Tennis

How to Hit a Two-Handed Backhand in Tennis

How to Hit a Two-Handed Backhand in Tennis
  • Work the non-dominant hand to control the ball
  • Rotate the body and drive with the legs
  • Keep enough space between your body and the ball

   Your Guide

Gavin Davison   Gavin Davison

Before I kick things off, I’d like to stress that the points you see above are just the TIP OF THE ICEBERG.

Hitting a great two-handed backhand is like creating a flawless piece of music – everything has to be in sync for the outcome to be as desired.

While two-handed backhands are more common than one-handers, mainly because they are easier and more consistent to hit, this doesn’t mean that you can IGNORE THE FUNDAMENTALS.

Take Novak Djokovic as an example, his technique isn’t complicated, yet he hits a phenomenal two-handed backhand.

Why?

Because his fundamentals are ABSOLUTELY PERFECT.

He is able to rotate the body through his shot thanks to great footwork.

He works his left hand to generate awesome spin on the ball, and he is rarely crowded when playing the shot.

Check out this slow-mo video of Djokovic hitting backhands at Monte Carlo to see what I mean:

These are all critical boxes that need to be ticked to hit a top-level two-handed backhand.

But rather than simply giving you a few critical points, I’d like to dive deeper and get a little more technical. 

A Breakdown of How to Hit a Great Two-Hander

There have been many great two-handed backhands over the years. Guys like Agassi, Djokovic, Nalbandian, Nadal, Medvedev, and Zverev all spring to mind here.

And while they all hit their backhands a little differently from one another, they always performed the basics to a PHENOMENAL LEVEL.

These ‘basics’ are what I’d like to talk about right now.

1) Use the Left Hand to Work Your Spin

Before I continue with this one, I’m talking about right-handed players here.

If you are a left-hander with a two-handed backhand, you would need to work your right hand to generate the required topspin.

But let’s stick with a right-hander for SIMPLICITY.

With a two-handed backhand, you will drive towards the ball with your right hand on the bottom of the grip.

However, contrary to what many beginners think, the spin isn’t created by your right hand.

Instead, the left-hand needs to lag back in order to generate a kind of elastic band effect before rolling over the ball.

In fact, the entire racket head is controlled by the left hand – the right hand is merely there as a guide.

You can even practice generating this topspin with your left hand by simply hitting left-handed forehands.

Believe me, IT WORKS, and your backhand will improve as a result.

2) Drive Through With Both Arms

Like all groundstrokes, it is important that you extend right the way through your shot to generate ENOUGH PACE.

It’s one thing getting a nice degree of topspin with the left hand, but both arms must hit right through the ball and extend towards your target at the same time.

Those that hit a two-handed backhand short usually find that they are doing too much with the left hand and too little on the follow-through. 

If you watch a guy like Novak Djokovic or even Serena Williams for that matter, they both drive-through and finish the stroke over their opposing shoulder.

You’ll also notice that both players absolutely throw their body weight through the ball in order to get this extension, with the back leg sometimes coming through in transition too.

3) Keep Your Stance Neutral or Open

The rotation of the body with a two-handed backhand is a little more important than it is with a one-hander.

In case the terminology has thrown you here, a neutral stance is where your right leg is in front of your left (right-hander) facing down the court.

With an open stance backhand, the left leg is ACTUALLY PARALLEL to the right in a horizontal stance.

In all honesty, I prefer to hit from a neutral stance, as this way you can get the bodyweight moving through the ball and get decent rotation too.

Open stance backhands, again, in my opinion, should be reserved for situations in which you are under pressure.

That’s because you don’t have the time to plant your right foot, and if you did, you wouldn’t be able to rotate due to your hips being closed off. 

4) Grip Specifics

Although people hold their non-dominant hand in different ways on the grip, the dominant hand is always held in continental.

You can read here if you need a reminder of what this is.

So, first thing’s first, you need to hold your right hand at the bottom of the handle, IDEALLY with a continental grip.

From here, you should place your non-dominant hand above your right hand, with the fingers touching on the grip.

