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The role of the free arm in the one-handed backhand


The role of the free arm in the one-handed backhand

The back shoulder in the one-handed backhand

After so many years of analysing the errors of my students, I have come to realise that most people make the same mistakes as everyone else.

As far as the one-handed backhand is concerned, the most common error is that the arm doesn’t lead the racquet.  

A very common mistake

I often see students, in an effort to generate more power, twist their body as they hit the one-handed backhand. They try to bring energy from their torso into the shot, which brings them off balance and doesn’t produce desirable results. .  

Note that the back shoulder moves forward, and that the torso is almost parallel to the net after the shot.

This is wrong! It leads to the shot breaking down before it is even complete, which causes you to lose both power and control. Moving your body in this manner makes you to leave the proper line of the shot – this is a sure recipe for disastrous inaccuracy. .

Pulling you shoulder like this stops the racquet from completing a normal topspin motion. Instead of brushing up the back of the ball, it brushes it in a sideways movement. This causes the ball to veer off-course very quickly and you can' t obtain the tipique topspi parable but only the sidespin. This rotation of the torso also leads to an over-rotation of the hips, which messes with your balance.

A professional approach

Let's start with the video of Fernando Gonzalez. Look at his back shoulder. What do we see?


Throughout the shot, his left shoulder remains still, leaving the dominant arm to hit through the ball in the right manner.


By keeping his shoulder steady he beings balance to the left side of his body, which gives him a perfect base from which to hit a powerful, accurate shot. Actively use the free arm

If you really want to have well-coordinated upper body movement, it is essential to use your non-dominant arm as a balancing device. Look at the video with James Blake.



By opening his arms Blake opens his chest, which gives him a compactness ideal for hitting a powerful shot.


By opening his arms in this manner he also stops his left shoulder from coming over and ruining his shot. and, besides,you can correct your misteke

So, take it from the pros…keep that left shoulder steady!

And, if you don' t believe me, look at the most well-known one-handed backhand players



Massimiliano Grancini

Massimiliano Grancini is an Italian federal tennis coach.

He was ranked 500 on the ATP doubles rankings in 1990, and was a second division player from 1988 to 2003. He is currently working at Tennis Club Lombardo in Milan, where he is in charge of the competitive section.