When you think of a one handed backhand that transcends the sport then one player's comes to mind and that's the Roger Federer Backhand. Often overshadowed by his forehand, the Federer one handed backhand is a shot of both beauty and quality that's capable of producing winners from anywhere on the court.
Federer Backhand Overview
One handed backhands are becoming more and more of a rarity on the ATP Tour so seeing someone like Roger Federer utilise this dying art and still be effective is a joy to behold. His backhand is effortless but still able to produce great shot making and deliver winners under pressure both from offensive and defensive positions.
The Federer backhand is one that features power but also has a great deal of versatility and adaptability. He is often capable of mixing up play on his backhand wing by either slicing the ball or driving through with regular top spin. His swing path allows him to hit the ball both on the rise but also from deep behind the baseline.
The Federer backhand was regarded as a weakness when he first burst onto the men's tour but it has since developed into a consistent and effective shot that's now capable of hitting winners and keeping him in the rally.
The Federer Backhand in Slow Motion
How does Federer hit such a great one handed backhand?
Let's take a look at how Federer sets up to hit that all important one hander, like the Federer Forehand it's all about the preparation and the stillness of the head on impact so let's break it down:
1.) Federer uses an Eastern Backhand Grip
Like the players he idolised as a boy; Sampras, Edberg and Becker, the Roger Federer Backhand is a textbook stroke and he utilises a very classic approach to the shot.
Roger uses the standard backhand grip which is basically an eastern backhand grip. He switches it slightly for when he slices the ball.
This grip allows Federer to hit his backhand with both power and top spin. As you can see in the top knuckle (the index finger) is practically in line with the frame of the racket. If anyone is just starting out in tennis and uses a one handed back hand this is the simplest and most effective grip for it.
2.) Federer's has Excellent Backhand Preparation
Preparation is the key to most shots but none more so than the backhand, without getting in position early a player will become rushed and never make clean contact with the ball.
Federer uses a unit turn when preparing for the backhand, this allows him to to coil his body as a full unit, which effectively loads up power into the core muscles that uncoil at the point of impact which generates pace on the ball.
The unit turn also gives the player flexibility to play a different type of shot he is to play, be it a power shot or one that utilises heavy top spin allowing greater margin for error.
3.) Roger Federer's Great Footwork on the Backhand Side
One of Federer's huge advantages is the great footwork he uses before playing the shot, by getting in position early he is able to hit the ball from a solid base and make contact with the ball out in front of his body with his arm as straight as possible.
By using big steps to get to the ball and smaller steps to adjust he is able to cover the ground but not get too cramped when it's time to play the all-important shot. His left hand helps guide the racket back behind his body in anticipation but he is still able to move freely in either direction.
4.) Federer Hits at the peRFect Contact Point
Like the forehand Roger uses gravity to help with his swing path and at mid swing the racquet drops below the level of the ball. This enables him to hit with top spin. Using a low to high swing path means that the racquet brushes up the back of the ball but at contact point it is completely parallel with the court and out in front his body allowing to the backhand to be hit with power and spin. Throughout all elements of the shot, the racket and his arm form an L shape and this again allows for stability, efficiency and power.
Much like the forehand his head his perfectly still at contact point.
So there you have it, a quick analysis of the Federer Backhand. One of the most aesthetically pleasing and versatile shots in the game. Whilst the two handed backhand is becoming more and more prevalent in the men’s game this shot still remains effective and capable of taking a game away from an opponent.