The top parts of your fingers should be nestled on the flat side of the grip, although you can adjust this as you see fit.

The further around your left-hand goes, the more closed your racket face becomes.

This means that you will be setting yourself up to hit more spin on the ball, much like Rafael Nadal DOES.

But if you open up the racket face by sliding the left hand in the other direction, your racket face will approach the ball at a flatter angle. This means you’ll be looking to HIT THE BALL FLAT.

Final Thoughts

At this point, you should have a pretty good idea of the fundamentals for a two-handed backhand, but there is one more thing I’d like to say.

If you are a beginner, or you don’t feel strong enough to play with a one-hander, please, stick with a two-hander.

And while developing your backhand, focus on getting the technique correct and hitting a consistent ball before ramping things up in the power department.

Believe me, you will feel so much more confident on the court by doing things this way.

Do you have any other tips for hitting a great two-handed backhand? Let us know if so!

How to Hit High Balls in Tennis

How to Hit High Balls in Tennis
  • Propel up with your legs for a better contact point
  • Neutralize the shot rather than attacking it
  • Take it out of the air if you feel confident enough

   Your Guide

Gavin Davison   Gavin Davison

High balls are some of the toughest tennis shots to hit of all.

They are troublesome as these high shots are far out of a traditional comfort zone, meaning they are above your shoulder height most likely.

But while they can be difficult to hit, as you can see from the three tips shown above, they are not impossible to deal with whatsoever.

And since you are definitely going to need to hit high balls at some point in your career, it makes sense to learn HOW TO DEAL WITH THEM.

If you’re a junior, you might find that high balls are more frequent than in the adult game.

That’s because juniors don’t really have the power to hit through the court, so the ‘moonball’ tactic can come out to play at times.

But even for adults, you will need to hit high balls if your opponent is hitting heavy from the back of the court.

They might even be throwing in high balls to try and TAKE YOUR RHYTHM AWAY. 

Whatever the reason, you can easily deal with high balls by following the advice I have outlined below.

Technical Pointers to Help You Out

To deal with high balls, the first section I’d like to address is based on Technical Pointers.

After all, being able to deal with high balls through technique alone will transform your confidence when faced with these types of shots.

And just to clarify, everyone has to deal with high balls, especially shorter guys – check out this video of Diego Schwartzman vs Rafael Nadal to see what I mean: 

And now that you’ve watched that masterclass from Schwartzman, here are my technical tips:

1) Push up With the Legs as Much as Possible

By nature, high balls will start to creep up around your shoulders or even higher.

So while a natural contact point is between your waist and shoulders, unfortunately, you don’t have this LUXURY when faced with high balls.

For that reason, I highly recommend that you try to gain some height off the ground by driving up to the ball with your legs.

This brings your body to a height that is more in line with the ball, which makes the shot less ‘unnatural’. 

2) Try Not to Change Your Swing Path

This might seem easier said than done, but I promise you that it is possible.

Of course, a traditional groundstroke requires you to drive up through the ball on a low to high path. With high balls, however, it’s not quite as easy to drive up through the ball since it is beyond your natural strike zone.

With that said, I would still encourage you to try and get a nice brush on the ball so that you KEEP YOUR CONTROL. 

Alternatively, you can swing on a more horizontal path towards the ball, but try to keep your intentions somewhat neutral here.

If you try to attack high balls too much, you might find that errors creep in.

3) Try to Flatten the Ball Where Feasible

My final technical pointer is to flatten the ball out if you can. Since the ball is higher, you can actually hit a flat ball with more margin for error.

This is purely because of the height that you’ll be contacting the ball – just be sure to keep your weight on the front foot otherwise you risk pulling the ball upwards.

I always tell people to keep their chest over the ball and their head still to avoid such a problem from occurring.

Tactical Pointers to Help You Out

Now I’d like to look at this from the other side of the coin.

If you can somehow change a high ball into a MORE COMFORTABLE SHOT, that’s a more preferable approach than taking on the high ball.

