The basics of the topspin groundstroke
When you hit a groundstroke you have to control the ball over three different directions.
You have to hit a ball FORWARD from your side of the court to your opponents.
You must hit the ball UP over the net.
You must make the ball come DOWN onto the court before it passes the lines of the court.
It’s that simple! Every forehand and every backhand from history and into the future must do the above. To coach yourself and develop consistent groundstrokes you must understand that simple breakdown.
NOW: How to do it! (Remember, this describes the very basics, so excuse the simplicity).
Based on the 3 directions, we break the shot’s technique into a corresponding three components.
To hit the ball FORWARD, you start the racquet behind you and swing it forward to the front of you. The forward motion of the swing is the part of the swing that is responsible for the forward motion of the ball. If your shots are landing short, (you require more depth), then empasise this part of the swing.
To hit the ball UP, your racquet must come from below the oncoming ball and will meet the ball while swinging UP to a finish high. If the ball goes into the net you didn’t have enough of this component.
To make the ball come DOWN onto the court you must put some TOPSPIN on the ball. Obviously gravity will make the ball come down, however topspin will ensure YOU have control over that movement. As the level of play goes up, so also does the speed of the ball, and knowledge and skills with topspin become more necessary.
To correspond with the above, there are only three mistakes that you can make with regard to the groundstroke technique. You can –
Hit the ball into the net. You are now armed with the information to correct that problem. (See point 2 above).
Hit the ball out past the baseline. Once again by going back to the basics you can identify the remedy to that. (See point 3 above).
Hit the ball too short. While the ball may still be in play, there is a problem here. The correction is found in point 1 above.
The above lesson outlines the very basics of the topspin groundstroke technique. Everything that you do over and above these basics is your style. You should try and develop a simple and compact style as you progress your tennis. If you have an overly complex style it will break down when you are tired or under pressure. It is also very hard to maintain if you are a seasonal player.
A Note for Junior Competitiors
Most frequently, Junior (U14, U16) Boys are most vulnerable to over working their shots and should understand the above basics and learn early to simplfy technique. Watch the style of the players in the semi-finals and finals, very often you will find the players with simple reliable technique. Simple technique saves you from injury.
Caveat, "Beware of the player with ugly technique, who makes it work" Some players are in sync with an exaggerated style that just works!
Racquet Position at contact