Mastering the Two-Hand and One-Hand Backhand: A Guide for Tennis Players

If you’re a tennis player, you know the importance of having a solid backhand. The backhand stroke is a vital component of your game, and it’s essential to have a stroke that is consistent, powerful, and accurate. There are two types of backhand strokes: the one-handed backhand and the two-handed backhand. Each has its advantages and disadvantages, and it’s up to you to decide which one is right for you.

Historically, the one-handed backhand was the dominant stroke in tennis. Players like Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka have shown that the one-handed backhand can be a powerful weapon in modern tennis. However, in recent years, the two-handed backhand has become more prevalent. Players like Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal have shown that the two-handed backhand can be just as effective as the one-handed backhand, if not more so.

The two-handed backhand provides more stability and control, while the one-handed backhand offers more reach and power. Ultimately, the choice between the two comes down to personal preference and playing style. Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced player, it’s important to understand the differences between the two backhand strokes and choose the one that works best for you.

The One-Handed Backhand

If you are a tennis player, you have probably heard of the one-handed backhand. It is a classic shot that has been used by some of the greatest tennis players of all time. In this section, we will discuss the advantages, disadvantages, and famous exponents of the one-handed backhand.


The one-handed backhand has several advantages over the two-handed backhand. One of the main advantages is greater reach for wider shots. Many players find that once they master the stroke, they have more reach and can hit through the tennis ball more easily. Additionally, it is often easier to attack the net and move forward with your shot if you hit with one hand, because you hit a one-handed backhand further in front of you.

Another advantage of the one-handed backhand is the potential for more topspin and slice, adding shot variety to your game. This can make it harder for your opponent to anticipate your next move, giving you a strategic advantage on the court. Finally, one-handed backhands have a classic elegance and stylistic appeal that many players find appealing.


While the one-handed backhand has many advantages, it also has some disadvantages. One of the main disadvantages is that it requires more wrist and forearm strength. This can make it harder to consistently control high, powerful balls. Additionally, if you are not hitting the one-handed backhand correctly, it can lead to more errors and missed shots.

Famous Exponents

Some of the greatest tennis players of all time have used the one-handed backhand to great effect. Roger Federer, Stefan Edberg, Pete Sampras, and Richard Gasquet are just a few of the famous exponents of the one-handed backhand. These players have used the shot to win countless matches and cement their place in tennis history.

If you are considering using a one-handed backhand, it is important to practice the stroke and work on building up your wrist and forearm strength. With practice and dedication, you can master the one-handed backhand and add it to your arsenal of shots on the court.

The Two-Handed Backhand

If you’re looking to improve your backhand shot, you might be considering switching to a two-handed backhand. Here are some advantages and disadvantages of this type of shot, as well as some famous players who use it.


The two-handed backhand provides increased power and stability, as well as making it easier to handle high balls and heavy topspin. Because you’re using an extra hand, the shot is more forgiving with off-center hits. Additionally, the two-hander has the edge in control because it’s easier to make service returns.


One of the main disadvantages of the two-handed backhand is that it reduces your reach for wide shots. This can be problematic if you’re playing against someone who likes to hit wide shots. Additionally, it can limit your ability to generate extreme slice on the ball.

Famous Exponents

Some of the most famous tennis players who use the two-handed backhand include Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Andre Agassi, and Andy Murray. These players have all found success with this type of shot and have been able to use it to their advantage on the court.

Choosing Your Backhand: Key Considerations

When it comes to choosing your backhand, there are a few key considerations to keep in mind. By taking into account your player style, physical attributes, and comfort and confidence, you can determine whether a one-handed or two-handed backhand is right for you.

Player Style

If you are an aggressive baseliner who likes to hit powerful shots from the back of the court, you may find that the two-handed backhand is a better fit for your game. The added stability and control of the two-handed grip can help you generate more power and consistency on your shots.

On the other hand, if you are an all-court player who likes to mix up your game with a variety of shots and strategies, you may prefer the versatility of the one-handed backhand. With a one-hander, you can hit a wider range of shots, including slices, drop shots, and volleys, giving you more options on the court.

Physical Attributes

Your physical attributes can also play a role in determining which type of backhand is best for you. If you are a smaller or less-developed player, you may benefit from the added power and stability of the two-handed backhand. With both hands on the racket, you can generate more force and control on your shots, even if you don’t have as much natural strength.

Taller players, on the other hand, may find that the one-handed backhand gives them greater reach and flexibility on the court. With a longer swing and a higher contact point, you can hit high-arching shots that land deep in the court, putting pressure on your opponent.

