast majority of tennis players from the first moment they step on a court hit forehands and totally shy away from hitting a backhand (whether one or two-handed), and they develop tennis elbow from bad form on that side.

    I'm quite certain you won't find one "doctor" who would agree that not hiting backhands will lead to tennis elbow.
     
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  28. tennisdad65

    tennisdad65 Hall of Fame

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    I think 2HBH is prevalent because it helps the kids to win more in the 8s, 10s, 12s, and even 14s.

    My son just turned 9, and has been using a 1HBH since he was 5. I think people try to have the kids hit topspin 1HBH and give up. I started him off with the old fashioned underspin drive like Rosewall and many of the other players did in the 70s. I make him practice the topspin 1HBH often, but for matches he resorts to the Rosewall drive. It is natural for him since we volley a lot, and the Rosewall underspin drive is pretty much an extension of his volleys.
     
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  29. BMC9670

    BMC9670 Hall of Fame

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    You missed my point. I'm not talking about your everyday pros teaching future rec players. I'm talking high-level, well-known coaches developing future pros. They are not lazy and are building their charge's game for the top and many use a 2HBH. My point is that it is perfectly viable shot from the beginning, not just an easy way through a lesson or an afterthought.
     
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  30. BMC9670

    BMC9670 Hall of Fame

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    While this may be true, I think it's an over-simplification on why the 2HBH is so prevalent in today's game. If 75% of the top pro's were using the 1 hander and every kid/rec player was using the 2 hander, I might agree, but the high-level game is dominated by the 2 hander as well. There is a reason for that beyond winning at a young age.
     
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  31. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

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    and again, if they are teaching "future pros", then the students they have already recieived have learned (from recreational coaches) the two-hander. Very, very few coaches which you are referring to have produced future pros from the very beginning. The students they get or "hand pick" are already developed to certain degrees and have talent.

    Oh, and I didn't say it was not a viable shot.
     
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  32. junbumkim

    junbumkim Professional

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    Don't you think there is a pressure on the coaches and players to show results throughout their junior career? If a junior player is struggling b/c of one hander and not winning matches, not many parents / players are going to persevere through it. Not many parents are going to have 100% faith in a coach who is unable to produce result and they think is destroying the kid's career. It has nothing to do with work ethic or dilligence.
     
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  33. BMC9670

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    Sure, I agree with that. All I'm saying is that the vibe on the 1H vs 2H discussions are usually 1H is superior and 2H is easier and that is why its prevalent in today's game. I think that's over-simplifying it. While I do think it's easier to learn and win early with a 2HBH, I think it's as good, or for many players better than a 1HBH, especially with the pace of the game today.

    Take an example like Djokovic, who has been trained to be a pro since an early age. I would bet his parents and various coaches discussed which to play, but 2HBH was taught, and I'm convinced it was for more than the fact that it was easier or made him win early. That's all I'm pointing out.
     
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  34. CoachingMastery

    CoachingMastery Professional

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    Drak, I've seen many "golfer's elbow" (aka server's elbow) developed from poor mechnics on the forehands side...never tennis elbow. It is almost biomechanically impossible since there is almost no stress to the lateral epicondyle of the elbow on the forehand. There IS stress to the medial epicondyle of the elbow on the forehand.

    I suspect that you may see players who developed tennis elbow via backhand issues and simply are unaware of how they got it or that when it hurts it can hurt on all shots, forehands included, when the inflamation is bad.
     
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  35. tennisdad65

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    Two of the better players (5.0s) at the courts where I play have had TE for years. Both of them use a 2HBH, and the Band-IT arm band is part of their gear. So, factors other than the 1HBH also cause TE.

    I guess the stiff racquets and poly strings are overtaking 1HBH as the primary cause of TE.
     
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  36. CoachingMastery

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    I don't really see why there is such subjective arguments here. (Especially trying to "Blame" lazy pros for teaching the shot that the VAST majority of top players now use!)

    Yes, there are indeed lazy, ignorant, close-minded pros teaching tennis out there. But, to say it is the lazy pro that teaches two handed strokes makes no sense.

    While there are still a number of very solid players on tour with one-handed backhands, the propensity of numbers (now around 92% of the top 100 women and about 77% of the top men), shows the two-handed backhand is the dominant stroke.

    That said, I've never had a problem with a player who has indeed mastered the one-handed backhand.

    (I'm as objective as they come: I've taught 35 years, personally use a one-handed backhand, taught one-handed backhands for the first almost ten years of my career...and now teach all beginner--regardless of them wanting to become pros or not--two-handed backhands.

    Read my earlier post too: It is EXTREMELY rare to see a player first learn to hit two-handed not be able to hit one-handed backhands well. Nor do I find it a difficult transition for two-handers to move to a one-handed backhand if they find they just feel that is their stroke. HOWEVER, I have seen hundreds of players who first learned one-handed try to learn two-handed backhands with far greater difficulty and usually with most reverting back to their inferior but more comfortable one-handed backhand.

    I won't label one backhand "superior" to another. However, I think I have enough experience to be able to say with certainty, that as a general learning pattern, the two-handed backhand works not just for those kids in the 8's, 10's and 12's be more successful, but that the stroke works for most players of all ages, far better than teaching the one-handed backhand.

    If you talk to any qualified pro who has been around for a while and has produced successful players, ask them if they had 100 players and wanted to give all 100 the best chance at hitting backhands well, which shot they would teach.

