Which is the better stroke in the game of tennis, a one-handed or a two-handed backhand? This debate can be heard on the sidelines of most any tennis tournament I’ve been at. Of course those with the one-handed backhand with profess it to be the best while those with the two-handed will defend their stroke. Let’s take a minute and look at the plain old facts.
Two Handed Backhand
- it is easier to learn
- easier to produce topspin
- requires less strength
- shorter backswing which makes returning serve easier
- easier to change the directions of a ball at the last-minute
- less strain on your dominant arm
- don’t need as much time since your contact point is less forward
- not very easy to produce slice
- not as easy to volley
- not as good for the serve and volley game
- limited reach for wide and short balls
One Handed Backhand
- easier to stretch wide or forward for balls
- easier to hit balls above your head
- easier to hit low balls
- easier to hit slice
- easier to volley
- makes the serve and volley game much better
- difficult to learn
- less racquet stability
- more difficult to generate topspin
- difficult to hit balls between the chest and shoulders
My answer to this question is simple, learn both. I advise developing the two-handed backhand first since it is the easiest and most reliable shot. However, once you’ve mastered the two-handed backhand spend some time to learn a one-handed backhand. It is easily one of the most under used and under rated shots in the game of tennis. When you are caught on the run on a ball out wide there is nothing better than being able to drop the second hand off the racquet, reaching wide and letting it rip. On the offensive side of the game it is great for the chip, drop shot and changing pace on your opponent.
Word of caution here, we took a lot of heat when we used this approach with our son. As a matter of fact when the coach told us he was teaching Alex a one-handed backhand and that was all he was going to let him use on the backhand side for the next two months we were rather apprehensive. His backhand was his solid most consistent shot, why would we mess with it? However, we let the coach do his job and went with it. At tournaments when Alex was struggling (and loosing) using the one-handed people would question our choice and wonder what we were thinking. Once he mastered the one-handed the coach put him back to the two-handed backhand. The theory here is that he nows has the ability to use which ever one best suits the situation. Certainly the two-handed backhand is his bread and butter but why not have the one-handed backhand in your back pocket instead of leaving a hole in your game?
If you choose this approach for yourself or your child remember that you will have to give up a few wins in the short-term to get a better all around game in the long run.