Backhand Battle: The One-Handed vs Two-Handed Backhand

By Lin
Last update:

It’s a battle that has rolled on for many generations and is still fiercely debated today.

Which is better, the single or double-handed backhand?

For power and control, the double-handed backhand is a fantastic choice, but there can be no denying the sheer elegance and versatility of a one-handed backhand.

Read on, or risk finding out which backhand style perfectly complements your game!

In this article, we will discuss each backhand style in more detail, highlight which type of players prefer which style, and also identify some of the players playing with single and double-handed backhands.

Table Contents

The One-Handed Backhand: Elegant but Difficult to Master

Is there a better sight in tennis than seeing a top player perfectly execute a single-handed backhand winner?

One of the reasons this shot is so visually appealing is the fact that it looks so difficult to perfect.

And it is.

It is difficult to get your grip into the perfect position to play a single-handed backhand without slapping it long, but when you do get it right, there is no better feeling on a tennis court.

Often, players persevere with learning this backhand style, even though it takes a little longer than learning a double-hander.

While it may lack the same level of control and power, single-handed backhands are incredibly versatile and offer a wide array of ways to try and win the point.

The Two-Handed Backhand: Power and Control

When you watch tennis on TV or at your local sports club, chances are you see a lot of people utilizing the double-handed backhand and for good reason.

With two hands on the racquet, you have much more control over your shots, and you can even generate a little extra power using your second hand.

If you have already started playing tennis, you probably know just how much easier it is to pick up the double-handed backhand than it is the single-handed backhand, which means it also provides you with much more control over each shot.

Even at the top level of tennis, many points are won by unforced errors in tennis, and using a double-handed backhand offers you the power and control to capitalize on erratic play from your opponents.

The Single-handed Backhand vs. The Double-handed Backhand: A Direct Comparison

Topspin and Slice: Which Backhand Generates More?

Generating spin on the ball becomes more and more important as you play at a higher level. It prevents your opponent from dominating points and making you run around the court wherever they fancy.

When playing a shot with plenty of topspin, a double-handed backhand is the better option. The additional hand on the racquet allows you to roll your wrists over the top of the ball, generating plenty of spin, keeping the ball down, and ensuring it bounces high, making it hard for your opponent.

For slice, the single-handed backhand is a fantastic option. With just one hand on the racquet, you are not limited by how much slice you can put on the ball, whether it is a defense ground stroke, an approach shot, or even a drop shot.

Reach and Court Coverage: Who Has the Advantage?

When it comes to reaching shots your opponents put right in the corner, this is much easier with a single-handed backhand, as you can stretch further with one hand on the racquet than you can with two.

It is also easier to cover the ground with the racquet in one hand, as the freedom allows you to run more naturally.

For those that use two-handed backhands, they might notice their running is restricted, as both hands are firmly gripping the racquet.

While at a novice level, these differences will likely be marginal, but it can be the difference between winning or losing points in the professional game.

The Backhand in Offense and Defense

Deciding which backhand to use ultimately depends on your play style.

Are you more of an offensive player who likes to get on the front foot and win points quickly? If so, you might want to learn the single-handed backhand.

This type of background offers more versatility, allowing you to play clever drop shots, powerful winners, and cute approach shots so that you can get up to the net and finish points quickly.

Alternatively, if you are more defensively minded and you prefer long rallies, where you wear your opponent down, waiting for a mistake, the double-handed backhand could be a better option for you.

With this backhand, you will have more control over your shots, making it easier to stay in each rally. You can also generate more topspin, which could cause your opponent to make a mistake.

How to Choose the Right One for You

To pick the right backhand for your game, consider what type of player you are, what level of tennis you play, and how you like to win points.

As you can see, both styles of backhand have their pros and cons, and ultimately you will need to evaluate which one feels comfortable and fits your play style before practicing hard to master it.

Famous Exponents of the One-Handed and Two-Handed Backhand

One-handed Backhand

When executed well, the one-handed backhand is a thing of beauty. Watching top players smash a single-handed backhand winner has an element of style to it that no other shot does.

Some of the most famous proponents include:

  • Roger Federer
  • Stan Wawrinka
  • Margaret Court
  • Pete Sampras

Two-Handed Backhand

While it might be harder to generate power with a double-handed backhand, there are still many top professional players that utilize it in their game. These players are often incredibly strong defensively and like to create long rallies where they wear their opponents down.

Some top players who use double-handed backhands include:

  • Andre Agassi
  • Steffi Graf
  • Andy Murray
  • Martina Navratilova.


Is a one-handed backhand rare?

While a single-handed backhand is certainly less common than a double-handed backhand, especially at the lower levels, many players do still use it. The main benefit of the single-hander is that it allows you to play a wider variety of shots, from power to finesse.

Which backhand allows for an easier transition from the forehand?

Both single and double-handed backhands should allow for an easy transition into a forehand, although it may depend on your chosen grip style.

Is a one-handed backhand a weakness?

If highly skilled, a single-handed backhand is an incredible strength. You will have the power to hit whichever shot you fancy, keeping your opponent guessing and likely messing with their game plan.

Why is a one-handed backhand harder?

A one-hander is harder than a double-hander, as the lack of an additional hand on the racquet makes the shot more tricky to control. With a two-hander, your second hand gives you more control, and you will generally hit the ball more consistently.

Which hand is dominant in a two-handed backhand?

In a two-handed backhand, the bottom hand is the most dominant, as this is the hand that generates the power and topspin. For right-handed players, that is their left hand.

Which pro players use one-handed backhand?

Roger Federer, Stan Wawrinka, Margaret Court, and Pete Sampras are all incredible tennis players known for their unique style of one-handed backhands.

Single-handed Backhand or Double-handed Backhand: The Verdict

In conclusion, you can see there are several benefits to using both types of backhand, and ultimately it will depend on which one feels the most comfortable for you and which grip you use.

Testing out both styles of backhand will greatly improve your chances of mastering the top 14 tennis shots, helping your game get to the next level.

Photo of author


Editor of All Points Tennis and a huge Roger Federer fan, I've spent countless hours studying his moves, especially his forehand and one-handed backhand. I also love writing about all the technical stuff like rackets and strings. I'm super pumped to share my insights with fellow tennis lovers here.