"Play left handed to improve your backhand" is a stupid piece of advice.

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by HunterST, Jul 12, 2018.

  1. HunterST

    HunterST Hall of Fame

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    Honestly, this tip is everywhere. Any coach or pro who makes a video or writes an article presents this as the most sage and creative tip of all time. In fact, it's not only a tired piece of advice that everyone has heard, it is completely wrong.

    The backhand is not a left handed forehand. It's a two handed shot. The hands have to work together. Some pros, like Agassi, even think the right arm is the dominant force.

    If this were really a good piece of advice, we would all be able to hit awesome two handed forehands. Have you ever tried that? The one handed forehand definitely does not lead to a good two handed forehand.

    This tip needs to die and be replaced by actual helpful instruction.
     
    #1
  2. Big_Dangerous

    Big_Dangerous G.O.A.T.

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    Even more useless tip if you use a one-handed backhand. ;)
     
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  3. Dartagnan64

    Dartagnan64 Hall of Fame

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    I've always been a believer in the synchronous nature of the 2HBH. I think it is core driven and hand corrected but they must be working together. I've never heard any coach around me advise anyone to play it like a lefty FH. So that kind of teaching has not proliferated in my neck of the woods.
     
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  4. BallBag

    BallBag Rookie

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    Any one single piece of tennis advise does not apply to all players at all times. If a coach sees that someone is underutilized their left hand than he might recommend some lefty forehands to get that feeling going. For someone who uses both or too much left than this wouldn't work. Everyone has their own snowflake version of f'ed up mechanics.
     
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  5. Raul_SJ

    Raul_SJ Hall of Fame

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    I have a one hander. If I ever get around to learning 2H, I might try the lefty forehand tip. At least for a little while. Can't hurt.

    As far as the dominance that is an issue that can be resolved down the road. For someone just transitioning from years with 1H it makes sense to start out with lefty fh.
    Maybe less so for a beginner with no Backhand to begin with.

    @HunterST Does the common tip say to hold it choked up where your left hand would eventually be? Or grip it down low?

    Not sure I'm gonna like choking up. Rather grip it low.
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2018
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  6. S&V-not_dead_yet

    S&V-not_dead_yet Legend

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    My clinic guy, who was on a couple of Div 1 National Championship teams, recommended the lefty FH. Yes, the 2HBH is not a lefty FH. But the left hand plays a big role that is isolated when you hit a lefty FH and partially hidden when you hit a 2HBH.

    So do TTT's Simon and Alex [0:28]:



    If it doesn't work for you, fine. That doesn't mean it doesn't work for everyone else.
     
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  7. ByeByePoly

    ByeByePoly Legend

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    If you search my comments here ... you will find me saying this almost verbatim, including "go try that 2hfh". About the only utility I can see with it is you have to get that left/off arm to be an active participant some way or you aren't going anywhere. I came from 40+ years 1hbh and taught myself the 2hbh with the ball machine. My body was saying "wtf is that left hand doing on the racquet ... get it off". I had a very long first couple of weeks until the left hand became a dominant participant. Maybe a day of choked up lh lhfhs would have woke up that lh quicker? My guess is it would not have, because I had already seen that tip and knew the left arm/hand was supposed to fire.

    One thing is not very debatable imo ... a 2hbh is not a left handed fh ... agreed ... it's a two armed two handed stroke. That idea should die.

    fyi ... I heard the audio where Agassi made that comment (mostly right arm), and a good article trying to explain it. To me, watching him hit his 2hbh he clearly hits the cr@p out of it with his left arm/hand at contact. I think the 2hbh (all of us) uses the right arm at the start of the swing like a 1hbh ... that's why you hear some describe "pull" from right arm/hand. Add to that he hits straight/straight ... very likely left arm/hand fires later in swing. JMO.
     
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  8. donquijote

    donquijote Legend

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    No, it is not. If you can't use your non-dominant hand like the dominant one for 2HB then you should use a 1HB. Even then the non-dominant left hand should adjust and correct the racquet and maybe even the grip in most cases. If you are using a 2HB then the dominant right hand will be the supporting one. So both hands should be used regardless of 1 or 2 handed bh. Players who don't use the other hand have poor technique and will never become a top pro.
     
