ETI 030 | Forward Spin


  • ETI 030 Forward Spin
    ETI 030 Forward Spin

    Download this podcast – You may need to right-click and select Save Link As to download the file to your computer)

Squaring up – Hitting the ball true – precise contact on the back of the ball.

We all know about topspin – but have you ever tried to strike the ball with true topspin – where the ball rolls forward – precisely forward?

The following drop hit drill will improve your time spent practicing on court – and help you with your forehand and or your backhand.

22 Comments

  • KW Tennis Nation

    Reply Reply June 18, 2014

    Here is the problem: the people reading this and watching your videos can vary widely in abilities. Your concept here is totally wrong if your addressing high level players 4.5 and above. A normal rally ball from a 5.5 is going to jump up and out (side spin) because advanced players get on the outside of the ball and swing across. That’s just basic stuff that you’ll see at any D1 college match and above.

    If your addressing the typical club player, topspin isn’t even that important. A good athletic player could win at 3.5 and never hit a single topspin shot. That’s just the fact.

    The most important concept, which is rarely discussed is being able to hold cross court rallies and picking the right opportunities to go down the line. The technique in these concepts are less important. See Niculescu. Being able to hit targets is way more important than the technique used.

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply June 18, 2014

      KW – perhaps you are right, but I was a D! college player, and I have held national rankings (when younger) and what I showed was part of the training I received “back in the day” – and really there is no way to gauge the audience – but the basics are still the basics
      Jim
      PS – fascinating how this podcast struck such a nerve

  • John (USPTA)

    Reply Reply June 17, 2014

    Jim..
    I’m sorry I don’t understand you ‘coining’ this as forward-spin? … This shot you are hitting is not even a ‘drive’ (where the raquet-face pretty much stays perpendicular to the ground throughout a ‘longish’ linear ball-contact with a minor increase of forward angle in through the “strike zone” I ‘stop actioned’ both ‘strokes’ you depicted and saw that you are actually Opening the raquet-face what looks to about 30°(ish) on Ball Contact (unless the video is distorted in some way) , thus this might better be called a ‘forward drive-lob’ or a ‘mini moon-ball drive’!
    With your raquet-face Open on ball-contact & if you used New fresh balls out of the can – this ‘forward spin’ couldn’t be hit more than (I’ll bet) 20mph before it ‘hit the fence’?!?
    So I guess my comment/point is that if I see 60year old guys Today hitting strokes 50 or 60mph using’ modern stroke architecture’ (& I do in turneys), & 14 year old boys hitting 80mph groundies – then What is the point of this video & Re-definution of a open-faced archaic ‘stroke’ that was used probably in the 1800s and whose ‘Armageddon’ was when the first 80lb Jr. hit a ground-stroke at 87mph??
    I mean No disrespect here at all, but
    What’s the point Jim – unless your targeting 3.0 ‘players’ who Never wish to get beyond a 4.0 pusher classification…..

    Ps.. Jim most all your other videos I like – but This one???

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply June 18, 2014

      John – sorry, I was just trying to draw attention to a perfectly struck ball that spun precisely forward
      Jim

  • Jyotsna Sharma

    Reply Reply June 17, 2014

    Thanks a lot for the tip. I’ll try to learn it. Thanks!!

  • Larry

    Reply Reply June 17, 2014

    Thanks, Jim, for this tip. I’ll go out today and do some drop hits, concentrating on
    the back of the ball. Should also help in not looking up to soon.

  • Robert

    Reply Reply June 17, 2014

    Partly in response to the video and partly in response to the two long posts from a guy who disagrees with the approach, I wanted to offer my experience. Where I live now I was very fortunate to find people to play with at all after a couple of years of forced inactivity. With one or two exceptions these guys are psycho-culturally indisposed to activities like short court rallying, focused practice, cooperative rallies, and the like. They are mostly hit a half dozen balls as fast as they can and then start playing points. And the only practice wall around is too impractical to get to and use. It has been a great challenge to find ways to practice and to learn the things I am trying to incorporate. Fortunately, I did learn about the value of drop hits from Jim in one of his online courses, and arriving at the court early and spending a some while doing drop hits has been my primary method of practicing since then.
    I have to make sure I allow for an appropriate contact point, and toss it high enough to give me time to do the technique I am practicing. And I have to find ways to get footwork involved. This approach does give me the opportunity to ‘groove’ a movement at low speed and get the feeling of doing it and develop the bodily feedback that lets you know where you are in the technique. It is still tough to go from there to returning serve and playing ground strokes coming at 65 – 75 mph and make progress one day to the next, but it does work out.
    However much one relies on the using drop hits either as a learning or a warm up tool, they absolutely provide the opportunity to focus on something essential at the beginning of a day at the court or a rally.
    And as happens each time I listen to Jim talk about tennis. I find a gem that is going to help me. In this case, the precise focus on the back of the ball, and rolling it cleanly on the ‘vertical’ axis.

