The Modern
Two-Handed Backhand: Grips

By Doug Eng, EdD PhD

What is the range of two-handed grips and what do they mean?

In the pro game, as in all levels of tennis, it's remarkable how many players now use the two-handed backhand. About 75% of the top men are two-handers. Among the women that percentage is 90% or higher.

The dominance of the two-hander is undoubtedly one explanation for the apparent monotony of playing styles. Virtually every player is some version of a baseliner, with some simply more aggressive than others.

Finding a pure serve-and-volley player on tour is as likely as finding a pearl while walking on the beach. Pure counterpunchers are almost as rare.

The dominance of the two-handed backhand has helped create the perception that top players are becoming carbon copies of each other. But is that really true?

The fact is that all two-handers are not the same. There are important differences in grips, backswings, elbow positions, and use of the wrist, all of which have implications for how the pros play. These implications are equally as important for players at all levels who want to improve their own two-handers.

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Doug Eng, EdD PhD, CSCS is a USPTA- and PTR Master Professional, one of only 13 in the world. He has been named divisional pro of the year 2 times by each organization. He is a member of the USTA National Sports Science Committee and has interests in sport psychology, biomechanics and techniques, and strength and conditioning specifically for tennis. He is a Director at the Tennis Academy at Harvard, and has been a college coach for 16 years and has worked with dozens of ranked players.

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