    Almost without exception, these pros would teach the two-handed backhand to those 100 students.
     
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  37. CoachingMastery

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    Of course. They may have aggrivated it using a chainsaw, playing racquetball, picking up a golf bag.

    There can be many causes of TE including tennis. But, I've never seen a player get TE from a two-handed backhand.
     
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  38. TennisCoachFLA

    TennisCoachFLA Banned

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    Thank you! Excellent explanation. "Tennis elbow" is a specific malady as you explained, inflammation of the lateral epicondyle. The cause does not come from a bad forehand technique.

    There are of course other injuries to the elbow that are not tennis elbow as per the definition. And as you also said, it can also hurt when you hit a forehand. But that does not mean the origination was the forehand.
     
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  39. tennisdad65

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    That's because the short term results are better with 2HBH, and especially if they need to have results by the end of the class! If you gave them a 10 yr project with a kid starting at 5, they would think a bit harder.
     
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  40. TennisCoachFLA

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    Sure, as I said the two main causes to originate the pain are 1HB and stiff frames/strings. Once you start the ball rolling, lots of things can aggravate it. But bad forehand technique is not the origination of TE.
     
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  41. TennisCoachFLA

    TennisCoachFLA Banned

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    Where I am, FL. and where CoachingMastery is, CA, pretty much every kid we see has their own goals or parents goals to go far in tennis. We have plenty of time and the parents want us to give the kid the best chance at long term success. All of the coaches I know teach 2hb first.

    When kids get older they obviously have the option of weighing the advantages and changing. Its not too difficult for a 12-15 year old to make the change. So its not like teaching a 2hb at age 5-9 is sticking them with it for life.
     
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  42. NoQuarter

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    Here is something that I have wondered throughout my tennis playing years....are coaches/teachers just teaching the 2HBH just because they do not hit a 1HBH? Or that they do not know how to teach it? Is the "they are too young to hit a 1HBH" just a crutch? Especially now that, as this thread is pointing out, one of the reasons have been eliminated?
     
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  43. tennisdad65

    tennisdad65 Hall of Fame

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    From what I have seen, many of the older coaches/teachers were 1HBH growing up, but now teach the 2HBH. Most of these coaches also know how to use the 2HBH, though I am not sure how good they are at 2HBH themselves.
     
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  44. BMC9670

    BMC9670 Hall of Fame

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    An interesting question. I would think a qualified teaching pro should know how to teach both backhands, even though they may not play them both. That said, not sure how practical it is in reality. Anyone know how the USTPA and PTR handle this in stroke proficiency testing and stroke analysis testing for certification?
     
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  45. CoachingMastery

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    Why? Why would I choose a stroke that fewer and fewer top pros are using? That makes no sense.

    In my experience, in terms of the vast majority of players who indeed did learn one-handed backhands, they are far more ineffective and always trying to "fix" their backhands.

    So, in terms of long term "projects" it would make sense to teach the shot that not only proves to be a better shot in the long run but I go back to my original question: why would I teach a shot that fewer pros are using?
     
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  46. TennisCoachFLA

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    What reason has been eliminated? Sports doctors will tell you about the pulling of the spine from muscular imbalance with young kids. And it has been documented by USTA and other studies that it cause more tennis elbow cases.

    http://assets.usta.com/assets/1/UST..._The One Handed Backhand and Tennis Elbow.pdf

    Not sure what you mean by "one of the reasons has been eliminated"?
     
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  47. NoQuarter

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    So you are saying that is the reason that the 1HBH is not being taught? If every kid was destined to get a spine injury/tennis elbow then I agree wholeheartdly.
     
    #47
  48. Ash_Smith

    Ash_Smith Hall of Fame

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    Interesting debates here guys.

    A few people have raised the point about 2h being easier and therefore allow more success for kinds at 8,9,10,12 etc, but my point was that with red balls and courts, orange balls and courts etc etc the disadvantages (ball bounce, less strength etc) are mainly removed. When taught technically well, with excellent attention to detail and adherence to the muscle memory principal from an early age (say 5/6 with a red ball) there will be none of the problems people have suggested in later life (players still chasing technical flaws etc).

    Also, Dave brings up a great point that why teach something that 80% of pro's don't currently do, my question is do the pro's do it because they learned on a full size court with yellow balls and big racquets and had to deal with strength issues, high bounces, long courts and so on. The current crop of tour players wouldn't have come through mini tennis, so those problems would have been inherent in their development.

    Maybe with mini tennis we'll see 80% of pro's with single handers in 10-15 years time?

    Keep it going...

    cheers
     
    #48
  49. TenFanLA

    TenFanLA Hall of Fame

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    Use 1hbh to look cool, manly and impress girls. Use 2hbh to win matches. When asked what shot he would like to have in his bag, Fed said the 2hbh. Navratilova says if she had to do it all over again she'd go with 2hbh. Fed would have at least 3 FO's with 2hbh. Bottom line is there is a reason why practically all the top women's and most of top men's pros play 2hbh, results. Nothing more, nothing less.
     
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2011
    #49
  50. CoachingMastery

    CoachingMastery Professional

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    Ash, this is an interesting point you make. While I never have taught the two-handed backhand because of the strength issue, I'm sure many pros do. So, perhaps in time, with the quickstart program, more one handers may emerge.
     
    #50

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