The verdict is out--singlehanded backhand is better.

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by Golden Retriever, Jul 12, 2004.

  1. Golden Retriever

    Golden Retriever Hall of Fame

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    The dominant players like Sampras, Federer, Lendl, MacEnroe etc all have one thing in common, the onehanded backhand. The twohanders basically come and go but seldom really dominate. Now consider the proliferation of the 2handed backhanders on tour, it is against the odds for onehanders to become the best. Statistically, the twohanders have the edge just because there are more of them. Yet the onehanders beat the odds everytime. 3 of the Fab 4 were 2handers and yet the one hander stood out from the rest. That's 1 against 3. Could it be, God forbids, the onehander is a better stroke?

    IMHO, I would say yes. Not so much the stroke itself, in fact I think the 2handed BH is a more stable and powerful stroke. It is the intangibles that separate the 1H from the 2H BH. The 1H provides better reach and gives your more freedom on your footwork which is more important than the stroke itself. With better reach and better footwork you have opened a lot more options. You can take the ball earlier because you can reach it earlier. You are more relaxed because you have more freedom on your footwork. When you are more relaxed, your mind thinks a bit better, you see a little better, you move a little better..... All these intangibles give the onehander a small edge. And a small edge is all a really good player needs to dominate. Agree?
     
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  2. kevhen

    kevhen Hall of Fame

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    Nope, on the women's side, Justine has the one-hander, but recent former #1's all had 2-handers like Kim, Serena, Venus, and Martina Hingis.

    Even on the men's side, recent #1's included Roddick, Agassi, Hewitt, all with 2 handers.

    I do like to watch a good one-hander though and I hope more people will work on hitting with one, but I plan to keep hitting primarily with 2 and will use one only while on defense.

    The verdict is still undecided, jury was hung!
     
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  3. TwistServe

    TwistServe Guest

    I think what the original poster meant to say is..

    The only (mens) pro's with backhand weapons are the one handers.
     
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  4. kevhen

    kevhen Hall of Fame

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    Yes, I can see where the one hander can be more of a weapon since it is often hard to read. Safin has a pretty good 2hand weapon though and weapons though often come with weaknesses against certain types of balls (low, high, fast, slow, heavy spins, etc) or possibly are less consistent.
     
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  5. Golden Retriever

    Golden Retriever Hall of Fame

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    1. I do agree with you on the women side. Most women don't have the strength nor the power to pull off the onehanded shot. Maybe I should have said the onehander is better if you can pull it off.

    2.Roddick, Agassi and Hewitt maybe former #1's but they were never as dominant as Federer and Sampras and probably never will be.
     
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  6. tetsuo10

    tetsuo10 Rookie

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    Wasn't there some dude named Borg that had a 2 hander?

    I don't agree with the freedom of footwork on 1 hander. With a 2BH, you can basically muscle the ball and use your wrists if your feet are out of position. You can hit a 2BH pretty easily with extreme-closed, closed, semi-open, or extreme open stances. With 1BH, your feet needs to be in good position to hit a good topspin, otherwise all you can do is slice.
     
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  7. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    I really dont agree with your assessment. The onehander is easier to stay in balance while your moving and provides more fluid movement between the bottom half and top half of the body.

    I dont think a twohander is "easy" to hit with an "extreme" closed stance as compared to a onhanded backhand as the twohander has to get good hip movement to hit a penetrating shot. I dont even know what an "extreme" closed stance is!!!

    I agree that the onehander is harder to develop good transfer of weight with the swing at contact. This is called timing.
     
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  8. kevhen

    kevhen Hall of Fame

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    Timing really is the key in tennis. The best players I have watched around here just seem to have that pinpoint timing where they just get to the ball in perfect time and hit it in there perfect hitting zone. It's amazing that the ball only sits on the strings for milliseconds and so much happens in that amount of time.
     
