Backhands Vs. Forehands

There is, in my opinion, a huge fallacy regarding the subject of forehands. It is, that a shot in question should always be taken by the partner with the forehand. Yielding to the forehand on shots just because it’s a forehand frequently creates poor court coverage and results in lost points. Also, MOST errors are made with forehands rather than backhands.

ADVANTAGES & DISADVANTAGES OF THE FOREHAND

RETURN OF SERVE:

  • The forehand is the preferred shot for returning serves, since most players have more power and are more comfortable on the forehand side. This is mainly because the backswing is longer (it’s struck by the back arm if the returner is standing sideways), and the player is hitting from the ‘natural’ side of their body. Also, the body can move forward more quickly and naturally from the forehand follow-through position. A common error in the forehand return is to strike the ball too close to the body. Contacting the ball ahead of the frontfoot creates a forward balance, and is necessary for both power and control.
  • Since the main goal in return of serve is to return DEEP, power is not as important as control. In fact, a higher, softer forehand returned DEEP gives the returner more time to approach; and the server has not only been forced farther behind the court, but also has a much more difficult shot and a longer distance to the 7-foot line.

SO, FOR SHOTS OTHER THAN RETURN OF SERVE, WHICH IS BETTER?

  • Players who have spent time practicing the backhand can make very consistent, well-controlled shots. Since the backhand is the best choice for all shots from the ‘paddle hip’ to the opposite side of the body, this leaves only 30% of the remaining shots for the forehand side. The main reason for added control on the backhand is because the body won’t allow a backswing, since the body should remain square to all shots after the return of serve.
  • The forehand is more complicated due to the ability to take a backswing and frequently hit with too much power.

MORE ABOUT BACKHANDS

Perhaps the main reason for this controversy is the lack of understanding of the backhand technique. The contact point for the backhand should be slightly farther in front of the body than the forehand to provide better control and comfort. In this age of speed and urgency it is natural to want to end each point as quickly and powerfully as possible; however, a well placed backhand can either end the point, or set up a winner on the next returned shot.

I believe one big reason our sport is so popular for so many is the importance of strategy and shot selection rather than the power of the shots, and the emphasis on learning and using soft shots. The longer the point, the more fun it is; this is true for all levels.

BACKHANDS IN PICKLEBALL ARE MUCH EASIER AND LESS COMPLICATED THAN FOREHANDS. PLAYERS WHO CHOOSE BACKHANDS WHENEVER POSSIBLE WILL PLAY BETTER AND WIN MORE!

PAT’S PICKLOSOPHY

  pickleballpat@yahoo.com 

 (760)310-6847


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