Drop Hit One Handed Backhands – a hidden practice gem!!

Start a rally; deliver a ball to the adjacent court when responding to “ball please.” In nearly every instance the swing is a drop hit forehand.

Sometimes those forehands are deliberate and practiced (that is good). Other times those forehands are wristy, in poor form, somehow not acknowledged as genuine practice opportunities.

Truly – practice makes permanent. Practice makes perfect only (repeat ONLY) when practicing perfectly.

But what of the one handed backhand? What of finding and becoming comfortable with a genuine eastern backhand grip?

In classes as well as observation of play at our club, nearly all players could improve this shot. The question is how. The answer – DELIBERATE BACKHAND DROP HITS.

If every time you started a rally, every time you took the ball out of your pocket, every chance you got – you performed a correct, graceful, flowing, one handed backhand – in no time at all you would grow more confidence, improve your consistency and accuracy, and come to terms with a genuine backhand grip.

As a holiday bonus, I am including one of the 40 lessons from within “Mastering the Backhand” – to share in more detail the nuances of this special drop hit shot.

Racquet back before the bounce – contact well in front – a long and deliberate follow thru along the target line.

Check it out – this stuff works.

Check out Mastering The Backhand to learn more, in the meantime make sure to leave a comment and let me know what you think of this lesson.


  • Carl-Evert Jonsson

    Reply Reply December 17, 2012

    I agree completly

  • Tim Burns

    Reply Reply December 11, 2012

    Wonderful advice! Will start doing it in my match today. Thx.

  • lamchops

    Reply Reply December 11, 2012

    I have been playing tennis for almost 40 years and have a one-hand eastern-grip backhand. My backhand is not only my best shot, it is arguably the best shot among the people I play with- always has been. When playing against people who are unfamiliar with my game, they typically play to my strength (my backhand) because the assumption of a weaker backhand side is so ingrained in their game. Years ago I figured out on my own exactly what Jim just explained in this video. I always start a practice rally with a full-bounce ball drop backhand because it affords me the opportunity to practice a perfectly formed shot. Watching this video gave me a chill from the uncanny realization for the first time that others (including surprisingly Rosewall) know exactly what I figured out on my own years ago.

    Thanks Jim.

  • Robert

    Reply Reply December 10, 2012

    Among others in the Backhand course, I have been doing this regularly, starting rallies with topspin and sending balls over to the server using backspin so he can catch it softly on one bounce in front of him. Probably what is surprising is how easy it has become to roll the ball on a variety of trajectories with essentially the same motion. This is very effective practice.

  • Bud Light

    Reply Reply December 10, 2012

    Using this drill to start a rally (the drop hit backhand) really started me on concentrating hitting a one handed backhand in general. Prior to that, I was inclined to hit all backhands two handed, but I found that a one-handed backhand was easier to move to and hit and now, tho I acceed to the student’s experience and preference, I teach the one handed backhand starting just the way you demonstrate. One can also get more topspin, in my opinion, by hitting one handed than two handed, by that is just my experience and preference. A very simple and excellent lesson, but one that must be practiced all the time. Otherwise, good players will pick on your backhand all the time.

  • Ron

    Reply Reply December 10, 2012

    About ten years ago while attending a Roy Emerson clinic in Gstaad, he advised that you should hit 50 drophit backhands a day to build up your strength. Sounds close to what you are saying.

  • george muller

    Reply Reply December 10, 2012

    Thankyou for all the tips I was able to see on line , I find them very helpful & full of information that is very useful on the court. your video is very easy to understand , when I am all caught up to date with work & home projects thanks to the past storm Sandy I will contact you for your course till then stay well & happy holidays to you.

  • paul

    Reply Reply December 10, 2012

    Hello Jim
    Todays’ email and videos 10/12/12 – Drop hit backhand – sound ok on this first one – but no sound only “hiss” on the second – “Backhand Drop Hit Drill”
    Any ideas as to why ?


    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply December 10, 2012

      Paul the sound comes from the combination of racquet face and swing path – the hiss is from a chop or mishit generally

  • Alex Balsley

    Reply Reply December 10, 2012

    Thanks Jim:
    I am a senior who had a stoke 10 years ago. I had just started play tennis about a year before and liked it. The stroke affected my legs and balance, so I bought a tennis ball machine and have hit with it ever since. I have played doubles and singles about a dozen time in these past years, but the consistence and confidence just hasn’t been there.The tips I have gotten from you have me looking forward to my next match, LOL.

    Thanks Again

  • Kevin

    Reply Reply December 10, 2012

    Oh, and you might need to do a little editing: 🙂

    {The secret to keeping rhythm on your “servev”}

  • Kevin

    Reply Reply December 10, 2012

    Love it. I’m gonna start doing that just so I can learn a “flat” backhand.

    BTW, I always had the hardest time feeding balls to the net man when warming up for a doubles match. I finally figured out that when the ball has no energy in it (just dropping it) that my semi-western grip made it *very* difficult to feed a “volley-able” ball without either too much pace or too much spin or some ridiculous trajectory. A continental grip makes that feed infinitely easier (for me). Every pro whom I’ve asked now tells me that they feed with a conti grip. . . grrrr

  • Dick Friesen

    Reply Reply December 10, 2012

    Thanks Jim,
    I am a senior and a beginner and I truly appreciate the tip.

  • Cathrine

    Reply Reply December 10, 2012

    Love the tip. I have so many players uncomfortable either with their one-hand backhand or with the under-spin backhand. This will help for sure!

  • Matt Chatterton

    Reply Reply December 10, 2012

    Hey Jim,

    I teach currently about 35 hours a week, and have never done this, but will have my students do this now. i teach them to drop hit a feed on the forehand side, so they can learn to rally back and forth, but will now add this to my curriculum.



  • Major Dan

    Reply Reply December 10, 2012

    Good tip – I’ve done this for years with my slice backhand and it has improved despite not hitting it much or practicing it much. I picked it up from Boris Becker who used to hit topspin backhands when sending balls down to the other end of the court.

  • Brent Abel - WebTennis

    Reply Reply December 10, 2012

    Smart tip Mac.

    Plus, I like to re-enforce keeping my eyes down through contact and not “peeking” at my result as I go through the long path you suggest …


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