Hitting more topspin - a gradual process or something just click?

#1
One of the things I've always disliked about my groundstrokes is my lack of topspin. I've always hit mostly flat. I've spent so much time watching Youtube videos on hitting more topspin, and I just don't see the results. I feel as if it's more technique related then there should be some change that would result in more topspin even if inconsistently having more topspin. I've tried increasing my swing speed, but I am now just hitting balls out as I am not getting enough top spin to keep the ball in.

Any suggestions on how to specifically pinpoint my errors? I plan on taking some videos tomorrow to see if what is actually going on differs from how I feel my groundstrokes are actually playing out.
 
#2
It will just come down to your swing path. If you're not brushing up the back of the ball, you're not going to be hitting with spin.

I would recommend seeing an actual coach but, failing that, taking some side-on video is a good option.
 
#3
There is nothing all that special to hitting topspin. The basic thing you should practice starting out is getting the strings moving flat up the back of the ball. So racquet face is vertical and starts below the ball, and goes up the back of the ball at a fairly steep angle while remaining vertical.

One of the common techniques for doing this is termed the windshield wiper forehand. You hold the racquet with a bent back wrist and just turn the arm like you were to turn a door knob. This will allow the racquet face to brush up the back of the ball while having the strings facing the direction you intend to hit.

If you start out hitting the ball with only the turn of your arm, and little to no swing through the ball with your arm, you should get the idea pretty quickly.

And if none of that makes sense, then try searching some for some videos online. Once you get comfortable with the basic idea, you can learn to vary it for different situations where you might want to hit more extreme spin for short angles, or through the ball a bit more for deep drives.
 
#4
OP,

I suspect that tennis, as a larger thing than just its topspin part, is something that people either get it or they don't.

If they get it, it'd happen relatively quickly.

If after 5 years they're still confused, unsure about some fundamentals, being very inconsistent against same peers, they would never get it!
 
#5
One of the things I've always disliked about my groundstrokes is my lack of topspin. I've always hit mostly flat. I've spent so much time watching Youtube videos on hitting more topspin, and I just don't see the results. I feel as if it's more technique related then there should be some change that would result in more topspin even if inconsistently having more topspin. I've tried increasing my swing speed, but I am now just hitting balls out as I am not getting enough top spin to keep the ball in.

Any suggestions on how to specifically pinpoint my errors? I plan on taking some videos tomorrow to see if what is actually going on differs from how I feel my groundstrokes are actually playing out.
Video yourself and watch your swing path: if you don't see more TS, it's probably because your swing path is still mostly horizontal. You might *think* you're swinging more vertically but the trajectory is telling you that you're not.

If parallel to the ground is 0 degrees and straight up is 90, you're probably swinging about 10-15 degrees. To try and recalibrate, swing 90 degrees just so you can feel what really vertical is. Then back off.

Another exercise: stand a foot away from the net and take a FH swing [sans ball] and avoid hitting the net. The bottom of your swing path should be well below the net. The only way to do this is to have at least a 45 degree upward swing path; swinging laterally will cause you to hit the net.

Do shadow swings without a ball: just get comfortable with the more vertical swing path. As you get more comfortable, add the ball by doing self-feeds.

Use video every step of the way so you can detect when you are backsliding [and trust me, you will backslide]. When it happens, just go back to the previous exercise and re-establish the vertical path.
 
#6
Definitely just take a quick video on a wall next time and compare it.

It takes loose arm racket head speed and can't be forced with the arm or a flat contact.

I suggest literally taking a foam practice ball or orange dot ball and seeing what you can do with it. You won't brace for impact like a regular tennis ball and it will barely go anywhere, so it'll encourage you to be loose and just rip away at it.

But yes, I think everything in tennis is a gradual process that can't be forced and just takes a ton of practice over time.
 
#7
One of the things I've always disliked about my groundstrokes is my lack of topspin. I've always hit mostly flat. I've spent so much time watching Youtube videos on hitting more topspin, and I just don't see the results. I feel as if it's more technique related then there should be some change that would result in more topspin even if inconsistently having more topspin. I've tried increasing my swing speed, but I am now just hitting balls out as I am not getting enough top spin to keep the ball in.

Any suggestions on how to specifically pinpoint my errors? I plan on taking some videos tomorrow to see if what is actually going on differs from how I feel my groundstrokes are actually playing out.
Hitting with more topspin was more over night. I videoed myself and saw how I was not going low to high as much as I thought and the racquet face was never facing down (as in, pat the dog style). Fixed that, and my margin got much better in a week or so. Ten years with no practice, and it came back real quick. Once you can do the windshield wiper forehand, you shouldn't have much problem.
 
#8
I've tried increasing my swing speed, but I am now just hitting balls out as I am not getting enough top spin to keep the ball in.
I’m with you and video crowd, definitely need to check how your actual swings correspond with your intention. Taking into account the quoted part where no net is mentioned, and supposing you get the ball over the net with some margin, I’d also look at racquet face angle at contact. It might appear quite open, where low-to-high swingpath won’t give you topspin, but upward trajectory. If so, try to control racquet face, attack the ball with the edge of the RH rather than stringbed. Moving contact point a tad back and to your right and swinging outward towards the ball may do wonders.
 