Comfort and Confidence

Ultimately, the stroke that feels most natural and effective will be the best choice for you. Whether you prefer the classic elegance of the one-handed backhand or the raw power of the two-hander, it’s important to choose a stroke that you feel comfortable and confident with.

By practicing both types of backhands and experimenting with different grips and techniques, you can find the stroke that works best for you. With time and practice, you can develop a strong and reliable backhand that will help you dominate on the court.

Advanced Technique and the Modern Backhand

When it comes to backhand technique, the grip is a big factor that can impact your shot. The Semi-Western Grip, for example, is a popular grip that can be used for both one-handed and two-handed backhands. With this grip, you can generate more topspin on your shots, which can be especially useful for a topspin backhand or a drop shot.

Another important aspect of the modern backhand is the role of open stance. While a closed stance was once the norm, many players now use an open stance, which can allow for last-second adjustments and a wider strike zone. This can be particularly helpful for a powerful one-hander, as it can provide a built-in element of surprise and make it harder for your opponent to anticipate your shot.

In addition to grip and stance, many players are now using hybrid backhands, occasionally switching between one and two-handed based on the specific shot. This can be particularly effective for first-strike tennis, allowing you to quickly switch between a powerful two-handed backhand and a more versatile one-handed backhand slice.

When it comes to approach shots and backhand volleys, the one-handed backhand has a clear advantage. With fewer extra steps and a wider stance, the one-hander can be more effective in these situations. However, the two-handed backhand can be more powerful and consistent, making it a popular choice for players at all levels.

Training and Development

Drills for One-Handed Backhand Development

To improve your one-handed backhand, you need to focus on consistency, technique, and power. Wall practice is an excellent way to improve your consistency. Stand a little room away from the wall and hit the ball against it. This drill will help you get used to the bad bounce and improve your reaction time.

Shadow swinging is another great drill that can help you ingrain the correct technique. Stand in front of a mirror and practice your swing without hitting the ball. This drill will help you focus on your form and make sure you are using the correct technique.

Footwork-focused drills are also essential for developing power in your one-handed backhand. Emphasize ‘loading’ for power by stepping into the ball and transferring your weight onto your front foot as you hit the ball. This will help you generate more power and hit the ball with more force.

Drills for Two-Handed Backhand Development

To improve your two-handed backhand, you need to focus on developing core and rotational power, mastering your contact point, and generating topspin. Medicine ball throws are an excellent drill for developing core and rotational power. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and rotate your torso as you throw the ball to your partner. This drill will help you develop the explosive power you need to hit a powerful two-handed backhand.

Two-handed mini-tennis is another great drill that can help you master your contact point. Stand close to the net and hit the ball back and forth with your partner. This drill will help you focus on hitting the ball in the center of your racquet and develop a consistent contact point.

Cross-court rallies are also essential for generating topspin on your two-handed backhand. Focus on hitting the ball with a high follow-through and generating topspin. This will help you hit the ball with more spin and control, making it more difficult for your opponent to return.

By incorporating these drills into your training routine, you can improve your one-handed or two-handed backhand and become a more well-rounded player.


In the battle of the backhands, the real winner is you – the player. Forget about what the pros do or what traditional wisdom says. The best backhand is the one that elevates your game, boosts your confidence, and makes you a force on the court. Experiment, explore, and find the stroke that brings out your unique tennis brilliance.



Q: I’m new to tennis. Should I learn a one-handed or two-handed backhand?

A: There’s no single “best” backhand for beginners. The two-handed backhand is often easier to learn initially due to its added stability. However, the one-handed backhand offers potential for greater reach and shot variety. If possible, try both styles with a coach to see what feels most comfortable and effective for you.


Q: My one-handed backhand feels weak. How can I improve its power?

A: Focus on these key areas:

  • Footwork: Stepping into the shot and using your legs to generate power is crucial.
  • Core Rotation: Engage your core muscles to create a strong rotational force.
  • Grip: A semi-western grip often helps add topspin and power to your one-handed backhand.


Q: Is the two-handed backhand better for hitting high balls?

A: Yes! The added stability from using two hands allows you to control high balls more easily, especially those with heavy topspin that might overwhelm a one-handed backhand.


Q: Can I switch from a one-handed to a two-handed backhand mid-career?

A: While challenging, it’s possible! Be prepared for an adjustment period and work with a coach. Some players even develop a hybrid approach, using a two-hander for most shots but switching to a one-handed slice for specific situations.


Q: Are there any famous players with a two-handed backhand slice?

A: While not as common as the topspin two-hander, some pros use a two-handed slice effectively. Examples include Marion Bartoli and modern players like Daniil Medvedev, who use it as a change-of-pace or defensive shot.

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