The Achilles Elbow of the One-Hander
An insuperable problem when hitting a one handed backhand is that there is no forgiveness for a late contact: – once the ball gets behind your hitting shoulder, it’s pretty much end of stroke/point.
The Achilles Elbow
In frames 1 thru 3 it’s business as usual for the Graff backhand…until we get to 4.
‘So what has happened in 4?‘
Basically, the ball has got beyond Steffi Graf’s hitting shoulder. And when the ball gets behind your hitting shoulder on a one-handed backhand, there’s little or nothing you can do about it… even if you are Steffi Graf.
Here you have the Achilles Heel /Elbow of the one handed backhand: if the ball gets past your shoulder, you can only offer a flick of the hand to shift the racket head (and the ball) in the right direction.
And if someone as fast around the court as Steffi Graf can get caught out, what are the chances of mere mortals getting caught late?
One Way Bend
If Steffi’s elbow bent in two different directions, there would less of a problem.
But the elbow doesn’t, which makes an out-front contact on a one handed backhand doubly essential.
Alex Corretja faces a similarly difficult ball, below, and he’s done his best to stop the ball getting past his shoulder. He only just fails, and in his attempts to scramble a response, he opens his racket face by shifting to more of a forehand grip – this emergency grip is one of the few times you’ll see a forehand grip used successfully for a one-handed backhand (there is one other notable exception – know what it is?)
Here Barbara Schett has been caught out by a wrong-footing shot from her opponent on slippy-slidey clay.
This is another emergency shot under extreme pressure, and – return of serve apart – it’s one of the rare occasions that you’ll see a player use an open delivery (below the waist) on a one handed backhand.
However, good players get a full turn of the shoulders even in pressure situations like this, otherwise they wouldn’t have much of a stroke to play.