#9
So I think the last few are definitely what I'm doing wrong without even looking at video. I know I have a tendency to hit with a pretty open racquet face angle which is why when I start to swing faster the balls are sailing long. My unforced errors are far more likely to go out than to go into the net. I also notice that as I shift towards a more Western grip on some of the faster shots then I do hit with more top spin as I think I the racquet face is more closed compared to my regular eastern/SW (RF-like) grip.

I'll grab some video today and hopefully confirm what I'm thinking. Thanks for all the tips.
 
#11
OP,

I suspect that tennis, as a larger thing than just its topspin part, is something that people either get it or they don't.

If they get it, it'd happen relatively quickly.

If after 5 years they're still confused, unsure about some fundamentals, being very inconsistent against same peers, they would never get it!
I used to think similarly about the serve: You either have it or you don't, you will never learn. Until recently, i went out there with a basket and practiced serve everyday. I watch some good youtube videos and do my best to imitate. The first 1K serves was ehhhhh. When i reach 2K serves, people playing with me start to notice a difference. So i wonder what its gonna be like when i reach 10K serves :eek::eek::eek::eek:.
So thats what you do: you go out there and you hit a gazillion of top-spin FH and BH.
 
#15
I used to think similarly about the serve: You either have it or you don't, you will never learn. Until recently, i went out there with a basket and practiced serve everyday. I watch some good youtube videos and do my best to imitate. The first 1K serves was ehhhhh. When i reach 2K serves, people playing with me start to notice a difference. So i wonder what its gonna be like when i reach 10K serves :eek::eek::eek::eek:.
So thats what you do: you go out there and you hit a gazillion of top-spin FH and BH.
What you propose is unrealistic for typical rec players.
 
#17
Alright, bad camera angle, I forgot my GoPro.


This was after about 5 minutes of warming up.

Things I noticed:
1) When I warm up, I am hitting with noticeably more topspin as well as with ease. I am not having to think about hitting more topspin.
2) As I started to play more, I was pausing during the backswing, and I think that is killing some momentum to generate top spin. There's definitely some fatigue as I did leg day in the gym before playing tennis, and I probably should have eaten more food.

This video at 8:48

Anything else? My backhands have like zero topspin right now, but I'll worry about that another day. I find the more I think about trying to hit more topspin, the more errors I make and I start to hit flatter.
 
#20
Oh wow, his back swing is absolutely massive compared to mine. But his smooth backswing is exactly what I noticed disappeared from my groundstrokes as I fatigued. Occasionally I would get spurts of energy and be able to continuously come down and immediately back up, but I found that most shots I was standing waiting for the ball to come to me with my racquet already in the "low" position.

I do have a tendency to butcher the shots I have too much time to think about and do better when I just do. Should I be taking bigger backswings for these balls that I have more time to set up? Should I be pushing up and closing the distance on the ball instead?
 
#21
Oh wow, his back swing is absolutely massive compared to mine. But his smooth backswing is exactly what I noticed disappeared from my groundstrokes as I fatigued. Occasionally I would get spurts of energy and be able to continuously come down and immediately back up, but I found that most shots I was standing waiting for the ball to come to me with my racquet already in the "low" position.

I do have a tendency to butcher the shots I have too much time to think about and do better when I just do. Should I be taking bigger backswings for these balls that I have more time to set up? Should I be pushing up and closing the distance on the ball instead?
That's me. I was just joking.
 
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#25
um, why compare a tennis fan with average folk???
how much tennis do you think a rec player play a week????

Because we always need some kind of comparison or perception in order to discuss thing, to know where we are and what we are talking about. It's context.

How much tennis? Much less than a crazy fan like you do, and to lesser extent, less than I do. Even I think I'm a little crazy/obsessed/over the top though I'm much less than you. :)


Back to the OP's topic, I play with 40ish, 50ish people (young to me) who have played for 10 years or more and they still cannot play at the level that gives you a sense that they won't make too many random errors. If they haven't gotten it after 10 years, they won't get it with another 10 years, which is my opinion.

It's quite interesting to me.
 
#26
Because we always need some kind of comparison or perception in order to discuss thing, to know where we are and what we are talking about. It's context.

How much tennis? Much less than a crazy fan like you do, and to lesser extent, less than I do. Even I think I'm a little crazy/obsessed/over the top though I'm much less than you. :)


Back to the OP's topic, I play with 40ish, 50ish people (young to me) who have played for 10 years or more and they still cannot play at the level that gives you a sense that they won't make too many random errors. If they haven't gotten it after 10 years, they won't get it with another 10 years, which is my opinion.

