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How to HAMMER Your Tennis Backhand w/ Wrist Leverage (Top Speed Tennis)

Hi guys, I’m Clay Ballard with Top Speed
Tennis, and today we’re going to talk about how you can start hammering those backhands. It works much like we use a hammer, I’m
going to go over the proper wrist actions so you can get tons of speed, tons of topspin. I can’t wait to get started on this drill
with you guys, so let’s go ahead and do it. OK, so the way we use the racket in the backhand
is very similar to how we would use a hammer. And if you have a hammer laying around the
house, I recommend you pause the video, go grab the hammer, and we’ll walk through
this drill. I’m going to show you exactly how to use
these wrist actions to create a lot of power and spin using the motion that you guys already
know and are very comfortable with. So first off, let’s talk about, you know,
if I was hammering a nail into the ground. Imagine there’s a piece of word here, and
I’m hammering a nail into the wood. My wrist is going to create an angle here,
it’s going to create leverage and it’s creating angle between what would be the racket
head here, and my forearm. Now as I release this hammer and hit that
nail, you see this lever is going away. I’m releasing this lever, so that I can
maximize the weight that’s in the head and the length of the hammer to really drive that
nail into the ground. I don’t have to use a lot of force and effort
from my arm. I’m letting the hammer do the work. If we
do the correct motions in tennis, we can let the racket do the work and maximize the full
length of the racket to create a lot of speed. So once we’re comfortable with this motion,
and you’ve done this, you feel this a few times, the difference we’re going to do
with a tennis racket is instead of hammering up and down with the backhand, we’re going
to hammering sideways with the backhand. That’s going to help you to get a lot more
speed. So as I’m going back, I’m going to imagine
this is my tennis racket. As I’m turning back, just like we’re doing
in the backhand drill, and I start my forward momentum, you’ll see that my wrist has an
angle. And this racket, or the hammer or the racket
either one, would have a pretty sharp angle between that and my forearm. Now as I’m coming into contact, I’m releasing
that angle and letting the momentum happen from the racket, transferring that energy
into the ball. If I am to hold on to this angle and just
spin right through it, well I’m not using the energy from the racket, or even worse
if I’m to push the racket out away from me and hit it with everything straight, I’m
not getting the energy there. So I want to be actively releasing this racket
as I’m coming through contact, and it is on the way to contact, so it’s releasing
through contact. It doesn’t fully extend until we get all
the way through, up to our finish position here. So let’s go ahead and grab a racket, we’re
going to talk about how we can do the same motion, incorporating the racket in a couple
of those angles with the wrist. We’ll also talk about how the racket turns
over to create the topspin. All right, so now we’ve got the racket,
let’s go ahead and take our backhand grip we talked about in our earlier videos with
that first knuckle right on top on bevel number one. Then we’re going to make sure everything
else is correct. Now if I was to take the same position that
my hand would be in with the hammer, the only difference is the racket is going to be turned
down at a bit of an angle. We’re going to be holding the racket differently
than we would be holding, you know, the grip of a hammer. Definitely don’t want that racket up and
down. So if you’re unfamiliar with the backhand
grip, just go back and watch that again. I’m going to walk you through it in a lot
more detail, exactly how to hold the racket. Now from here, what I’m going to do is I’m
going to go ahead and go through the motion of the backhand. And as I’m coming forward, this would be
the position as my body’s turning and starting that forward motion. My racket angle and my forearm angle are pretty
sharp here. My wrist is kind of cocked back, just like
when I was doing the hammering motion. And as I’m coming through contact, I’m
releasing this angle to allow that racket to snap forward and transfer a lot of that
speed. And then as I’m coming all the way through
now I’ve just fully released this racket and it’s nice and in a neutral position
and fully let go. But the key here, is that we’re not trying
to hold on to this angle. You know, we’re not trying to hold an angle
through contact. We’re actively releasing this angle through
contact so that we can use this large lever of the racket to release and get a lot more
speed. Another way to feel this, keep your backhand
grip and put your arm directly in front of you and imagine pulling this racket back and
then letting it go. That’s that same hammering, or that sideways
hammering action that we would be getting if we used the weight of the hammer, and we
felt that with the hammer. So that’s the first piece. We’re going to get some speed from that
by letting this racket go. The second piece of this is with the wrist
action here, not only is it sideways like this, it’s also up and down. So in the forehand we talked about how we’re
going to turn the doorknob to the right, and then back to the left as we’re releasing
this racket. The racket’s coming all the way on through,
much like the windshield wiper. In the backhand, we’re going to be doing
the same thing, but just the opposite. As we’re coming through, you’ll notice
that the tip of this racket has dropped down a bit below the butt end of the racket. So if you’re looking at the center of the
racket here, it’s dropped down below the butt end, and the racket’s angled downward
a little bit. As I’m coming through contact, that racket
is then going to kick up, and then turn all the way around as we’re coming into the
