I started tennis lessons at the age of 10, continuing to play a little competitive tennis as a junior. Once I had learned the basics of being able to consistently hit the ball in the center of my racket, my coach started teaching me to use spin as a way to gain more control over the ball and win more games.
Learning how to use spin in tennis is a very important skill. It allows you to have more control over the ball and play with more power as well as exerting tactical pressure on your opponent, forcing them to make errors.
Let’s take a closer look into the different types of spin that you can use in tennis and how each can improve your chances of winning more points when you next step onto the tennis court.
How Important Is Spin In Tennis?
Learning how to use spin when playing tennis is vital if you want to progress at all in your level of play. Using spin makes you a more competitive player.
Using spin in tennis is important as it gives you more control over both powerful shots as well as delicate drop shots.
The most common way to hit a tennis ball is flat. It is the way that we all learn to hit a tennis ball as beginners. When we hit the ball flat, it has no spin.
The next most common way to hit a tennis ball is with a topspin. I remember that I was taught to hit a tennis ball with a topspin once I had started to become proficient in hitting the ball flat. It was what allowed me to start hitting harder shots.
Finally, there is the backspin or slice spin. It was the last type of spin that I was taught to play because it requires a greater level of finesse and ball control. My tennis coach said that we could only start learning slice spin once our tennis had progressed to a high enough level, or else we would likely pick up bad habits.
What Is A Topspin In Tennis?
Topspin is when you hit the ball, creating forward rotation on the ball. You create topspin on the ball by brushing your racket up the back of the ball as you hit it.
Topspin will create some extra height as you hit the ball but will pull the ball down once it has crossed the net. Because the ball pulls down on the far end of the court, it is easier to keep the ball within the lines.
How Important Is Topspin In Tennis?
Once you have learned basic racket/ball coordination, topspin is the next most important skill to learn as it gives you control over the ball.
It is a vital skill for any beginner tennis player that wants to improve their level as a player. Topspin allows you to hit the ball higher over the net without the ball going out, meaning you will hit fewer balls into the net.
Topspin shots are incredibly effective on hard surface courts where the forward spin of the ball makes it grip into the court surface more than other types of shots and kick up higher after bouncing.
Because topspin makes the ball descend toward the ground quicker, it means that you can hit the ball harder, which will also make the ball bounce higher off any type of court surface.
A ball that has been hit with topspin will kick on after it has bounced. The topspin will pull the ball down after crossing the net so the ball can be hit with more power. This additional power will also mean the ball will bounce higher and further than a ball that was hit flat.
You create topspin on a tennis ball by brushing your racket from low to high up the back of the ball through the point of impact. The faster your racket brushes up the back of the ball, the faster the ball will rotate, pulling the ball down toward the court surface.
Using a topspin allows you to hit the ball harder. Hitting the ball harder, in turn, makes it possible to increase the amount of topspin you use.
Using topspin reduces the chances of the ball going into the net because you can hit the ball with higher net clearance, knowing that the spin will pull the ball down to the court surface on the other side.
That same downward pull means that you also have a greater probability of keeping the ball within the lines of the court, thereby reducing unforced errors.
Topspin also makes the ball kick higher and further after it has bounced, which forces your opponent further back behind the baseline with each successive shot.
Forcing your opponent back makes the angles of your cross-court shots more effective, as it will mean that your opponent will need to run further to reach the ball.
You don’t need a topspin to win a point in tennis. It is possible to win points playing flat shots as well as volleys. You can even win points if you have a strong enough service to serve aces. There are a wide variety of different shots that you can play in tennis that will win you a point without using a topspin.
However, learning to use topspin will bring greater consistency to your play which sets you up to be able to win more points.
What Is A Backspin In Tennis?
Backspin in tennis refers to the reverse rotation of the ball after you have hit it. Some people refer to it as underspin both because the racket moves under the ball as you hit it and also because underspin is the opposite of topspin.
When I was learning tennis, we used to call backspin a slice spin. The reason for this is that we would play the shot with our racket face angled upwards in a way that resembled a slicing motion with a sword.
When playing backspin, there is a tendency for the ball to travel higher and further, relating to its speed. You, therefore, need to hit the shot softer than you would a topspin shot, or else the ball will go out.
Playing a backspin shot in tennis is a tactic you can use against opponents who play aggressively with massive amounts of topspin. A backspin shot will stay low after the bounce and also slow down.
This means that if your opponent plays their usual topspin power shot with the same timing as before, they will contact the ball earlier and further in front of them than what is comfortable. The outcome of this is your opponent has a greater probability of hitting the ball into the net if they don’t change the timing of their shot to match your backspin.
If your opponent plays a ball to you with a lot of topspin, it will kick faster off the ground when it bounces. A ball with topspin will also grip the strings of your racket and kick upwards, making it more likely that you will hit the ball out.
By contrast, if your opponent plays a ball to you with a lot of backspin, the ball will slow down after the bounce. In some extreme cases, the ball might lose all forward momentum and bounce vertically into the air or even kick back over the net to your opponent’s side of the court. If a ball with backspin contacts your racket, it will tend to grip the strings and kick downward, making it likely that you will hit the ball into the net.
What Happens If You Hit The Ball With A Backspin And It Goes Back Over To Your Side Of The Net Without Your Opponent Touching It?
If you play a drop shot in tennis with so much backspin that it lands legally on your opponent’s side of the net but bounces back onto your side of the net, you will win the point.
However, if your opponent is able to get up to the net, they are legally allowed to reach over the net to play the ball on your side of the net. It is the only time in tennis when a player is permitted to reach over the net to play the ball.
The player reaching over the net must take care that no part of their body, clothing, or racket touches the net, or they will lose the point.
What Is A Side Spin In Tennis?
Sidespin in tennis is when you get the ball to spin around the ball’s vertical axis. Of all the types of spin, it is the most difficult to master, especially from the baseline. The way to recognize sidespin is that the ball will curve to the left or right while traveling through the air as opposed to moving straight.
Famously both Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer have used sidespin to play what looks like a trick shot where they curl the tennis ball around the side of the tennis net and still get it in land in on the far side of the net.