Single or Double-handed Backhand - What are the stats on tour?
Posted on May 06 2018
What backhand should I use, SIngle or Double?
It is a long-running debate in tennis as to whether the single-handed backhand of the double-handed backhand is the better stroke. In decades gone by, the single hander was the only shot in the coaching manual, but in recent times, the double hander has dominated.
If you look at the top ten today, there are three players plying their trade with a single hander, Federer, Thiem, and Dimitrov. So there is clearly nothing stopping single-handed backhands from reaching the top of the game. Move down the rankings though and the percentage of players with single-handed backhands does not get any higher than 30%, there are 3 in the top 20, and 6 in the top 30.
However, rather than this lack of representation meaning the single hander is an inferior shot, it has everything to do with numbers. When kids start out playing tennis they do not possess the strength to effectively pull off the single-handed backhand, particularly a high backhand which is a very unnatural position for the body. This combined with the simplicity of the double-handed backhand make the single hander a far more attractive option for coaches to teach kids and therefore, it is likely that far fewer than 30% of kids hit single-handed backhands.
Why do more players have double handed backhands?
You might ask yourself what happens when a player reaches the age of 15 or 16 and has the strength to hit the single hander, after all, some of the greatest backhands of recent times have been single-handed, think Gasquet, Wawrinka, Henin, Mauresmo. The problem is that even if a player felt he might benefit from switching to the single hander, it would be a very difficult change. By this point, and even younger, top players are playing around the world at the highest level, they are used to winning and being at the top, but such a fundamental change to their game risks blowing all the hard work they have put in.
There are definite benefits to each stroke, but the double-handed backhand wins out in the vast majority of cases for this reason; it is a far easier shot to learn when a kid is developing the basis for his game. We are always going to see some players with single-handed backhands at the top, but the double hander is set to continue to dominate.
Whether you have a double-handed backhand or a single backhand, you still have to pick up the balls after practice!
Anyone who has played tennis to a relatively high standard knows that to ingrain a technique into a child's muscle memory takes hours and hours of practice and thousands of balls hit.
Children’s attention spans aren’t the best and so it can be very easy for them to lose concentration from one round of basket drills to another. Part of this loss of concentration can be attributed to the lethargic nature of collecting tennis balls. It’s hard to go from a very intensive basket drill to walking around, bending over to collect tennis balls and then to immediately re-focus on the next drill.
An easier method is to collect the balls quickly with minimal effort and then actively prepare for the next drill by taking on food or water while the coach explains again what the aim of the drill is and what the child is trying to improve.
Kollectaball offers a range of tennis ball collecting equipment that enables this kind of preparation. Many coaches would downplay the effect picking up balls has on a player but the fact of the matter is that tennis, like all sports, is becoming more and more competitive at every level. Any advantage you can derive from changing the way you do things is valuable in our opinion. We hope you agree!