finish. So I’m getting that same windshield wiper
effect, but just in the opposite direction. So if I’m just taking this racket and looking
from this way, the racket is going to be kicking up. This would be prior to contact, this position
here. This would be at contact, this is going to
be about parallel with the ground, maybe a little bit down because it’s still on the
act of kicking up. And then post-contact it’s going to turn
all the way around this way. If we’re looking from a side view, instead
of that happening in this direction straight up and down, it’s going to be happening
as I release at a 45° angle, out away from my body. So that’s going to allow me to really get
that topspin on there in the upward kicking action of the racket as I’m hitting the
ball up and out, that’s what’s going to allow the strings to grab the ball and create
that topspin. So again I’ll go face on one time here,
and then that up and out motion is putting the spin on the ball. So you need to feel like that racket is going
out away from your body, and kicking up at the same time to really maximize that spin. So hopefully that’s going to allow you guys
to feel this in kind of a different light. I’d go through these motions a couple times. Work along with the video, and now let me
give you some drills. I’m going to walk through some very specific
points on how I want you to practice this. All right, so we’re going to break this
down into three separate pieces, then we’re going to work on a couple drills as we’re
doing this. So the first piece, we’re going to imagine
a ball is coming, and we’re just going to do some shadow work here. I’m going to take my step forward as my
racket is coming and dropping down, I begin the forward momentum with the racket. I’m going to let the tip of the racket drop
a little bit below the butt end of the racket. So the tip is dropping down a little bit. This would be when I’m maximizing this angle,
this lever like we did with the hammer. I’m going to come up through contact, let
my racket swing up and out away from my body. So my racket is moving up and out this way. And I’m going to pause at contact here,
where my racket is basically parallel with the ground. I’ve released a little bit of angle in my
wrist, and I’ve also started to turn it back to the right, just like I’m turning
a doorknob to the right. So position number one, position number two,
contact, and then position number three is we come on around. I’m going to let this racket continue forward
and turn all the way around until now the butt end of the racket is facing the opposing
side of the court. So it’s kicked all the way around, and I’m
going to finish here with the butt end of the racket facing the other side. I’ve put all three of these together into
one fluid motion, it’s going to look something like that. So first off, start pausing for two to three
seconds in each one of these positions. Position number one, number two, contact,
number three, the full finish. Two to three seconds pausing in each one of
those. 100 repetitions in each position, then we’re going to do 100 repetitions doing
the exact same thing, without any pauses. We’re going to make that one fluid motion,
another 100 reps. Once we’ve done the reps without any pauses,
we’re going to go ahead and grab our ball hopper, toss a few balls up behind the baseline
here. Again I’m going to stay a few feet behind
the baseline, try to really extend out and make contact in front of my body kicking up
and out. And we’re going to hit a few shots about
100 shots, getting that into the proper positions, hitting some tossed balls. So go nice and slow, between repetitions I
recommend you go back to pausing in the correct positions, making sure that you feel those
motions really get that ingrained and then go ahead and hit some more balls. 100 total shots, with the pauses, without
the pauses, and then tossing a ball. You guys are going to be well on your way
to ingraining this motion and hitting better, harder, faster, more spinning backhands. So good luck, I’ll see you guys soon. Hi guys, I hope you all really enjoyed this
video. If you did enjoy this video I have a great
bonus for you all. The perfect thing to add to your backhand
is a killer forehand. And I’m going to give you a preview of one
of the videos from the Topspin Forehand series. You can watch this entire video plus the entire
series absolutely free of charge, if you click the link that’s popping up in your screen,
or down below in the description. I look forward to seeing you guys much more
in the future, and good luck with that backhand. If you enjoyed this video, again, click the
like button, +1 this video on Google, and if you have any questions put them in the
comments below. I’ll see you all soon. …and make this L-type motion with our arms. Then the racket needs to be pointed out at
basically a 45° angle. The racket’s going to be at a 45, and the
tip of the racket from the butt end, will be pointing right over toward 3:00. That’s the first motion that we want to
get into. So as we’re loading up, the racket tip is
going to be pointing out toward 3:00, and at about a 45° angle. Now the second move is where really the magic
starts to happen, and that’s the loading of the forearms. This is called a stretch-shortening cycle. So any time you’re going to have a lot of
power and fire your muscles with good speed and good power, we need to first stretch those
muscles and then fire them. So what’s going to happen here, from this
first move, we’re now going to make a motion which would be very similar to turning a doorknob
to the right with your wrist. So as we’re doing the first motion, first
piece here, racket’s out to the right. Now as I’m coming back, I want to go ahead
and turn my hand to the right as though it’s a doorknob. And I’m going to do this until the tip of
my racket now instead of pointing at 3:00, is all the way back to about 7:30. Now don’t mistake this with your…

