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The One Handed Backhand: The Essential Non-Dominant Hand

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  • The One Handed Backhand: The Essential Non-Dominant Hand

    Let's discuss John Craig's latest installment on the one handed backhand - "The One Handed Backhand: The Essential Non-Dominant Hand"

  • #2
    Key points that Mr. Craig makes. One of the most common issues with tennis players trying to learn is the inability to grasp (no pun intended) the idea and importance of using the non-dominant to help with the racquet. It helps with keeping the hitting hand/arm relaxed, initiates shoulder turn and promotes proper grip changes. Tennis is a two handed sport, as don_budge would probably agree or our old friend and forum poster Jeff McCullough wrote in his book "Two-Handed Tennis".

    My racquet technician I use also has had Ivan Lendl as a client for the better part of 20+ years. When he sees my racquets he notices the paint at the upper edges of the throat being worn away from my left hand and fingers grabbing and pulling at it in the exact same spot. He says that Lendl and many others, but especially Lendl used to do the same exact thing and on the same location as where I did it. If the use of the non-dominant hand works for Lendl, its certainly good enough for the rest of us.

    Great video John. Loving the backhand series.

    Kyle LaCroix USPTA
    Boca Raton
    Last edited by klacr; 09-14-2017, 10:20 AM.

    Comment


    • #3
      Thanks Kyle for your valued input and perspective!

      Comment


      • #4
        I had forgotten about this recently and was so intrigued by the video. I then immediately had an aha experience and wondered if that is what was my daughter was missing from her one handed backhand. She is 12 and has been hitting for a year after switching from a 2hbh.

        So I told her to very explicitly use the other hand to prepare. And voila her backhand had much better timing.

        She even asked me why I had not told her about this. Well, I had months before but this video reminded me of this.

        The only request I would make would be to make it into a written article with a few embedded clips for demonstration.

        The video seems slow and clunky to me compared to old school reading with a few videos.

        I realize that some people like video better so maybe I am just an exception.

        In any case. Thanks for the great lesson!

        Comment


        • #5
          Hi Arturo, thanks for the great feedback! I am glad the lesson helped you and your daughter! Kindly, John Craig

          Comment


          • #6
            A lot of tennis instruction has to be about how well one says something and is more a matter of perspective than anything else. I love the part here about how the left hand does considerably more than the right hand.

            Comment


            • #7
              My son, a two-hander by trade, decided he would like to give a one-hander a go. We had a little trouble splitting the left arm away at first but sort of got there in the end. His grip is continental so he would need to tweak that a little if he wanted to try the shot on a more permanent basis.

              I thought I would stick this clip up in John Craig's thread, but am more than happy to start an independent thread should anyone be interested to see his current two-hander and sliced backhand also.

              Any comments or thoughts welcome. John Craig, how's the non-dominant hand doing?

              The clip was shot just yesterday.

              http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x60w11x

              A slomo clip.

              http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x60w6j5
              Last edited by stotty; 09-15-2017, 01:56 PM.
              Stotty

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by stotty View Post
                My son, a two-hander by trade, decided he would like to give a one-hander a go. We had a little trouble splitting the left arm away at first but sort of got there in the end. His grip is continental so he would need to tweak that a little if he wanted to try the shot on a more permanent basis.

                I thought I would stick this clip up in John Craig's thread, but am more than happy to start an independent thread should anyone be interested to see his current two-hander and sliced backhand also.

                Any comments or thoughts welcome. John Craig, how's the non-dominant hand doing?

                The clip was shot just yesterday.

                http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x60w11x

                A slomo clip.

                http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x60w6j5
                John Craig makes a great point about the importance of the non-dominant hand in the one-handed backhand. It has to play a major role. There are a couple of additional points I would make that further specify “ideal” technique on that stroke and I think they would be applicable to your son’s backhand.

                For a one-handed backhand to “work”, it has to work on return of serve on big serves. There can be no additional time to change grips; the grip change has to be an integral part of the backswing. Furthermore, it has to happen as the non-dominant hand begins the backswing; then there is no additional time required to achieve the grip change. For that to work, the non-dominant hand has to “know” exactly where the face of the racket head is (and accordingly the position of the grip). Obviously, there are many ways to take the racket back, but it is clear that the opposite hand has to play an important role.

