Activities Sports & Athletics Photo Study of Roger Federer's Backhand Share PINTEREST Email Print Clive Brunskill / Getty Images Sports & Athletics Tennis Playing & Coaching Gear Baseball Basketball Bicycling Billiards Bodybuilding Bowling Boxing Car Racing Cheerleading Cricket Extreme Sports Football Golf Gymnastics Ice Hockey Martial Arts Professional Wrestling Skateboarding Skating Paintball Soccer Swimming & Diving Table Tennis Track & Field Volleyball Other Activities Learn More By Jeff Cooper Updated May 24, 2019 Swiss tennis phenom Roger Federer uses a backhand grip that's just slightly toward the Modified Eastern grip from the Full Eastern. Federer starts his backswing with the racquet above the anticipated point of contact; the racquet will drop in a compact loop before he begins his forward swing. Having his left hand on the racquet throat helps Federer make sure he turns his back somewhat toward the ball and sees the ball over his shoulder, thus loading his core muscles for a short but powerful rotation that will bring his upper body to a square (sideways) position at contact. 01 of 09 Start of Forward Swing Cameron Spencer / Getty Images At the start of his forward swing, Federer has dropped his whole racquet slightly below the ball. 02 of 09 Middle of Swing Mark Dadswell / Getty Images Meeting the ball with the head of the racquet dropped below the hand would not be advisable, but at mid-swing, it's an excellent way for Federer to position his racquet to create topspin by brushing up the back of the ball. By the time Federer meets the ball, his racquet will be parallel to the ground again. Roger could have also dropped his hand below the ball, but this is a fairly low ball, and dropping the racquet head is easier. Federer's very closed stance (with his right foot closer to the sideline than his left) is not ideal, but it's less restricting on a one-handed backhand than on a forehand, and it's often unavoidable when you've run for a backhand. Federer does a great job of making sure his weight is on his front (right) leg, with just the toe of his left on the ground. 03 of 09 Upward Drive Graham Denholm / Getty Images About to meet this ball with a low-to-high, topspin swing, Federer is getting a visibly significant part of his upward drive from his right leg. 04 of 09 Ideal Height of Contact Quinn Rooney / Getty Images Federer is meeting this ball probably a bit later than he would wish but with the racquet nicely parallel to the ground and at an almost ideal height for a one-handed topspin. Federer's right leg has almost straightened, having nearly finished its upward thrust. His shoulders have turned to a perfect, square (parallel to the sidelines) position. 05 of 09 Topspin on Higher Ball Ezra Shaw / Getty Images For most players, this ball is near the upward limit for height of effective topspin. Federer sometimes hits topspin backhands above this height, on balls as high as his shoulders, but they're relatively weak, lacking the pace he can deliver on lower balls. At the ball height shown here, Federer can still deliver good pace, but less than with the ball a foot lower. Federer is meeting this ball with an excellent racquet position and the ball nicely centered on his strings. 06 of 09 Just After Contact Ezra Shaw / Getty Images An instant after contact, Federer's topspin is evident in how far his racquet has risen. His shoulders remain perfectly square, and his head and eyes remain exceptionally well locked onto where he met the ball. 07 of 09 Follow-Through XIN LI / Getty Images Federer shows us an excellent example of a one-handed topspin backhand follow-through, with his hips and shoulders still sideways, his right (hitting) arm above his shoulder and his left arm extended backward as a counterbalance. The raised rear leg is entirely optional. 08 of 09 Slice on a High Ball Clive Brunskill / Getty Images On a ball this high, Federer has a choice between hitting a slice or a relatively weak topspin or flat shot. The slice he has chosen will produce a lower bounce, especially on grass, that may help limit his opponent's ability to get under the ball enough to hit a strong topspin back. If his opponent doesn't get the next ball to kick up as high, Federer will probably have a much better chance to hit an aggressive reply. Note the contrast in Federer's legs as compared to the topspin backhand; instead of his right leg lifting him as part of an upward motion, Roger has his entire weight on his left leg, and his right will absorb his weight as his body moves downward and forward along with his racquet. 09 of 09 Slice on a Lower Ball Clive Brunskill / Getty Images A ball at this height is ideal for topspin, but it also allows for a more powerful backhand slice than the shoulder-high ball on which slice is only the better of two sub-optimal choices. The low, driving slice Federer hits on this type of ball can be an effective offensive shot that skids so low to the opponent, it often forces a weak reply that sets Federer up for an easy winner. Such a slice would also make an ideal approach shot if Federer were hitting it from inside his baseline.