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

Slice Groundtroke
Flat Groundstroke
Topspin Groundstroke

Returning topspin is fairly easy and most of us are used to it. Topspin is what it used most commonly today. As with all spins, moving your feet and proper positioning is a key element to returning a shot hit to you with top spin.

One of the challenges to learning how to return top spin is learning where to position your self on the court to prepare to hit the ball after it bounces. Just like returning any other shot, footwork is an important factor in returning shots hit with top spin. Unlike side spin which requires you to move left and right on the court, top spin will require you to move forwards and back on the court. Good footwork is important. If you allow yourself to be lazy with your footwork a good top spin shot can force you to hit your shots well above your shoulder height and you will be in all kind of trouble as you are trying to hit balls that are so high they are well outside your strike zone.

Heavy top spin shots are effective in getting the ball up high and out of your strike zone. There are two ways to combat this. Either back up enough that when the ball is on the way back down after it bounces up high that you can hit the ball in your strike zone. This is the easier but less dominating position. This forces you back beyond the baseline and makes it hard for you to take control of the point. The other method is to step into the ball right after it bounces and take the ball on the rise. This takes an immense amount of timing and skill but if you can pull it off you can stay in control of many more points and not allow your opponent to push you around.

The more you practice and play matches the better you will get at knowing where you need to be to hit the ball back depending on how much top spin was used to hit the ball to your side of the court. Knowing how high the ball will bounce and how much speed it might pick up or slow down will greatly benefit your game. The more tennis you play the more this will become second hand nature to you. Just remember that the more arc the ball has on it, the faster it will drop and the higher it will bounce. You will also be able to tell what to expect by watching how your opponent hits the ball. If you notice your opponent hitting with a lot of topspin expect the ball to jump high and speed up when the ball hits your side of the court. You can generally get a feel for how well your opponent hit's with spin in the warm up.

As a quick rule of thumb, if you are on the baseline and you are playing a player with lots of topspin never assume the ball will go long. Stay with the ball and prepare to swing at the ball as if it will land in the court. Yes that sounds elementary but I have seen many players let their guard down because they thought the ball was going to be out by a foot or more, but there was enough topspin on the ball to make it drop into the court. Also be wary of big topspin hitters when you are at the net. If you are playing a person with an extreme amount of topspin and you are not used to it, a lot of ball might look like they are going to land out and you may let them go by only to land in. You will have to be the judge when the ball gets to you if you should volley the ball or not. It takes practice and time on the court to get to be able to judge the ball to tell if it is going deep or staying in the court.

Good Luck on the Court!
Scott Baker
Tennis4you.com