Should I run around my backhand?
Modern tennis is based on powerful shots. Big serves, aggressive returns, and huge forehands are common pictures on tennis courts around the world. Because of greater knowledge and equipment innovations nowadays tennis is completely different than it was 15 years ago. The one thing that is really popular among players at all levels is the forehand inside out/in. More and more competitors try to avoid hitting backhands and start to run around to cover most of the balls with the forehand stroke. Is it a good solution? Should everyone run around the backhand? You will find the answer in this article.
At the beginning we have to understand that forehand doesn’t have to win us many points. Everyone is individual so each person has own strengths and weaknesses that have to be considered while developing own style of game. Players tend to play more forehands than backhands because of 2 reasons. Firstly, it is more natural to play with one hand from the dominant side of the body so players acquire forehand skills faster than the other side. Because of the early success players choose to avoid hitting with the backhand to win more points with own better stroke. Secondly, players mistakenly believe that what they see on TV is the best lesson to learn. Unfortunately professionals are not great examples for all levels of players because demands on a local tournament are totally different than these for competitors playing Roland Garros. Taking into consideration these 2 priorities it is clear that running around backhand is not the skill that all players should incorporate into their game.
Each tactic in tennis should be designed with a goal to win as many points as possible. It is pointless to use strokes or strategies that look nice but are not bringing us points. If you think about implementing forehand from all areas on the court you have to first be aware of demands of this tactical approach. Without understanding of different factors that have impact on the quality of running around shots you will never get to the next level in tennis. Here are the things that are responsible for the final result of forehand inside out/in:
If your forehand is not much better than your backhand you shouldn’t even think about running around. The whole idea of hitting more forehands is to win more points but if this stroke is weak the only result you will achieve is more mistakes. Be honest with yourself and make smart decision. You don’t have to play like Rafael Nadal to beat opponents at your level. If the forehand is your weapon go for it but if not stay with the regular forehand and backhand strokes.
Another aspect that you have to consider is your footwork. Running around your backhand is a demanding skill because you have to put much more effort with your legs. Setting good position for forehand inside out/in requires more steps than setting good position for the backhand stroke so if you are not the guy who likes to move it is better to drop this idea. On the other hand if quick movement is not a problem you can implement more forehands from the ad side to make your chances bigger for dominating the point.
Your fitness level
Even the best technical forehand is worth nothing if the fitness level is really low. Hitting forehands from the ad side forces the player to move more so it is clear that it has a negative impact on endurance. You have to be able to perform this action many times to make sure that your forehand inside out/in has the same quality in the first gem of the match as also while playing tiebreaker in the final set. If you are a real athlete go on with the idea to run around more balls but if not it is advisable to stay with a regular backhand from the ad side.
As in any aspect in life it is not going to work if you don’t believe in the final success of your actions. Every time you want to hit forehand from the ad side you have to be mentally sure that it is going to bring you benefits. If your confidence is brittle there is no point to use this tactic because it is going to be more harmful than good. It is human nature that we do actions much better when we strongly belief in them so make sure that your strokes are always supported by your strong mindset.
Moving quickly and hitting forehand from the backhand side won’t guarantee us the point if the tactical decision is wrong. You have to be wise according to your strategy because you leave a lot of court open when you prepare to hit forehand inside out/in. Going too early for inside in shot can be dangerous as well as repeating too many inside out balls so make sure that you have a knowledge before you decide to avoid your backhand.
Many players try to stay up-to-date with the newest shots that professionals implement into their games. Trying to use the same skills as world-stars is not smart if we don’t have skills that are required to effectively perform this action. We should learn from players like Novak Djokovic or Serena Williams but it doesn’t mean that we should copy all their actions. If you have all the skills required to effectively implement forehand inside out/in you should add this valuable weapon to your game. If not you have to remember that you be as successful as other players while playing regular backhands from the ad side.
About the Author
Marcin Bieniek is a tennis coach from Poland and a former professional player (Polish National Juniors Team). He is a certificated tennis coach by the Polish Tennis Coaching Association and the Professional Tennis Registry. Marcin has worked with many of the top 20 Polish Juniors and the top 150 players in the world.