The backhand is the more natural of the two sides. That is because, on the forehand, the elbow must be tucked in and the hand must move across the body while facing slightly upwards. On the backhand, however, leading with the elbow is natural, and the extension of the arm is spontaneous.


However, the difficulty of the backhand arises when a beginner starts to look for power. The muscles involved in executing the backhand are less powerful than those used for the forehand. For example, to move the arm away from the body, as in the backhand, the rear head of the shoulder muscles (usually less developed in most people) is put to work. Also the part of the forearm used for the backhand is less powerful than the internal fibres used for the forehand.


So, a piece of precious advise to be followed especially by beginners. Do not search to hit the ball hard on the backhand side until you have mastered the technique and timing involved. We will go into this later, together with other details regarding acceleration and fluidity of movement. For now, a description of the basic shot is presented below in the same way as was dealt with the forehand.


Remember that for simplicity, the shot to be demonstrated is a medium paced drive down the wall and the initial position is that facing the sidewall with the right foot forward. The same considerations regarding the position of the feet and legs as mentioned for the forehand, apply for the backhand.



POSITION AND SWINthe position of the top half




The position of the top half of the body is as seen in the photo below. Note the position of the racket head, the hand, elbow, and shoulders. It is very important to keep the elbow low and understand that the movement is not executed at shoulder height.


In the next photo you can see a slight rotation of the shoulders in order to build up momentum and launch the arm almost effortlessly





The 3rd photo (below) shows that this rotation of the shoulders subsides while the arm and wrist come into action.


Just before impact, the elbow has come forward and the arm has been straightened out while the wrist has done its job of bringing the racket in line with the arm.


The racket face remains open. By now, the racket is in line with the extended arm. It is important to get to this position or phase of the swing (racket in line with the arm), while the racket face is around 20cm away from the point of impact, because if left till too late, there is the risk of not sending the ball straight.


On impact the position, is very similar to the previous phase. Note the position of the head, which as always remains very still, the shoulders, the hand which as for the forehand remains slightly lower than the racket head, and the slightly open racket face. The ball is in line with the right foot and knee, and in line with the arm and racket which is perpendicular to the side wall



After hitting the ball, the follow-through must be complete. The shoulders turning towards the front wall, assists the arm. Without the rotation of the upper body, the arm would decelerate too early and a lot of ball speed would be lost. A short follow-through would mean that more effort has to be made during the first stages of the swing, to send the ball at an equal speed. A long guided follow through is also very important for directional control. Note how in the last photo the racket head must finish above shoulder height.


You may now see the backhand swing in motion. To get a front view of the shot, click here.


THE BACK-SWING    bkswng bkhnd



The back-swing or racket preparation before hitting the ball is fairly simple, but most important. The 4 photos presented here, clearly identify the important stages of the movement. The first photo on the left, illustrates the correct starting position for a beginner. During the first stage of learning the backhand, he is already facing the sidewall. Note the wrist position; maintaining the racket head up; and the player's eyes on the ball being fed from the back left corner. The player must first use the wrist to flick the racket head backwards. This is immediately followed by the hand moving back to take the racket head behind the players shoulder. At this moment, the player has started to twist his upper body to take the arm further back. play video


So far, the technique for the backhand has been demonstrated and explained, starting from a static position and presuming that the player is already turned towards the sidewall. In the section to follow shortly, where the straight drive is explained, the player starts off from a more practical position. Hence, the following clip shows the execution of the back-swing from a frontal position. play video   Again, note how the wrist is used and the feet move only after the racket has been taken back




Wrist action is most important in squash. This is evident from what has been explained above, in the section on technique. Wrist movement is a reoccurring theme in this book, and a lot will be said further on. Here, it is important to recognise that the wrist movement is a controlled action, which is incorporated in the swing, to develop the necessary racket acceleration. For a player to understand how to use the wrist, it is important to first consider these two video clips and try out the action, preferably with a racket at hand. The first clip illustrates a subtle short-range movement, which requires a lot of sensitivity. This movement constitutes the first part of the wrist action.  play video


However, the main wrist movement can be seen here.  play video  As can be seen from the video, in reality, the movement stems from the elbow, but the wrist is the centre of control. To achieve the correct wrist movement, the player must combine the two parts illustrated, to produce an action which looks like this.  play video