Do I really have to hit with topspin?

Do I have to hit with topspin


  • Total voters
    40

Kralingen

Legend
What if I just don’t want to?

I’m pretty tall with long arms so a flat ish swing that doesn’t dip down below the ball is so much more consistent and repeatable for me. Not saying I don’t have any topspin, but half of the time I attempt to truly spin the ball, hitting low to high, I end up hitting it over the fence or into the bottom of the net. Alternatively if I swing how I want to swing (flatter naturally with a high finish) I’m much more accurate and in control and get the spin I need. And on low balls I can always slice it back.

So what if I don’t like topspin? I don’t feel like putting myself through dozens of hours of boring topspin groundstrokes and listening to YouTube gurus pat the dog and brush up on the ball.

Is this going to be bad for my game? Can someone convince me why I should build my training time and game around topspin?
 

Power Player

Bionic Poster
What if I just don’t want to?

I’m pretty tall with long arms so a flat ish swing that doesn’t dip down below the ball is so much more consistent and repeatable for me. Not saying I don’t have any topspin, but half of the time I attempt to truly spin the ball, hitting low to high, I end up hitting it over the fence or into the bottom of the net. Alternatively if I swing how I want to swing (flatter naturally with a high finish) I’m much more accurate and in control and get the spin I need. And on low balls I can always slice it back.

So what if I don’t like topspin? I don’t feel like putting myself through dozens of hours of boring topspin groundstrokes and listening to YouTube gurus pat the dog and brush up on the ball.

Is this going to be bad for my game? Can someone convince me why I should build my training time and game around topspin?
Do you hit very consistently in match play under pressure and win with those strokes? If so, then carry on.
 

Kralingen

Legend
Do you hit very consistently in match play under pressure and win with those strokes? If so, then carry on.
I didn’t touch a racket for the last 2 years (COVID and then surgery… definitely not yet in physical condition to play an intense match as a result) so feel like I’m re learning the game to an extent.

that’s why I’m starting a thread on a tennis forum about it. Because I don’t really know
 

Power Player

Bionic Poster
I didn’t touch a racket for the last 2 years (COVID and then surgery… definitely not yet in physical condition to play an intense match as a result) so feel like I’m re learning the game to an extent.

that’s why I’m starting a thread on a tennis forum about it. Because I don’t really know
I mean if you are relearning the game, you should probably learn to drop the racquet under the ball a little and hit with some topspin. You don't have to drop it super low like Rafa, but being able to generate some topspin is really beneficial for consistency.
 

Mountain Ghost

Professional
Your "default" groundstrokes should be topspin ... flat and slice groundstrokes being situational, when necessary. If your topspin strokes are unreliable, you should take a few lessons from an eagle-eyed pro. All the YouTube "instruction" in the world won't identify your specific issues ... and in fact can make things even worse, due to the volume of varied (often conflicting) advice available.

~ MG
 

golden chicken

Hall of Fame
If you can make it work at the level you're happy playing at, then play on. If you're trying to break into the next level up, you may find your current strokes lacking.
 

SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
Watching Daniil Medvedev made me feel better about hitting flat strokes.
On the Bh side, Daniil ranks in the top 10 for topspin with an avg of 1262 RPM according to ATP stats. That is more than Rafa on that side (1252 RPM) which, in turn, is more than either Novak or Roger
 

Slicehand

Professional
Its not really that hard to hit with top spin, it doesnt mean you have to hit every time with it, but defending with flat strokes is always gonna be harder, but it depends on your style really, im much more confortable hiting with top spin because i feel i can always hit as hard as i want and the ball wont go long, it might be a little short sometimes, but you adjust, but then, im much shorter than you are, find a balance and learn to win points with your style, and then you can play however you want, topspin, flat, underspin... doesnt matter
 
On the Bh side, Daniil ranks in the top 10 for topspin with an avg of 1262 RPM according to ATP stats. That is more than Rafa on that side (1252 RPM) which, in turn, is more than either Novak or Roger
Not consistent with 2019 data.
 