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  9. tetsuo10

    tetsuo10 Rookie

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    I think of the standard 1BH topspin, stance as an extreme closed stance. I've seen lots of pics with 2BH pro's hitting that way (Gambill, Ferrero). I agree that it's hard to get good hip movement, so I think that type of shot is mostly an extreme topspin shot (brush up against the ball action) rather than a penetrating, flatter shot. There are times when if I'm in that position, I hit a 1BH if I want a flatter shot.
     
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  10. Feña14

    Feña14 Legend

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    When Kevhen was talking about recent number ones with a 2 hander, he forgot Ferrero :evil:

    If you want to see a pro with a 2 hander as a weapon, look no further than Thomas Johansson. He is scary good.

    And 2 handers rule. I got a theory "God gave you two arms for the sole purpose of tennis, SO USE THEM!!!!"

    -Liam
     
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  11. SamBruin

    SamBruin New User

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    Your theory about only one-handed backhand players dominating is ridiculous. I can prove you wrong by mentioning players like Connors, Borg, and Agassi. And these guys didn't just come and go like you said. They dominated for nearly a decade in their respective eras.
    And for anyone playing under a 5.0 level, I think the two-hander is better. I play competitive club singles at about a 5.0 level and there are so many one-handers at my club that cannot consistently hit a topspin backhand and just hit weak slice shots. I take advantage of that and beat them almost all the time by just powering shots to their backhand.
     
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  12. Kobble

    Kobble Hall of Fame

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    I don't agree, because Connors held the streak at number one until Sampras beat it. Also, Borg had a two hander, and I surely do not need to repeat his results. Agassi has won all four majors, I wouldn't call that coming and going. Another thing, you are putting Federer in the same category with players who have had full careers, so his position as one of the all time greats is not solidified yet.
     
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  13. Roforot

    Roforot Professional

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    I don't think Sampras was number 1 for all those years b/c of his aweinspiring 1h-bh, any more than Roddick's volleying propelled him to the top...
     
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  14. epoc

    epoc New User

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    God wanted

    If God really wanted 2h BH the Wimbledon trophy would read double handed and not "single handed champion of the world". :roll:
     
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  15. Printer099

    Printer099 New User

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    Sampras was not dominat because of his backhand--I think his groundstrokes in general were sloppy and not that great. Sampras was dominant because of his serve and volley
     
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  16. Golden Retriever

    Golden Retriever Hall of Fame

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    Sampras was supposed to have a very good 2hander and yet he gave it up for a 'sloopy' 1hander. Why? Don't get me wrong actually I think, stroke for stroke, the 2hander is a stronger stroke, no doubt about that. But the onehander gives you more intangible benefits like the freedom of footwork, better approach shots, better on-the-run shots etc which, if you could pull it off, makes it a bit better. A really good onehander can rip a clean crosscourt winner while chasing the ball at full speed. When a 2hander always seem jammed and rushed when he/she tries to do the same.
     
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  17. TennsDog

    TennsDog Hall of Fame

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    All I'm getting out of all this is that the person who can hit both is in a great position. :wink: An aggressive 1BH slice is one of the best shots in tennis and can be used almost all the time.
     
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  18. TwistServe

    TwistServe Guest

    Completely agree with you woofie!... The one hander is great for running crosscourt backhands.. Usually when I get a DTL ball to my backhand, I'm running to it with racquet already back, and I can really feel the stretch on my back.. Then I rip it and I surprise myself.
     
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  19. sinoslav

    sinoslav Rookie

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    My understanding was always that Sampras switched to 1HBH because it is a better match for a serve & volley game. The 1HBH stroke pulls you forward more, making it a better prelude to coming in to net.
     
