Flat hitting vs topspin

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by Keizer, Aug 18, 2014.

  1. Keizer

    Keizer Semi-Pro

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    When I was very young and first learned to play tennis, I was taught to play with an eastern grip and thus often hit the ball pretty flat. This was toward the end of the serve and volley era, just before the semi-western/western grip styles came to dominate the market. I quit for a few years, and returned to find that coaches were putting huge emphasis on topspin. They didn't want you to hit any flat shots, and kids swinging Babolats with extreme grip styles had become the norm. I switched to a semi-western forehand, but even with a really light racquet, I wasn't able to get the racquet head speed needed to play with topspin on every shot. I now use a heavier stick (stock BLX Blade 98 18x20), but am still more comfortable hitting flat off both wings. I'm a rec 3.5/4 ish player by my own judgement. Should I be trying to change my stroke to hit more topspin, or continue to go with hitting flat as my first reaction? Is there any way to improve the heaviness on my ball without changing my mechanics in a big way?
     
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  2. Maximagq

    Maximagq Banned

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    Keizer, the easiest way to make your ball heavier is to swing with more racket head speed. I personally use a semiwestern forehand, but I used to use an eastern grip until I was about 14 and then what really helped was doing Spanish drop feed drills. Have a friend drop a basket of balls on your forehand and backhand sides and practice generating all the pace from a dead ball. This really helps you get the action on the ball for the modern game.
     
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  3. Maximagq

    Maximagq Banned

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  4. Keizer

    Keizer Semi-Pro

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    Appreciate this, Maxi.

    Another question: Since I'm probably not getting enough on the ball ATM, should I be looking at lower swingweights? Or do you think it is purely an issue with mechanics? I'd say I have a pretty long, reasonably fast swing.
     
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  5. Maximagq

    Maximagq Banned

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    I would say use the heaviest racket you can handle effectively. Experiment with different rackets and see what suits your playing style the best. With a long, fast swing, I think it has more to do with mechanics than anything else. I think you are past the point where the racket you play with really matters and it is all technique now.
     
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  6. Maximagq

    Maximagq Banned

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    The BLX Blade 98 is a perfectly fine racket. I think refining the technique a bit is the key difference. You sound like you play in the Federer mold so watch his racket head speed.
     
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  7. Dly

    Dly New User

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    There's no need to hit with tons of spin. Personally, I wish I could hit more flat sometimes, but I can't. :( Flat hitters are pretty uncommon nowadays, and their style can really throw topspinners off. So if you feel good with flatter strokes, don't worry about hitting with more spin.
     
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  8. Dly

    Dly New User

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    And as Maximagq said, the way to hit harder shots is to have good technique and swing fast and through the ball.
     
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  9. caugas

    caugas Semi-Pro

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    the swing weight on the blade is hefty. by specs it's a light-ish racket but the swing weight is serious
     
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  10. caugas

    caugas Semi-Pro

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    just my 2 cents, go with the grip that best suits your game, you can generate top spin with an eastern and you can hit flat too. A lot of us hit with eastern forehand grips or modified slightly towards a SW...
     
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  11. Keizer

    Keizer Semi-Pro

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    I only wish, haha :) I'm more western than he is, but would love to duplicate his racket head speed. Is the only way to increase racket head speed refining your technique? I would think being a bit more muscular would help me as well.

    Problem with me is that I hit a SW forehand now, can't go eastern to save my life. But instead of improving spin, I still hit flat :) So the experiment was a failure, in that sense.
     
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  12. Maximagq

    Maximagq Banned

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    I'm not sure if muscle is what you are looking for. Try adding extra weight to the racket like using a racket cover and shadow swing. It's also a good idea to have both flat and topspin in your arsenal so a SW promotes that nicely.
     
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  13. Jim Lefty

    Jim Lefty Rookie

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    Hitting all flat balls is a losing proposition. Hitting all topspin is a losing proposition much less of the time. Of course a combination is ideal, but there should be no question about which shot should be deployed most in the modern game.
     
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  14. West Coast Ace

    West Coast Ace G.O.A.T.

