Tennis has a very limited number of playstyles and in the ATP Tour, you usually see the same forehand—a one-hander. The reason being is because the forehand is typically the biggest shot of a player’s kit. It’s what helps them generate speed and power as well as have an offensive game to their kit,

But for the backhand, this can be completely different. Most players on the tour consider their backhand to be their secondary weapon. You don’t see a backhand finish off as many points as a forehand would. That’s because backhands can be used for defense and offense but when you play backhands offensively, you have to play them carefully.

Therefore, you can have two major types of backhands: one-handed backhands and two-handed backhands. Each of these create a drastically different player and it’s what has made the ATP Tour so diverse and creative.

The Different Playstyles in Tennis

Tennis has several different playstyles a person can incorporate into their game. Some are meant for mainly defense while others push a full-on offensive front. Meanwhile, some others incorporate both offense and defense into the game.


Grinders are built to outlast their opponents. This means that they like to play out long points but they don’t go for big points. They don’t go for a full-out offensive shot that can win them the point within a few shots.

They average around six to seven rallies before even deciding to move the ball towards an attack position. They’re mostly defensive and are most comfortable around the baseline. But if they’re forced into defense-mode, they thrive in that area as well.

They can out-run most attacks and offensive attackers should be ready to attack more than two times in order to win a point, especially when they have fast feet. Grinders can be one of the most frustrating players to play because they’re confined into one small circle of play but when they’re in that small circle of play, they’re virtually unstoppable.

Heavy Offensive Players

Heavy offensive players like to play a very offensive game. That means that they have a big serve, big forehand, and like to end points fast. If you give them the weak ball, they’re going to punish you for it as hard as they can.

They may face trouble with grinders at times since they try to end the point fast and grinders are meant to outlast any player they face but heavy offensive players can always keep their opponent on edge because one wrong move and you’re on the wrong. Heavy offensive players like to incorporate a series of different attacks into their kit. They like to play heavy and aggressive from the baseline but they also like to serve-and-volley in order to catch their opponent off guard.

If you take a look at someone like Federer, he’s the perfect example of a heavily offensive player. He likes to hit the ball fast and he ends points quick, largely thanks to his serve that is considered to be the most accurate on tour. Players have to keep the ball deep and heavy in order to prohibit Roger Federer from coming in. Players likes these are extremely good at punishing you for mistakes and this is one of the most common styles seen on tour.


Everyone can be considered an all-courter but the level of how strong of an all-courter you are varies. An all-courter’s style comes from its name. They can do virtually anything. They can serve-and-volley and then they can switch to an extremely defensive playstyle.

This makes them tricky and extremely hard to beat with one playstyle. Because of this, most players playing an all-courter need to be them by actually being better at one aspect of the game than their opponent.

Sometimes, this means hitting a better forehand or backhand or having a better serve than them. Either way, the fact that they’re able to replicate any playstyle they want serves to be an extremely threatening idea itself.

The Difference Between a One-Handed and Two-Handed Backhand

As I’ve said before, one-handed and two-handed backhands are fairly subjective to the playstyle being considered. The three playstyles I’ve mentioned are three of the most common playstyles you’ll see on the ATP tour. A one-handed backhand and a two-handed backhand can fit well with some of these playstyles but at the same time, they can be the bane of another. Therefore, the use of a different backhand can sometimes make or break the player’s game.

A one-handed backhand is largely offensive. Players who have a one-handed backhand typically have a much faster backhand and an all-out offensive approach. The reason the backhand tends to be much faster is because it’s much flatter with little to no topspin. It generates more power from the racquet hitting it head-on rather than from an angle and thus sends more power forward into the ball when going back towards the opponent. However, this comes at a great cost.

Because one-handed backhands have a much faster pace largely thanks to the flatness of it, they don’t have very much defense in their kit. The little defense they have comes from their ability to slice and this slice can usually only be used whenever the ball gets low or they’re trying to change up the pace.

Therefore, whenever players hit an extremely strong topspin shot to their backhand, one-handed players have to be ready to hit the ball earlier and much faster than other people. If they don’t, their return shot is going to be extremely weak and they won’t have anything else to back them up.

Therefore, one-handed backhand players can be extremely one-dimensional because they’re big on attacking but at the cost of not being able to defend as well. However, there are exceptions to this such as Richard Gasquet who’s known for his topspin one-handed backhand and his exceptional defense. A good one-handed backhand player can control the point with his backhand and if he’s put on the run, he can easily turn it back into his player with the raw speed and power he puts into his shots. Therefore, he must be fast and also have strong hand-eye coordination.

When it comes to two-handed backhand players, they’re the polar opposite of one-handed backhand players. They’re much more defensive and aren’t used as an offensive shot ninety-percent of the time. However, at the same time, this defensive playstyle gives them much more utility to work with. Two-handers don’t put as much pace on the ball as a one-hander and that’s because the use of two hands keeps them from getting the same amount of flexibility movement a one-handed backhand would get.

Furthermore, the two-handed grip also promotes a more topspin ball in order to get it over the net rather than hitting it full-on flat. Therefore, while it doesn’t have the pace a flatter one-handed shot would have, it’s much heavier because the spin pushes it forward onto the opponent.

A two-hander’s specialty lies in being able to defend well though. The utility behind a backhand lies in the fact that you can use it to rally, attack, but also defend and defending is what the two-handed backhand is best at. On the tour, the two-handed backhand is considered to be the shield of the kit, keeping the player from danger and helping them defend against attacks by their opponent.

