Tennis 9 Tennis Backhand Drills - Improve Your Backhand

9 Tennis Backhand Drills – Improve Your Backhand

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 skill. 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, they 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:

  • Hold the racquet with your dominant hand as if it were a hammer (continental grip)
  • Lower the racquet at your hips
  • In case you have a two-handed backhand, place your non-dominant hand on the grip, above your other hand
  • Stand in a ready position facing the net
  • Turn your upper body towards the side of your non-dominant hand, to the point where you’ve rotated enough for the racquet to be behind your body
  • Make sure that the butt of the racquet directly faces the net
  • Try swinging while you are firmly holding the racquet

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.

  • Stand sideways at the service line in a ready position
  • Have a friend or your coach standing next to you with a larger basket of tennis balls
  • Your friend/coach must underhand throw at about waist height
  • Hit the ball using your backhand in an upward movement

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.

  • Position yourself behind the service line
  • Have a friend or coach standing on the other part of the court, in the center of the baseline
  • Your friend/coach must feed you the ball on your backhand side, inside the service line
  • Return the ball, cross-court into the backhand corner. The deeper your return is, the better

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.

Tennis Two-Handed Backhand Drills

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:

  • Choke up the grip with your non-dominant hand
  • Use the eastern forehand grip
  • Hold the ball and drop it in front of your non-dominant side
  • Hit a topspin forehand shot with your non-dominant hand
  • Follow-through

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:

  • Place your dominant hand on the bottom part of the grip
  • Have your non-dominant handhold the racquet in an eastern forehand grip
  • Your dominant hand in a continental grip
  • Have a friend or coach drop the ball in front of your non-dominant side
  • Hit a topspin two-handed backhand
  • Your shoulders and toes must be perpendicular to the direction of the shot you want to make

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.

Other Useful Tennis Articles

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:

  • Get in a ready position, facing the net
  • Place both your hands on the racquet
  • Have a partner or a coach throw some balls to your backhand side
  • Turn your shoulders while bringing your racquet backward
  • Step in with your right leg if you are right-handed, and your left leg if you’re left-handed
  • Hit your backhand

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:

  • Have someone feed you balls on your backhand side
  • Point your racquet butt towards the net
  • Make sure your racquet is parallel to the ground
  • Hit your backhand at about waist height
  • Make sure to drive the racquet face straight through the ball, without spinning it
  • Return the ball on the opponent’s side of the court
  • Try to follow through so that your hand finishes on the other side of your body

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.

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:

  • Position yourself and the second player on a doubles tramline, on each side of the court
  • Point your racquet butt towards the net
  • Make sure your racquet is parallel to the ground
  • Hit your backhand at about waist height
  • Make sure to drive the racquet face straight through the ball, without spinning it
  • Return the ball on the opponent’s side of the court, within the doubles tramline
  • Try to follow through so that your hand finishes on the other side of your body
  • The goal here is to hit as many consecutive down the line backhands with your partner

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 Roger Federer:

Drill #9 – Lift the ball up

Once you’ve mastered the previous drills and you’ve gotten a feel on 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.

  • Have someone feed you balls on your backhand side
  • Point your racquet butt towards the net
  • Make sure your racquet is parallel to the ground
  • Hit your backhand at about shoulder height (the key here, is strength)
  • Make sure to drive the racquet face straight through the ball, without spinning it
  • Strategically place hula-hoops on the opposite side of the court and aim for these zones
  • Try to follow through so that your hand finishes on the other side of your body

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 are unable to practice with someone, a lot 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 feel like 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 cool drill I haven’t mentioned in this guide? Feel free to leave a comment below!

Kevin Fitzgerald
Kevin Fitzgerald
Kevin Fitzgerald is a tennis coach based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Kevin was introduced to tennis by his father at the age of 3. Tennis quickly became a passion, and he started coaching at the early age of 16. Kevin now writes for several tennis related blogs and magazines.

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