Exploiting Your Opponent's Backhand  

Exploiting Your Opponent’s Backhand

So you’re about to face an opponent that you have never played and rumor has it that they have a weak backhand.

As your coach you’ll want me to devise the ultimate strategy. One which will ensure your safe passage into the next round.

Let me tell you, assuming that this player is experienced, this may not be as simple as it sounds.

Questions we need to ask in order are:

Which backhand is weak?
There are many different components and features to any shot in tennis. It is likely that your opponent does not favour a particular type of backhand. Perhaps a low or a high shot? Possibly a slow ball, or one with excessive slice or topspin? Do they play with 2 hands and if so can they play a single-handed slice? Once this has been established we can then ask the next question….

What is the probable type of shot he/she is likely to play in this situation?
Will this draw a weak, erratic, consistent but not penetrating or unconfident reply? Will this backhand falter immediately or will it break down at a certain stage of the match?

How do you uncover this weakness?
Usually an opponent will be very good at concealing a weakness and will be used to it being attacked.
Is it possible to hit straight to the backhand or must you first play to a different part of the court to expose this side?

What is your adversary’s strength?

In trying to expose the backhand do you risk playing to an area of the court that favours your opponent’s strength?

What are your technical capabilities?
Any gameplan is reliant on your technical ability to adopt it. It is no use attempting to play low and wide to your opponent’s weak single-hander if you are technically unable to do so.

When is the best situation to exploit this strategy?
Is it more appropriate to use your trump card at the outset or possibly save it for the right moment in the match?

What are your favourite strategies and tactics?
Is it worth compromising your own gamestyle for this strategy? You may be more successful playing your own game.

Game Plan
Now let’s make a plan.

Most rallies from right hander to right hander start out as a backhand to backhand crosscourt rally.

If you play a backhand down the line your opponent will usually play a forehand crosscourt. This exposes the entire backhand side down the line

Play your forehand deep and high down the line. As you recover towards the left of centre of the court, move one step forward in an anticipation of the weak return.

On gauging this response:

1. Take the ball on the full, playing an attacking shot and move closer to the net.
2. Allow the ball to bounce and attack on the rise into the open crosscourt or inside out behind your opponent.
3. Retreat playing a counter attacking shot back deep into the backhand corner before rebuilding the point.

Remember Tennis can be likened to a chess game in that strategies may need to be planned many moves in advance. Understanding your opponent’s strengths and weaknesses and the implications these have with respect to the ensuing battle increase your chance of moving towards checkmate

Craig Miller
IQ Tenenis Pty Ltd
"Learn Twice as Fast"

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