I have always been a believer in loading early for the backhand, though I’m also very aware that a racket taken back too early is unnatural. Late preparation leads to all sorts of problems. It becomes incredibly difficult to strike the ball comfortably if you prepare too late (unless you have flawless timing).
Dictate the ball
A late struck ball requires something special to get you out of jail. Don’t let the ball dictate you, you dictate the ball or you’ll end up muscling the shot. Remember, when I talk about early loading I ‘m not suggesting that you run around with your racket back all the time – this spoils the rhythm.
Venus Williams is a great example of someone who prepares early with great results, and watch how well Federer loads as he runs for a backhand. Steffi Graf on the other hand prepared her forehand late but what a great shot that was! It at times looked ’snatchy’ but she had perfected it.
I once watched Venus Williams practicing for Wimbledon. Her father was encouraging her to exaggerate how early she prepared. She was getting used to the fast surface and needed to work on her timing. He was suggesting that she prepare extra early to give herself the best chance possible on the lush grass. Once she’d got her eye in, she didn’t need to exaggerate as much. (I’m certainly not going to disagree with a man who coached two little girls to win a phenomenal number of grand slams between them!!).
Loading early, great footwork and an alert mind will keep that ball in your comfort zone. A ball struck in the natural path of the follow-through is much more likely to be struck sweetly and accurately, than a ball that’s jamming your body.
This is tennis not wrestling!!