Therefore, it’s great for defense and once mastered, can be used to fend off attackers from coming to the net. Furthermore, a strong backhand can also help you set up to indirectly win the point by converting a weak ball into a forehand. If you look at players like Novak Djokovic, you can see how strong a two-handed backhand can be, especially from someone who’s mastered the shot. Right now, Novak Djokovic has one of the best two-handed backhands on tour.

And it’s not because he has strong offense with it or exceptional defense. It’s that he has a mix of these things. He’s great at using it to set up a point and the depth he puts on it keeps his opponent from really making an offensive move. But if they do, Novak Djokovic can easily turn the ball in his favor if they’re hit as his backhand. There have been countless times where Novak Djokovic hit a passing shot off of a strong backhand and this has been key to his kit and it’s what helped him end the 2018 season as the world number one.

The two-handed backhand is by far the most popular backhand on the tour right now because of its utility. While it may not specialize in one thing specifically, the ability to be able to rally, attack, and defend with this type of backhand has proven to be extremely versatile.

Which Style Suits Which Player Type?

With a better understanding on how the two-handed backhand and one-handed backhand differentiate, it’s obvious that the one-handed backhand is more suited towards an attacking gameplay and the two-handed backhand is more geared towards players who want a more versatile toolkit.

Therefore, players who play a largely attacking-based game such as the heavy offensive players can play a one-handed backhand. Essentially, they will have two forehands but if they misplay, they can be in serious trouble. An all offensive player will need to be extremely quick on their feet and crafty with their shots. Since the one-handed backhand doesn’t provide as much utility as a two-handed backhand, they need to make up for it by getting to the shot earlier.

That’s why Roger Federer is not only deadly with his shots, he’s also extremely quick. In his prime, he could use his one-hander to literally end a point with the snap of his fingers. His speed allowed him to get the prime position and then rip it wherever he wanted. Of course, with Roger being much older now, he isn’t able to rip the ball as much as he was able to in the past and you can see this in his game now. He rarely ends his points off a one-hander and instead uses it to rally out the point. Now, he uses a serve-and-volley technique to close out games.

Another example is Grigor Dimitrov. At his prime, Grigor Dimitrov won the Nitto ATP Finals, one of the biggest events of the ATP Tour season. It can even arguably be considered as the fifth Grand Slam. Grigor Dimitrov competed among the likes of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal and he won. The main reason that he was able to win in such a dominating fashion is because at the time, his one-handed backhand matched with his intense speed created one of the deadliest finishers in the tennis tour.

However, he’s fallen off a little bit now and because of this, he’s found it harder to produce the same deadly one-handers before. Therefore, if a player wants to be able to use this shot to the highest degree, they’re going to need to meet some high expectations. Otherwise, there’s going to be trouble. As for the two-handed backhand, you see this style the most on the tour because grinders and all-courter’s tend to take up most of the player base. A two-handed backhand is perfect for grinders since they are most comfortable from the baseline.

The two-handed backline not only gives them more spin and heavy drive to keep their opponents away from the one place they can beat them at, the net, it also gives them more time to move into position. Therefore, it’s a perfect composition of utility for these grinders. They can use it to rally, which they’re good at. They can use it to defend, which they’re also extremely good at and if needed, they can use it to attack. It has everything a grinder needs to ensure that they’re able to win the points.

However, the one playstyle which can use both two-handed backhands and one-handed backhands is the all-courter. Essentially, the all-courter can cover so many aspects of the game at such a high degree that it doesn’t really matter as much. But it comes down to an all-courter’s tendencies. An all-courter can choose to be defensive or they can choose to be offensive most of the time. The thing that separates them from the others is that they can balance out an offensive or defensive game with other aspects.

In the end, it’s their decision on what they want. Most all-courter’s opt for a two-handed backhand because of the ability to play around different shots with a little bit more flexibility but occasionally, you’ll see some one-handed backhanders who are also all-courter’s. It just isn’t as common as the two-handed backhand players.

What Does This Have to Do With Betting?

Betting is largely based on predicting the right winner in a match between two players and that’s where the majority of the prize money comes from: betting on someone correctly. While it may be a small detail, the backhand can help give you a clue as to which player is going to have a better chance of winning.

For example, a grinder tends to take down an all-offensive player since their defensive playstyle counteracts their want to finish off shots fast. But these grinders tend to fall to one-handers who have an all-court type of playstyle,

Of course, there are other things to consider such as previous matchups and their rankings in the world but when the match is nearly dead-set even, you can use the backhand to maybe gain an edge over the others.

The game of tennis has several different playstyles such as the grinder and the all-courter. Then, there are other more unorthodox playstyles such as the counterpuncher and the serve-and-volley based player. Each of these playstyles have their own strengths and weaknesses and you can tell how they play by their backhand. If they have a two-handed backhand, chances are they play a very defensive to neutral game that’s grounded near the baseline.

If they have a one-handed backhand, then they’re more offensive and like to end points fast. The best of the best when it comes to one-handed players can dictate the point from start to finish thanks to the fast pace and speed on the ball that they can produce if they hit it right.

Therefore, you can use the different backhand styles to determine which type of player is being presented. You can tell if they’re more of an offensive type of player or if they’re more inclined to play defensively. Of course, that doesn’t tell everything but whenever a match is close and it can go either way, this use of determining the playstyle via the backhand can be the difference between making a thousand dollars and losing two thousand.

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