******Backhand Topspin or Slice******

superlobber

New User
I'm a 3.5 - 4.0 player and have a hardtime with my one-handed backhand. While my serve, forehand and volley is reliable, my backhand is not very good. All I can do is slice it over. After a while, most of my opponent find this out and start attacking it. While I'm trying to pratice my backhand topspin, most told me that I should continue and work on the slice because my backhand topspin is not consistant.
What do you think? Continue with the slice and work with it or practice the topspin?
I know that I should work on both, but what do you think that I should concentrate on?
 

Rickson

G.O.A.T.
Are you freakin serious? Slice only backhands are a huge liability. You need a driving backhand as well as a slice.
 

NLBwell

Legend
A solid slice backhand is not a liability up through 4.5 - if you can drive the ball and have it skid on the court, use it as an approach, chip and charge, keep the opponent deep, etc. You need to be able to put the opponent in an uncomfortable spot with it, whether slice or topspin (a short topspin in the middle of the court won't make anyone uncomfortable either). If it is a floating slice, it is attackable even at lower levels. You need to work on both to move up to higher levels, but the quickest results will be in making the slice a better shot. You probably need to re-work on the stroke mechanics of the shot since you seem to float the ball back. Maybe practice hitting some flat backhands and work the slice and topspin as variations off of that.
 

Rickson

G.O.A.T.
The bottom line is that you need a driving backhand or you'll be considered a non threat on the backhand side.
 

WildVolley

Legend
There's nothing that extremely difficult about the 1h topspin bh if you set up in time. Make sure to turn your grip to a full eastern bh and get that front shoulder under your chin.

Start practicing it some at every practice session. Not being able to drive the ball off of either wing is a huge liability for most players.
 

superlobber

New User
Well, I actually switch to a heavier racquet and able to hit the one-handed backhand cross court decently now. However, by switching to a havier racquet, my serve and forehand got also weaker. Should I continue with the havier racquet? Does this compensate for the loss of power on the serve and forehand?
 

Crossroad

New User
There's nothing that extremely difficult about the 1h topspin bh if you set up in time. Make sure to turn your grip to a full eastern bh and get that front shoulder under your chin.




My problem of hitting 1hbh topspin is that sometimes i don't set up in time with a full eastern bh grip. especially after hitting a SW fh. what's your advice on changing the grip in time to guarantee a correct bh grip? i heard that you need to switch back to continental grip in between points?
 

SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
well there is some players who slice their bh only. like gonzales and steffi graf
F. Gonzales does hit quite a lot of slice BHs but also uses the topspin BH occasionally.

Steffi Graf would often hit topspin BHs in practice but never used them in competition to my knowledge. She could drive (as opposed to float) the slice BH and keep it skidding low & deep in order to set herself up for her big weapon, her topspin FH.
 

SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
...

My problem of hitting 1hbh topspin is that sometimes i don't set up in time with a full eastern bh grip. especially after hitting a SW fh. what's your advice on changing the grip in time to guarantee a correct bh grip? i heard that you need to switch back to continental grip in between points?
Many players will use a FH grip for their backcourt ready position rather than waiting with a neutral (conti) grip. This is often particularly true for players that hit more FH shots (as their primary weapon) than BH shots.

You should be able to switch your grip for your BH faster than you can execute the unit turn. In fact, you should be able to switch your grip at least twice as fast as you can turn your body to the side. If not, practice this.
 

mikeler

Moderator
Steffi would hit the topspin backhand sometimes when people tried to hit approach shots to that wing. She actually has a pretty sweet looking topspin backhand. That did not happen much because Steffi was usually pounding forehands into the corners.
 

raiden031

Legend
I'm a 3.5 - 4.0 player and have a hardtime with my one-handed backhand. While my serve, forehand and volley is reliable, my backhand is not very good. All I can do is slice it over. After a while, most of my opponent find this out and start attacking it. While I'm trying to pratice my backhand topspin, most told me that I should continue and work on the slice because my backhand topspin is not consistant.
What do you think? Continue with the slice and work with it or practice the topspin?
I know that I should work on both, but what do you think that I should concentrate on?
I have alot in common with you. As I am starting to play better and better players, I'm realizing what a liability my 1-handed backhand is in doubles at least.

The problem I have in doubles is that it is almost impossible for me to return a backhand with topspin on the deuce side without getting poached. I can do it on the ad side though (cross-court return) but hitting inside-out backhand return of serves is a nightmare for me. I have to slice pretty much every backhand return on that side.

