Monday June 12, 2017 Q&A

Tennis: what's the main difference between a one-handed and a two-handed backhand?


1 how precise the shot is

2 the ball’s speed

3 the risk of getting tennis elbow

Question related image
Correct answer: The risk of getting tennis elbow Should you work on your one-handed or your two-handed backhand? Amateurs, professionals, coaches and spectators all have their own opinion. But when it comes to science at least, there's no clear-cut winner: one technique is no more effective than the other. In fact, it's nearly impossible to determine whether either is better because tennis players rarely master both techniques. Studies comparing top seeds and other elite players show that racquet speed and precision, as well as ball speed, are comparable with both one- and two-handed strokes. Yet the technique used is really quite different. The backhand stroke can be broken down into three phases: preparation, acceleration and follow through. To hit the ball on the opposite side of the body to their racquet hand, players need to rotate their shoulders, torso and hips. And to get some momentum behind the ball, a two-handed backhand requires greater rotation of the torso, which is a closed kinetic movement. With a one-handed stroke, however, the player has to rotate the upper limb that’s holding the racquet – from the hand all the way up through the wrist and elbow to the shoulder. This is much more of an open kinetic movement. The wrist needs to be flexed, and more muscle strength is required in the shoulders, forearm and wrist. If the one-handed backhand is not properly mastered, there is therefore a higher risk of injury. More than 90% of tennis elbow cases among tennis players are caused by the players not getting this backhand movement quite right. To absorb the force of the ball on impact, players needs to relax their wrist and follow through with the ball. If the wrist is flexed, the muscles suffer and the shock spreads to the elbow joints. This is what causes tennis elbow – an inflammation of the muscles in the forearm at the spot where they meet the humerus bone. When learning the backhand, children tend to be taught the two-handed approach since they have less muscle strength and coordination. And from a tactical point of view, two-handed backhands are the stroke of choice among baseline players, while slice shots and backhand volleys tend to be a one-handed affair. The same goes when returning shots of those types. Performance Factors Related to the Different Tennis Backhand Groundstrokes: A Review