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  20. JohnYandell

    JohnYandell Hall of Fame

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    Here's something to consider: if you look at the juniors, the two-hander is 95% dominant. No doubt it is easier at an earlier age.
    We had a junior who was ranked in the 30's in Norcal when he was 16. He had a pretty good one-hander--but it wasn't good enough to hang with better junior players. They beat the hell out of it inside out and with heavy topspin backhand crosscourt moonballs.
    He changed to two and suddenly his backhand wasn't an obvious weakness. Took a few months over one winter, but he ended up like #7 in Norcal in the 18s.
    It's just very rare to see a young player who can hit explosively with one hand. You give an eight year old his first backhand lesson and teach him the one-hander. Be sure to tell him not to worry--he won't really be able to hit the shot for about another 6 years--but it's ok not to have a backhand til then because eventually he'll like it better...
    The point of this story is I don't think that you can make the evaluation on which "stroke" is better. It's not a question of technical superiority of one pattern or the other. It's the player--and what he wants to accomplish when...and the focus on results in the juniors is dictating that. (And even for recreational and high school players.)
    Another element that I'm sure figures in is how ambidextrous the player is. Got to have a natural back arm component for the two.
    That's why it's tough for adult men to develop the two-hander or switch--for some reason they tend to be much more rigid and right side dominant.
    Don't get me wrong--I prefer one hand--aesthetically and strategically! I hit it, but it's not as explosive as my forehand. I just think it's prettier and more versatile and you can use it through your whole career--ie, until you're nationally ranked in the 90 and over division.
    There have been very few if any attacking players who were natural at the net with two-hands off the ground. Why? The differences between the groundstroke and volley motion are just too great. So it may be a matter of style--if you really want to play all court well then at some point as a young player you should go one--like Pete! Sure Lendl had a great one-hander and there are probably other baseliners, but you can't name a big time attacking player with a two-hander (Ivanisevic?--well maybe with that serve on grass).
    The paradox? It's not gonna happen for most young players. Every summer we teach about 100 beginner kids two handers at our day camp...hey they all want to play and few will ever be dedicated to really develop the one...Of course when I was in the juniors we didn't have a choice--the two-hander didn't exist!
     
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  21. andreh

    andreh Professional

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    The emprical connection between great players and the one-hander is shakey at best. Courier, Borg, Conners were all great but had two-handers.

    There's a better connection between one-handers and aggressive all-court and S&V players. Edberg, Becker, Sampras, McEnroe, Rafter, Stich, Cash, Dent, Henman, Masur, Philippousis, Noah, all had one-handers and played aggressive net play. Can anyone name such a player w a two-handed backhand? Possibly Jonas Björkman. The one-hander seems to be a better stroke for net-approaches than the two-hander. But better overall? Who can say, really.
     
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  22. tetsuo10

    tetsuo10 Rookie

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    As the game evolves, I'm sure eventually there will be an attacking player that has a 2H-BH. I'm surprised we don't see players hit both 1H- and 2H-BH's.
     
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  23. JohnThomas1

    JohnThomas1 Professional

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    One thing to remember also is that Sampras is but a single example of someone changing from a two to a one hander and having amazing success. Not anyone can give up the two hander and therefore become a great serve volleyer. Lansdorp stated that Pete would have won the French at least once if he kept the two hander. Who knows what else he may or may not have won? I'm sure many tried to emulate his change and failed. We only hear of the success stories. Sampras would have been a great whatever he decided. Edberg is another great success story along the same vein. I see Todd Reid is now back to the two hander, he is the guy out of NB's Bollistic Backhand video who Nick was changing to a one hander and predicting great things from. Didn't happen. There are a lot of great players out there sporting two handers who may not have amounted to anything if they wavered of that path. Agassi, Connors, Evert, Hingis, what great careers. It seems as tho the one versus two hander goes in cycles at the very pinnacle, just when the doom of one or another is pronounced along comes a great player sporting the other.
     
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  24. Roforot

    Roforot Professional

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    I was just about to ask about that guy! Well at least I know his name now.
     
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  25. Tim Tiger Henman

    Tim Tiger Henman Rookie

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    As someone who can hit both :wink: I feel I can better evaluate the relative strengths of both shots. I'll give you my personal experiences.

