9 Tennis Backhand Drills – Improve Your Backhand

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Many players want to improve their tennis game but don’t take the time to work on their flaws. Ask any player what they would like to change about their game; the answer will overwhelmingly be their backhand. However, this is easier said than done as it’s hard to know where to start and how to improve your tennis backhand efficiently.

Here is the secret:  These tennis backhand drills!

Now I know there are many different backhand drills, which makes it hard to pick the ones that are best suited to your style and level of tennis.

Luckily for all of you tennis enthusiasts and pros out there, I have compiled this ultimate guide of the best backhand tennis drills that will help you take your tennis game to a whole new level.

Drills to Improve Backhand in Tennis

The reason why you always need to keep working on improving your backhand is simple: backhands are what separate good players from great ones. 

Backhands are what win games. You want to be working on different techniques and master the ones you know of course. But if you have the mental strength and will to work on your weaknesses, you will become a true force to reckon with.

Many players are naturally gifted with a strong forehand and heavily rely on this shot to get by. Through these backhand drills, you will become a more versatile player and will increase the variety of tennis shots you are able to hit with ease.

When it comes to backhands, the two-hander is more common amongst players of all levels and skills. The reason behind this is that it’s an easier way to teach kids how to do a proper backhand. 

A tennis racquet can be heavy for a 5-year-old and they need to hold it with both their hands. Growing up, perfect that two-handed technique and stick with it as adult tennis players.

For now, let’s leave that discussion for some other time, and let’s talk about what we are really here for – improving your tennis backhand.

I have trained a lot of people, young adults, 60-year-olds, and small children. I can tell you that I have changed my backhand drill routine a couple of times. Eventually, I have perfected it in a way that is both efficient and fun for the players.

Without further ado, here is the list of tennis backhand drills that I have put together for you. Go out there, practice, and enjoy!

Tennis Backhand Drills for Beginners

As a beginner, it can sometimes feel frustrating to work on your backhand because you lack the proper technique. However, experience has taught me that these drills are the best ones to lay the foundations of your backhand.

Drill #1 - Practice your grip and stance

The first step to learn how to properly hit a backhand, is holding the racquet and positioning yourself properly. Here is how to do this seamlessly:

For more advanced beginners, with the help of a second player you can combine the beginner exercise #2 with this one. Make sure you use a proper racquet too!

Drill #2 - Practice Hitting the Ball

One of the most basic, yet important drill to learn the backhand stroke.

Make sure to repeat this exercise a lot. Practice until you feel like you’re hitting the ball naturally, and make sure you are sending the ball over the net into the opponent’s court consistently.

backhand tennis drill for beginners

Drill #3 - Inside the Service Line

Once again, to perform this drill, you need someone to assist you.

Tennis Two-Handed Backhand Drills

For convenience, I advise that you practice with another player. You can both perform this drill independently and even make a challenge out of it.

There are several two-handed backhand drills that you can work on to improve your tennis game, here are the most effective ones.

Drill #4 - Hitting a forehand shot with the non-dominant hand

This is mainly a warm-up exercise for your non-dominant hand. Here is how you perform it effectively:

This drill is best performed per sets of 20 hits. Once completed, move on to the next exercise. While it may feel a little bit weird using your non-dominant hand, believe me, it’s a super-efficient drill.

Drill #5 - Add the dominant hand

The next thing to do after the above drill is to add your dominant hand to the shot. Here is how to do this drill properly:

Note: If you don’t have anyone assisting you, just drop the ball in front of your backhand side and quickly place your dominant hand at the bottom of the handle.

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Drill #6 - Face the net

To get the best out of your tennis backhand drills, you need to practice as if you were playing an actual game. Therefore, for the third step of this backhand drill, you need to face the net. Here is how to do it:

Remember that if you want to get the best out of this drill, position is key. Try to predict the bounce and make sure to hit the ball at waist height.

Tennis One-Handed Backhand Drills

To perfect your one-handed tennis backhand drills, you need to work harder because it’s an even tougher shot to control.

Before we start talking about the drills, I want to give you a few tips that you need to keep in mind. First, make sure that you are as relaxed as possible. If you hit a one-handed backhand while being tensed, you’re going to have a bad time.

In order to develop a smooth and effortless movement, you need to relax and break the movement into smaller parts so that you get it right. If you want to do it effectively and efficiently, here are some of my favorite one-handed backhand drills.

Drill #7 - Short swing

The short backswing looks simple, but to do it right, here is what you need to do:

The best place to start this drill is at the service line. That way you won’t have to concentrate on judging the ball’s movement and bounce. It also requires less strength and is, therefore, the best way to get started with this tennis drill for beginners.

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Drill #8 - Alley rally

If you want to work on your down the line backhand, this is the drill that you need. Just like in the previous exercise, you need to do the following:

This drill is particularly good because it trains two players at once and it allows you to receive feedback from another tennis player on your shot, on how you’ve hit the ball, on your stance and many other aspects. Here are some of the best down the line one handed backhands from Federer:

Here are some of the best down the line one handed backhands from Federer:

Drill #9 - Lift the ball up

Once you’ve mastered the previous drills and you’ve gotten a feel for how to properly hit the ball with your one-handed backhand, you need to work on your strength and your technique. You want to increase your consistency, and this is exactly the point of the next drill.

Try to also focus on passing the ball as close to the net as possible as this will increase your overall accuracy. Try experimenting with the speed and strength you use in your shots. Find your own groove and comfort zone in order to build your own perfect backhand shot.

Here is a video that gives very good advice on one-handed backhands in general, that also speaks about strength:

Final Words

We all know that the backhand is a somewhat challenging shot to master. The level of technique required is rather high, which is why it requires a lot of work, dedication, and ultimately, training.

However, if you have the will to work for it, you will become a threat from anywhere on the court. Many pro tennis players have had to work on their backhands throughout their careers.

Before you go out there and start working on these backhand drills, I highly recommend that you find a partner to practice with. Ideally, someone who can play at a decent tennis level and who has a similar mindset as yours. Set common goals for yourselves and keep training until everything, from your stance to your grip, to the shot feels natural and effortless.

If you cannot practice with someone, many of the abovementioned drills can be performed alone on a tennis court. Watch Federer videos for one-handed backhands and Novak Djokovic for the two-handed backhand.

Don’t get frustrated if you’re not improving fast enough. Go at your own pace and make sure to analyze the movements, grips, and stance. Once you get a hang of it, I promise that all the hard work will pay off, and you’ll be winning matches and impressing everyone in no time.

Do you want to share some backhand tips of yours? Do you know about a fantastic drill I haven’t mentioned in this guide? Feel free to leave a comment below!

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Brenton Barker
Brenton Barker
Brenton holds a Degree in Sports Coaching from the University of Delaware and was the former Head Advisor for the Japanese Government's Sports Science Institute. He has held Managerial and Head Coaching roles with Australia's National Governing Body, Tennis Australia, and served on the Dunlop International Sports Advisory Board for eight years. Brenton currently consults with several professional athletes and clients in the areas of Self-Accountability, Health, and Goal Orientation.