Serve return tips for one had backhand?

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by srimes, Oct 19, 2013.

  1. srimes

    srimes New User

    Aug 6, 2013
    Any advice from the 1hbh experts? My main issue is changing the grip quickly enough. Unless it's a slow serve I'm basically stuck with the grip I start with. So for a given service I can choose
    a) topspin forehand, slice or block backhand
    b) topspin backhand, slice or block forehand

    When I predict a serve to the bh I can set up and crush it. Kinda like running around the bh on a return. But if I guess wrong I'm left with a defensive shot. Am I just too slow with my grip change?
  2. BHiC

    BHiC Rookie

    May 7, 2012
    Your grip change should not take that long at all. I think that there should be ample time to change the grip, and if not, then take a couple steps back to give yourself more time. When it comes to what grip to start with, I always think it is best to start with the grip of the shot you are least comfortable with. I like my forehand return much better than my backhand, so I always start with my backhand grip and then switch it if a serve comes to my forehand.
  3. Say Chi Sin Lo

    Say Chi Sin Lo G.O.A.T.

    Aug 30, 2005
    Exactly. The grip change should be nearly instantaneous. Just practice, practice, and practice, and you'll be fine.
  4. Lukhas

    Lukhas Legend

    Apr 3, 2013
    Often on the 1HBH you're seeking for a neutral grip that allows using both FH and BH. On 1st serves, continental grip to block or slice the serve long enough. A deep, slow slice down the middle of the court is often really effective against big servers. That's how Federer did (especially against Roddick).
    On 2nd serves where you can be more aggressive, using a SW grip is recommended (unless the serve is so slow that you can go for your usual grip). That's what someone like J. Blake would do, stepping into the court much more.
  5. Egoista

    Egoista Professional

    May 20, 2013
    slice or block the return back. Try to make it deep. Then when you get time crush it.
  6. Gyswandir

    Gyswandir Semi-Pro

    May 17, 2012
    To answer this question, we'd need some info:
    - what's your level and the level of the competition you play against? How fast are the serves you face?
    - what are your normal fh and bh grips? For the return?
    - what does your backswing look like on a bh return (full or abbreviated)?
    - how do you switch your grip from fh to bh? Are you moving the racket with your offhand or moving your dominant hand around the grip?
  7. Bagumbawalla

    Bagumbawalla Hall of Fame

    Jun 24, 2006
    While waiting for the serve, cradle the racket in your left hand just above the grip area (if you are right-handed). With your right hand, grip the racket with your prefered grip- I suggest the forehand.

    As the ball is served to your left side begin to turn into position and at the same time rotate your hand into the backhand grip (or leave it there if that's how you started). This way you need only be concerned with one choice (change the grip or not) rather than start from a neutral grip where you have to decide, then, to change to a forehand or backhand each time.

    Obviously, if you are going to slice, take the racket back higher and, then, lower for a topspin drive.

    The important thing is (as mentioned above) to practice and learn to place the return. Your practice partner can practice placing his serves while you return, then you can switch up and do the reverse.
  8. Graf1stClass

    Graf1stClass Semi-Pro

    Sep 13, 2013
    You really should start out with the 1HB grip of your choosing, and then switch to forehand after the first serve, if necessary.

    Either this or get used to the continental for the first serve. Or step back.
  9. GoudX

    GoudX Professional

    Aug 17, 2012
    You need to be able to change grip quickly, so that it isn't an issue hitting proper shots off a slow serve, and so you have a chance of blocking well on big serves.

    You can make it easier for yourself by choosing a sensible starting grip. Start with a backhand grip if your opponent is targeting your backhand, or a forehand grip if you know you will be able to get around a lot of the serves. But you must be able to change grip quickly, so hold the racquet with the left hand and just rest it on your right hand.
  10. srimes

    srimes New User

    Aug 6, 2013
    Thanks for the tips!

    I think I'm 4.0, 4.5 isn't far off. Haven't competed as an adult yet. Took at least a decade off and have been playing for 4 months or so. I've mostly found 3.5s to play with, but a couple 4.5/5.0s as well. 1st serves are usually 80-90, except for 1 guy who hits 110-120. I usually just block his 1st serve back. His 2nd is 90 and I can swing on that.