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  9. nytennisaddict

    nytennisaddict Legend

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    how’s your racquet drop on the 2hbh?
    do you have loop on the 2hbh?
    do you hit a lot of top, or is it more flat?
     
    #9
  10. mikeler

    mikeler Moderator

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    It depends on how much more you trust your dominant arm. I'm almost ambidextrous but love the 1 handed backhand and used it for a long time. I gave up on it when I turned 40 because of repeated tennis elbow issues.

    My 2 handed backhand that I started out tennis with as a teenager was never very good. When I had tennis elbow, I didn't want to use my right arm on the 2 hander and that is when the light went on for me that the left handed forehand concept was the way to go for me just to relieve the pain.

    If you are not close to ambidextrous then your 2 hander will be hit differently. Different strokes for different folks, just find what works best for you.
     
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  11. HunterST

    HunterST Hall of Fame

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    I agree that the left hand has to be used. However, the idea that the 2 hbh is just a left handed forehand with the right hand holding on is completely wrong. Many coaches say exactly that.

    The arms/hands work together. Learning a completely separate type of shot will not fix issues with the backhand.

    I’m not super knowledgeable about baseball, but I’m fairly certain players never practice with just one hand. That’s because it’s a coordinated effort between both hands.
     
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  12. HunterST

    HunterST Hall of Fame

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    While I reapect the top tennis guys and I’m sure your coach is great, I have to say I think they’re mistaken. I think this tip has been past around so much that people just accept it and, I don’t mean this in a disrespectful way, but, regurgitate it.

    It’s similar to the way many great coaches will say to carve around the ball on a Slice serve when this is, in fact, wrong.
     
    #12
  13. mcs1970

    mcs1970 Professional

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    Bollettieri was apparently a big proponent of his students learning to hit left handed forehands to strengthen the 2hbh. As others have said, each one is different.

    I like the below tip better than the left handed forehand drill, where the coach talks about the right shoulder touching the chin first and then the left shoulder. 2hbh feels much more natural when I remember to do this.

     
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  14. kramer woodie

    kramer woodie Professional

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    As talk tennis falls into petty, childish, insane temper tantrums. I won't waste my time reading further. Thus, signing off!!!

    Aloha
     
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  15. kramer woodie

    kramer woodie Professional

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    HunterST

    Mickey Mantle was known to have played with a dislocated shoulder. Dislocated shoulder and only one good arm he still managed to hit a
    home runner with a one-handed swing.

    As much as you hate the concept of a left-hand forehand. Learning to hit that way improves your dexterity, plus will help make the left
    arm dominate on your two-handed backhand. That is the main point of coaches pushing the concept of a left-hand forehand.

    Plus there can come a time where you can not get in position to hit a two-hand backhand, but will still get some pace and depth using
    only your left hand. Your wingspan will increase and you will be able to cover more court. It's kind of like letting your elbow straighten
    instead of hitting bent elbow. Your reach increases, a good thing for more court coverage.

    Become ambidextrous and your two hand backhand will have more penetrating top, unless your happy only swatting at the ball and
    hitting flatter.

    Aloha
     
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  16. ByeByePoly

    ByeByePoly Legend

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    @HunterST ... you can add the following to your "try and hit a 2hfh" challenge.

    "On average, an arm weighs about ~5.3% of your total body weight, depending on your gender, among other factors. A leg is about 17.5%. This means for a 150lb average human being, an arm weighs ~8lb and a leg weighs ~26lb."

    So most guys have a 8+ lb arm. That left hand 2hbh has to carry it's own weight like the right handed fh PLUS the additional 8+ lbs of the supposedly non-participating right arm... 16+ lbs of arm triangle.

    So here is the additional challenge ... strap 8 lbs on your right arm and hit some FHs. Many of us are picky about a 1/2 oz change in the static weight of our 10-12 oz racquets ... 8 lbs is a biatch. It is one way to increase swing weight. Huh ... never thought about that ... bigger or fatter arms have more swing weight. Man that is super childish ... probably will lose some more ttw members.

