Importance of spin in tennis
There are three main types of spin: topspin, backspin, and sidespin
Let’s learn to play with spin. In the beginning, when a player is learning to play tennis, using the effects is unnecessary. The speed is very low. Learning to control the ball, learn the directions, and keep the ball in play is needed. But once we have learned to play slowly, we feel like hitting hard. We run into the problem that the court’s dimensions are the same for the slow hitters as for the hard hitters. So, the distance to the baseline remains the same as when we hit slowly. However, as we are stronger, it is not enough to put the ball inside the court, and that’s it. When hitting, without spin, the ball tends to fly further away. This leads to errors, especially on the baseline. Here, we have a good solution: hitting hard with topspin.
In this article, I will uncover the secrets of good topspin so that you can understand how to hit the ball hard and give it a very good spin to enter the court safely.
We will also talk about a cut shot. This is when we turn the ball so that it spins backward. This way, it brakes against the surface when it volleys, and we get a very low and uncomfortable bounce for the opponent.
And finally, we will talk about the side effects. These are effects that very few players use. I will explain how to do it, and then you can try it in your training sessions and matches.
Table of Contents
Benefits of using spin in your game
If you play flat shots, you are very limited. You can only pass the ball to the other side of the net, maybe control some direction and little else. When you use spin, your tennis is already on another level. You can afford to hit the ball much harder. You can use the ball’s spin to shorten its trajectory to play good angles. You can successfully defend with a sliced backhand that will bounce very low and slow, giving you time to recover the court. There are many benefits of controlling spin.
Definition and mechanics of topspin
Technique to generate topspin
1. Grip: Eastern or Semi-Western
When we hit the ball, we have to transmit forces that the racquet transmits to the ball. If we hit flat, all the force is converted into linear motion. When we want to hit the ball with spin, we have to give another force. In addition to the linear force, there is the force of the ball’s rotation. In this way, the ball has to go forward with more or less rotation speed on itself. To achieve this, we have to hit it with a certain angle of attack that we get with the way we hold the racquet with a little inclination.
2. Backswing and footwork
The movement to give this spinning effect will always go from the bottom up in a topspin stroke. So we have to position ourselves in such a way that the opening of the arm and the acceleration allow us to accelerate the racquet very fast, hitting the ball and brushing it with the strings at the point of contact in the direction from bottom to top. The faster the friction, the faster the rotation speed of the ball in its trajectory.
3. Contact point and follow-through
The distance and point of contact are important for all shots, even for spin shots. Remember that here we play with two forces: one lineal, the one that sends the ball forward, and the other that makes the ball spin. One of the most common mistakes is when the player needs to pass forward all the force at the moment of impact. Otherwise, he loses his balance and falls slightly to the side or backward. That is why good technique is essential. And it is very difficult to learn a topspin stroke from the beginning. Advanced players must learn to hit with spin.
Topspin shot variations
1. Topspin forehand
It is a very powerful stroke. It can usually be the winning shot. The effects allow the ball to be secured inside the court. It is used to hit hard and to keep the ball from going long. Angles are also used.
2. Topspin backhand
Here, there are two types. One-handed backhand stroke. The two-handed backhand stroke. It is a matter of preference. You can’t say that one stroke is better than the other. Players throughout the ages have proved this. Some players played the backhand one-handed and have been number one in the world. Some players play two-handed backhand.
The topspin backhand is a very safe stroke, although I believe the one-handed backhand can be more powerful than the two-handed backhand. It should be noted that there is a slice backhand, but it is only played with one hand. Very few players have been able to use the two-handed slice backhand.
3. Topspin serve
In service, perhaps, there are more varieties of effects. Of course, there is the flat serve without spin. It is usually used for the first serve and is always very powerful. But more and more players prefer to serve with spin, even on the first service. The effects can be sliced with the lateral rotation and not backward as in the baseline shots. A kick serve with a kick does have a very powerful forward rotation component. It is an ideal service for a second service. It is very safe as it goes very high over the net. On the serve, when hitting the ball over the head, we can make a mixed effect, a little lift, and a little cut so that the ball has an irregular trajectory, and it is more difficult to subtract since the bounce after is not straight.
Advantages of topspin
We have already talked at the beginning about the need to include the spin in the stroke because we hit the ball with too much force, and the flat stroke would go out of the court, so it is a part of the energy that we include inside the stroke. The length of the rectangle court limits the linear component. However, the force with which the ball spins has no limit, and that force also becomes the kinetic force after the bounce, as it accelerates at the moment of contact with the ground.
Drills and exercises to improve spin
Cone target practice
Once we have understood the principle of a stroke with spin, we start practicing. The best training is basket training. The coach always throws the ball to the same place and at the same speed. We have to learn to control the directions with spin since the ball no longer goes straight but with a curve. We train the shots with the lift effect and also the cut shots.
A good way is to combine exercises with the basket with sparring workouts. But take your time. Play with another player and practice the topspin strokes when you have learned very well with the basket drills.
Swing visualization and muscle memory
Adding spin to the stroke involves adjusting the technique of executing the movement. As with all changes, it is important to memorize the correct movement. Once you have the movement automatically, you can consider which stroke works correctly.
Common mistakes and troubleshooting
Over-rotating on contact
If you close the racquet too much, the angle of attack may be too much acute. This will mean you cannot make a clean hit and may not hit the racquet’s center. You have to look for a good distance and the right grip.
Inconsistent racket head speed
We have to control two forces. And to make these forces compensate, the harder I hit the ball, the more spin I have to give the ball. Especially when practicing, we can find that these forces are unbalanced, and there needs to be more rotation. It can also happen that there is too much rotation of the shoulders, and this causes a loss of balance when hitting.
Poor footwork and body positioning
Footwork and good balance are fundamental to hit with effect. We already talked about the power of the topspin stroke. It is always a stronger stroke. It would help if you were well-positioned to hit it and receive a topspin hit from your opponent, who surely already knows how to execute it.
Insights from the pros
Examples of famous players known for their spin techniques
Nowadays, all professional players play with spin. But we must highlight Rafael Nadal. He is the one who hits with a lot of spin, both forehand and backhand.
How do you add spin to a tennis forehand?
To add spin to the forehand stroke, we must accelerate the racquet very fast from the bottom to the top. This way, the ball has to come forward with a rotation on its axis.
How to return a tennis ball with spin?
When a ball with spin comes at you, and you put the racquet flat, the spin will affect it, and you won’t be able to control it very well. What you have to do is to hit the ball with even more spin. This way, you can counteract the opponent’s spin.
How do you hit more spin?
To hit with more spin, we have to give more acceleration. A little more angle of attack so that the racquet meets the ball with a very fast movement from the bottom to the top, grazing the strings at high speed.
What is the best tennis grip for topspin?
The best grip for hitting the forehand with topspin is called “east or semi-east.” This grip allows the correct angle of attack so that when the racquet hits the ball, it gives the ball speed and a large rotation on its axis.