ETI 044 l Topspin and the Racquet Drop

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Topspin_ServeConsider the critical 24 inch hitting zone when creating topspin on a forehand or on a serve – to create this spin the racquet must be swung up from beneath the ball (12 inches) but carry upward after impact (another 12 inches) to create the rolling spin that more and more of us want in our games.

But before you hit up on the ball you MUST accelerate from beneath it.  Therein the concept of the “racquet drop.”

16 Comments

  • Marek

    Reply Reply February 4, 2016

    Excellent stuff, Jim. Much like your earlier suggestion of imagining throwing a ball or racquet straight up.
    I seem to gain those 12+12 inches by a combo of moving up, but starting with a drop of the racquet shoulder, so that drop to lift of shoulder with up-swing plus leg push delivers plenty of upward motion of the racquet. All that combo delivers good high serve safely over the net then down into the service box before kick-bounce.

    As usual, your short comments add those small tweaks that make all the difference. thanks

  • Adrian George Sahlean

    Reply Reply February 4, 2016

    Jim,
    As usual, clear, concise and to the point.
    Another myth that needed to be refuted – “full extension at contact”
    Your intro about topspin on the FH should have made the serve motion tip quite obvious… 🙂
    I suggest that the helicopter FH finish (a la Nadal) – used increasingly by all players – has the same purpose of the jump in Federer’s serve , i.e. to keep the racket psychically ascending.
    Lifting the arm and rotating the wrist to accomplish that is clearly more effective on the FH than… leaping. 🙂 (JUST PICTURE THAT!)
    Thanks for the video,
    Adrian

  • Dr.Mihu

    Reply Reply February 4, 2016

    Dear Jim,
    The description of the toss is essential.
    It is impossible to hit the ball with pure topspin, but the key seems to be the upward movement when the strings are in contact with the ball.
    All net offensive players need the topspin, because it gives the time to reach the net. Such players need a pronounced upwared motion, and tossing behind the body is not enough. They must contact the ball lower.
    The general topspin used to keep also the first serve in the court is less demanding and generally combinet with some slice.
    Therefore I consider your demonstration to be excellent, it helped me to revise the problem. Of course a video demonstration with balls and different tosses would be still better. But I got already the trick.
    Kind Regards

  • kwok

    Reply Reply February 4, 2016

    Hi Jim,
    How is it going up north with all the rain ?
    I have noticed recently both Federer and Murray toss their balls lower than before, especially more noticeable with Murray, since they hired Edberg and Mauresmo as their coaches, respectively. What is your thought on how the height of the toss could affect the kick serve ?

    Kwok

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply February 4, 2016

      Kwok – I was unaware that Edberg is with Murray – for there are still real issues there – including two double faults in the third set tiebreaker against Novak – while Novak hit two aces – but yes it is raining all the time here
      Jim
      We will be at Indian Wells the first weekend of the tournament – if you are there lets connect

      • kwok

        Reply Reply February 4, 2016

        No, Mauresmo is Murray’s coach.
        It is not likely I will be at Indian Wells this year, but we’ll see.

        Kwok

  • Jason Drake

    Reply Reply February 4, 2016

    Jim, Your description of the motion necessary for a kick serve is understandable, but slow motion of Roger’s serve also suggests that the path of his racket is not continually “up” past the ball, but ALSO in a direction which could be described as “left-to-right” to impart that spin. Other analysis of his toss suggests that he keeps virtually the same toss on every serve (as a means of disguising his intentions) so it is likely the motion of his racket that is differentiating a flat first serve vs. a second (and likely) a kick-serve.

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply February 4, 2016

      Jason – yes and no – yes he makes contact near the peak of his reach – but note that he is physically ascending at impact (unlike nearly all the other pros who are in the air at contact but not rising) and I am suspecting that helps him with the topspin
      Jim

  • Martin

    Reply Reply February 4, 2016

    The emphasis is always on the toss heading
    Over the head to the left so that the hit can be under the ball.
    Your suggestion is that the hit must come earlier than
    full extension to get best top. Is that right?

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply February 4, 2016

      Martin – yes in a general way the kick serve does not have to be hit at maximum extension – experiment and see what you feel on this – and or upload something of your serve – I am doing more and more reviews – on the house!
      Jim

  • Fio Marin

    Reply Reply February 4, 2016

    Good morning Jim,
    About your video-What is valuable in your thoughts of the kick serve to me is how you actually care whether your feedback makes sense or not.
    To define to strike the ball and doing that where you catch the ball at a time when the arm can still be extended permits a server to deliver greater affect to the ball than simply saying ok, swing up and across the ball to execute a kick serve .
    Often that aspect is mis diagnosed or under emphasized.
    Jim, great review by your part.
    Fio Marin,

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply February 4, 2016

      Fio – thanks for this note – keep me posted with your feedback – appreciated at this end!
      Jim

  • mike herzig

    Reply Reply February 4, 2016

    don’t know why I never thought of thought on my own. now that you’ve said it, it is obvious.

  • Top spin & racquet drop

    Jim,
    Very good, short, simple, easy to comprehend, DE-emphasizing the ‘tactic’ and focusing on the ‘demo.’ (People learn not by hearing, but by seeing and doing.)Good job.
    Tim G.
    PS.Nice, closer cropped hair cut! Makes a guy look 10-15 years younger!
    Tell your coiffure, ” good job.” (:
    trg

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