  • gilgonzales

    Reply Reply June 17, 2014

    very nice, simple motion but effective…thanks for the tip

  • Rich Simpson

    Reply Reply June 17, 2014

    Jim:

    I struggle with topspin at times. i try to “loop” my swing…i have trouble hitting “below” the ball, then ending up high over my shoulder…what is a drill to hit “under” the ball to create more spin?

    thanks

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply June 17, 2014

      Rich
      explore my podcasts on this site – there are dozens, you might find something to help – but basically you must have the racquet head beneath the ball as it accelerates up and into impact – that is the nut of the story
      Jim

  • rhees

    Reply Reply June 17, 2014

    Gday Jim,

    We have all been taught or copied a certain way to play and the muscle memory and body pathways that this creates are hard to change. Some players just naturally hit topspin with their own style which makes our game so unique and whilst we can suggest to correct their swing path, lock the wrist, hit from low to high with a vertical racquet face etc.- they will likely always retain that original ‘twist’ on it, especially in long rallies and when under pressure. A few years ago i had a very wristy topspin backhand and developed elbow issues – and fortunately I had a mentor who advised me of 2 things to think about – on the backhand – make sure your knuckles meet the ball before your elbow and to use ‘palm guidance’ on the forehand – that is the plane of the palm is just like the racquet face. Of course there are other factors to consider (as above) but these 2 actions have really helped me to contact the ball better and create more top spin.

    As a 1 hander, its great to see so many of us doing well on the tour. Is anyone still coaching the 1 handed backhanded ? The upcoming, big hitting juniors don’t handle slice & ‘float’ well !

    Cheers
    Rhees

  • cristian

    Reply Reply June 17, 2014

    Thank you for appreciating and posting my comment. Old school / new school – it is neither bad nor good. We are all tributaries to the period of time when we learned and practised a certain sport. Just to give you an example. One of the tennis players I admire a lot is Radek Stepanek and although he can stand up to any young player (and newer school), his moves are obviously reminiscent of old school. Again, I have nothing against it, and I am a “hybrid” myself (learning tennis back in the late 70’s with a heavy aluminum raquet, that did not favour topsin at all). Old school just looks a bit funny from an aesthetical point of view, when you watch a lot of tennis now (Almagro, Nishikori, Verdasco, Nole, Ferrer, Guillermo Garcia Lopez, Dimitrov, even weird Gulbis). You can see the difference in Sampras` style (who incidentally was just an average clay player) and there are only 12 years since he quit the ATP tour. In regards to your challenge – I would have liked to, but I do not have any footage of myself, unfortunately. It is a good idea though. With all modesty, I have been complimented by most of my opponents on my clean correctly executed strikes, which to me is of much more value than winning a match. I have had the privilege to train with quite a few talented coaches in the past 10 years. I play 4 -5 times a week, matches (including amateur tournaments) and/or intense training sessions. I watch a lot of tennis on tv , including WTA and doubles. I can “feel” and “see” a good or better topspin ball I have hit (especially on the backhand) that results in pushing my opponent way back behind the base line, due to the extra bounce, or force him to hit uncomfortably, resulting in either a defensive ballon ball or a shorter ball (that invites me to attack or rush the net for the decisive strike). Another situation – the higher bounce of a topspin ball, hit away from my opponent, simply jumps out of his reach, due to the high bounce, making it impossible for him to hit a return or even just to simply snatch it defensively with the tip of his raquet. Moreover, a good topsin ball will either surprise the opponent a bit (jumping at him extra fast, like a snake from the grass), or trick him into thinking it is going wide out, but dropping suddenly into his court, leaving him with a late or no reaction.
    Again, I have been following you for a couple of years now, so I agree upon and appreciate your entire body of work. But I felt I had to comment on this video, because in my personal oppinion it cannot be helpful to people who are trying to figure out what topsin is all about. All the best Jim !