Don’t worry, all will become clear through the advice shared below:

1) Drop All the Way Back

If you are playing on a court that doesn’t have much of a backdrop, this isn’t your best option. But if you do have some space at the back, you can SIMPLY DROP FURTHER BACK as the ball approaches.

By doing so, instead of the ball reaching you at shoulder height, there is a better chance that the ball will be dropping down by the time it reaches you.

This allows you to hit a more comfortable ball, ideally between the waist and shoulder height. 

2) Take the Ball on the Rise

This is the complete opposite of option one shown above. If you are feeling confident, you can take the ball on the rise to prevent it from climbing too high and reaching your shoulders or more.

Doing this requires that your footwork is immaculate, and your preparation for the shot has to be nice and early so that you are ready to PULL THE TRIGGER.

It may even help you to ride the baseline if you want to use this tactic. This means your recovery point is more or less on the baseline, which forces you to take it early.

3) Take Them Out of the Air to Attack the Ball

If you are feeling super confident, as a high ball approaches, you could step into the court and take it on the volley. You have two options here – hitting a drive volley or a REGULAR VOLLEY.

If you go for a drive volley, you are setting your stall out to attack the ball and take a dominant position in the point.

If you take a regular volley, you could still move forwards, but your opponent won’t be under quite as much pressure. Again, the choice is COMPLETELY YOURS.

Conclusion

High balls can be a bit of a nightmare in tennis, but I hope that the information above has shown you that these shots can be dealt with.

But to conclude, I’d like to say that you should try and follow the tips that you feel most comfortable with.

If you’d prefer to hang back and play a neutral shot, do so.

But if you want to really take it to your opponent, get those legs moving and take it on the rise!

It’s all on you, and I’m confident you can make positive changes to handle high balls moving forward. 

Has this advice helped? Jump into the comments and let us know!

How Does the Temperature of a Tennis Ball Affect the Bounce?

How Does the Temperature of a Tennis Ball Affect the Bounce?
  • Cold Weather – Very Low Bounces
  • Mild Weather – Decent Bounces, Not Overly Lively
  • Hot Weather – Very Bouncy and Lively

   Your Guide

Gavin Davison   Gavin Davison

Did you know that the temperature can actually affect how a tennis ball bounces?

I’ve had a fair bit of experience with this having played tennis all over the world.

But for those that haven’t really played in various locations, the impact that temperature can have on the ball would surprise you!

For example, I grew up in the United Kingdom, and let me tell you – those balls would barely GET OFF THE GROUND in the WINTER TIME .

But I’ve also played college tennis in South Carolina, where the temperature was always hot towards the end of season and the balls would bounce ALL OVER THE PLACE.

For a relatively short guy like myself, this could often be a bit of a nightmare!

Perhaps I should have kept my career going on home soil in the freezing cold?

Anyway, as you can no doubt see already, the temperature definitely impacts how the ball bounces, and it can completely change the game.

What You Can Expect for Each Condition

Since tennis is a sport that is played all over the world, it goes without saying that it is played in different temperatures.

That’s why tournaments in Spain are quite different from tournaments in the UK!

With that said, it’s important that you understand how the temperature will actually impact the bounce of the ball, so here you are:

1) Cold Weather

As I’ve touched upon above, cold weather is the absolute worst condition possible if you want the ball TO BOUNCE.

When temperatures get low, the ball will barely react to the surface and any heavy groundstrokes will have no impact whatsoever.

That’s why cold weather is also well suited to players that hit the ball very flat, or for those that like to slice the ball a lot of the time.

Since the ball won’t be bouncing anyway, there is no need to try and hit excessive spin, as all of the venom will be taken out of the ball once it hits the surface.

2) Mild Weather

In my personal opinion, mild weather is the best for tennis.

You won’t be dealing with freezing temperatures, you won’t be sweating uncontrollably, and the bounce on the ball is just right.

In addition to this, not only is mild weather a COMFORTABLE CONDITION to play in, but it prevents the ball from springing wildly once it hits the court surface.

This obviously benefits some more than others, which was actually a major complaint from Rafael Nadal during the 2020 French Open, which was played during the Autumn instead of early Summer. 

