(By Larry Hodges)
Many players never develop a backhand loop. Some rely on the forehand loop, and so mostly push on the backhand, with the idea of pushing back wide to the backhand to take away the opponent’s forehand loop. Or the player may instead develop a backhand drive (i.e. more of a hit, less topspin) to attack backspin with their backhand.
But doing this puts you at a tactical disadvantage. A good backhand loop gives you the option of pushing or attacking. If you attack, a backhand loop gives more consistency than a hit (because of the extra topspin pulling it down), and the topspin itself makes it even more effective as the opponent struggles to react to it. If you can only attack effectively with the forehand, then tactically, an opponent can just push wide to your backhand, taking away your attack unless you have very fast footwork – and if you do step around and forehand loop it, he has you out of position if he blocks quickly to the forehand. A backhand loop is especially useful at the start of a rally when your opponent pushes to your wide backhand, such as when he either pushes your serve back or serve and pushes.
So develop a consistent backhand loop. Suddenly, you have the tactical advantage. It’s not just that you can attack first, but you also get to choose where to attack. You could go crosscourt to the opponent’s waiting backhand block, but even more effectively, take it deep to the middle (the midpoint between the opponent’s forehand and backhand, around the elbow), or down the line to the forehand. (Same idea when playing against a lefty, or vice versa.) With a good backhand loop, you are in control; suddenly, the opponent is forced to either attack balls he isn’t comfortable attacking, or giving you the attack, where you dictate where you attack, while all he can do is try to react. It also gives you a variation from your forehand loop – your opponent has to adjust to both loops, which come out differently.
So get a coach or top player to help you with the shot, watch videos top players, and do some multiball practice. A two-winged attack gives you twice the weapons in your tactical toolbox and turns you into a far more feared player.