    Edit: the 8+ lb arm is also the reason the "armless" fh is a myth. :D
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2018
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  17. heninfan99

    heninfan99 G.O.A.T.

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    nah, it really helps
     
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  18. ByeByePoly

    ByeByePoly Legend

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    Please don't quit ttw. :D
     
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  19. sredna42

    sredna42 Semi-Pro

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    My 2hbh clicked for me when i started barely even holding the racquet with my right hand, using it more as a tether, and hitting with 99% left hand.
    That is still my cue for when im not hitting it well, as the ball approaches i make a big effort to almost let go with the right hand, and the shot becomes fluid and effortless.

    What works for one person might not work for others though, which is probably why you think the left hand advice is worthless.

    Agassi, despite what most people think, hits his backhand with mostly the right hand, so just do whatever works for you.
     
    #19
  20. heninfan99

    heninfan99 G.O.A.T.

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    Someone must post the simple truth around here :D:D:D
     
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  21. ByeByePoly

    ByeByePoly Legend

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    Why bother for 1℅? Wouldn't you be better of hitting a onehanded lhfh? It would free you up for the modern fh like is discussed here ... flip, pat the dog, lag ... etc. I'm not being facetious ... serious question. The vast majority of rec players hit a better fh than a bh. Having a modern fh on both wings would be a dream for most rec players.
     
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  22. ByeByePoly

    ByeByePoly Legend

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    Ok ... you are now in charge of simple. :D

    I am in charge of bs that nyta or jolly will come along and correct.

    Everyone has a purpose ... it takes a ttw village.
     
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  23. heninfan99

    heninfan99 G.O.A.T.

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    Keep at it. You'll post something useful eventually. :)
     
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  24. sredna42

    sredna42 Semi-Pro

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    I do. But it is hard to switch completely in free play, and it is actually hard to mentally shift as well. I also find if I do it too much, sometimes when it comes to my bh, I spazz out and get frozen trying to decide whether to hit a bh or switch hands to hit a fh. I write with both hands, play drums left handed, use the mouse with the left hand, etc, so it is kinda easier for me than most I guess.

    But anyway, I just use it when under the pump or stretched now. And keep things simple. I can not count the number of points I've won or saved by switching in an emergency.

    edit: Simon from TTT hit with both hands, but even he does not switch when he is playing properly, he says the hand changve takes too long, he only switches in desperation when ne needs to stay alive.
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2018
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  25. HunterST

    HunterST Hall of Fame

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    Sounds like an interesting story about Mantle. When he did that, are you sure he wasn’t hitting with his front arm, like a one handed backhand? I have seen players do that occasionally. I have never seen and cannot imagine them hitting it like a forehand.

    I do have to ask again, why can’t we all hit great 2 handed forehands? I think that’s the death knell for this argument.
     
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  26. nytennisaddict

    nytennisaddict Legend

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    my $0.02. the right arm, for me does provide the dominant force... ie. because i want to power my stroke with my core, the first arm to "catch" is my right arm... so it does the first major pull
    but the left arm is extremely active, not in powering the stroke, but in getting the racquet into the slot... ie. the whip that gives my 2hbh alot of topspin... drop the head, "windshield wipe", push through contact, follow through...
    when i didn't work on my lhfh, my 2hbh, was mostly powered by right arm... so it felt like i was "powering" pace & spin with just the right arm... which resulted in an inconsistent results... either a floaty heavy topspin (but slow),... or a flat with alot of pace, but not much margin of error

    a drill to test your 2hbh... is to drop feed a ball half way between the service line and net,... at about knee height... and swing hard... see if you can get the ball up and down quickly.

    my $0.02
     
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  27. S&V-not_dead_yet

    S&V-not_dead_yet Legend

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    That's fine; there are many ways up the mountain.

    To your point about the "carve": I too thought that until I was told I was supposed to pronate, even on a slice serve. Can't say I've worked that one out yet but it does explain why my slices aren't as good as they should be.
     
