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ark_28 10-13-2012 10:01 AM

backhand smash myth?
 
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?

Netspirit 10-13-2012 10:12 AM

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.

travlerajm 10-13-2012 10:21 AM

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.

Bagumbawalla 10-13-2012 10:28 AM

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.

bhupaes 10-13-2012 10:28 AM

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!

Ash_Smith 10-13-2012 10:40 AM

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

FrisbeeFool 10-13-2012 12:59 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by bhupaes (Post 6952955)
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!

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.

FrisbeeFool 10-13-2012 01:08 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by travlerajm (Post 6952948)
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.

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.

SystemicAnomaly 10-13-2012 01:45 PM

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).

5263 10-13-2012 02:28 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ark_28 (Post 6952900)

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?

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

bhupaes 10-13-2012 03:12 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by FrisbeeFool (Post 6953144)
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.

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).

LeeD 10-13-2012 06:05 PM

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.

Off The Wall 10-13-2012 07:47 PM

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."

xFullCourtTenniSx 10-13-2012 08:31 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by bhupaes (Post 6952955)
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!

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.

FrisbeeFool 10-13-2012 09:04 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by bhupaes (Post 6953284)
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).

Right on. Sorry I got the wrong idea.

vil 10-13-2012 10:33 PM

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

kazamzaa 10-13-2012 11:29 PM

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.

SystemicAnomaly 10-13-2012 11:29 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by xFullCourtTenniSx (Post 6953704)
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)...

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.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Off The Wall (Post 6953641)
I'm with Bagum. Hit forehand smashes...

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.

bhupaes 10-14-2012 05:06 AM

^^^ Agreed, SA.

Frank Silbermann 10-14-2012 05:43 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by 5263 (Post 6953235)
Sounds like he ends up agreeing it is the hardest in the end though, right?
If not, what shot is harder? the tweener?? LOL

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


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