The Basic One-Handed Backhand: Photo Lesson

01
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Grip and Early Backswing

grip and early backswing
(C)2007 Jeff Cooper licensed to About.com, Inc.

The basic one-handed backhand shown in this series of photos is hit with a full Eastern backhand grip, which is well suited to hitting the moderate topspin this stroke will have. A modified Eastern backhand grip will be easier for many players, so it makes sense to try both. They're similar enough that experimenting won't require any major adjustments.

This photo shows the turn toward the backhand side from ready position. In full ready position, the racquet would be held with the left hand on the throat as shown, and both feet would point toward the net. On a one-handed backhand, having the left hand on the throat is especially useful, because it helps to ensure a proper shoulder turn and a well-controlled backswing.

02
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High Point of Backswing

racquet at high point of backswing
(C)2007 Jeff Cooper licensed to About.com, Inc.
Stepping forward to meet the ball makes most tennis strokes easier to hit, but it's especially helpful on one-handed backhands. A significant step forward will get your weight moving forward, help keep you sideways, make it easier for you to push forward and upward with your legs as you swing, and focus your attention on meeting the ball well out in front. Take the racquet back roughly waist-high, with your left hand still on the throat.
03
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Middle of Swing

weight on front foot; racquet below ball
(C)2007 Jeff Cooper licensed to About.com, Inc.
The one-handed backhand groundstroke gets most of its power from linear motion--from the legs, body, and arm moving forward and upward. The racquet's position roughly a foot below the ball will result in the strings brushing up the back of the ball to create moderate topspin. The long forward path of the racquet will deliver solid power. Most of the body weight is now on the front leg.
04
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One Frame Before Contact

one frame before contact
(C)2007 Jeff Cooper licensed to About.com, Inc.
One video frame (1/30 second) before contact, the racquet head has dropped below the hand noticeably more than in the previous photo taken at mid-swing. When you're first learning this stroke, you shouldn't try to drop the racquet head just before contact, but if you do this naturally, it's not a problem as long as you also naturally bring the long axis of the racquet back toward horizontal to make contact with the ball. This technique increases the upward movement of the racquet head as it approaches the ball, thus adding more topspin to the stroke. It should develop naturally when your stroke is ready for it.
05
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Point of Contact

racquet meets ball
(C)2007 Jeff Cooper licensed to About.com, Inc.

A one-handed backhand hit with either Eastern backhand grip should meet the ball well in front of your body. With a Continental grip, you can meet the ball a little farther back, but a Continental grip is much better suited to hitting slice than topspin. The rarely used Western backhand grip requires a point of contact even farther forward than the Eastern grips do. Try to have the long axis of the racquet roughly parallel to the ground, your body sideways, and your eyes locked onto the point of contact.

06
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One Frame After Contact

one video frame after contact
(C)2007 Jeff Cooper licensed to About.com, Inc.
One video frame after contact, the racquet has risen almost a foot, indicating that the strings have brushed up the back of the ball to create topspin. The back foot, which bears almost no weight, has begun to slide forward. Once you're used to this stroke, you won't think about whether your back foot is sliding forward, but while you're learning, deliberately sliding your back foot forward can help ensure that your weight in on your front foot and moving forward with your stroke.
07
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Middle of Follow-Through

middle of follow-through
(C)2007 Jeff Cooper licensed to About.com, Inc.
This photo captures the lifting at the shoulder that is the essence of the one-handed backhand. The front leg is straightening as it pushes upward, and the back foot has slid farther forward.
08
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End of Follow-Through

end of follow-through
(C)2007 Jeff Cooper licensed to About.com, Inc.
On a classic, basic one-handed backhand, only at the very end of the stroke will your body turn largely toward the net. In different styles that also work well, you might turn sooner, but the classic style is easiest to learn and for most players, more consistent. The momentum of the swing will usually carry your racquet behind your head.
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Your Citation
Cooper, Jeff. "The Basic One-Handed Backhand: Photo Lesson." ThoughtCo, Aug. 22, 2016, thoughtco.com/the-basic-one-handed-backhand-photo-lesson-3207968. Cooper, Jeff. (2016, August 22). The Basic One-Handed Backhand: Photo Lesson. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/the-basic-one-handed-backhand-photo-lesson-3207968 Cooper, Jeff. "The Basic One-Handed Backhand: Photo Lesson." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/the-basic-one-handed-backhand-photo-lesson-3207968 (accessed December 12, 2017).