matterer

New User
half of the time I attempt to truly spin the ball, hitting low to high, I end up hitting it over the fence or into the bottom of the net. Alternatively if I swing how I want to swing (flatter naturally with a high finish)
Don't brush for topspin. Ever. Everyone who brushes either hits long or spins it into the net and can't generate pace because it's completely wrong. Don't swing "low to high." Hitting topspin by dropping your racket lower is the worst thing you can do. The lowest point in your swing should be imperceptibly lower than contact. Even heavy topspin you're just dropping like an inch lower and swinging up right at contact.
 

socallefty

Legend
On the Bh side, Daniil ranks in the top 10 for topspin with an avg of 1262 RPM according to ATP stats. That is more than Rafa on that side (1252 RPM) which, in turn, is more than either Novak or Roger
This is a very misleading article as it includes all BHs including slice BHs are averaged - Federer is at 550rpm! So, the guys at the top just hit less slice BHs. There have been stats posted here in the past looking only at topspin BHs and here Medvedev ranks low in rpm.
 

matterer

New User
This is Federer aiming higher over the net because he's swinging slower in warmup. This is a pretty heavy topspin shot, aim for flatter than this.
 

Arak

Hall of Fame
You can adjust your swing path if you are tall. A horizontal swing path can still produce a lot of spin. Flat strokes are back in fashion. A lot of the young guys hit flattish.
 

Bender

G.O.A.T.
What if I just don’t want to?

I’m pretty tall with long arms so a flat ish swing that doesn’t dip down below the ball is so much more consistent and repeatable for me. Not saying I don’t have any topspin, but half of the time I attempt to truly spin the ball, hitting low to high, I end up hitting it over the fence or into the bottom of the net. Alternatively if I swing how I want to swing (flatter naturally with a high finish) I’m much more accurate and in control and get the spin I need. And on low balls I can always slice it back.

So what if I don’t like topspin? I don’t feel like putting myself through dozens of hours of boring topspin groundstrokes and listening to YouTube gurus pat the dog and brush up on the ball.

Is this going to be bad for my game? Can someone convince me why I should build my training time and game around topspin?
Hey Daniil, you do you. If you can hit your shots well with consistency without spin, and you don't think it's detrimental to your success as a player, don't change it.

In terms of knowing when something is detrimental to your game or not, I'll use me as an example. I've always hit with heavy topspin but it's been with relatively low net clearance (~2-3 ft over the net), and I found out rather late that it doesn't actually benefit me at all, because a ball will only ever kick up to a height that is a fraction of the highest point of its trajectory as it crosses the net, so with that sort of net clearance, at best I'd get it to kick up chest height. Now I'm hitting around 6 ft over the net hitting reverse forehands like 80% of the time like some kind of Nadal wannabe, but it's actually far more effective compared to my older style, where I hugged the baseline trying to hit aggressive hit heavy topspin forehands on the rise with low net clearance, because the percentages would almost always tip against my favour.
 

HuusHould

Professional
Topspin strokes are still necessary for defense and being late to the ball
Heavy slice is the way to go when defending imo. I'd say you need topspin for passing shots when defending, but it's sometimes more a case of counterattacking. I'd say topspin's more useful for when the rally's neutral.


In terms of knowing when something is detrimental to your game or not, I'll use me as an example. I've always hit with heavy topspin but it's been with relatively low net clearance (~2-3 ft over the net), and I found out rather late that it doesn't actually benefit me at all, because a ball will only ever kick up to a height that is a fraction of the highest point of its trajectory as it crosses the net, so with that sort of net clearance, at best I'd get it to kick up chest height. Now I'm hitting around 6 ft over the net hitting reverse forehands like 80% of the time like some kind of Nadal wannabe, but it's actually far more effective compared to my older style, where I hugged the baseline trying to hit aggressive hit heavy topspin forehands on the rise with low net clearance, because the percentages would almost always tip against my favour.
I was the same. If you're really powerful you can get major revs on the ball, hit wicked angles and get the ball to rear up over shoulder height. If you're not overly powerful, like myself, often hitting heavy top results in short balls that sit up and give your opponent time to attack. I always look for the earliest opportunity to either flatten out or rip a ball and follow it to the net.
 

