Deciding to win more points begins with the first 2 shots you will play. The first groundstroke option most players would like to begin the point with is a forehand, but many times that’s not what happens. In this case, as a player, having a strong backhand response to your opponent’s shot is important to practice. Practicing the First Strike Backhands will help you start the point with more confidence on your backhand side and diffuse any confidence your opponent may try to create within the First 4 Shots of a point. In the video, we look at the Top 7 First Strike Backhands a player will face and emphasize practicing these backhands in the context of beginning a point. By rehearsing these Top 7 Backhands on a more regular basis, a player will become more comfortable and familiar with how to execute the backhands with the best stances, contact moves, and movement patterns/sequences needed to perform at higher levels of performance.
Here’s a list of the Top 7 First Strike Backhands:
- Return (R) Backhand from the AD Court This is the most important backhand to master in the First Strike phase of a point. One of the most critical backhands to execute is when your opponent serves out wide to the Advantage Court.
- R1 Backhand from the Deuce Court This is typically the second most important backhand to be comfortable playing in the First Strike phase of a point. The R1 is the second shot by the Return player. From the Deuce Court, this R1 Backhand typically happens more often than the Deuce Return Backhand and is the second most important behind the Return Backhand from the AD Court. The timed and rhythmic movement sequence to this R1 Backhand after a Deuce Return of Serve is critical to master.
- R1 Backhand from the AD Court This backhand is 3rd on the list of most important Backhands to master within the First Strike phase of a point. Your opponent will capitalize and look to hit their S1 into the AD Court either with a Backhand Crosscourt or Inside-Out Forehand. You will need to master this R1 Backhand as a result.
- Return (R) Backhand from the Deuce Court If your opponent decides to hit what I have called the Inside-Run (more familiar term is “T” Serve) on the Deuce Court, you’ll need to practice this Deuce Court Return Backhand to neutralize their attack. Best to place this Backhand return down to the middle of the court to counter the Serve player’s inside run attack.
- S1 Backhand Cage from the AD Court Defending a deep ball after your Serve from the AD Court is where practicing this backhand can make a big difference in match play. After your Serve from the AD Court, you will want to master the movement sequence to reset and play a deep ball to your backhand wing from the AD Court.
- S1 Backhand from the Deuce Court This Backhand after the Serve from the Deuce Court is another critical shot to master in the First Strike phase. If you decide to Serve out wide to Deuce Court (Outside-Run Serve) and your opponent returns down the line, this backhand is crucial to execute to run your opponent to the AD Court or even reverse your opponent back to Deuce Court on the S1.
- S1 Backhand from the AD Court This backhand is slightly different from #5 on the list as you will have to move more towards the outside of the AD Court to receive this backhand. The reset after your AD Serve and the movement sequence to this S1 Backhand is also a big shot to master in the First Strike phase.
For left-handed players, here is the list of the Top 7 First Strike Backhands to Master:
- Return (R) Backhand from the Deuce Court
- R1 Backhand from the AD Court
- R1 Backhand from the Deuce Court
- Return (R) Backhand from the AD Court
- S1 Backhand Cage from the Deuce Court
- S1 Backhand from the AD Court
- S1 Backhand (Wide) from the Deuce Court