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  28. S&V-not_dead_yet

    S&V-not_dead_yet Legend

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    Good point: I used to be terrible at the stretch 2HBH. No control, no pace, etc. But since I've been working the left hand more, I've found my stretch 2HBH has gotten better. Of course, they could be unrelated but I think they're connected.
     
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  29. S&V-not_dead_yet

    S&V-not_dead_yet Legend

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    "I'll take 'convoluted' for $200, Alex."
     
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  30. S&V-not_dead_yet

    S&V-not_dead_yet Legend

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    Talk to @Gregory Diamond
     
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  31. nytennisaddict

    nytennisaddict Legend

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    i think alot of tips are meant to be aids in a particular progression... but sometimes people take that single tip too far, like it's the key to everything, when it's only 1 key of 10.
    that's what happens when you only eavesdrop on a lesson, without actually paying for it :p
     
    #31
  32. S&V-not_dead_yet

    S&V-not_dead_yet Legend

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    Yes, like collotennis' idea that he could catch the ball on his strings and then decide how he was going to manipulate the ball and then actually act on it, all in the space of 4ms.
     
    #32
  33. ByeByePoly

    ByeByePoly Legend

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    No ... that was not one of the valid 10.
     
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  34. nytennisaddict

    nytennisaddict Legend

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    exactly.
    i do like the "catch the ball on the strings" concept... ie. another way of saying "feel the contact", and "push through contact"... very oscar wegner (some things i'm a fan),... but extending that "tip" to other parts of the stroke... to me is a bit like cargo culting.
     
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  35. ByeByePoly

    ByeByePoly Legend

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    It took 10 years for my tennis to be any good ... guess it will be the same for my talking about tennis.
     
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  36. S&V-not_dead_yet

    S&V-not_dead_yet Legend

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    Where did you learn about "cargo cult"? I read it in a socio/political/economic book [*The Great Reckoning*].
     
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  37. nytennisaddict

    nytennisaddict Legend

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    i'm in technology: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cargo_cult_programming
    is that book worth the read?

    [edit] nm, not on audible.... so off my list... but sounds interesting... guessing similar to other financial books talking about indicators like increased inflation, printing of money, etc...
     
    #37
  38. S&V-not_dead_yet

    S&V-not_dead_yet Legend

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    But what made you look it up? Or do you just cruise wikipedia looking for interesting stuff?

    I think TGR is a great book: it focuses on what the authors term "megapolitical" trends. Here are some chapter titles [note: the book was published in 1991]:

    - Muhammed Replaces Marx: The New North-South Division of World Politics [how many people recognized this in the late 80s/early 90s? Almost no one.]
    - The New Germany and Europe in the 1990s
    - Linear Expectations in a Non-Linear World
    - The Megapolitics of Progress and Decline: Violence as a Catalyst and Consequence of Change
     
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  39. nytennisaddict

    nytennisaddict Legend

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    lol, i've been in tech before wikipedia was around....
    i read alot of tech books, and one of them was called anti-patterns... and it mentioned "cargo culting" as one of the anti-patterns... (i'm going back probably 20y)
     
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  40. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    Never heard ANYONE who advocated a left hand dominant Bh make the claim that the right hand is passive — that is, just along for the ride. A 60-40 (L-R) or a 70-30 Bh still involves the right hand/arm quite a bit.

    In looking at the coach Mauro video (post #13), it should be apparent that the 2-handed Bh resembles (is more similar to) a classic lefty Fh much more than it resembles a 1-handed Bh. Note that I said “classic”. When we relate the Bh to a lefty Fh, we are not talking about a Fh with a huge loop and/or a WW swingpath/finish. We are talking about a Fh with a classic OTS finish and a moderate or even no loop.
     
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  41. nytennisaddict

    nytennisaddict Legend

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    imo, the left/right arm isolation drills that golf pros use, are similar to what instructors are trying to achieve in teaching the 2hbh..
    ie. educating each side of their responsibilities, so they can work together.
     
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  42. nytennisaddict

    nytennisaddict Legend

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    better yet, instead of criticizing how a tip sucks, or how it didn't work for you, how about suggesting a better alternative... or are you following the ttps model of thread creation (ie. controversial title to elicit comments)?
     
