Hit a Backhand like Richard Gasquet

alt

Not only is the flamboyant Frenchman’s one-handed backhand a thing of beauty – it is also the most devastating shot in his repertoire

1 Gasquet has an unusual take-back – the face of the racket is open as if he is preparing to slice the ball, adding disguise – but his fundamentals are spot on. He has turned his shoulder and set himself behind the ball.

2 With his front foot now landing as he steps into the shot, Gasquet’s weight starts to move forward, bringing him up to the baseline. The racket face begins to straighten so he can hit the ball flat or with topspin. Check out the size of Gasquet’s step forward into the shot - his head and shoulders soon follow, shifting his monentum.

3 Gasquet uncoils from the point of maximum shoulder rotation, swinging the racket down and forward as his full weight transfers to the front foot, with the knee bent enough to get under the ball. He starts to drop the racket head so he can bring the strings from low to high up the back of the ball, creating top spin



Objectives- Hit the percentages on high fliers

The single-handed backhand is a tough shot to master, particularly when dealing with high-bouncing balls. It is difficult to create power when the ball reaches you anywhere above shoulder height – on these balls just focus on returning deep with plenty of height over the net onto your opponent’s weakness. Once you get a shorter ball, step in and go for it.

alt

4 As he makes contact with the ball, his shoulders remain side-on while his back leg is to the right of his body. His eyes are focused on the contact point, while his right leg has straightened, transferring power into the stroke. Notice that Gasquet’s head remains focused on the contact point even after the ball has been struck - this helps him maintain balance through the stroke.

5-6 Even after completing the shot Gasquet holds the shoulders, hips and back leg in place. The side-on shape has directed the ball down the line, while his momentum has carried him inside the baseline.


GRIP IT AND RIP IT - Eastern Promise

If you’re just starting out with a single-hander, use an eastern backhand grip like Gasquet. The knuckle of your first finger should be on the bevel of the handle – the surface perpendicular to the strings – so that the racket face is slightly closed on contact. It is not a million miles from the chopper grip, so you can quickly adjust if you decide to hit with slice.

POSITIONINING - Best Foot Forward
Playing with a single-handed backhand means sacrificing the extra power you could produce with a two-hander, so making the most of your body’s momentum to generate power is crucial. As Gasquet demonstrates, the key to this is positioning yourself behind the ball as you prepare, and transferring your momentum forward so all your weight is over your front foot as you strike the ball out in front.

GOLDEN RULE
Aim to make contact with the ball out in front. from this position, with your hips side-on as you strike the ball, you can hit down the line – as Gasquet does here – or open your hips as you follow through to hit cross-court.

Photos by: AMN Images

 

alt
Jul 20, 2015

Managing Progress and Expectation

in Mental Strength by David Sammel
One of the most difficult jobs for a coach is managing expectation. Expecting too little of a player or too much can be equally damaging to a… Read more...
Default Image
Jul 20, 2015

Mental approach to five-set match

in Mental Strength by David Sammel
Read and remember, or even take on court to read: These tips were originally developed as a help for players about to play a Grand Slam or Davis… Read more...
Default Image
Jul 20, 2015

Ego vs Self-esteem

in Mental Strength by David Sammel
David Sammel's theory of ego: "I have the belief that in order to succeed, one should first build up the ego to muster the drive and ambition to… Read more...
alt
Jul 20, 2015

Psychological warfare

in Mental Strength by David Sammel
The art of being able to rock your opponent and sow a seed of doubt is crucial to success in tennis. I call this “finding a way to make a… Read more...
Default Image
Jul 20, 2015

Preparation checklist

in Mental Strength by David Sammel
Preparation checklist. This is a quick list you can go through to see if you are ready to play. 1) Am I in the right mood for playing? Answer… Read more...
alt
Jul 20, 2015

Locker-room power

in Mental Strength by David Sammel
Would it surprise you to learn that many matches, at all levels of the game from the youngest juniors to highest touring pros, are won or lost… Read more...
alt
Jul 20, 2015

Locker-room power: the next step

in Mental Strength by David Sammel
Consolidating locker-room power: I will begin with a brief outline of LRP, which was the subject of a previous article. Locker-room power is the… Read more...
Default Image
Jul 20, 2015

Mental Training

in Mental Strength by David Sammel
Basic Principles If you do not think you need to improve your mental approach, you are already a top 50 player. Success at a high level is… Read more...
Default Image
Jul 20, 2015

The Importance of a Pre Match Routine

in Mental Strength by David Sammel
One of the most striking things when watching juniors play is just how under-prepared a lot are when match time approaches. So often we see… Read more...
Default Image
Jul 20, 2015

Winning Focus

in Mental Strength by David Sammel
Change Your Attitude So you want to win matches, but you do not know how? You must change your attitude to matches right now. The objective is… Read more...
alt
Jul 20, 2015

Becoming Mentally Tougher in Matches

in Mental Strength by David Sammel
This article is designed to help serious players develop a routine in their preparation for matches, so they can improve their consistency of… Read more...
Default Image
Jul 20, 2015

Dealing with Cheating

in Mental Strength by David Sammel
If you feel you are being cheated and you can keep focused and still play good tennis then that is the best solution. Sometimes this is very… Read more...