HuusHould

Professional
So what if I don’t like topspin? I don’t feel like putting myself through dozens of hours of boring topspin groundstrokes and listening to YouTube gurus pat the dog and brush up on the ball.

Is this going to be bad for my game? Can someone convince me why I should build my training time and game around topspin?
I voted that topspin's essential, but only to the extent that you do need to be able to hit it sometimes. I think you can attack very effectively with slice and flat groundstrokes. Topspin may be required in varying degrees, when your opponents rushing the net, e.g. S&Ving, among other situations.
 

HuusHould

Professional
This question can come in many forms and shapes.

Can I go to a restaurant and come back just watching others eat food?
Can I buy a car without tires and just park it in my garage?
Can I use my bed just as an iron board and sleep on the floor?
Yes, no and yes.
 

S&V-not_dead_yet

Talk Tennis Guru
Topspin strokes are still necessary for defense and being late to the ball
The more defensive and late I am, the more likely I am to slice. The extreme example would be when the ball is so out wide that I'm not even sure I'll be able to get my racquet on it. In that case, I try to hit a squash shot which invariably is a slice.
 
Which understood better Imo, tells you Sinner is newer to the tour and has not grasped the difference between the rally shot vs when to go on the attack. Novak started out this way, but learned at the top of the game, you must be more discerning about when to go bigger.
The data is the data. Your interpretation of the data is not the data.
 

nyta2

Professional
What if I just don’t want to?

I’m pretty tall with long arms so a flat ish swing that doesn’t dip down below the ball is so much more consistent and repeatable for me. Not saying I don’t have any topspin, but half of the time I attempt to truly spin the ball, hitting low to high, I end up hitting it over the fence or into the bottom of the net. Alternatively if I swing how I want to swing (flatter naturally with a high finish) I’m much more accurate and in control and get the spin I need. And on low balls I can always slice it back.

So what if I don’t like topspin? I don’t feel like putting myself through dozens of hours of boring topspin groundstrokes and listening to YouTube gurus pat the dog and brush up on the ball.

Is this going to be bad for my game? Can someone convince me why I should build my training time and game around topspin?
you don't need it, depending on your level, your playstyle, who you're playing, etc...
when i s&v, i never hit topspin
when i dink&lob, i never hit topspin
when i play someone who hates my slice, i try to never hit topspin

topspin is just a tool, to help you do what you want with the ball.
if you can hit a ball consistently deep with little to no topspin... and you're beating everyone you play, stick with it. it definitely would drive me nuts hitting against you.

some questions (from my opponents, and my own playstyle) made me curious about hitting more topspin:
* how do i swing fast, but give myself high margin, and avoid hitting long?
* how do i get the ball low to a net rusher's feet?
* how do i disguise my lobs better?
* how do i create angles and force my opponent to run more?
* how should i play opponents that don't like hitting balls with topspin?
 

jimmy8

New User
Topspin helps with hitting short, angle shots because the ball moves away from the opponent faster. Topspin helps with hitting deep, corner shots because same reason as above. Topspin helps some balls land in because the ball dives faster, but for me topspin either goes long or in the net too much. I mostly slice. And I try to drop shot, lob as much as possible. The court is 27 ft wide, but 39 feet from baseline to net, take advantage of that.
 

xFullCourtTenniSx

Hall of Fame
On the Bh side, Daniil ranks in the top 10 for topspin with an avg of 1262 RPM according to ATP stats. That is more than Rafa on that side (1252 RPM) which, in turn, is more than either Novak or Roger
You're actually trolling if you believe that garbage data. I looked at those numbers, read the article, and realized pretty quickly that the numbers cited there are about as useful as those from a random number generator. Their numbers didn't filter out sliced backhands, which were recorded as negative values. Knowing that players can easily average upwards of 3k RPM on a backhand slice (Yandell recorded an average underspin RPM of 3.7k for Nadal and Federer), you can quickly realize that you basically lose 1.5-2 backhands for every slice you hit, which ruins all credibility for those averages.

