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Ask tennishead: How many hands?


 

Originally published on: 23/02/12 10:51

How many hands?
I keep swapping from a one-handed to a two-handed backhand – and back again! Which would you advise a young player to stick to?
Sue, Northampton


A simple question for you, Sue: Which is your best and most reliable backhand? If we said to you, ‘We’ll give you £500 if you can make 18 out of 20 backhands,’ which one would you use for the challenge? Both kinds of backhand have their advantages – and it’s safe to say the majority of pros these days use two hands – but the decision should be based on the foundations of your game that are already in place. It should probably involve an assessment of both shots by a good coach, too.

Sport for all
I want to be a pro tennis player when I’m older – I’m eight at the moment. Is it OK for me to play other sports though?
Freddie, Portsmouth

Well, first of all, Freddie, good luck with your dreams – we like a young man with a bit of ambition! In short, yes, it certainly is OK to play other sports – the more the merrier. When you read about the lives of the best tennis players many of them played all sorts of different sports when they were kids.  Quite a few of the male pros were very good footballers when they were younger (Andy Murray and Boris Becker spring to mind). Playing different sports as a youngster is great for improving strength, flexibility, balance and co-ordination. If you play a team sport it’s a double bonus since you benefit from everything that goes with working alongside other people.

Beat the bogeyman
I’m 14 years old and I have one opponent who totally psychs me out. I’m better than him but I can’t perform when he’s on the other side of the net – he just totally winds me up! Any advice?
Billy, Leeds

OK, Billy, start by asking yourself why you’re playing tennis. Surely, the answer to that question is to play as well as you can in all circumstances that challenge you. You must try to see this bogeyman of yours as a fantastic opportunity to improve your mental strength. Watch the ball and focus on your game. He cannot influence you unless you decide to allow him to wind you up. Imagine him with Mickey Mouse ears and laugh at his antics!

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