Improving Pickleball Backhand

Improving Pickleball Backhand

Techniques, Drills, and Insights

The essence of pickleball lies not just in mastering the basics but in refining specific shots, especially the backhand. This guide dives deep into the nuances of improving pickleball backhand, offering insights and strategies to elevate your game.

Understanding the Backhand Dynamics in Pickleball

In pickleball, the backhand shot, particularly when executed near “the kitchen” or the non-volley zone, can be a game-changer. Perfecting this shot requires understanding its mechanics, practicing various techniques, and adopting the right mindset.

Key Techniques for Improving Pickleball Backhand

Ben’s Off-Speed Roller

One of the standout techniques in the realm of improving pickleball backhand is Ben Johns‘ off-speed roller. This technique emphasizes using the shoulder more than the wrist. The entire arm acts as a lever, rolling the ball with topspin. It’s not about raw power but mastering the off-speed to catch opponents off guard.

JW Johnson’s Wrist Flick

Another technique that’s pivotal in improving pickleball backhand is the wrist flick, popularized by JW Johnson. This straight-ahead wrist flick requires a robust forearm and wrist. It’s more about delivering a quick “pop” than maintaining an off-speed rhythm.

Lean Right, Misdirect Left Backhand Flip

For those looking to add some flair to their game, the lean right, misdirect left backhand flip is an advanced shot. It’s about surprising the opponent, aiming for their right shoulder or hip, making it a challenging shot to return.

Consistency and Power: The Dual Goals

While mastering techniques is crucial, achieving consistency and power in your backhand shots is equally important. Regular practice, understanding the dynamics of each shot, and continuous feedback are key to hitting powerful and consistent backhands.

Drills and Practice: The Path to Improving Pickleball Backhand

Drills to Improve Pickleball Backhand

1. Off-Speed Roller Drills:

  • Wall Bounce Drill: Stand about 10 feet away from a wall. Hit the ball with an off-speed roller motion, aiming to make the ball bounce back to you in a controlled manner. This helps in mastering the angle and speed of the shot.
  • Partner Rally Drill: Partner up and rally the ball back and forth, focusing solely on the off-speed roller. This helps in understanding the shot dynamics in a real-game scenario.

2. Wrist Flick Drills:

  • Wrist Strengthening Drill: Using a paddle or a light weight, practice flicking your wrist forward and backward. This will help in strengthening the wrist muscles and improving the flick motion.
  • Target Practice Drill: Set up targets (like cones) at different distances. Stand at the baseline and try to hit each target using only the wrist flick motion. This helps in mastering accuracy and control.
  • Quick Reflex Drill: Have a partner drop the ball unexpectedly from various heights and distances. Your goal is to react quickly and return the ball using a wrist flick. This improves reflexes and the ability to use the wrist flick in sudden situations.

3. General Backhand Drills:

  • Cross-Court Drill: Rally with a partner, aiming to hit the ball cross-court using only backhand shots. This helps in understanding the angle and direction of the backhand.
  • Down-the-Line Drill: Similar to the cross-court drill, but this time aim your shots down the line.
  • Backhand Lob Drill: Practice hitting lobs using your backhand. Aim to get the ball high and deep into the opponent’s court.
  • Backhand Smash Drill: Drop the ball from a height and smash it using your backhand. This helps in mastering power shots with the backhand.

Improving pickleball backhand isn’t just about knowing the techniques; it’s about drilling them into your game. Regular practice, understanding the dynamics of each shot, and continuous feedback are crucial. Whether it’s the off-speed roller or the wrist flick, each shot has its drills. Incorporate them into your practice sessions, and witness a marked improvement in your backhand game.

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