One-Handed Backhand Contact Points: Part 1

This will be the first of a multi-part series on the contact points of the backhand, in which we'll show you the different contact points for the one-hand and two-hand backhand in relation to their different grips. We'll start with the one-handed backhand with a continental grip, followed by the one-handed backhand with an eastern grip.

One-Handed Backhand: Continental Grip

Nick Bollettieri

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c.2005 Barbara Banks

Today's game, for the most part, is played with heavy spin and power. The continental grip cannot combat this type of play.

Why is that, you might ask?

The position of the hand is basically in the front of the racket. This gives the player very little support when attempting to hit balls above waist level or higher. With today's players hitting higher bouncing balls, this grip has become virtually extinct. (Note: John McEnroe and Paul Annacone both used this grip. If you recall, they were both attacking players that seldom played points from the baseline. Thus, being able to hide this grip.)

One-Handed Backhand: Eastern Grip

Until the last few years, the eastern backhand grip was the way to go. Because of the position of the hand, it offers maximum stability and allows players to drive the ball or hit with topspin. Another positive when using this grip is the simplicity in which it can be taught to beginners. Since the hand position on the top of the racket helps keep the racket face square on contact, many beginners will have immediate success with this grip, thus making their first tennis experience a positive one.

The versatility of the eastern grip is unmatched by any other of the potential grips. It allows players to hit with power, while still having the ability to play heavy topspin balls, slice shots, flat drives, and even drop shots. This versatility also makes this grip the natural choice for different surfaces. Since different surfaces produce different bounces, a grip that allows players different shot options is a must.

Although this grip provides the most versatility, players often find that high-bouncing balls above their shoulder are difficult to combat. In our next installment, we will discuss how players have made adjustments in playing these types of balls.

Nick Bollettieri founded the IMG Bollettieri Tennis Academy in 1978, the first full-time tennis boarding school to combine intense training on the court with a custom-designed academic curriculum. He has coached 10 players who have reached No. 1 in the world, including Andre Agassi, Boris Becker and Martina Hingis. To learn more, visit

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