We recently received a message from a fellow pickleball player… “I have a weak backhand. Need help now!” This is a common feeling amongst pickleball players. If you have ever read any of our pickleball strategy blogs, then you probably know that the backhand side is a common target of choice for most pickleball players, as most pickleball players will admit that their backhand shots are not quite as good as their forehand shots. If you are like most pickleball players, although a backhand may not be your best shot (kudos to those that it is!), your backhand does not need to be your enemy either.
Weak backhands are oftentimes a result of simply not enough “practice.” Pickleball players will commonly run around their backhands in order to avoid their backhand and hit a forehand shot, a shot they feel more comfortable with. As a result, these pickleball players will not have many opportunities to even practice hitting a backhand shot.
Generally speaking, it can be a good strategy to move your feet, use your athleticism, and run around to hit a forehand shot. However, sometimes, this is not possible, especially if you are trying to improve your skill level and overall game. In that case, you need to develop your backhand shots. The good news is that developing a good backhand is easier than you think, as the mechanics of your forehand shots are typically the same as the mechanics for your backhand shots.
If you want to improve your backhand shots, keep it simple, compact, and use these basic mechanics:
- Start from Your Ready Position – Always revert back to the ready position after you hit the pickleball. The ready position is your starting point for every strike of the pickleball. Remember, to have your paddle up and out front of you, your knees bent, and your weight on the balls of your feet. Also, be sure to have the proper grip on your pickleball paddle, which will allow you to hit both forehands and backhands without manipulating your paddle grip. One extra tip is that, if you are hitting a backhand drive, try to keep your feet in a semi-open position (rather than stepping across your body or in a closed position—in other words, perpendicular to the pickleball net) when striking your backhand drive, so that you can quickly revert back to the proper ready position and prepare for the next shot. You generally want to be square to pickleball at all times.
- Rotate Your Body and Pull Paddle Back Together – Start preparing for your backhand shot by doing the following in unison: (a) rotate your body slightly toward your non-paddle side; and (b) pull your paddle head back by your non-paddle side waist.
- Move Your Feet – Move your feet so that you are in a position to strike the pickleball at a consistent contact point. Your contact point will be out in front of your body toward your non-paddle side. Do not be lazy with your feet. Move your feet so that the pickleball is off to your non-paddle side slightly, such that you will be able to hit the pickleball out in front of you. Remember, as you move your feet, stay in the same rotated body position with your paddle pulled back.
- Find Contact Point – Find the contact point with your paddle. Again, the contact point will be out in front of you on your non-paddle side. Generate power from your legs and your core. Remember to stay in an athletic stance with your legs and your core engaged all the way through the shot.
- Hit Forward and Through the Pickleball and Finish! – Upon contact, hit forward and through the pickleball. Do not stop at contact, but rather finish your paddle swing through the pickleball. Your finish is so important, as it may dictate just where the pickleball will go, as well as if you have enough power on your shot. Do not flick your wrist or rotate too much upon contact, which can send your backhand shot flying in a direction that you do not want the pickleball to go. Also, it is imperative that you hit through the pickleball with only a small lift in order to keep your backhand shots low. If you finish with too much lift, you will be able to tell in your backhand shots, as they will be hit with too much height.
The backhand shots do not come overnight. It is important to practice—whether by drilling intentionally or intentionally hitting your backhand during game play—your backhand shots. Stay patient with your backhand and, eventually, your backhand may just become your preferred shot!
WANT MORE PICKLEBALL TIPS AND STRATEGIES?
Want to try and elevate your game with a two-handed backhand? Learn whether the two-handed backhand is right for you, plus 9 keys to success if you want to perfect it.
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