AskDefine | Define backhand

Dictionary Definition

backhand adj
1 (of racket strokes) made across the body with back of hand facing direction of stroke [syn: backhand(a), backhanded] [ant: forehand(a)]
2 (of handwriting) having the letters slanting from left down to right [syn: left-slanting] n : a return made with the back of the hand facing the direction of the stroke [syn: backhand stroke, backhand shot] v : hit a tennis ball backhand

User Contributed Dictionary



From back + hand



  1. a stroke made across the chest from the off-hand side to the racquet hand side; a stroke during which the back of the hand faces the shot.
  2. Handwriting that leans to the left
  3. In the context of "Ultimate Frisbee": the standard throw; a throw during which the disc begins on the off-hand side and travels across the chest to be released from the opposite side.


stroke in tennis


  1. to execute a backhand stroke or throw
  2. to slap with the back of ones hand



  1. (handwriting) any left slanting handwriting
  2. (of strokes or throws) in the backhand style
  3. Any play that uses the back side of the hockey stick
    He scored on a backhand shot.


See also

Extensive Definition

The backhand in tennis is a stroke hit by swinging the racquet away from one's body in the direction of where the player wants the ball to go. For a right-handed player, a backhand begins on the left side of his body, continues across his body as contact is made with the ball, and ends on the right side of his body. It can be either a one-handed or a two-handed stroke.
The backhand is generally considered more difficult to master than the forehand. Because the dominant hand "pulls" into the shot, instead of pushing, the backhand generally lacks the power and consistency of a forehand. Beginner and club-level players often have difficulty hitting a backhand and junior players often have trouble because they are not strong enough to hit it. Even many advanced players have a significantly better forehand than backhand, and there are many strategies based on exploiting this weakness.


Main article: Grip (tennis)
For most of the 20th Century the backhand was hit with one hand, using either an eastern or a continental grip. The first notable players to use two hands were the 1930s Australians Vivian McGrath and John Bromwich. Beginning with Jimmy Connors and Chris Evert in the 1970s, many players began to use a two-handed grip for the backhand. Pete Sampras and Stefan Edberg notably switched from the two-handed to the one-handed backhand late in their development.
With some exceptions, one-handed backhand players move to the net with greater ease than two-handed players because the shot permits greater forward momentum and has greater similarities in muscle memory when hitting backhand volleys and backhand groundstrokes. They also do not develop a common two-handed backhand habit of playing volleys with two hands. However, one-handed backhand players with less extreme grips are prone to slicing or chipping returns when shots bounce too high over their strike zones; and skilled opponents often play into that weakness.
A one-handed backhand should be more powerful than a two-handed backhand.In practice, however, many tennis players do find more power with a two-handed backhand. That's because players often miss the racket's sweet spot, and two hands give players a stronger grip to stabilize the racket head on off center hits.As a result we feel confident to swing harder with two hands than with one.Two-handed backhanded players are much more steady from the baseline at lower levels.Two-handed backhands do not offer the same reach that one-handed backhands offer, so two-handed players have to be sharper in their movement when going after hard to reach backhands.

Great backhands

The player long considered to have had the best backhand of all time, amateur and professional champion Don Budge, had a very powerful one-handed stroke in the 1930s and '40s that imparted topspin onto the ball. He used an Eastern grip, and some pictures show his thumb extended along the side of the racquet for greater support. Ken Rosewall, another amateur and professional champion noted for his one-handed backhand, also used a continental grip to hit a deadly accurate slice backhand with underspin throughout the 1950s and '60s.
In his 1979 autobiography Jack Kramer devotes a page to the best tennis strokes he had ever seen. He writes: "BACKHAND—Budge was best, with Kovacs, Rosewall and Connors in the next rank (although, as I've said, Connors' 'backhand' is really a two-handed forehand). Just in passing, the strangest competitive stroke was the backhand that belonged to Budge Patty. It was a weak shot, a little chip. But suddenly on match point, Patty had a fine, firm backhand. He was a helluva match player."
On the men's pro tour, dramatic changes have occurred since then. In the 1980's, many great players such as Ivan Lendl and John Mc Enroe were leading the charge with their one handed flat backhand. But a new wave of players, such as Bjorn Borg, Mats Wilander or Andre Agassi, started to show the world that two-handed backhands could also offer major advantages. Players could now increase the speed and control of their two-hander in key defensive shots, such as returns, passing shots and lobs. Since then, many players followed this trend. Among the main ones, we count Andrei Medvedev, Marat Safin and David Nalabandian. However, the one-handed backhand is still used by many great players, such as Richard Gasquet, Aaron Yovan and of course Roger Federer.
On the girls pro tour, one of the great rivalries of the 1980's was symbolized by two different backhand styles: Martina Navratilova's smooth one-handed sliced backhand versus Chris Evert's perfectly controlled two handed backhand. Many different styles of backhand arose in the late 1980's. Among the best ones, we count Steffi Graf's exceptional sliced backhand, and Monica Seles's two-handed backhand, characterized by its rapidity of execution. This trend was followed by many players in the 1990's, such as Martina Hingis, Izabela Mijic, or the Williams sisters.
backhand in Hebrew: חבטת גב יד
backhand in Dutch: Backhand
backhand in Polish: Backhand
backhand in Slovak: Bekhend
backhand in Swedish: Backhand
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