                For my students (and for your son’s backhand), I insist that the grip change happens with the very first “realization’ that the stroke will be a backhand. So not only the feet begin to move to that side, but simultaneously, the grip change is accomplished and led by the non-dominant hand pulling the racquet “back’. I put that “back” in quotes because I don’t want that first move to be pulling the racket back, but I do want it to be moved slightly to the side moving the racket shaft parallel to the shoulders. If you look carefully at the video of your son’t backhand, you will see first of all that he actually changes the grip before the he actually moves the racket to the side; that’s an additional step for which there is not adequate time on a return of serve. Second, when he makes that first move (somewhat analogous to the unit turn in the forehand, but with the grip change), instead of getting the racket to parallel to his shoulders, he takes it to a point where it points off about 45 degrees short of parallel to his shoulders. He will have to move that racket that last 45 or more degrees later in the stroke and this is fine when there is lots of time, but a problem when pressure comes and time is at a premium. In addition, your son does not generate quite enough of an inside-out stroke, and he is unable to generate the full power of his shoulders into and through the stroke (think Denis Shapovalov). He's swinging just a little bit across the ball. When he gets fully to the inside-out stoke, he will discover a sense of both power and control that feels really terrific and is also very effective.

                I go one step further with my students who don’t already have a grip change established. I put the left hand in an opposite hand Eastern forehand grip holding the racket face in a perfectly vertical position so the right hand can be secure in its knowledge of the position of the racket face and the associated bevels of the grip as that right hand rotates around the ‘vertically held’ grip. Obviously not necessary as many players do something very different, but I think it is the simplest way for the new student to ‘find’ the position of the racket handle as the left hand pulls the racket to the side where it is parallel to the shoulders. I also ask for this non-dominant hand grip for the two-hander, because that’s how the player can most easily know the position of the racket face. If the racket is just cradled lightly on the fingers, this is a little too flimsy for people learning the stroke. I want them 'connected' to the face of the racket by the palm of the non-dominant hand - thus, the Eastern opposite hand forehand grip.

                When the racket is moved to this position as part of the backhand unit turn, it is much easier to execute an ‘inside-out’ stroke with full power. John Craig demonstrates something similar to what I am talking about on his actual demonstration of the dry strokes in his video here, but when he hits his initial stroke in introducing the video, he ends up getting a little ‘outside’ and his followthrough comes through a little across with his body ending up facing the net much more than it does in the strokes he nicely demonstrates in the body of the video. I make a big deal about keeping those shoulders perpendicular to the net as the stroke is completed, at least on a normal drive.

                don
                Last edited by tennis_chiro; 09-15-2017, 08:18 PM.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Wow, Don, that's quite a tip to use left hand eastern forehand grip in one's flying grip change, which I've had ever since reading about it in John M. Barnaby in the early 1980's.

                  I might have done that some but definitely moved the change more and more out into the fingertips over the decades probably without sufficient evaluation of the difference.

                  This is not to say that I now am going to end up with change from something that works, but I certainly will try this tip whether I am a first learner or a late learner or both.

                  Seems only natural to do that.

                  The experiment of course should run through all of one's backhands, every single one, the slices too.
                  Last edited by bottle; 09-16-2017, 12:58 AM.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by bottle View Post

                    The experiment of course should run through all of one's backhands, every single one, the slices too.
                    Even if you use a slightly less full grip change for the slice (probably a continental), you still need to know exactly where the racket face and thereby the handle bevels are located to properly position your right hand in that "flying grip change".

                    don

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Verdicts

                      1) Palm on throat of racket leads to more fine control on all backhands, at least for me.

                      2) Best to go through the 24-hour drive-thru at Mary's Rouge Park Grill in west Detroit. A little more expensive but the coffee is better, and you then can take the coffee out on the cracked courts.
                      Last edited by bottle; 09-16-2017, 08:32 AM.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by tennis_chiro View Post

                        John Craig makes a great point about the importance of the non-dominant hand in the one-handed backhand. It has to play a major role. There are a couple of additional points I would make that further specify “ideal” technique on that stroke and I think they would be applicable to your son’s backhand.

