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Thursday, August 4, 2016

Sarah on the Two-Handed Backhand

I recently posted a Marke Renesson video that discussed the two-handed backhand at the highest levels of pickleball. In A Two-handed Backhand, I added my analysis which included:

Two-Handed Backhand Pros
  • More Control - Having two hands on the racket creates less margin of error.
  • Easier To Learn - It takes more coordination to learn the one-handed backhand.
  • More Consistent - Your racket is more stable at impact when using two hands.
  • More Power - Players with weaker arms will have more powerful backhands whena second arm is used.
Two-Handed Backhand Cons
  • Reach - You will be losing about 2 to 3 inches.
  • Slice - Your slice isn’t as natural as a one-handed backhand player’s would be.
  • Body Shots - It’s more difficult to make a return close to the body.
  • Preparation Time - The physics of swinging with 2 hands vs 1 hand is such that a one-hander is more flexible to a variety of heights and proximity to the body. A two-hander requires taking more steps to get into proper position. 

My opinion is that the limitations of the two-handed backhand outweigh the benefits for all but those who aren't strong enough to hit a good one-handed backhand. I would encourage those players to give the two-hander a try. But they should make the decision with wide-open eyes that their footwork and timing will need to adjust.

Sarah Ansboury has now added her analysis to the discussion with an article on her website called Pickleball and the Two-Handed Backhand.

Pickleball and the Two-Handed Backhand

I wrote an article about the two-handed backhand for the Pickleball Magazine, but I thought I would jump on the topic here as well. You are seeing some of the pro players bringing their two-handed backhand from their tennis game to the game of pickleball. This brings a lot of power to a small space.

Coming From Tennis

Many of us coming from tennis learned to use a two-handed backhand as children, primarily because of the size and weight of the racket. I know some of these players when they crossed over to pickleball, were told, “You shouldn’t do that in pickleball.” But I think the results of many top players like Christine McGraft have disproved that theory. So if you are a newer or intermediate player don’t be afraid to experiment with using your non-dominant hand.

Using Your Non-Dominant Hand

Even as an advanced player, I have a tendency to place my left hand behind my paddle. This offers a few benefits:

  1. Balance:  You gain a bit of balance by engaging your non-dominant hand.
  2. Limit Backswing:  My non-dominant hand provides a kind of wall that stops my paddle from getting behind my body. You don’t need a long backswing in pickleball…keep it short.
  3. Support:  This additional support enables me to better control the paddle face ensuring the placement and angle I desire.
  4. Push:  Sometimes I add a bit of a push.  This is all that is needed to return the ball. In fact, a long follow through (across your body) will simply increase the likelihood of an error…again, keep it short.
I know quite a few players that consistently dink with two hands to give them stability and it works for them.

Backhand Fundamentals

Whether you use one hand or two, keep in mind you must move your body in the proper position to return the ball. Notice in each of the pictures, one handed or two, the player has moved so that they are parallel to the target. Your dominant shoulder must be facing the target. If you don’t turn your body, instead simply crossing your body with your paddle arm and waving at the ball, you significantly limit your power. Notice that I intend to make contact near my front, in my case, right knee. Notice also that I am shifting my weight onto that leg for maximum power and accuracy. If you have any questions about hitting effective groundstrokes, make sure to check out my YouTube video here.

Always keep in mind, there are so many options while playing.  You might as well try a few and see if it can help strengthen your shots.

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