Sampras' backhand has been measured at 2k RPM in the 90s. Agassi somewhere around 1700-1800 on both wings. I remember a Dimitrov backhand winner at the Australian Open (I believe 2017) recorded at upwards of 2.6k RPM.

I've seen Medvedev's backhand in person. You can see the damn logo on the ball because it's so flat. Hell, you can see it on some of his forehands too, though it's spinning much faster.
 

ubercat

Professional
A couple of other shots TS is useful for:

Hi defensive roller CC when you're stretched wide on FH. Generally prob without TS on defense is your ball gets to opp quick so you don't create time to get back in position. Yes u can hit high defensive balls without but low percentage.

Moonball attack to BH. If opp has hit a deep but low pace shot waist high I ll sometimes hit a FH with fast swing and weight on my back foot. That creates a lot of shoulder tilt/upward racquet angle and I can get the ball to kick over head height. I m trying to get a short reply but because it's so different from my rally ball I often get an FE winner.

Banana FH passing shot DTL as a hail Mary when your defending and opp has good net position.

Windshield wiper CC pass when you need to hit with pace on a short angle.

Depends on your game. Many ways to attack without TS:

I used to play a squash shot guy who hit low flat deep skidding balls. Matches were competitive but most often he won

If you can take the ball on the rise a lot you can attack that way.

MEP has amazing accuracy. And uses that to make his opp always have to play awkward shots.

If you have good slice you can approach that way and volley.
 
Last edited:

Dartagnan64

G.O.A.T.
This is Federer aiming higher over the net because he's swinging slower in warmup. This is a pretty heavy topspin shot, aim for flatter than this.
This is a misleading picture set as it never shows the true nadir of the swingpath. Most images showing the full swingpath indicate the racket does rise from its nadir by 6-12 inches at impact and continues to rise after on a somewhat steeper plane.
 

ubercat

Professional
And the fact that a number of guys on this thread with over a century worth of match play think that TS has its uses tells you something.
 

matterer

New User
This is a misleading picture set as it never shows the true nadir of the swingpath. Most images showing the full swingpath indicate the racket does rise from its nadir by 6-12 inches at impact and continues to rise after on a somewhat steeper plane.
12 inches is way too much. Even 6 is a lot unless on defense or heavy topspin. Neutral or offensive it's like nothing.
 
Last edited:

ubercat

Professional
That doesn't make any sense. The racquet won't be in contact with the ball long enough. And going from flat to suddenly upwards is going to do terrible things to your shoulder
 

SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
You're actually trolling if you believe that garbage data...
Trolling ??? Nope, not trolling. I believe that you are using the word incorrectly in this context. Note that the 1262 RPM cited for DM, while not exactly flat, is a rather modest spin rate. So, it is not like I was suggesting that DM employed massive TS on his Backhand side

I must admit I had only performed a quick, perfunctory search for DM topspin. I saw the ATP article near the top of that search results. Figured that, since it was from the ATP, it was probably quite reliable. Really, who would expect the ATP to publish garbage or misleading data?