    Like John said the great advantage of the one-hander is that it naturally lends itself to a net game. I found whenever I would use the one-hander, my slice and backhand volleys would magically pick-up. Whenever I use two-hands I can't hit a backhand volley to save my life! Its not that surprising given the slice and backhand volley share much of the mechanics of a single-hander.

    The advantage of the two-hander is on the return - the greatest returners : Conners, Agassi, Hewitt - all used 2 hands. You just can't get that much heat on the ball with one hand. Chipped returns are fine, but if thats all you have you'll never be a *great* returner.

    I don't buy the reach argument. Reach is most important on the return of serve, yet 2 handers don't seem to have a problem.

    Which is more powerful? I think it depends on who is hitting it. Physics would say that possibly the single has the edge because of the greater arc.

    Overall I feel the 2-hander is a much safer shot. Not a lot can go wrong. It lends itself to hitting on the rise, being a good returner and being consistent.

    The 1-hander lends itself to a net-play - slicing and volleying. I also feel its the riskier shot, which means it can be a real weapon.

    One thing about the 1-hander is that even by the best players it is considered a "confidence" shot. Steffi Graf used to hit a great one-handed topspin in pratice, but would never use it match-play. Though arguably she didn't need to. Roger Federer is also a player whose one-hander is a barometer of the rest of his game.
     
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  26. Power Game

    Power Game Professional

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    I had a decent one-hander but I recently changed to a 2 hander. At the college level the balls come fast and with heavy spin so I couldn't get aggressive against those shots. After changing I now get a little more power, better ability to take the high balls, and more stability. Incidently while i had a 1hander i developed a really nice slice which i still use to frustrate my opponents.
     
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  27. Tim Tiger Henman

    Tim Tiger Henman Rookie

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    Power Game - has your backhand volley suffered at all as a result of the shift??
     
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  28. SC in MA

    SC in MA Semi-Pro

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    Great analysis Tim Tiger!

    A couple of questions:

    - When playing against a strong server who is on his game, I will sometimes come in on every 2nd serve for some number of points/games using a 1H slice backhand, as a means to put pressure on him and to hopefully change the dynamics of the match. It's not a tactic that I can usually get away with for an entire match, but it can sometimes change the match dynamics. Can this tactic be done with a 2H backhand ? I'm guessing this ties into your point about the strength of the 1H volley/net game.

    - I'm a one-hander who spent about 4 months trying to learn the 2H (as an adult) as a means to have a consistent rally topspin backhand that I could hit with the same confidence as my forehand. Unfortunately, I have a tendancy to stiffen up with the 2H (the problem John Yandall mentioned) and didn't gain the consistency I had hoped for (which really disappointed me by the way.) Anyway, while going thru this learning period, I found it was a lot more work for me to hit with 2 hands than 1 hand. As someone who is experienced with both, do you find that it takes a lot more work and/or effort for you to hit with 2-hands vs 1-hand ?

    Thanks again for the spot-on analysis.
     
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  29. Tim Tiger Henman

    Tim Tiger Henman Rookie

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    SC,
    As you say net-rushing requires a chipped return. For a two-hander you would have to play a slice with one hand on the return. A one-hander would find this easy as 90% of their backhand returns will be sliced. But not many 2-handers are used to hitting slices. So if you switch to 2 hands, your slice may possibly suffer - unless you make it a point to practice it and play it regularly in matches.

    BTW no-one employs this strategy better than Henman IMHO.

    I don't particularly feel that the 2 hander requires any more work than the 1-hander. I do feel that the 1-hander requires more mental work (concentration) because the set-up is earlier and the ball is further away from you at contact. The 2-hander allows you to cope much better with unexpected bounces and high balls.
     
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  30. Camilio Pascual

    Camilio Pascual Hall of Fame

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    I also agree with what Tiger Tim said. Why not learn to hit both? I had a 1H BH for over 40 years and switched to a 2H BH about 4 years ago. I now use both styles, depending on the situation. Generally, I find myself using the 1H in the forecourt more and the 2H in the backcourt. I use the 1H more with my S&V service games and the 2H BH more with my counterpuncher/pusher return game. A good example, if you have any tapes of her, of a player using one or the other BH by design is Amanda Coetzer.
     