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  43. ByeByePoly

    ByeByePoly Legend

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    When we guess arm percentages, my question would be 1) start of swing from slot? 2) when left arm/hand fires 3) at contact. It's not equal throughout the swing.

    start - right arm dominant, weight bearing
    left arm firing - left arm dominant, rhs boost/acceleration
    contact - left arm dominant, momentum now instead of weight bearing

    My simple 2hbh analogy:

    1) stand with loose relaxed 2hbh grip with relaxed arms extended in front of torso ... hands waist high. Just let the hips, shoulders, arms and racquet swing back and forth loosy goosy like an elephants trunk
    2) on one of the forward swings, fire left hand to boost racquet acceleration.

    Done ... there is a 2hbh ... send me $. :D
     
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  44. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    Not everyone hits the 2-handed Bh the same. In his Udemy course, Agassi states that he hits his Bh somewhat different from other players. Players use different grip combinations (Eastern L + Conti R is a common grip combo tho). Players employ different takebacks. Some are straight arm while other have both arms bent. Still others have one arm straight with the other arm bent.

    Just because the left-dominance does not resonate for you does not make it invalid for the majority of players. I’ve been using a 1-handed Bh hand since the early 70s. But a little over 2 decades ago, I decided to teach myself a 2-handed Bh so that I could teach it to others more effectively. I started off with developing a Fh with my non-dominant arm (the R arm, in my case). It helped immensely in developing a 2-handed stroke. In teaching others, I have found that developing their lefty Fh appears to help with more than 70% of my students. But for the 25-30% that it doesn’t seem to help, it does not appear to hurt them either.

    Back to Agassi. I do recall him making the statement quite a few years back that his felt his right arm is more dominant than his left. I was a bit surprised but, knowing that there is quite a bit of variation in BHs, I was not completely shocked. Some years later, when asked about it, he had clarified his original statement. He indicated that at the start of his stroke (start of his fwd swing), his right arm is dominant. However, he indicated that the left arm started becoming more active as the racket approached the ball (prior to contact). For me, this made more sense since, in studying his Bh stroke, it certainly appeared that the left arm played a very active, very important role. Much more than his earlier statement suggested.

    For my own implementation of the double-handed Bh, I start off my fwd swing with a 50-50 pull but then, as I approach the contact point, the top hand starts to take on more of a dominant role (about 70-30 at contact).
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2018
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  45. ByeByePoly

    ByeByePoly Legend

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    I didn't take his post that way. I took it as his opinion that a two handed stroke is something completely different than a one handed stroke. I agree. I think using the lh fh tip as a learning tool is a secondary point.
     
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  46. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    The thread title suggests otherwise.

    Just because a tip does not help or resonate with some players, does not make it invalid for the majority. I have found it very useful for me and most of my students.
     
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  47. ByeByePoly

    ByeByePoly Legend

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    Nah ... bad logic. I feel no obligation to provide a replacement for mini tennis. :D

    I don't think the "repeal and replace" guys got your memo... just good at the criticizing part.
     
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  48. ByeByePoly

    ByeByePoly Legend

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    You have to look past the title :D.

    Let me speak for Hunter and BBP:

    1) if you tell me it is a useful tool to wake up the left hand, I applaud your coaching skills and creativity (you must know I think that already regardless of this post :D)

    2) if you tell me someone hit a lh fh for a month, and it made it easy to hit a 2hbh ... not buying it. If your student did that, the student is Djokovic. :D
     
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  49. nytennisaddict

    nytennisaddict Legend

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    glad to hear that he clarified that...
    i struggled with his initial statement, and incorporating into my then mental model of the 2hbh
    later i realized that he probably meant it was the "initiator of power" (whereas, at the time, i was completely focused on the left hand, to supply spin and power)
     
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  50. mcs1970

    mcs1970 Professional

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    Exactly. If his left arm was just in there for the ride, the finish would never be with the racquet over his right shoulder with the buttcap facing the opponent. A lot of his bh videos show that finish. That's a classic left handed forehand finish. You never finish that way if your left arm was just there for the ride.
     
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