September 28, 2017

Backhand-Forehand Towel Drill
Here’s a great drill I used yesterday while coaching Navin, one which you might want to try. Like many players, his crosscourt backhand doesn’t always go wide enough to the backhand, instead wandering out to the middle backhand, making things easier for the opponent as well as giving them an angle to attack into his forehand. It’s important to be able to hit accurate shots (forehand and backhand) almost always to the three main spots – wide corners and opponent’s playing elbow.

Once you do learn to play consistently wide angles into the backhand, an opponent may look to find ways to get out of this type of rally, often by going down the line to the forehand. This often happens to Navin, who can dominate the backhand diagonal but can be vulnerable to attacks to the forehand if he gives an easy opening.

So here’s the drill. I put my towel over much of the backhand side, leaving an opening about a foot wide from the corner. Then Navin and I played backhand to backhand where he had to avoid hitting the towel. A key to this was not aiming for the area between the corner and the towel, but aiming right for the corner or even slightly outside it. That way, even if you mishit slightly, the ball still stayed near the backhand corner. Then, randomly, I’d suddenly hit my backhand down the line, and Navin had to quick hit the ball to my wide forehand. If he’s keeping the ball to my wide backhand, then my down-the-line backhand not only can’t really angle him, but leaves me open to a wide angle to my forehand, and so he should be able to hit a winner nearly every time. For this drill, I didn’t bother playing out the point, just grabbing another ball to get the next rally started, but you can do it that way or play out the point.

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