There are still many players who believe that basic strokes or groundstrokes in tennis do not necessarily need to start with a backswing. For example, I recently spoke with a friend who is also a coach, and he said that he still doesn’t encourage his players to work on their backswing. Being a coach that travels all around the world working with tennis players, I asked him which player among the top 100 does not use a backswing for at least the forehand. He asked me for a few minutes to think about it and came back with the following answer: “All of them use the backswing.”
So what is the relation of the backswing with performance? It might sound complicated but actually it isn’t. We have to consider that the backswing is a continuous motion. Once a player starts it, there is no need to stop during the movement.
It is simple physics.
But what about the player who just pulls the racket back to hit the ball? At a given moment, he must stop the backward motion in order to move forward. It is simple physics. And when he stops the movement, he comes to zero energy. He wasted all the energy he used to pull back the racket. Beyond that, when he stops the racket and changes direction, a moment of instability happens, usually with vibration or oscillation on the racket head, which reduces the accuracy of the stroke.
What many players don’t realize is that when they correctly use a backswing, they gain more power and more control on their shots without wasting energy.
To start the backswing, all the player needs to do is to raise the racket to a comfortable and stable position, pointing the racket up. Not only is it a movement that needs very little energy, but it also activates free potential energy – gravity! When the racket is fully back, let the racket head drop backward and down, and by the time it reaches its lowest point on the backswing, the potential energy will be transformed in kinetic energy.
It’s easy, has low energy waste, and very stable! Don’t hesitate, every player should work on their backswing!
Gabriel is a former ATP ranked player, Biomechanics consultant for TOP ATP players/UC Berkeley, Founder of GSET