Then again, it can’t have affected him that much, as he still smoked Novak Djokovic in the final to win yet another French Open title.

3) Hot Weather

There are many players that prefer hot temperatures over the other two categories.

In hot weather, the ball will bounce much higher than usual, and to be perfectly honest, it’s easier to get longer rallies in hot weather.

This is great for players that are still learning the game, as they can then build on their strokes and develop confidence in their game.

Personally, while I don’t mind playing in hot weather, it’s not my favorite. It can sap your energy and all of those high balls can be pretty exhausting.

How You Can Adjust for Each Condition

While you can’t control the temperature, of course, you can certainly control how you respond to it.

Depending on the conditions, you might need to change your game in order to play the best, or rather the most effective tennis that you can.

On that note, let me show you some different ways you can adapt based on the temperature:

I) Cold Weather

When it’s cold, just remember that the ball won’t react well to the court surface and it won’t really bounce either.

For that reason, if you are someone that likes to hit with a lot of topspin, you might want to consider flattening out the ball.

This will ensure that your opponent doesn’t get a sitter at the other end. Alternatively, you could always start to throw in a FEW MORE SLICES, as slice shots will stay super low during cold weather.

II) Mild Weather

Mild weather provides a Happy Medium for players of all styles.

As I’ve stated previously, the balls won’t bounce super high in mild weather, but they also won’t bounce ridiculously low either.

For that reason, if you do hit heavy, you can continue as you normally would.

But if you are a flat hitter, you might want to consider mixing things up with heavy spin, more slice, and even come to the net to volley at times.

Mild weather pretty much suits all strokes, which is why it’s my preferred condition to play in.

III) Hot Weather

Finally, hot weather can be just as problematic as cold weather.

Here you’ll notice that the balls are bouncing way higher than usual, which causes many issues in itself. In terms of how you can adapt, you might want to drop back in the court to avoid making contact above your shoulder level.

You may also want to RAMP IT UP in terms of topspin as the ball will react incredibly well to the surface, especially on clay or hard courts.

And when it comes to serving, you can also add some topspin to your second serves since it will kick off the court nicely.

Conclusion

So there you have it – the way that a tennis ball bounces in all temperatures.

I hope that after reading this you are feeling more comfortable with your understanding of how tennis balls will REACT FOR EACH CONDITION.

And at the same time, I hope you can apply the tips I’ve mentioned about adapting your game to suit each temperature. 

Has this article helped? Do you have anything you’d like to add? Let us know in the comments.

What Is a Body Serve in Tennis?

What Is a Body Serve in Tennis?
  • A serve targeted at the body of the opponent
  • Why? To jam them up and prevent a comfortable return
  • When? Whenever you feel like mixing it up

   Your Guide

Gavin Davison   Gavin Davison

In tennis, you’ll often hear people speaking of hitting a ‘tee serve’ or a WIDE SERVE.

However, the body serve tends to get overlooked.

But in my opinion, it’s a serving option that is ideal in order to attack your service games and mix up the play when required.

How is it done?

Well

basically, you aim your serve towards the body of the opponent.

The objective here is to jam up the opponent so they cannot take an easy swing at the ball. 

That’s the issue with tee or wide serves – if you don’t hit them well enough your opponent gets a nice shot on the ball.

But with a body serve, you’ve got a little more MARGIN FOR ERROR.

As long as your serve gets somewhere within your opponent’s hitting circle, they won’t have full extension on the ball and therefore a weaker return should be coming your way.

This isn’t always the case, of course, but it’s worth a shot.

In terms of how to get the most out of your body serves, I’d like to share some secrets below.

How to Hit an Effective Body Serve

Above all else, a body serve needs to do exactly that – it has to go in towards the body of the opponent, which causes problems, just ask Roger Federer!

If not, as I’ve stressed above, your opponent’s could easily neutralize the return and before you know it, you are on the BACK FOOT.

The good news is that I have a few bits of advice that should prevent that from happening:

1) Add Some Slice to the Ball

This is my favorite way to hit a great body serve, and it’s something I tend to use when playing both singles and doubles.