                        For a one-handed backhand to “work”, it has to work on return of serve on big serves. There can be no additional time to change grips; the grip change has to be an integral part of the backswing. Furthermore, it has to happen as the non-dominant hand begins the backswing; then there is no additional time required to achieve the grip change. For that to work, the non-dominant hand has to “know” exactly where the face of the racket head is (and accordingly the position of the grip). Obviously, there are many ways to take the racket back, but it is clear that the opposite hand has to play an important role.

                        For my students (and for your son’s backhand), I insist that the grip change happens with the very first “realization’ that the stroke will be a backhand. So not only the feet begin to move to that side, but simultaneously, the grip change is accomplished and led by the non-dominant hand pulling the racquet “back’. I put that “back” in quotes because I don’t want that first move to be pulling the racket back, but I do want it to be moved slightly to the side moving the racket shaft parallel to the shoulders. If you look carefully at the video of your son’t backhand, you will see first of all that he actually changes the grip before the he actually moves the racket to the side; that’s an additional step for which there is not adequate time on a return of serve. Second, when he makes that first move (somewhat analogous to the unit turn in the forehand, but with the grip change), instead of getting the racket to parallel to his shoulders, he takes it to a point where it points off about 45 degrees short of parallel to his shoulders. He will have to move that racket that last 45 or more degrees later in the stroke and this is fine when there is lots of time, but a problem when pressure comes and time is at a premium. In addition, your son does not generate quite enough of an inside-out stroke, and he is unable to generate the full power of his shoulders into and through the stroke (think Denis Shapovalov). He's swinging just a little bit across the ball. When he gets fully to the inside-out stoke, he will discover a sense of both power and control that feels really terrific and is also very effective.

                        I go one step further with my students who don’t already have a grip change established. I put the left hand in an opposite hand Eastern forehand grip holding the racket face in a perfectly vertical position so the right hand can be secure in its knowledge of the position of the racket face and the associated bevels of the grip as that right hand rotates around the ‘vertically held’ grip. Obviously not necessary as many players do something very different, but I think it is the simplest way for the new student to ‘find’ the position of the racket handle as the left hand pulls the racket to the side where it is parallel to the shoulders. I also ask for this non-dominant hand grip for the two-hander, because that’s how the player can most easily know the position of the racket face. If the racket is just cradled lightly on the fingers, this is a little too flimsy for people learning the stroke. I want them 'connected' to the face of the racket by the palm of the non-dominant hand - thus, the Eastern opposite hand forehand grip.

                        When the racket is moved to this position as part of the backhand unit turn, it is much easier to execute an ‘inside-out’ stroke with full power. John Craig demonstrates something similar to what I am talking about on his actual demonstration of the dry strokes in his video here, but when he hits his initial stroke in introducing the video, he ends up getting a little ‘outside’ and his followthrough comes through a little across with his body ending up facing the net much more than it does in the strokes he nicely demonstrates in the body of the video. I make a big deal about keeping those shoulders perpendicular to the net as the stroke is completed, at least on a normal drive.

                        don
                        http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x60w11x

                        http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x60w6j5

                        Thanks for such a considered post. It never ceases to amaze me how much you notice that others don't...things most coaches never even consider.

                        I like the idea of the grip change being an integral part of the backswing. It's sews in with the stroke much better. I have seen players initiate the grip change slightly separately to the backswing and get away with it. Kohlschreiber, from memory, springs to mind.

                        I also think it's critical players understand and can feel the angle of the racket face. My racket face was always open a tad too long of my topspin backhand which created timing difficulties on quicker incoming balls, sometimes I didn't get the racket face on edge in time before the contact.

                        You are dead right in that he hits across the ball a little...well spotted. He doesn't get the racket head low enough either so he doesn't create much topspin. Overall it isn't a bad first attempt on his part. He is a two-hander by trade and you would be amazed how fast he can swing that racket head when he has two hands on the grip. He can kill a dead ball really well.

