If you were tuning in to watch tennis 30 or 40 years ago, then you wouldn’t find many pros making use of the two handed backhand.
In those days, the single handed backhand was king, and it wasn’t until the early 70s that the two handed backhand came about.
Once the double hander came into tennis though, it did so to great effect, helping players such as Jimmy Conners, Bjorn Borg, and Chris Evert win numerous grand slams.
This led to the double hander becoming more and more popular, with many people wondering in the early 2000s whether this would lead to the death of the single hander.
However, that hasn’t proven to be the case, and there are plenty of players sporting the single-handed backhand at the top of the game, led of course by Roger Federer.
So, as the pro game would suggest, there are positive and negatives to both the single-hander, and the two-handed backhand, and we’re going to take a look at the two-hander.
If you’re looking for a little help in improving your two hander then keep reading, or check out our in depth backhand course.
Benefits of the Two Handed Backhand
The main benefits of the two handed backhand come from the fact that you’re playing the ball from your non-dominant side with the backhand.
This means that with the single hander you’re stretching across your body with your dominant hand and this takes some of your power away.
When you’re learning tennis, either as a kid or an adult, it’s not easy to have the strength and coordination to do this effectively, and this is where having the second hand on the racket makes a huge difference.
The more tennis you play, and the better your strokes become, it’s much easier to pull off the single hander, but by this point, you’ve invested so much time in the two handed backhand that there’s not much incentive to change over to the single-hander.
When hitting the two handed backhand, the extra hand just adds stability, making it easier to handle the pace that’s coming at you, and making the technique much easier to replicate.
When you’re learning tennis, particularly as a youngster, this makes the two handed backhand much more accessible than the single hander.
Drawbacks of the Two Handed Backhand
One of the drawbacks of the two handed backhand is the lack of leverage. With the second hand on the racket, you don’t have quite as much reach as you do with the single hander and this limits you slightly.
The same can be said for the high ball. Pretty much everyone struggles with the high backhand, but if you’ve got a strong single hander, then it’s easier to get the one hand up above your shoulder than it is with the two hands.
Again though, the thing is whether you have the power to make the most of these advantages with the single-hander.
For many people, the easier answer is going to be the double hander.
Which Technique is the Best?
Like many things in tennis, there is no definitive answer to this.
As the pro tour demonstrates, the single handed backhand works for some players, whereas the double handed backhand works for others.
It’s all about what you feel comfortable with.
The major advantage with the two handed backhand is that it’s much more simple to learn and allows you to progress your game more quickly.
There will come a point where some players will feel like they can switch to the single handed backhand and get more out of it, but again, this is a highly personal decision.
If we look at some of the best backhands in the world, then there’s plenty of evidence to suggest both work equally well.
If you were to force us to pick out the best backhand in the world at the moment, then we’d have to go with Novak Djokovic’s two handed backhand, but then there are unbelievable single handed weapons out there like Stan Wawrinka’s.
We all use double handed backhands at thetennisbros.com to varying effect, which is probably the same for the majority of tennis players, but there’s certainly nothing wrong with the single hander.
How to Hit the Two Handed Backhand
The two handed backhand is a fairly uncomplicated stroke compared to some of the other ones, but there are still some important things you need to remember.
Your dominant hand will go at the bottom of the handle with a continental grip and just a tiny bit of your palm off the racket.
This grip sees the “v” between your thumb and index finger line up with the line on the top left hand side of the grip, the line between number 8 and 1 on the picture below for right-handers, and between 1 and 2 for lefties.
Once you’ve got a comfortable grip with your dominant hand, then you want to put your non-dominant hand on top as if you’re going to play a forehand with it.
This will put the “v” just to the left of the line between 1 and 8 for right-handers and just to the right of the line between 1 and 2 for right-handers.
Your hands should be close together but not interlocking.
The big thing with the two handed backhand is that the body prepares the racket, which is where you get your power from.
Your legs should start apart, with knees slightly bent, and as your hips and shoulders turn, your left foot (right foot for lefties) should open up slightly to allow you to turn the body comfortably.
The racket should take a neutral swing path (around hip height) before lifting slightly so that the head of the racket is slightly higher than the handle.
You should be aiming to contact the ball slightly in front of the body, with the hips and shoulders turning back through the ball, and your right foot (left foot for lefties) stepping into the court.
As you contact the ball, your weaker hand should really drive through the ball, pushing forward before following through over the shoulder.
While you’re following through, your back foot should rock onto your toe, but it doesn’t want to follow through with the rest of your body.
Like with many things in tennis, there is no real answer to the question of “which is better, the single handed backhand or the double handed backhand.”
They’ve both got their strengths and weaknesses, and it really depends on what you feel comfortable with.
Certainly when you’re learning tennis though, the two handed backhand is a little bit easier to learn, and this is probably the main reason why so many people go for the double hander these days.
However, as the pro tour shows, it’s possible to play great tennis with both of these techniques, and there’s nothing holding you back from choosing the one you feel most comfortable with.
Article by: Will