In singles though I can hit topspin backhands pretty well during a rally, except against a big server I have to slice all my returns, which is annoying but I can't see any other way to win at this point.
 

split-step

Professional
Graf sliced like 95% of her backhands. When you have the kind of slice Steffi had, it isn't a liability.
Especially today when no one comes to net.
Her slice backhand was not a liability against Venus when they played at Wimbledon in 1999.

To the OP:
What level do you play?
I regularly play against a guy rated 4.5 who hits 90% slice backhands. His slice is a nightmare. It stays SO low and skids forward once it bounces. It is very tough to be aggressive off the shot.
The other thing he has going for him is disguise. With the same take back he can hit the shot deep to the baseline, short to bring me in, or hit a dropshot.
This coupled with his massive forehand and serve, make him very hard to play.

The only disadvantage he has, is that he regularly slices his bh return. Because of the pace, he isn't always able to drive the slice like he normally does, so those can tend to sit up.
 

Rickson

G.O.A.T.
There's no question Steffi sliced the majority of her backhands, but 95%? Not even close. I think 70% is a more accurate number and it's probably lower than that. 95%, that's a good one.
 

Puma

Rookie
If you have a hitting partner that is willing, you can get fed balls to both wings. Practice returning to the neutral grip between each shot. This will help you get efficient at the grip change. You can also have a short ball fed in that you have to go forward on. It is helpfull if you are in the neutral grip.
 

orangettecoleman

Professional
Slice is a great shot if you practice it. if you have a good forehand, a good low skidding slice is the perfect shot with which to draw short balls from you opponent to put away with your forehand. as far as the TS backhand goes, what helped me with consistency was just simplifying my takeback. i watched thomas muster and his takeback is really simple, none of that high takeback which gives you more racquet speed but messes with your timing. I just draw the racquet back at below hip level with both hands and swing up and out with my elbow straight. seems to work fine and i have a lot of confidence in that shot.
 

FuriousYellow

Professional
I have the opposite problem as the OP. I've spent so much time developing my topspin 1HBH, I've become over-reliant on it and have lost confidence in my slice.
 

split-step

Professional
There's no question Steffi sliced the majority of her backhands, but 95%? Not even close. I think 70% is a more accurate number and it's probably lower than that. 95%, that's a good one.
lol 95%, 70%, horses for courses.
Like you said, she sliced the majority of her backhands.
 

snvplayer

Hall of Fame
I play at 4.0 level, and I am in a similar situation.

I have given up on using my one handed topspin backhand as a rally shot and exclusively use slice. Once I gave up an my topspin bh and started focusing on my slice, my slice got MUCH better...

If you are going to hit a lot of slice, it HAS to be good. You want to be able to hit a low, skidding slice as well as ones you can float deep into the baseline. More importantly, other areas of your game need to cover your bh. Your fh needs to be pretty aggressive and CONSISTENT, and you will need a pretty decent net game as well. Most importantly, your movement needs to be good as well.

You can probably still play at high level 4.5~5.0 with it, but there is no doubt it will handicap your performance...

There are a lot of pros who slice their bh a lot like Gonzalez, Lopez, Graf, Younes El Ayanui. and so on...You can learn from what they do, but you have to realize that they are professional players and do things A LOOOOOT better than us.
 

tennisdad65

Hall of Fame
lol 95%, 70%, horses for courses.
Like you said, she sliced the majority of her backhands.
I think more like 90% or more. I may have watched about 15-20 graf matches. Only once did I 'remember' her hitting a topspin. I think it was a passing shot against Martina. :)

It will be interesting to get a video of one of her matches and do a count.. but 90% sounds about right.
 
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tennisdad65

Hall of Fame
anyways, back to OP question:

start driving it flat to begin with. No need to hit the hell out of it. just keep it deep. Then later on you can add topspin..
 

mikeler

Moderator
I would practice the topspin/drive backhand exclusively during practice. You already get enough practice with your slice during match play. Make sure your grip is correct, that seems to be the biggest mistake I see most 1 handers around your NTRP level make. Check out the link below to see Federer's continental backhand grip:

http://www.frameshot.com/?p=207
 

SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
She definitely didn't slice all of her backhands as this clip proves.

Steffi vs. Monica
Thnx for that clip (even tho' the "trance" soundtrack really started to get to me after a while). Steffi used the BH slice soooo much, especially on the numerous grass matches that I've watched, that I don't even remember seeing her use the topspin BH (except in practice).
 
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