David Frank



  1. Alberto Blasi Posted on September 28, 2014 at 10:36 pm

    Thanks Clay, yours are the best instructional tennis videos on the internet. I do appreciate every single one of them.

  2. rdchenweb Posted on September 29, 2014 at 4:32 am


    Great tip as usual. Have a question: when do you straighten your arm? To put it differently, how do you prevent from leading with your elbow?

  3. Herman Lawrence Posted on October 4, 2014 at 11:09 pm

    Hey great video but I would suggest demonstrating techniques on the two handed backhand as well. Not everybody has a one handed. Thanks

  4. honkeyness Posted on October 9, 2014 at 12:59 am

    I have trouble getting topspin in mini-tennis warm-up on the 1hbh.  I'd like to see you playing some mini-tennis.

  5. honkeyness Posted on October 9, 2014 at 2:40 am

    What about letting the wrist go too early – I think I do this sometimes.  Is that a common problem you see?

  6. poida smith Posted on October 16, 2014 at 9:11 am

    Great stuff Clay! Can you do something similar for the SW FH using the hammer/wrist action analogy? It seems there are similarities here and the correct wrist action needs to be learned and properly practiced in bite sized progressions! 🙂 Many thanks!

  7. youtubbag Posted on October 20, 2014 at 11:07 pm

    Your video is simply GREAT. Thanks for taking the efforts to make things easy for us, you're a fantastic coach.

  8. PC Thomas Posted on October 25, 2014 at 6:40 pm

    will this concept work for double handed backhand..pls clarify

  9. antonarap Posted on November 1, 2014 at 10:24 pm

    Thanks your the great vid and for touching a subject as delicate as the use of wrist in the one hander. I feel though that something is missing from your description of the motion: Apart from the wrist deviation (the hammering motion) and the forearm supination, I also extend my wrist (kind of point my palm outwards but with a closed fist) at contact. In fact I think I see you doing that same thing when you demonstrate. The composite motion is more like knocking on a door than hammering. Could you comment on that please? I may well be doing it wrong, but I don't think so. 

  10. Rajeev Prv Posted on November 4, 2014 at 2:45 pm

    That's a good tip Clay. I have a query regarding One-hander backhand groundstroke when our opponent returns a drop shot near the net. Is backhand slice the only option? or can we play the regular backhand groundstroke that we play from baseline, if so how? To simplify my question in case you couldn't get it, how do we play a low one-hander backhand near the net?

  11. Yucel Guldali Posted on November 6, 2014 at 11:44 am

    I like the hammer analogy. Great!

