Coaching Tip - November 2011

    Can be your best friend on court

    The more advanced Tennis players will learn to use spin to improve the consistency of their groundstrokes.
    In defence

    • Higher loopy topspin from the back of the court
    • Using slice to return the wider and shorter balls during a rally

    When attacking

    • Hitting with topspin when putting away the shorter balls
    • Using topspin or slice when hitting a approach shot prior to moving to the net

    Spin involves the rotation of the tennis ball through the air after being hit by the racquet in the case of tennis.

    This spin or ball rotation is in

    • a forward direction for topspin¬†
    • backwards for a slice or underspin stroke.

    In order to impart spin on the ball you must accelerate the racquet head through contact brushing the back of the ball causing it to spin in the desired direction.

    The main types of spin are topspin and slice.

    Topspin involves brushing the ball in an upward direction causing

    • the ball to rotate in a forward direction
    • the ball to dip through the air
    • the ball to bounce forward and up when it hits the court

    In this way you can hit the ball hard but keep it in court and the bounce will make it hard for your opponent to return.

    Shot Preparation
    To improve your topspin ground stroke for forehand or backhand

    • prepare as for your usual forehand or backhand
    • drop the racquet head below the height of the ball
    • brush vertically up the back of the ball
    • the faster your racquet head speed the greater the topspin imparted on the ball
    • follow through extending through the contact point before the racquet head moves over the ball

    A one handed backhand player may find it easier to use a more pronounced semi western or western backhand grip to generate more topspin.
    Two handed backhand players may find it easier to use an eastern backhand grip with the bottom hand.


    During training sessions experiment with your topspin shots

    • by seeing how high you can hit the ball over the net and keep the ball in the court
    • hitting loopy topspin landing the ball on the baseline


    Slicing the ball involves brushing downward on the back of the ball causing it to rotate backward as it travels to the other end of the court.
    Slice or underspin is used often for control but can be used to mix up the play during a rally.
    This stroke can be used on the forehand side as well particularly for approach shots

    Shot Preparation
    Improve your slice stroke by using the following technique

    • prepare your racquet take back higher than for the usual forehand or backhand topspin stroke
    • the forward swing is in a downward motion
    • on contact hit the back of the ball in a downward movement
    • in the follow through the racquet is moved from high to low through the ball

    Using the Slice to effect
    The slice is normally used on the backhand side to

    • defend during rallies particularly on shorter or wider balls
    • as a mix up against heavy topspin hitters
    • as an approach shot so you can get to the net
    • to keep the ball low to set the ball up for a volley put away

    Using spin Tactically
    Vary the spin on your strokes to keep your opponent guessing

    • this prevents your opponent from developing a rhythm with his/her shots
    • to mix up or disrupt the rhythm and/or pace of a rally
    • slow down the pace by using slice or loopy topspin for heavy hitters
    • hit heavier topspin to slower or loopy hitters
    • hit the ball with high loopy topspin to the baseline to get the shorter ball for the put away
    • hit a short slice shot to bring your opponent in so that you can hit your next shot past or over him/her
    • hitting slice or topspin wide to one side of the court to open up the other side for a put away

    The same tactics can be used on the Serve

    • slice or topspin the serve out wide to open up the other side of the court

    During training sessions experiment with your slice shots

    • by getting the ball to float off the racquet so that the ball knifes through the air
    • impart underspin or slice backwards through the air keeping the ball low after it bounces


    I hope that you find the hints outlined above of some assistance and that you make spin your best friend on the court.
    Hitting the ball with spin will not only  improve your consistency but help to boost your confidence so that you are able enjoy your matches and play to your ability and as a result get the results that you deserve.

    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.

    Coach Steve