Perhaps the most significant tennis change in recent history is the development of the two handed backhand.   Even young players can tattoo an offensive topspin groundstroke.   No reasonable coach disputes that.

Jim Verdieck was a great coach whose business card stated “I didn’t change anything, I gave you a new one.” The addition he referred to is a one handed underspin slice or chip.

Young players have trouble developing this shot, as a strange new grip is required, and new forearm muscles must be developed and trained. The many functions this new grip enhances is worth the work required (defensive backhands, lobs, all volleys except high forehands, the service, etc.).   Recently I experimented with a simple home made teaching aid: A balloon tied with a light string (2 to 3 feet long) to a badminton racket’s center string or “sweet spot”/  Note that the very light racket and balloon allow a classic one handed backhand volley, aided by a backhand grip.

Having recently worked with high school players, too few know the value of this tool.   Young girls and little boys struggle and it takes time. However few quality players are without this ability.

This drill allows almost immediate success with proper technique, using the new forearm muscles needed. The youngster will tell you quickly: “… I can feel that pulling my arm muscles!” Don’t allow them to overdo this and cause tennis elbow.

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