By slicing the ball, you can create some movement in the air, and some great bend on the ball after it contacts the court surface.

This alone makes the return more difficult to hit, in the same way that a cricket or baseball player ADDS SPIN to their delivery to get the batter to miss.

And if you choose to slice the ball, you’ve also opened up some additional options.

Should you aim the ball to the left of the opponent’s body, the ball will be swinging into their backhand (for a right hander).

If you aim to the right, the ball will be swinging into the forehand, but at the same time, they will need to MOVE FORWARD to prevent the ball from getting too far beyond their strike zone. 

2) No Slice? Hit Flat and Hard

It goes without saying that some people just aren’t comfortable with slicing the ball.

That’s completely understandable, and if that’s you, then you’ve always got the option of increasing the pace and going STRIGHT FOR THE BODY.

While slice is designed to add movement to the ball in the air and off the ground, which makes it harder to hit, pace is designed to reduce the time for the opponent to react.

Which one is more effective?

Who’s to say really, as it depends on what the opponent feels more uncomfortable in dealing with.

Just bear in mind that if you go hard and flat to the body, if your opponent does manage to connect cleanly on the ball, it will be coming back down your end at pace.

At the same time, it might be the case where your opponent cannot handle the pace and you get an easy point on the board.

3) Rotate Your Grip Further Around the Handle

In a traditional serve, you will be using the continental or ‘chopper grip’ as some people call it.

That’s the grip you use when shaking hands with your racket, at least that’s the easiest way to comprehend what the grip entails.

However, if you actually rotate your grip further around the handle, which opens up the racket face, you can hit even MORE SLICE THAN USUAL.

Sure, this makes the ball slightly tougher to time, but the more you practice this, the better you will get.

How does that relate to a body serve you ask?

Well, if you can increase the slice that you add to the ball while aiming to the left of the opponent’s body, it will be swerving in towards their body IN A BIG WAY.

This increases the movement of the ball in the air, and it makes the return considerably harder to time. 

4) Toss the Ball Wider Than Usual

In addition to changing your grip to hold it further around the handle, you can also toss the ball a little wider than usual.

Most coaches will tell you that you should be making contact with the ball at 1 o’clock (referencing a clock face), and I agree, this is ideal for most serves.

However, if you want to add more slice, you can toss the ball further away and make contact with the ball at 2, 2:30, and even 3 if you want to go a little MORE EXTREME.

This in itself forces you to hit around the ball to get it into the opposite box.

And YES, you guessed it, this means you must slice the ball pretty aggressively to get the desired in-swing. 

Why You Should Use a Body Serve

People use body serves for different reasons.

Personally, I like to use body serves with some added slice to ensure I have a decent first serve percentage in matches.

However, others like to do these serves to shake up an opponent, as is done in other sports like baseball and cricket mentioned earlier.

But above all, I believe it’s a serve that everyone should keep in their back pocket to add variety to their game. And who knows, you might just improve the success rate for service games!

Do you have anything to add? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

Which Tennis Star Married Actress Brooke Shields in 1997?

Andre Agassi
  • Andre Agassi – eight-time Grand Slam champion

   Your Guide

Gavin Davison   Gavin Davison

I can remember when I was a kid, watching Agassi on TV against guys like Sampras, Federer, and many others.

I was mesmerized by the way this guy played the game, and to be honest, I still am when I look back at HIS HILIGHTS.

Of course, as a kid, I was only concerned with what I saw him doing on a tennis court. I didn’t really dive into his personal life until later, which is when I discovered that he actually married Brooke Shields back in 1997.

Full Disclosure – I had absolutely no idea that he was married prior to Steffi Graf!

And for those that don’t know, Brooke Shields was an actress and model, something that obviously appealed to the young Andre Agassi.

But while they got married young, things weren’t to last, and they separated just two years AFTER GETTING MARRIED.

With that said, they actually started dating back in 1993, so they clearly had a long-lasting relationship before the firecracker marriage. 