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  31. kevhen

    kevhen Hall of Fame

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    I agree, I hit one hand when in trouble and 2H when on the attack or neutral. It might be hard to get really good at one though if you only use it half of the time though. I hit a much more fluid one-hander with my lefty though as I never learned to hit a 2Hander when I play lefty. I bend at the elbow when hitting it lefty but hit it more straight-armed when reaching for balls with the righty.
     
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  32. Rickson

    Rickson G.O.A.T.

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    I use the 1hbh and am a former 2hbhander. I like the way it feels, I like the way it looks, but in no way can I agree that a 1hbh is a stroke that dominates the 2 handers. Roger happens to be a 1hbhander who also happens to be the world's number 1. Roger's dominant stroke is his forehand, not his backhand. The 1 hander being a better backhand is your opinion, it's not a fact. I feel it's a better stroke for me, but there's no real proof that a 1 hander is better for everyone.
     
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  33. nyu

    nyu Rookie

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    I used to have a 1-hander that had wicked spin and was fairly consistent, but recently switched to the 2-hander in order to balance out my new counter-punching style(used to be all court, but the upper level guys would neutralize me by lobbing alot), and have a bit more penetration on my backhand. It's true that the 1-hander is a much more fluid stroke, but it's very difficult for anyone below a 5.0 level to muscle the ball over the net with a 1-hander when jammed or when a bit late. One positive of having hit with the one-hander for a few years is that I now have a very solid slice backhand, as well as strong volleys.

    It is much easier to tighten up on the 2-hander, and it took me a few months of practice in order to make the two-hander a more fluid stroke, but now I'm glad that I switched, as the two-hander has very few hitches and is kess day to day.
     
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  34. Rickson

    Rickson G.O.A.T.

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    I played someone today who kept testing my backhand. My opponent couldn't get me with balls that were in front of me, but when the balls were deep, I hit to the left(i'm a righty). The guy tried it again, but I pulled my off hand down to hit a winner with a solid 2 hander. I pulled the same maneuver off 3 times and ultimately beat the guy 6-3. I definitely feel the 1 hander is better for me, but when a ball comes behind me, the 2 hander is my backhand of choice.
     
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  35. Skinny Dip

    Skinny Dip New User

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    Interesting discussion. After having nothing but a slice backhand for 20 years I decided to take the summer off to learn a real backhand. Lessons, ball machines etc.

    I asked to be taught the 2 hander, but the coach just isn't comfortable with it and is teaching me a one hander. It's a fun stroke to hit (when it works), and probably requires less body rotation and effort as I get older. Heck I'm 48 now. So I'm thinking the one hander might be better for me in the long run.

    If consistancy is really easier with the 2 handed, however, that's probably the direction I should go. Any comments for the older guy?
     
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  36. cakewalk

    cakewalk Rookie

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    http://www.racketzone.com/2.htm#Adv8

    Im not comfortable with the prospect of one arm being twice the size of the other. Might as well chop off the other arm.. oh wait you need it to toss the ball on serves.

    I use both, but the one hander only when i'm lazy and dont want to bend down :D

    I see no problem whatsoever with doing one handed BH slices, and volleys are no prob.

    Also think about how important the service return shot is. It is almost as important as the serve itself.
     
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  37. Max G.

    Max G. Hall of Fame

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    The one-hander can also be used for very effective serve returns - look at Henman and Federer.

    Now, what makes their return good isn't the power - it's the two-handers that can readily rip their backhand returns.

    But Fed and Henman can get a lot of balls back - it's the reach thing. The one-handed backhand doesn't give more reach on the regular topspin backhand, because you need to hit it more in front and this counteracts the effect of not needing a second hand, but it clearly allows more reach when just stabbing at the ball hoping just to get it back.

    It's a different type of return altogether.
     
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