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    Yes. But don't 'forget' how to flatten out. (or all the old school skills - a slice BH is still very valuable). There's a time and place for everything... You don't get points for the # of rpm's on your strokes. But a heavy ball is good in some situations; in others you want to hit early and flat to either hit a winner or approach the net for an easy volley/overhead.

    One easy one on the FH: just get your shoulder lower. That will force you to hit up and generate more spin.
     
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  15. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Another way to hit a "heavier" ball is to place them better...deeper and closer to the sidelines and baseline.
    John McEnroe does that, short stroke and all, still confounds D-1 players who hit with almost twice the spin that he does. He handles the spin and redirects to a spot deep and near the sidelines....and they miss trying for more than they can handle.
     
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  16. Topspin Shot

    Topspin Shot Legend

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    But who can do what McEnroe does? I actually know a guy who's in his forties who plays exactly like Mac except as a righty and dominates me and everyone short of Joe Di Giulio level. He was ranked in the top couple hundred before a back injury ended his career. However neither I nor anyone else can emulate that style and win with it.

    To answer your question OP, can you swing at max speed and still keep it in? If so, you don't need more spin.
     
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  17. 10isfreak

    10isfreak Semi-Pro

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    It depends upon what sort of problems are involved here.

    Do you have troubles sustaining a rally? Most rallies end with an unforced error, but they also typically end within very few shots. So, you do not always need incredible strokes and you don't need to be able to hit an average of 20 solid balls in a row. Most of them need to be just enough to keep your opponent cool and you need to hit an average of maybe 5 like that. If you can do that, consistency is not your problem.

    A different problem would be that you simply cannot hit a good top spin shot. I am not talking about your average rally ball which, despite its more direct trajectory, still does have some top spin on it. I talk about something that arcs high above the net, digs down fast and kicks high (hopefully, above the shoulders of your opponent). If you can't produce that ball, it's a problem. If you send the ball higher and expel more energy to generate top spin beyond your average stroke, it is very obvious that this ball can't go as fast as your typical ball does. So, it's a ball that can buy you some time. Furthermore, very few amateur are geared to attack high balls which also makes it one more thing you can use to annoy your opponent.

    So, what should you do? If you are consistent and can bring yourself to hit the sort of ball I talk about on occasions, you don't need major changes. You could want them, but, in themselves, they would not make you a better player.

    The sensation of heft result of a combination of spin and pace. That is, an heavy ball is what comes out of a powerful motion. There are small things you could do, as well as bigger ones, to improve in this area. However, it's hard to say what you should do without seeing you hit a forehand.

    Typical small adjustments include what you do with your shoulders, your non-hitting arm or the position of your feet; typical major adjustments include things like learning a new stance or dramatically changing your swing path.
     
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  18. 10isfreak

    10isfreak Semi-Pro

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    Yes, but McEnroe would not prevail on the grounds of the superior quality of his movements. He would prevail on the grounds of his expertise and experience, on his greater ability to elect the patterns and strokes most fit for the attainment of his ends. (It almost reads as aristotelian phronesis! Who said Ancient Greeks did not provide tips for tennis players?)
     
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  19. Keizer

    Keizer Semi-Pro

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    I will definitely try that. I think one problem with my stroke is that when I try to finish with the windshield wiper, my ball is often short and lacks the spin I need. Perhaps that is because I'm not getting under it enough.

    My play style is more based on using the heft of the racket to push the ball through. I'll need to try to see what I can do if I try to brush up the ball consciously with full force.

    Thanks @10isfreak, this was very informative. I do believe I really cannot hit topspin properly. I know the technique, but find it almost unnatural to brush up on lower bouncing balls. I can sustain a topspin rally with my forehand at the service line and impart some degree of topspin when rallying, but my backhand is almost exclusively flat. And yes, it seems like I'm having to make an extra effort to get the spin.
     
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  20. Maximagq

    Maximagq Banned

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    Do you have any videos of some hitting sessions of yours? Video analysis would be the best way for others to analyze what you are doing and make suggestions from that.
     
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  21. Topspin Shot

    Topspin Shot Legend

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    Good point. I second this.
     
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