  12. William Danks Posted on November 6, 2014 at 5:16 pm


    I think your instruction is excellent. I also have spent hundred of hours watching in slow motion to see how the pro's do it. I do not have the bio mechanics etc. knowledge which you do but could see the forearm – wrist rotation (pro-nation) not only on the serve but also on the forehand and the reverse on the back hand.  Your door knob turning on the forehand and back hand is the first pro on the internet that I have found that has recognized this on the back hand and while leading with the butt is metioned my most younger pros, you are the first which I have found who has explained why leading with the butt is a natural movement with the door knob analogy. I am not a golfer, but your repetitions without the racket etc are very helpful to me because I am an older player (67) who is trying to change old habits. I spend a lot of time in front of sliding glass doors for mirrors.  Thank you very much. Bill Danks
    (I am now making it to the semi's in our Colorado State Open in my age bracket. My goal this winter is to be able to drive the ball on forehand and backhand so that I can possibly win the tournament next  summer. From watching your video's, I now can visualize how to hit those penetrating shots. )

  13. phani kumar Posted on November 7, 2014 at 5:57 am

    can you please add two hand back hand lesson like you did for forehand

  14. Mike Carbo Posted on November 9, 2014 at 3:50 pm

    simple, understandable and effective.

  15. iva petkova Posted on November 10, 2014 at 12:40 pm

      I tried it. And I'm thankful. I used it for the slice, too. This improved my slice incredible!
      Great driil!
      All the best for You!

  16. takingthepiss2 Posted on November 10, 2014 at 11:45 pm

    excellent videos keep it up please

  17. Gh0stTree Posted on November 17, 2014 at 9:21 pm

    What a coincidence.  I kind of discovered this while hitting against a backboard recently and was amazed at how natural it felt and how much more power I was getting.  At the same time I wondered if it was a good thing to do.  My first thought was it must be wrong since none of the other videos on the one handed backhand mentioned it.  Thanks for clearing it up Clay.  You really are an outstanding teacher.

  18. didanhtennis Posted on January 14, 2015 at 12:57 pm

    Another excellent video.  Thank you.

  19. EXDRA100 Posted on January 17, 2015 at 5:51 pm

    good review–another good analogy could be the wrist action when be tossing a frisbee 

  20. Lord Byron Posted on January 31, 2015 at 2:18 am

    S#*%t! This is one of the best advice I've ever had in 20 years — the hammer analogy. I watched your video last night and I was immediately captivated. I couldn't wait to try it out. So I went out today and in 5 minutes, the technique sunk in. OMG, the consistency, accuracy and power on my backhand went from being a 4 to a 9 in one day from a scale of 1 to 10. I've been "faking it" (my backhand) all these years because I never really understood how it was done. I would watch the pros and think "oh, okay, take it back like that and follow through. I can do that." But I never got the consistency nor accuracy. And my stroke lacked confidence or I didn't have the confidence. Until today! I feel like I know what I'm doing now. Thank you 3X Clay!

  21. Lord Byron Posted on January 31, 2015 at 2:47 am

    For all you young kids and old (LOL) guys that are having a difficult time with your backhand or don't have one, you've got to try this out. It's awesome.

  22. Leticia De La Peña Posted on February 9, 2015 at 8:15 pm

    Good teacher. Clear and logical

  23. accousticaddict Posted on March 31, 2015 at 1:28 am

    amazing video!  the best time was where you talked about holding the racket right in front of you and pull back. it made me realize that i had never let the backhand release – i was holding the 90 degree angle through the hit, rather than allowing the release. by explaining the 2 planes of turning, you have unlocked a great key to power. thanks!

  24. loomy zaffa Posted on April 11, 2015 at 11:55 pm

    using a Semi-Western grip, and moving the point of contact somewhat more forward, you can put at work another lever = the elbow.
    So keep the arm longer in bended position, allows you to REALLY hammering the bal – releasing this energie real close to contact. This way you create even more momentum!

  25. GNF Moodle Posted on April 21, 2015 at 10:57 am

    Hello. <b>Amazing video</b>. ASdasdamlslj ndklasjdh. <script>alert('hello');</script>

  26. GLENN J Posted on May 10, 2015 at 2:54 pm

    Good stuff, I have a great backhand but your explanation is so clear and concise I would refer folks here before ever attempting to teach them.