  • cristian

    Reply Reply June 17, 2014

    Hi, Jim, I appreciate your effort to try to make things as simple as possible. Unfortunately, it doesn`t always work. What you have been showing on topspin has nothing to do with it. Topspin is a sophisticated and complex movement that comes with a lot of practice and a lot of “feel”. There are actually various ways to hit forward top spin, but they do not look like anything you are showing. For true topspin you need to “hold” the ball on the strings much more than on other shots (and we are talking in milliseconds) and the wrist has much more to do with it. Again with all due respect, no one can learn topspin from what you are showing. I have also noticed that guys who are “old school” (45-50 +) have never understood nor mastered the modern , true topspin. It has also to do with the new raquets, new strings, more radical grip styles, different balance stance, complete arch of arm movement (over the shoulder whipping your back – federer style , or over the head – lasso style like NADAL). In your video it shows very clearly that you do not have a complete range of arm movement to follow through and obtain the desired result – topsin (that really translates into pocketing the ball for a longer time on the strings). The fact that you are trying to show that you are getting the ball rolling in a forward direction is quite irrelevant. It is much to oversimplified to be of use to beginners or intermediates.
    Appreciated many of your other lessons though, so keep up the good work 🙂
    Cristian, 46 (I play only on clay, where topspin on both forehand and one handed backhand are crucial during the gradual construction of the point in order to keep the opponent as much back as possible and make it hard for him to hit shots from at least shoulder but preferably above shoulder height)

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply June 17, 2014

      Cristian – I am old school, not sure if that is a good or a bad thing – and I do like the feedback – why not upload your own forehand topspin and let me see –
      Jim

  • Arthur Quinby

    Reply Reply June 17, 2014

    Great exact top spin on groundstrokes. I assume for volleys it would be backspin.

    How does it work for flat serves, spin serves and twist serves?

    Where do I send the check?

    Q

  • Steve Jones

    Reply Reply June 17, 2014

    Timely comment Jim. Over the past weeks I have been trying to concentrate on starting the rally with a good clean ball directed to the player on the other side. I find that this first ball is often netted or goes off line, a result of sloppiness on my and of most everyone I play. This is a waste of a ball and results in practicing lazy, sloppy strokes. Starting with a stroke that is straight and true usually provides a better response from the other side as well as setting my mind to the task of hitting the next ball and each ball following with purpose and focus. This is no small thing since every rally is started with a first hit so there are lots of opportunities to practice good form and focus or lousy form and laziness. I’m with you all the way on this, it makes for better more productive practice.

  • Ron

    Reply Reply June 17, 2014

    I rally with a friend who never drops the ball to let it bounce to start a rally. He hits it in the air like a ping pong serve. I can predict he will hit the tape two out of three times. I spend more time waiting for the ball the cross the net before we can rally. That’s a very flat ball, not the forward spin you demonstrate.
    I followed your advice in a previous video of yours. When I start the rally, I hit a backhand. I get lots of chances to work on the shoulder turn, contact, and follow through in the first few minutes of rallying. And the first real backhand is a better stroke.
    Thanks for your thoughtful, concise, and practical videos.
    Ron

  • Bill

    Reply Reply June 17, 2014

    Hi Jim,

    Of all of the tennis Internet instruction, I definitely prefer yours. Your instructions are straight forward, with a spot-on demo, and not too wordy. And the results are always meaningful. Forward spin, line-of-sight shots are extremely important when setting up a point. And, when lining up and going down the line, one need only add a tad of topspin to nail the corner.

    By the way, I’m also a UCB graduate, class of ’64. Interestingly enough, I also worked at Stanford for 20 years afterwards – An excellent tennis combo !!

    All the best,
    Bill

  • Bernard Mckey

    Reply Reply June 17, 2014

    Its effective on the backhand-the forehand spin that you hit down on the ball and what that does it goes write to his feet and low swerves a bit it brings you in to the net.

  • LND

    Reply Reply June 17, 2014

    Tom Stow and Steve Stefanki had me doing this drill. Both could make the ball sound like an explosion.

  • KB

    Reply Reply June 17, 2014

    Good stuff. I go even further and think of specific, three dimensional spots on the ball for making contact when trying to hit various spins and trajectories. Wish there were a better way to describe those spots. Often end up describing them as places in the western hemisphere – such as the coast of Brazil for rolling a topspin forehand. I know. I ain’t right. 🙂

    BTW, it’s fun to watch folks try to hit that pure topspin off my low, driving slices. 🙂

    KB

  • Richard

    Reply Reply June 17, 2014

    Works on the backhand side too. I always try to focus on hitting the ball with control and spin when I drop hit to start a rally.

Leave A Response

* Denotes Required Field