A hop-step is a good option when you want to cover a medium distance to your backhand net area.
Why not use a cross-over, like on the forehand?
Generally, a cross-over is not effective on the backhand side, because you need to turn your body — which makes the overall movement too long and slow.
Let’s go back to our basic footwork for the backhand net. That was:
- Step with the non-racket foot
- Turn and lunge
To make this reach further, we can add a hop on the non-racket foot:
- Step and hop with the non-racket foot as you turn
With the basic footwork, the non-racket foot took only a small step. Now we have changed that to a hop-step, which covers more distance.
Start with a split step, then take a small step with your non-racket foot. As you push off from your racket foot and start to turn, take a hop-step on the non-racket foot. As usual, finish on a lunge.
Aim for a light, gliding feeling
We’re using the hop-step to cover extra distance, so keep your foot close to the ground. Imagine that your foot is hovering or gliding.
This movement requires good coordination of both feet. Although it’s the non-racket foot that’s making the hop, you need a strong push-off from the racket foot to make it work. You need to convert the energy from this push off into the horizontal movement of your hop.
The non-racket foot should only contact the ground briefly. Keeping the contact time short is what allows you to transfer energy from the racket foot push-off. Aim for a light, gliding feeling.
Maybe not for everyone
Just like the cross-over step, this hop-step is a more advanced movement and requires some leg strength. Some players, including younger juniors, will be better off sticking to running steps.