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Hitting Topspin
By:  Scott Baker | Tennis4you  | Tennis Forum  | E-mail

The way a ball spins when hit in the game of tennis can greatly affect a large part of your game as well as your opponent's game. High bouncing balls may cause your opponent to have trouble returning the ball. Maybe your opponent has a problem hitting balls that do not bounce but a few inches off of the ground. Balls can also bounce side ways, jamming or stretching out your opponent while they try to hit their return. In whichever case, there are different types of spins and several ways to use them to your advantage. In this article we first look at what topspin is and then how to hit the ball with topspin.

Slice Groundtroke
Flat Groundstroke
Topspin Groundstroke

Topspin is generated when you hit the ball with a low to high motion. The more extreme (from low to high) you swing your racquet the more topspin you will place on the ball. The result of this motion will create a rainbow effect with the ball as it goes over the net. The ball will bounce higher and faster than it would without the topspin. (See diagram above) Topspin is most commonly used by the players of today. Topspin can be hit from both sides with a one handed or 2 handed shot.

As we have just discussed, topspin is generated by swinging the racquet with a low to high motion. This "low to high" motion is key. It does not mean that you will hit the ball straight up in the air into the clouds. Topspin is created by brushing the ball with an upwards motion as you swing through your shot. Your racquet face should be parallel with the net at contact. You still swing forward, but at the same time you are swinging low to high. This is opposed to hitting the ball with no spin, which would be swinging straight through the ball with the racquet always in the same "Y" plane. I was once told when I was a beginner that you can swing as hard as you can at the ball, as long as you swing low to high. This is true to an extent. You can swing as hard as you can, but you must hit the ball with enough topspin that it brings the ball down on the other side of the court.

A good way to ensure that you swing low to high is in the preparation for hitting the ball. Make sure your knees are bent (depending on how low or high the ball bounces) and your racquet is in the ready position below the ball. Start your swing and as you are swinging start to unbend your knees and make sure the racquet is moving upwards as well as forwards. To finish this shot your racquet should be above your shoulder opposite of the side you hit the ball. You should finish with your left hand (assuming you are right handed hitting a forehand) catching the racquet above your left shoulder. If you follow these guidelines properly you should have nice topspin ground strokes.

Topspin allows you to hit a higher percentage of your shot in the court. You have good clearance over the net and with good topspin the ball will drop in the court without going long. A player who can hit with good topspin can use it to their advantage several ways. Topspin lobs are very effective, hitting shots that bounce high to your opponent's weak side and hitting topspin shots are players feet when they come to the net are all great examples of how topspin can be an added weapon to your game.

Good Luck on the Court!
Scott Baker