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Keep Your Opponents Off-Balance with Backspin
by Meredith Stencil
PBI Tennis Professional

Most of today・s top tennis players have games that are all about power. When you think of modern day tennis, you think big hitters, lots of pace, and an incredible amount of topspin.

True, topspin can be a very effective offensive shot that forces your opponent out of position.  By brushing up the back of the ball from low to high you can create a shot that bounces high to your opponent and forces them out of their comfort zone.

Topspin, however, is not the only spin that can put your opponent out of position.  One of the most underused weapons in today・s game is backspin.  And once you understand it, backspin can add many different dimensions to your game and broaden your shot selection tremendously.

Many people think that backspin should only be used in emergency situations, when the ball is out of reach and you are on the defense. But this is not the case at all!

With the ability to create a low-bouncing backspin shot, you will force the ball to stay low on your opponent・s side so their point of contact is below the level of the net.  In order to get the ball back over the net they are then forced to hit up, allowing you to be on the offense!

Backspin is a great tool to have in several situations on the court.  A low, backspin approach shot takes the pace off the ball, and allows you to get to the Ideal Volley Position (IVP) faster.  By keeping the ball low, you put your opponent on the defensive.

Backspin is also a good choice for returning serve in doubles.  By hitting a low, crosscourt return with backspin, you can keep the ball low at the server・s feet and are more likely to get a defensive ball back. 

In singles, backspin can be a good choice in order to mix up the pace of a point and throw off your opponent・s rhythm.

And without backspin, you will never be able to hit an effective drop-shot to make your opponent scramble to net!

The key to creating backspin is simple.  By opening your racket face and pointing your strings to the sky you will force your strings to make contact underneath the ball.  By leading with bottom edge of your racquet face and opening the strings to the sky, the ball you hit will rotate :backwards,; thus creating this idea of backspin. 

Once you understand what backspin is, and understand the concept of an open racquet face, you can learn to hit an effective backspin shot. 

Start by having the strings pointed toward the net, or :flat.;   As you make contact with the ball, your wrist and racquet must rotate and :open; so you can finish with your strings pointed to the sky. 

If your ball is too high, you are opening your racquet face and strings too early.  If your ball is going into the net, you know that you are not opening the face early enough.  You can then make the correction according to the result. 

Once you find the right balance of flat to open, you can vary your shots and add many more weapons to your game!


Tips Archive

Getting Started

Three Fundamentals of Tennis

The Foundations

Serve and Return
Forehand and Backhand
The Volley
The Lob and Smash
Keep Your Opponents Off-Balance with Backspin
Give Balance Priority