The Lesson Process:
The Backhand

Kerry Mitchell

The process for improving a backhand with either one or two hands can be more difficult than the forehand.

The process of improving your backhand can be even more daunting than the forehand learning process we addressed in the first article in this series. (Click Here.) In general, most players struggle far more with their backhands compared to the rest of the game, with the possible exception of the serve.

In my experience, many problems on the backhand, whether a one-hander or a two-hander, stem from the nature of their early instruction. In the first lesson the student is told to turn the feet sideways, step, and swing.

This seemingly straightforward advice can start a player on a path to years of frustration. In this article I'll address the hidden problems in that advice and then show you how to turn the process around and make your backhand a steady part of your game.

Just as in the forehand lesson that I described in the previous article, I have the player start by hitting backhands close-in at the service line. This tells me what I need to know about the stroke much more clearly than if they start from the baseline.First, I look at the footwork, then what their turn looks like, and how much control they have (or do not.)

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Kerry Mitchell was a leading Bay Area teaching pro for 20 years. He developed numerous ranked junior players and coached a series of championship high school teams. He was highly ranked both sectionally and nationally in men's 30 and 35 singles..

After 15 years as the Head Teaching Pro at the John Yandell Tennis School in San Francisco, California Kerry and his partner are now splitting time between homes in Merida, Mexico and Toronto, Canada. He has continued to coach and to have great competitive success winning Canadian National seniors titles—not to mention continuing to write articles for Tennisplayer from his unique perspective.

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