It's quite interesting to me.
If OP works at copying my motion he will have supersonic-like forehand
 
#28
Because we always need some kind of comparison or perception in order to discuss thing, to know where we are and what we are talking about. It's context.

How much tennis? Much less than a crazy fan like you do, and to lesser extent, less than I do. Even I think I'm a little crazy/obsessed/over the top though I'm much less than you. :)


Back to the OP's topic, I play with 40ish, 50ish people (young to me) who have played for 10 years or more and they still cannot play at the level that gives you a sense that they won't make too many random errors. If they haven't gotten it after 10 years, they won't get it with another 10 years, which is my opinion.

It's quite interesting to me.
Well, if you dont give me how much on average a rec player plays a week, i can't prove to you 2k serve is not unrealistic. Thats what iam trying to get to.
 
#29
Is it in #19?

Not bad! :)

Hope you can play it with running, like in a match.
Yes, my forehand used to be a supreme weapon when I played. If I were taller and started young, no doubt I would be like Del Potro. Big serve, big forehand, professional player. OP should look at Fuzzy Yellow Balls forehand tutorials (both basic and advanced) here: https://www.youtube.com/user/FYB2007/playlists

Then he should hit with a ball machine. I honed my forehand by hitting one of those tennis ball on a string things. "Work with what you got" is what they say.
 
#30
Alright, bad camera angle, I forgot my GoPro.


This was after about 5 minutes of warming up.

Things I noticed:
1) When I warm up, I am hitting with noticeably more topspin as well as with ease. I am not having to think about hitting more topspin.
2) As I started to play more, I was pausing during the backswing, and I think that is killing some momentum to generate top spin. There's definitely some fatigue as I did leg day in the gym before playing tennis, and I probably should have eaten more food.

This video at 8:48

Anything else? My backhands have like zero topspin right now, but I'll worry about that another day. I find the more I think about trying to hit more topspin, the more errors I make and I start to hit flatter.
You are late on most your forehands not achieving enough torso rotation by contact. This one is one of the better, but it's attacking a slow ball:

Your typical one looks like this:

On your BH side you look ok with contact point BTW.
So, work on swinginging earlier towards the incoming ball, mostly by rotating your torso till chest facing the net as the ball approaches, not through the hit. Try to achive hitting the ball at the spot you look at in your above still frame. This may sort some things out by itself giving you better control over your RF.
 
#31
Alright, bad camera angle, I forgot my GoPro.


This was after about 5 minutes of warming up.

Things I noticed:
1) When I warm up, I am hitting with noticeably more topspin as well as with ease. I am not having to think about hitting more topspin.
2) As I started to play more, I was pausing during the backswing, and I think that is killing some momentum to generate top spin. There's definitely some fatigue as I did leg day in the gym before playing tennis, and I probably should have eaten more food.

This video at 8:48

Anything else? My backhands have like zero topspin right now, but I'll worry about that another day. I find the more I think about trying to hit more topspin, the more errors I make and I start to hit flatter.
I would work on taking that ball more out in front. You never see pros hit windshield wiper forehands from your contact point. Its possible to create topspin from your contact point, but its going to be funky, and I doubt you will be able to create big pace and spin from a position like that reliably.
 
#34
You are late on most your forehands not achieving enough torso rotation by contact. This one is one of the better, but it's attacking a slow ball:

Your typical one looks like this:

On your BH side you look ok with contact point BTW.
So, work on swinginging earlier towards the incoming ball, mostly by rotating your torso till chest facing the net as the ball approaches, not through the hit. Try to achive hitting the ball at the spot you look at in your above still frame. This may sort some things out by itself giving you better control over your RF.
Thanks! I did not realize contact point could impact the amount of spin. I do know that I am not hitting the ball early enough, I think I am being too lazy about it when I get tired. May explain why my first 10 minutes of play are much better than the rest.

Funnily, I feel like my BH shots are still very defensive and seem to be hitting with a bit of side spin. Though I am much better at keeping the ball in play with the BH. Whenever I play with my friend, it starts off being nice with good long rallies and then ends up starting into a slug fest. Probably not great for developing technique, but I don't get to hit this hard normally when I play the group classes.

I will add this onto the list of things to work on!
 
#35
Brushing up on the ball is good advice. But still try to maintain forward momentum. Your racquet's movement is too vertical. Use more legs to help get the spin. I'd start by playing mini tennis and hitting slower balls, really exaggerating your swing to get a feel for top spin. It will click. You just have to hit a crap ton.
 
#36
Back to the OP's topic, I play with 40ish, 50ish people (young to me) who have played for 10 years or more and they still cannot play at the level that gives you a sense that they won't make too many random errors. If they haven't gotten it after 10 years, they won't get it with another 10 years, which is my opinion.

It's quite interesting to me.
It's not about time playing, it's about time practicing and working on your game... just playing keeps you mostly at the same level stroke-wise, just with a little more match toughness. To improve you need to go out and practice and learn.

I think many rec players could improve and learn to hit better shots if they took the time to try. But just playing isn't the same thing.
 
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