                        Originally posted by bottle View Post
                        A lot of tennis instruction has to be about how well one says something and is more a matter of perspective than anything else. I love the part here about how the left hand does considerably more than the right hand.
                        I loved that part too.
                        Last edited by stotty; 09-16-2017, 02:08 PM.
                        Stotty

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Really great video and discussion - I would add that I have found the non-dominant hand to be really essential on the FH side as well.

                          By using the non-dominant hand to do most of the work of carrying the racket from the ready position to the beginning of the forward swing, I find that I have much less tendency to overly firm my wrist, and thus I get a more reliable development of the topspin, along with a more comfortable relaxed stroke. This also seems to help me really relax my upper body while getting my shoulders around more effortlessly.

                          I've always been pretty good about keeping my left hand on the throat during the first phase of the stroke, but actually carrying the racket with the left was a big change with very positive effect for me.

                          The one negative I've experienced with this: I now have slightly more tendency to keep my left arm pointed across to the right fence, blocking shoulder rotation and robbing power. I've always had an issue with this, never really had a good feeling of what to do with the left arm through the stroke, so have to start working on that now....

                          On my 1hbh, years ago I had a really great pro in NYC emphasize carrying the racket to my pocket with my left hand, and I followed that but without sufficient carrying, as my left was still more along for the ride. Carrying the racket is a definite improvement, with the right just responsible for feeling the bevel and providing power.....

                          -frank

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by stotty View Post
                            My son, a two-hander by trade, decided he would like to give a one-hander a go. We had a little trouble splitting the left arm away at first but sort of got there in the end. His grip is continental so he would need to tweak that a little if he wanted to try the shot on a more permanent basis.

                            I thought I would stick this clip up in John Craig's thread, but am more than happy to start an independent thread should anyone be interested to see his current two-hander and sliced backhand also.

                            Any comments or thoughts welcome. John Craig, how's the non-dominant hand doing?

                            The clip was shot just yesterday.

                            http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x60w11x

                            A slomo clip.

                            http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x60w6j5
                            Hi Stotty,

                            Thanks for sending the video. The use of the left hand looks pretty good! I think more rotation (sideways) in the preparation phase (along with getting slightly below the ball) will prevent so much rotation out of the shot. Adjusting the grip to a stronger eastern backhand position will also compliment the additional shoulder rotation. However, all of these adjustments should follow improving the footwork first: rhythm of movement is essential on the one-hander! The video presents footwork that is not in rhythm with the stroke. Please review my earlier videos on footwork and let me know if you have questions or feedback. Thanks, John

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by faultsnaces View Post
                              Really great video and discussion - I would add that I have found the non-dominant hand to be really essential on the FH side as well.

                              By using the non-dominant hand to do most of the work of carrying the racket from the ready position to the beginning of the forward swing, I find that I have much less tendency to overly firm my wrist, and thus I get a more reliable development of the topspin, along with a more comfortable relaxed stroke. This also seems to help me really relax my upper body while getting my shoulders around more effortlessly.

                              I've always been pretty good about keeping my left hand on the throat during the first phase of the stroke, but actually carrying the racket with the left was a big change with very positive effect for me.

                              The one negative I've experienced with this: I now have slightly more tendency to keep my left arm pointed across to the right fence, blocking shoulder rotation and robbing power. I've always had an issue with this, never really had a good feeling of what to do with the left arm through the stroke, so have to start working on that now....

                              On my 1hbh, years ago I had a really great pro in NYC emphasize carrying the racket to my pocket with my left hand, and I followed that but without sufficient carrying, as my left was still more along for the ride. Carrying the racket is a definite improvement, with the right just responsible for feeling the bevel and providing power.....

                              -frank
                              Hi Frank,
                              Thanks for your feedback. You are right about the forehand as well. Check out my instructional video in the classic lessons section from November 2016 on the non-dominant hand on the FH. This video also presents the role of the non-dominant hand in the forward stroke phase of the FH. I hope you find this helpful. Please let me now if you have questions or feedback. Thanks, John

                              Comment

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