tennis instruction

Coaches’ Corner: Hit Topspin Like You Mean It

The Ivan Lendl IJTA, one of the world’s premiere tennis academies, has taken up residence in our “Coaches’ Corner” series to dish out instructional tips and on court analyses straight from the Academy’s top coaches and directors.

By David Lewis, Director of Instruction at Ivan Lendl International Junior Tennis Academy

Topspin is defined as the rotation of a ball rolling in the same direction it is moving. It imparts a downward force that causes the ball to drop due to its interaction with the air.

Developing proper ground strokes with topspin is important in building a well-rounded skill set.

Rafael Nadal is the master of imparting topspin with his left-handed forehand. It has been clocked between 1,800 and 4,900 revolutions per minute, with an average of 3,300. On the clay courts at the French Open, Nadal has been very successful because the ball bounces high, giving him ample time to obtain good net position or prepare for another big ground stroke.

To hit a successful topspin forehand, follow the steps below.

  • The more extreme the grip, the more topspin you will be able to apply. Conversely, it will be more difficult to hit a flatter shot. Establish a grip that feels comfortable and natural to your swing.
  • Swing from low to high, brushing up the back of the ball at 6 o’clock and hitting up to 12 o’clock.
  • Contact the ball in front of your body.
  • Racquet head should be slanted slightly forward on impact.
  • Bend your knees to help lift up on the ball.

For the topspin backhand, the same principles will apply except for the grip.

  • Use the Eastern or Western backhand grip for a single-handed backhand. Experiment with both to find out which one feels more suitable and produces the best results. The Eastern backhand grip is when the base knuckle of the index finger and heel of the hand are right on the 1st bevel. The Western grip is used by placing the base knuckle of the index finger on the fifth bevel.
  • For a right-handed, two-handed shot, the left hand should be dominant with a Semi-Western grip combined with an Eastern backhand grip for the right hand. The Semi-Western grip is when the base knuckle of the index finger is right on the fourth bevel. Again, experiment with these grips to see which combination works best for you.

Following the tips above will help you to hit more powerful and accurate topspin shots with your forehand and backhand.

About David Lewis
David Lewis, a native of Auckland, New Zealand, is the Director of Instruction at Ivan Lendl International Junior Tennis Academy on Hilton Head Island, S.C., a full-time tennis program for grades 5-12. For the past 20 years, he has coached top juniors and professionals around the world including Marina Erakovic, ranked as high as No.49 on the WTA world rankings.

Ivan Lendl IJTA exemplifies Ivan Lendl and Lewis’ desire to give back to tennis and develop future champions through a new-era curriculum and holistic training approach. The Academy focuses on classic fundamentals, leading-edge biomechanics, strength training / fitness and mental preparation. The staff subscribes to a hands-on approach with students instilling dedication, focus, hard work, motivation and overall preparation.

For more information:, 888.936.5327.

Tennis Legends Billie Jean King and John McEnroe Rally on Hudson River Barge to Kick Off National Tennis Month

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., May 06, 2009 – Tennis legends Billie Jean King and John McEnroe have played tennis all over the world and on all surfaces. Now they can add a new venue to the list: a barge floating on the Hudson River in New York City. In a day-long celebration to kick off National Tennis Month, King and McEnroe spent the afternoon volleying back and forth in front of the Manhattan skyline, with photographs and video taken to document this unique meeting of the two great champions.  They capped the afternoon with a visit to the Statue of Liberty and New York’s South Street Seaport.

“National Tennis Month is a perfect way to get focus on our game,” said King. “It gets the beginners started and serves as a friendly reminder to get your racquet and head back to the tennis court.

“New York City is where I’m from, so we’re in a setting that is second-to-none to jump start National Tennis Month,” said McEnroe.  “For me, it’s about getting even more kids playing our sport.”

National Tennis Month is the annual celebration of the outdoor tennis season and part of an industry-wide initiative to increase tennis participation in the United States. And the 12th anniversary of National Tennis Month arrives at a great time for tennis. Recent data from the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association shows that tennis is the fastest-growing traditional sport in the country, with participation increasing 43% since 2000 and 9.6% in the last year alone.

Throughout the month, the USTA will conduct events nationwide to promote tennis, celebrate its growth and increase participation in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. Headlining these efforts will be a series of “Tennis Block Parties.” Hosted at public parks, schools and tennis facilities, “Tennis Block Parties” will feature tennis instruction provided by skilled teaching professionals and special guests, and will also include interactive games and attractions offering participants the opportunity to simultaneously learn and enjoy the many benefits of the sport.