The two obviously led quite different lives, with Agassi competing all over the world and Shields working on a plethora of movies at the time.

And from what I’ve read, they have both led happy and successful lives since the divorce.

Shields’ Life Beyond Andre Agassi

Since the divorce in 1999, it would be fair to say that Brooke Shields has been pretty successful. She remarried in 2001, just two years after meeting her current spouse, Chris Henchy.

The couple have two children together, and they live in Greenwich Village, New York. To this day, Shields has continued to work in Film, Fashion, and she has continued to Model.

Of course, these professions have taken her down a path that is entirely different to the one that Agassi has walked since. 

And while I’m by no means a qualified relationship expert, I believe she has been happy and successful since the divorce in 1999. 

Agassi’s Life Beyond Brooke Shields

Andre Agassi was 29 years of age when he married Brooke Shields, so it’s not like he rushed into marriage TOO YOUNG.

However, as history now shows us, he was to divorce Shields just two years later at the age of 31.

Interestingly, just like Brooke Shields, Agassi remarried just two years later, this time to a tennis player, and a very successful one at that!

He married Steffi Graf in 2001 at their home in Las Vegas, and it’s fair to say that this was probably the most powerful tennis marriage in history.

By powerful, I mean the talents and success that the couple shared.

Agassi alone managed to win 8 Grand Slams, which was significant and still is TO BE FAIR.

This might be overshadowed by the numbers posted by guys like Djokovic and Federer since, but 8 slams cannot be taken away or overlooked.

However, his wife Steffi Graf managed to win 22 Grand Slams, a simply sensational achievement. The couple also has TWO KIDS together, and I can only imagine the tennis-playing genes that these kids must have!

But interestingly, Agassi and Graf aren’t pushing their kids to play the game, which is admirable in a way. 

More on Agassi’s Tennis Playing Days

Now that I’ve discussed Agassi’s relationship with Shields, and what both of them have done since this marriage, I’d like to take a trip down memory lane.

And by memory lane, I mean I’d like to discuss the amazing achievements of Andre Agassi on a tennis court:

8 Grand Slam Titles

During his impressive career, Agassi managed to win 8 Grand Slam events.

This included 4 Australian Open titles, 1 French Open, 1 Wimbledon, and 2 US Open titles.

He rose to the top of the game at the same time as other legends such as Pete Sampras, and later, Roger Federer.

This meant that he was competing in an extremely high-level era, which makes his 8 Grand Slams all the more impressive.

Of these 8 Grand Slam titles, he also managed to win the Australian Open on his very first attempt back in 1995.

The reason he was able to win so many top-level events was down to his sensational ball striking, competitive mentality, and amazing return skills.

This served him well throughout his career, hence the success he obviously enjoyed.

Career Grand Slam

Agassi was also a career Grand Slam winner, which means that he managed to hold all 4 Grand Slams at some point in time.

This is an achievement that has also been matched by guys like Nadal, Federer, and Djokovic, which puts him in quite an exclusive club, to say the least.

Many thought that Agassi wouldn’t be able to do this given HOW FLAT HE PLAYED THE BALL, something which served as quite a hindrance to Agassi when it came to the clay-court season. 

However, he put the critics to bed and achieved this during the 1990s, even if he did lose in a number of Grand Slam finals along the way.

First Man to Win All Grand Slams on Different Surfaces

The career Grand Slam wasn’t a breakthrough achievement. Now, that’s not to say that this isn’t an enormous achievement – it is.

However, he wasn’t the first man to achieve SUCH A FEAT.

With that said, he holds the record for being the first man to win Grand Slams on all 4 surfaces, and this record will never be broken.

After all, he was the first to do it, and you can only be first one time!

For me, the most impressive thing about this was that he was able to win the French Open back in 1999.

Given the way in which he played, I never thought he would win the French, but he adapted and ultimately lifted the title.

Again, this showed how versatile his game was, and how determined Agassi was in general to become the very best player he could be. 

And finally, if you have a chance to read his autobiography, I highly recommend it!

Enjoy the article? Have any other interesting facts on Agassi or Shields? Let us know down below.

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