The Backhand Triple Threat


Week one of Wimbledon 2016 is complete – all 7 days of it.  Typically, there are only 6 days of competition during the first week.  However, due to a huge amount of rain, the traditional Sunday “day of rest” was a day of action.  Another effect of the cold and wet conditions, was the effectiveness of drop shots. When grass is dry and the temperatures are warm, drop shots are still a good play due to the lower bounce of grass.  Under cold and wet conditions, drop shots are deadly!  The heavy use of the drop shot during week one put on display a tactic that can be used by all levels of players.  I call it the Backhand Triple Threat!


The most common form of groundstroke attack of any level of tennis competition is one player's forehand being hit inside out to the other player's backhand. This is done because the forehand is typically a strong shot and the backhand is the least powerful side. So the strength is attacking the weakness.  To defend as against this incoming forehand attack, ATP & WTA Players have become masters of disguising their backhand shots.  When they take their backhand backswing, one of three shots could be coming back.  They are:


  • Topspin groundstroke
  • Slice groundstroke
  • Drop Shot


Here's ATP #1 Novak Djokovic to demonstrate all three of these shots:


Novak Djokovic Topspin & Slice Backhand Groundstroke Practice


Notice how he's switching freely between his 2-handed topspin backhand and a one handed slice.  Despite the difference in hand set up on the racquet, not much time is afforded to the opponent to prepare for Novak's shot.  Now for the drop shot:


Novak Djokovic Backhand Drop Shot


This is the shot that really gives forehand attackers fits.  It looks exactly like the preparation of a backhand slice groundstroke.  So Novak's shot could be deep, mid-court, and a true drop shot.  He could also slide his left hand back onto the grip and come through with topspin.  The forehand attacker would be taking considerable risk in moving forward against these options.  Throw in the slick, low bouncing lawns of Wimbledon, and attacking a player with a strong backhand triple threat is downright dangerous!


Of course to make these three shots truly a “triple threat” in competition, a player has to demonstrate consistency on all three shots.  Otherwise, the forehand attacker will know what's coming.  However, all three shots are well within reach of most recreational players with some lessons from a USPTA or USPTR Certified Pro.  This same triple threat combination is effective on hard and clay courts, so it can help your game no matter where you play.  So load up the weaponry on the backhand side, and the inside forehand attack will be diffused in no time!