One-handed Backhand vs. Two-handed Backhand

September 1, 2021

Tennis is a game of strategy, and knowing when to deploy the right shot is crucial. But when it comes to the backhand, should you hit with one hand on the racquet, or two?

The answer is that there’s no definitive “better” shot. Both have pros and cons, and it’s also important to take advantage of your strengths and attack your opponent’s weaknesses.

The backhand in general is often considered a more difficult shot than the forehand, but in our unbiased opinion, that just makes it all the more gratifying to master! Anna Pomyatinskaya, CA Adult Tennis Director, shares the differentiation between the one-handed backhand and two-handed backhand below. 


One-handed backhand

There’s no denying that the one-handed backhand is a visually appealing shot. When executed properly, it’s incredibly powerful and adds more variety to your game. The biggest benefit is more reach and flexibility. It allows you to change direction on the fly, since you don’t need your left hand to help (or right hand, for lefties).

However, using one hand also means a less controlled backswing and a less stable racquet upon impact. This move is often tougher to execute for most beginners than the two-handed backhand. It’s also difficult to hit above the shoulder and requires a strong upper body. 

Pomyatinskaya shares her top tips for one-handed success:

  • Even though the left hand (right hand for lefties) is not on the racket during the impact, it is crucial to use the non-dominant hand to support the neck of the racket to stabilize your setup and not get the dominant hand too tired. Furthermore, the use of the left hand (right for lefties) during the set-up, allows for a quick grip change. Whether you want to make a small adjustment on the fly for your topspin or flat groundstroke, or disguise a drop shot, the use of a non-dominant hand can help you achieve that. 
  • Look over your dominant shoulder and point your chin to the ball — a proper set-up increases the chances of striking the ball in the correct zone. 

Check out a demo of the one-handed backhand below.


Two-handed backhand

The two-handed backhand offers more consistency and control, which makes it great for returns and blocking shots.

With two hands, it offers greater stability than you can achieve with just one hand. It also allows for a greater striking zone, whereas the one-handed backhand requires a close stance with a more precise contact point. And when it comes to hitting above the shoulder, it’s easier to execute than the one-handed backhand. The downsides of this shot? Less range of motion and tougher direction change on the fly.

Check out Pomyatinskaya’s tips: 

  • It may feel like the dominant hand would overtake the swing, but you want your non-dominant hand to push through the ball. This ensures you are keeping the ball on the strings the longest — maximizing your control and direction. 
  • Even though two hander may feel more limited in the range of motion, don’t forget that the racket head can go further back with the use of wrists. Your take back does not need to end when your arms reach the furthest point behind your back. 

Check out a demo of the two-handed backhand below.

Master your technique at CA

CA offers a variety of year-round tennis and pickleball programs to suit every interest and competitive level. There are more than two dozen outdoor tennis courts, six outdoor pickleball courts and 10 indoor tennis courts. Learn more here.

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