Length of contact is the length of the swing forwards at the moment of impact with the ball.
Forget the term “follow through” and promise to never say it again! Follow through is most commonly taught as wrapping your arm around your body. What this does is shorten the swing.
For a right-handed player’s backhand, following through shortens the swing too far to the right, winding up in mistakes into the bottom of the net or mistakes too far to the right.
Instead, lengthen your contact forward, towards your desired target which is the opponents court in front of you.
Looking at two different backhands, Rafael Nadal’s double-handed backhand and Richard Gasquet’s single-handed backhand, you can see that their strings are facing the court in front of them although the ball has already left their strings.
This is what length of contact looks like. A great drill is to practice hitting into the opponents alley from your service line then moving to three-quarter court, and then to the baseline hitting fifteen strokes into the alley at each depth.
This will teach you to lengthen your contact forwards as you move back. You can do this with a friend or on your own with a ball machine or drop hitting.
Travis Bertram of Peter Burwash International (PBI) is the Tennis Director for Thanyapura Sports and Leisure Club, Phuket. For information on their tennis academy visit W: thanyapura.com
— Travis Bertram
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