  27. William Danks Posted on June 4, 2015 at 3:35 am

    At the 4:15 of this "hammer" video, you put your left hand on the tip of the racket and pull back to demonstrate the wrist snap similar to the hammer. So I was doing this with a racket while watching the video and I am wondering what you think of this idea. Instead of the left hand above the right on the handle all the way from the start of the ready position, place the left hand on the tip of the racket and keep it there on the tip of the racket until the left hand normally releases from the racket. For me, it is helping me make the shoulder turn, make me turn the door knob to the left and then leading with the butt of the racket as I let go with the tip of the racket in the sort of spring loaded action you show at 4:15 of your video. Have you ever seen a pro or anyone else use their left hand in this manner? What do you see as the pro's and con's of this use of the left hand instead of on the handle? Bill

  28. PrimeJonah Posted on June 20, 2015 at 5:20 am

    Do you have any tips for people over 40 or 50 years old with some physical handicaps? I mean they can't really turn and twist those wrists like before when they were younger… Any type of help you could give me? I am a tennis teacher myself but I have never managed to teach a 3rd aged woman or man that wrist action on them when trying that one handed backhand.

  29. Stéphane Surprenant Posted on July 26, 2015 at 2:27 pm

    Why no two handed backhand tips?

  30. Davin Posted on August 16, 2015 at 10:04 pm

    That's the Djokovic Backhand! The leverage, the topspin, the follow through.

  31. Admiral Ackbar Posted on August 24, 2015 at 6:14 am

    Majority of players have 2 handed backhand. You release vital techniques yet leave out the majority of people watching this video.

  32. Pgreenbe100 Posted on August 29, 2015 at 11:01 pm

    Clay, I just wanted to tell you your hammer analogy on the one hander is an amazing tip. It has really worked wonders for me. Thanks a lot.

  33. Fernando Leardini Posted on October 9, 2015 at 12:53 pm

    Man, your instructions are awesome!!!!! Thank you very much!!!!

  34. JorgeAndresCoppiano. Posted on December 27, 2015 at 3:36 am

    Beautiful technique Clay! Merry Christmas from Guayaquil, Ecuador! God bless mate, keep up the great work

  35. theeachuisge Posted on February 17, 2016 at 11:02 pm

    i use two handed backhand but sometimes use also the one hand. i am having troubles with two handed backhand which used to be my best swing. Especially it is bad when i recieve high balls. I end up with brushing/slicing them which makes the ball go high and into the service box weakly. What should i do ? I don't know why it is happening. Am i get too close to the ball? Am i not turning sides enough? (But pros do not do it all the time?) Do i make a mistake with the swing pattern?

  36. JW Kim Posted on March 7, 2016 at 12:36 pm

    Just jumped from your Snap the Cap for Lightening Speed ^^ In that forehand video, the putting pressure on the pinky finger tip was very easy to follow and works superbly!! For one-hand back handers like me, what would be your tip about the pinky finger?

  37. Osprey McKeegan Posted on July 27, 2016 at 3:15 am

    It might be a good idea to include "one hand" for beginners like me that don't yet understand all the terms in tennis.

  38. Rabbi Posted on August 11, 2016 at 5:06 am

    Nice. I tried it and it worked. I still don't have a consistent backhand. If ball is coming at a pace and bounce I am able to make a heck of a return otherwise the ball goes for a homerun. Is there a drill I can do to correct my timing?

  39. SkyHigh Music Posted on May 19, 2017 at 1:32 am

    Hey clay, does the hammer action also apply for the two handed backhand as well? Thanks

  40. Carl Posted on June 6, 2017 at 12:39 pm

    Fantastic advice!

  41. Jorge Piñol Posted on June 12, 2017 at 4:21 pm

    Great explication. I've never been told in that way

  42. bo yang Posted on February 20, 2018 at 10:59 pm

    thank you very much sir, i have been looking for this side hammer motion. by my understanding, before the contact point there is a snap motion. forehand is forearm rotation, backhand is sideway hammering protation and serve is forearm protaion. those snaps increase racquet head speed. you are a FANTASTIC coach!

  43. L Cervantes Posted on October 20, 2018 at 2:45 am

    Very good lesson. Well explained mechanics.

  44. PEERAPONG S-ANAN Posted on May 17, 2019 at 4:20 am

    This is the one of great technique,I love it.Thaks

  45. Ihsan Jamali Posted on June 15, 2019 at 7:04 am

    Excellent video! Your videos have helped me improve my game enormously. 👍