The reverse-crosscourt shot is one of the least-practiced strokes in
tennis. For a right-hander it's a forehand aimed off to the
right or a backhand aimed off to the left. This shot is also
nicknamed "hitting the other way," because it's like "hitting
the other way" in baseball: Right-handed batters normally
"pull" the ball toward left field; but when they hit "the
other way," they hit toward right field.
As if two names aren't enough, the reverse-crosscourt shot is also called
an "inside-out shot." Thatâ€™s because the swing is an inside-to-out swing,
beginning with the racquet's butt close to the body and ending with it
slightly farther out to the side. As a result, the shot carries sidespin,
which curves the ball outward. In contrast, crosscourt shots are usually
hit with a more-or-less roundhouse swing and never carry sidespin.
To practice reverse-crosscourt forehands, you and your practice partner
stand crosscourt from each other behind your backhand alleys and exchange
forehands. Hit TO each other. Try to take everything forehand. Doubtless
you'll get some practice running around backhands.
To practice reverse-crosscourt backhands, position behind your forehand
alleys and hit only backhands TO each other.
Don't forget to practice the reverse-crosscourt volley. Leave your practice
partner in the backcourt and come straight forward into the forecourt.
S/he hits you reverse-crosscourt drives, you return reverse-crosscourt
volleys. Generally, you want to keep the ball in play, but if you get
an irresistible angle or a lob to smash, put the ball away.
The reverse crosscourt volley is a must for doubles players. That's
because the name of the game is "volleying to the hole," and sometimes
it's on the reverse-crosscourt side.
The reverse-crosscourt drive comes in handy, too. It's a boon to players
with big forehands or weak backhands. When they get a backhand to hit
crosscourt from the ad court, they can often step around the shot to hit
it forehand. I do that so often I've played entire doubles matches in
the ad court without hitting a backhand.
Learning this shot pays dividends. For one thing, it does wonders for
your aim. Also, experience with this much straighter swing influences
all the shots you hit on that side, eliminating flaws in your overall
groundstrokes and volleys. It does wonders for early preparation, footwork,
and weight transfer. It's a compact, steady, and powerful stroke that
gives you excellent directional control. When I learned to hit inside-out
forehands, it gave me a feel for the straightness or curvature of my swing.
Then I could vary it at will. The next thing I knew, my forehand was a
bona fide big shot.