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The Tennis Business Discussion Forum Archive

[tennisbiz] Re: Question about 2-handed forehand

From: Brad Holbrook <>
Date: Sat 21 May 2005 09:18:39 -0400

Re: 2-handed forehand

My son (who just won his high school tennis league singles title last
week!) started playing tennis at such an early age (4 or 5) that I,
as his coach and father, could not yet be sure which he was going to
be, a righty or a lefty. He threw with his right, ate with his left,
put the crayons in his left hand, but kicked a ball with his right
foot. His pediatrician said he might have "mixed dominance", which he
said isn't all that rare. It's not like being ambidextrous, but some
skills are preferred on alternate sides.

My solution on the tennis court for him was to have him use both
hands on both sides, and he took to that immediately. After a few
years, and trying several versions of 2-handed strokes, it worked out
to be most comfortable for him to hold the racket with his right hand
on top, (like a right handed baseball batter holds the bat) even
though he preferred serving right handed. That meant a pretty
drastic grip change after serving, but he never once complained about
doing it, and to this day doesn't even realize how he does it, or
even notice it happening.

That right on top of left configuration also means a "backwards"
backhand grip. Normally a player who uses a one handed righty
forehand with hit a two fisted backhand with the left hand added on
top of the right. My son's backhand doesn't change from his
forehand, it's still the right hand on top. This caused him some
trouble working out the "lumpy wristedness" that this grip almost
guarantees, at least at first. But he started to smack his backhands
with equal pace, topspin and direction as his forehand by the time he
was about 12. He volleys with both hands, unless stretched. And he
has good control with the racket in only one hand. In fact, if
stretched left, he'll take off the right hand, and if stretched right
he'll take off the left hand. I've seen him hit that squash shot
slap/slice on wide groundstrokes on both sides that way.

It helped immensely to have people like Gene Mayer (who played with
exactly the same grip arrangement as my son and reached a very high
level) to give my son some coaching from time to time, as well as to
see, firsthand, the success of Jan Michael Gambil, Geoff Grant,
Monica Seles, and perhaps most impressively Fabrice Santoro (one of
my son's favorites to watch) over the years of his tennis
development. Yes, the footwork has to be a bit more dedicated for
all two handers, but the power and control can be astonishing.

My son is a junior in high school now, and is playing the USTA 18's
with some encouraging success. The "Santoro slice" he can unleash
takes many of his young opponents by surprise and gives him an
unexpected advantage. I suspect he'll play college tennis, maybe
even Division 1. He's working with Gilad Bloom now, the former
Israeli #1, and the "issue" of his 2-handed forehand has completely
disappeared, even among coaches, like Bloom, who have no vested
interest in how it came about (unlike me!).

I don't know if any of this has any relevance to your student. But I
thought I'd share the story as an example of how "unorthodox" in
tennis is often more the norm than not. My advice would be to go
with what the kid finds most comfortable and let them lead you.

Brad Holbrook

Received on Mon May 23 2005 - 12:22:04 CDT

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