    -Not sure of the grip names. Racket tilted forward on both sides, heavy topspin.

    - abbreviated

    - not sure. Maybe that's why I'm having trouble?

    Tried this today and it seemed to work. Started with a fh grip, and focused on using my left hand to turn the racket while I turned to the left for a bh. Felt much better than whatever it was I was doing before, where I would almost get lost in the transition. I ripped some great bh return winners. Missed plenty as well, but it wasn't because I couldn't find the grip.

    I think with a little more practice I'll be set.
  11. Gyswandir

    Gyswandir Semi-Pro

    May 17, 2012
    Ok, so it seems you are already addressing the grip changing technique. That's good. One more thing I'd add on that subject is if you are playing with a semi western bh grip for normal strokes and trying to use that for your return, it would be better if you could go eastern for normal strokes (first knuckle on top of racket, like Federer).

    Now specifically for the ROS, here is my take (ref:
    - as you don't need a full backswing, a simpler swing is better. Think just turning shoulders and follow through
    - for 1hbh, the grip change is crucial. So, get the technique of changing from fh to bh grip using your offhand down pat, like you have already started. It should be that while you are turning your shoulders for the bh, your grip is already changed
    - related to the above point, and this is what I learned from the link I provided, use more conservative grips on the return for both fh and bh. I play modified Eastern fh and eastern bh, now I start with an eastern fh grip and switch a slightly less than eastern bh grip for the return. This works since the return is usually flatter than a normal ground stroke and uses the serve's speed

    The article I linked is a very good source that discusses these points in detail. So, I recommend you read it.

    Last, the 1hbh return will often require improvisation, when you're short on time. So, nothing will beat practicing it over and over
  12. nkjwlf

    nkjwlf Rookie

    Jul 25, 2011
    Just use an extreme western forehand and use the same grip for tour backhand. Sounds crazy but it can work.
  13. skiracer55

    skiracer55 Hall of Fame

    Feb 21, 2007

    ...hold the racket really loosely in your racket hand, non-racket hand on the threat. The non-racket hand can help make a quick, positive grip change...
  14. TimeSpiral

    TimeSpiral Professional

    Jul 9, 2013
    Gotham City
    I don't play a 1HBH, save for slices and volleys. But I will add my opinion to the mix.

    First Serve Return:
    1. If your opponent has a weapon of a first serve, it's okay to play this shot defensively: slice, block, backspin lob, etc ...
    2. Start in your preferred defensive BH grip. First serves are typically aimed at the BH. This, of course, depends on the competency and tendencies of your opponent. But, a wide serve is likely to have a little less pace, and more time for a racquet change.
    3. If you're getting rushed frequently, just back up.
    Changing grips:
    1. Hopefully you're using a sound grip changing method. I wasn't for a long time. One of the best tips I ever received was how to hold the racquet in the ready position:
      1. Your racquet hand should be in a neutral or preferred position, and your other hand should be on the throat with your index finger touching the string-bed and the frame. That last bit is the important part. If your other hand is just on the throat, you don't have context and the same amount of rotation could be slightly different based on how you're holding the throat. When you place your finger on the strings and the frame, you've created a repeatable context so now each racquet adjustment is more accurate.
    2. Two handers also have grip change issues. On the first serve return you will see both hands on the racquet, usually. This is not a pre-loaded backhand grip, but a hybrid grip, where the right hand is in the FH position and the left hand is in the BH position. When the ball comes, they can change one hand, on in the case of a laser, maybe not change the grip at all. One handers don't really have a hybrid grip--for obvious reasons--but they can emulate the thinking behind it by using a neutral grip (like the Eastern FH).
    3. Oh, another grip tip: In between points, you should always be holding the racquet by the throat. This gives your hand and the grip a little bit of time to dry in between each attempt at playing a point. Keeping the grip and hands dry is also why you see some players blowing their hands.
    Hope this helps, OP!
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2013

Share This Page