I was viewing the article on a small phone screen w/o proper reading glasses and, given my visual limitations -- a severe convergence insufficiency) -- I only quickly skimmed the article for a few pertinent details (to minimize visual fatigue). I trusted the veracity of the ATP. My bad for not thoroughly vetting the article. No "trolling" intent here -- just quick, sloppy research on my part

Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa
 
Last edited:

xFullCourtTenniSx

Hall of Fame
Trolling ??? Nope, not trolling. I believe that you are using the word incorrectly in this context. Note that the 1262 RPM cited for DM, while not exactly flat, is a rather modest spin rate. So, it is not like I was suggesting that DM employed massive TS on his Backhand side

I must admit I had only performed a quick, perfunctory search for DM topspin. I saw the ATP article near the top of that search results. Figured that, since it was from the ATP, it was probably quite reliable. Really, who would expect the ATP to publish garbage or misleading data?

I was viewing the article on a small phone screen w/o proper reading glasses and, given my visual limitations -- a severe convergence insufficiency) -- I only quickly skimmed the article for a few pertinent details (to avoid visual fatigue). I trusted the veracity of the ATP. My bad for not thoroughly vetting the article. No "trolling" intent here -- just quick, sloppy research on my part

Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa
The definition has evolved in some communities (notably gaming) to include intentionally perform below your ability or outside expectations to inconvenience, spite, or get a reaction out of someone. Slightly hyperbolic use, I agree, but I usually see you as someone relatively competent here, so I didn't expect you to seriously believe an article claiming someone who's known to have a flat backhand has more topspin than Nadal, who is known to really work the racket up the back of the ball.

I'd figured since you've been in this section of the forums for quite a while, you would have seen other sources reporting the RPMs of various players, and found it near impossible for you to take that article seriously. To be fair, you WOULD think the ATP would post something credible. And TECHNICALLY, they didn't lie nor report any numerical falsities. The writer did however, heavily and lazily misinterpret the data. The man even admits that the amount of sliced backhands used would affect the numbers shown and still opted to present the data as a valid measurement of how "heavy" the players are hitting their backhands. If anything, it seemed like they were looking for anything they could find in the numbers to support the narrative that Sinner had something special about him and his game that would put him as one of the sport's future top contenders.

Unfortunately, as a result of their lazy attempt to push a narrative, many people will read that article, like you believing it to be credible as it is on the ATP's website, and think that these players are hitting about half of the topspin that they actually are.

Does this fall under fake news or just really bad news?
 

matterer

New User
That doesn't make any sense. The racquet won't be in contact with the ball long enough. And going from flat to suddenly upwards is going to do terrible things to your shoulder
They use wrist lag, you raise your entire arm with your back muscles and that causes the racket to drop down then snap up to contact. It's really difficult. Nadal is able to do it much more than other players, which is why everyone else doesn't copy him on clay. If it were as simple as brushing, everyone would be hitting like him on clay. Topspin isn't brushing, it's more like hitting through the ball at an angle.

If you're a ball brusher, I can guarantee you hate pushers and like pace. Because you're just blocking it back with topspin, so you can't generate your own pace because your racket is barely going forward. Your strings don't bend and create topspin unless the incoming ball does all the work for you. Strings don't grab the ball, they aren't made of sandpaper. The the ball just slides past. Watch any MEP match he wins to see guys panic when not given pace, and have to push it back or spin it into the net. He gives up easy sitters all day and no one can punish them. Watch his loss against Scott. No brushing there. And he definitely isn't hitting flat. Blew MEP off the court. Unfortunately nearly everyone who brushes is absolutely convinced they're doing it right and they just need to work their timing or whatever. Stop brushing and you can dominate USTA.
 

ubercat

Professional
Ok I m not a big techniques guy and even I know:

Wristlag happens because of rotating hip before shoulder. And it's a way to generate racquet head speed with less effort not topspin.

I know this for a fact because we learn that way of moving in taichi. A little chinese guy called Bruce Lee also said quite a lot about it. Body movement principles apply whatever the sport.

TBH it's very easy to disprove your theory. I often do it in warm-up up practice. Hit the ball hard and watch it go out. Then keep hitting the ball hard and add brush up until you hit that spot a metre from the baseline and sideline.

Anyway enjoy it while you can. I promise you will only know everything while you re young
 
Last edited:
Top