Looped Prep on a Two-Handed Backhand
We’ve seen the economical, straight take-backs of Michael Chang and Tracy Austin and here we’re looking at its bigger, bolder sibling – the two-handed loop.
As on the forehand, the take back of the racket is joined to the forward swing, in a fluid, continuous motion that builds momentum, and in 1 thru 4 Martina Hingis starts a loop by getting the racket head high into the backswing.
I’ve included Tracy Austin in this click-thru and in 5 thru 8 you can compare her relatively simple straight pull-back.
What you also see in the above two strokes is backhand evolution. Tracy’s technique predates topspin’s big bang, whereas Martina is a child of the topspin revolution, and whilst you wouldn’t class Hingis as an extreme topspin merchant, she used it fabulously well to open up myriad angles that simply wouldn’t be possible without lots of topspin.
Feel the Hands
Although you rarely see what’s happening behind your body (you should be looking forward at the ball), you can feel your way towards developing a loop.
As you read and react, and shift into a full turn, feel your extra hand higher than your natural hand on the racket handle, similar to Elena Dementieva above.
A high extra hand means a high racket head, which kicks-off a high looped stroke.
Timing a Loop.
A high take-back is useless (for anything but slice), unless you also get the head beneath the oncoming ball, before swinging to meet a perfect Connect 3.
Elena Dementieva is another of my all-time favorite groundtroke models, so I’ve included the full stroke, above. Like loopy Martina, if she kicks off into her circular loop…
- Too early, she will have to pause to wait for the ball to catch up, therefore the stroke will really only start from the point at which it re-starts after the pause.
When the continuity pauses, the stroke stops – Capito?
- Too late and there’s no time to complete the full loop, or – to make up time – she will end up hacking down on the ball for a late connect, thus depriving her stroke of necessary forwardness.
Dementieva we’ll be seeing much of and Martina also features in the next full sequence, so take note then of how she loops to perfection.