Coaching Tip - March 2022

Hit more effective Topspin

Rip up through the ball

Topspin in tennis is defined as the rotation of the ball after being hit so it is rolling through the air in a forward motion down the court. This movement imparts a downward force that causes the ball to drop due to its interaction with the air.

The grips that you use for both forehand and backhand will determine how effective your topspin shots are.

The recommended grips for the forehand groundstroke are;
Semi western
• This grip is preferred by many players including the professionals
• The preferred option when coaching younger players so that learning is easier and there is less chance of injury particularly to the wrist
• The palm of your hand is slightly under the racquet
• The racquet face is closed on take back
• Contact point is out in front and the racquet is slightly closed at contact
• Ideal when playing on hard-court surfaces but can be used on clay
• Easier to hit the ball at or above waist high
• Enables you to lay your wrist back giving more flexibility with the movement of the racquet face
• Allows you to hit a more aggressive forehand with maximum transfer of force and spin

• This grip is more extreme with the palm of the hand further under the racquet
• Allows a wide ‘throwing action’ giving greater topspin
• This grip is used by baseline players and clay court specialists
• Allows more pronounced laying back of the wrist resulting in whip in your groundstrokes
• Contact point is shoulder high or above
• The impact point is closer to the body but more out in front than with the Semi Western grip

More effective Topspin
• Players should experiment with the 2 grips recommended so they get a feel for which grip works for you.
• The grip should feel comfortable and the swing should be natural
• Bend your knees so that you can use your body biomechanics to help rip up on the ball
• Swing or Rip up from low to high
• brushing up the back of the ball from 6 o’clock (bottom) hitting up to the 12 o’clock position
• contact the ball in front of your body

When hitting a topspin backhand the grip is changed but the other principles are the same.

The recommended grips for the backhand are as follows:
Single handed backhand
Eastern grip
• This grip is the easiest to use but gives less topspin
• Knuckle on the first finger is on top of the racquet
• Heel of the hand is on the first bevel on the racquet grip
• Helps to keep the racquet face vertical at contact
Players will need to use a more extreme grip particularly if they are playing on Clay or the slower hard-court surfaces to develop more effective topspin.
Many players use the western grip to achieve this result.

Western grip
• Gives you more topspin
• Used by clay court players
• Easier to hit a higher bouncing ball
• The base knuckle of the index finger is on the fifth bevel of the grip

Two handed back hand
For right handed players – reverse for the left hander
• the left hand with a Semi Western grip should be dominant
• the base knuckle of the index finger on the left hand is on the fourth bevel on the racquet grip
• the right hand should have an Eastern backhand grip

Experiment with these grips to find out which combination works best for you.

I hope that you can adopt the coaching tips above so that you can develop more powerful and accurate topspin shots with your forehand and backhand.

Try not to confuse yourself by thinking too much.
Keep it Simple.
Relax and let it happen

Let me know if you can think of any other options to help you achieve a more efficient topspin game.

Tennis the game of a lifetime

Contact me by Email if you have any comments or helpful Tennis hints.
Let me know the things that work for you.

Please direct any comments to:
Steve James
HEAD coach