Your ability to hit the tennis ball with different kinds of spin is undoubtedly a major factor when it comes to reaching higher levels of play. Most beginning and intermediate players hit a pretty flat ball. They don’t know how to play with variety by mixing their shots using topspin and slice. Spin in tennis is what enables you to keep your opponent constantly off balance and always having to guess what you’re going to do next. It’s very difficult to get in a rhythm against players who hit with a wide variety of spins.
Personally, I love to hit with a ton of topspin. Most of my routine groundstrokes are executed with heavy topspin. I do this because:
- It’s a lot of fun hitting with massive spin!
- It keeps my opponents on the defensive most of the time, especially players who hit a lot of flat balls or who play below a 4.5 level.
The truth of the matter is that the vast majority of players have a very difficult time handling heavy topspin. This is because topspin requires better timing and concentration. The ball looks like it’s sailing slowly through the air, but once it lands it often explodes off the ground very quickly. You have to be ready for this, or else you’ll undoubtedly hit the ball late off the back foot.
In order to generate more topspin on your shots, you’ll want to do a couple things:
Make sure you swing from low to high - You’ve probably heard this a million times, but it’s a really important point when it comes to hitting with more topspin. You have to start under the ball, then move over it upon impact. All of the more advanced players do this, whereas players at a 4.0 level or below often have more of a mid-body swing, where they start and end in the middle of their body, which will generate a flat shot.
Practice a more extreme wrist snap upon impact - On both my forehand and backhand wing, I make a point of snapping my wrist right upon impact so that my racquet moves over the top of the ball very quickly.
Without this wrist snap, the ball will sail high and flat if you’re swinging from low to high. The first step is to start low, then swing high.. and right at contact snap your wrist to keep the ball down and generate topspin.
On the opposite side of the equation, it’s also very beneficial to your game if you know how to hit with underspin or slice. In this case, you’re going to do the opposite of the topspin shot. You’re going to start higher, then cut underneath the ball at impact. Your wrists will likely move in the opposite direction as the topspin shot, as you’ll be hitting under the ball rather than over it.
I use a slice shot more often if my opponent hits a lot of flat shots, as these shots tend to be lower and it requires quite a bit more skill to hit with a lot of topspin off of really low shots.
If you can intelligently mix up topspin with slice, you’ll win a lot of matches. Most players can’t handle too much diversity in the spin that comes their way. If you hit 3-4 hard top spin shots, then a softer slice shot, you’ll notice that it throws off their timing and they can’t get into a rhythm.
It may feel awkward at first, but make it a point to practice hitting with more spin. You’ll notice that it gives you a solid competitive edge that makes the game more enjoyable.