Today we’re going to examine exactly how accurate the advice of “hit over the top” of the ball is when it comes to creating topspin. I’ll be studying the topspin forehand of Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, and Rafael Nadal to find out if there’s any truth to that phrase at all. Question – Have you ever been told to hit “over the top” for topspin? Tell me about it in the comments below! Topspin Technique| Related Posts Leave A Comment Cancel reply Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. 166 Comments Paige Turner May 14, 2014 at 3:54 pm - Reply So, I now understand that trying to hit over the top to create topspin doesn't work. So, I'm still left wondering, "How does one create topspin?" (You may have answered this already, perhaps in another video.) Gus May 13, 2014 at 8:52 pm - Reply Ian I will be always grateful to you for your excellent video lessons. bigdon May 7, 2014 at 12:27 pm - Reply Having been blessed with common sense ive always understood that you could not possibly turn your wrist fast enough to make the racket come in contact with the top of the ball. Teaching pros try and teach this to my daughter and i tell her to nod in agreement and ignore this advice. My daughter is top 5 in the district after 20 months of tennis due to ignoreing half the things she is told by her coaches. Craig MacPherson May 6, 2014 at 8:16 pm - Reply This was excellent, Ian. The grip the pros use also seems to "dictate" the apparent hitting over the ball. Those of us who still use the old fashioned eastern (?) grip know that to get our top spin we need a low to high swing with a racket face perpendicular to the court. Thanks for this tremendous footage. Seitz May 6, 2014 at 4:15 am - Reply How does it look like as the pro hits in the center of the racket? Could yuu show us a video? Fred May 6, 2014 at 1:16 am - Reply Excellent points Ian. No one can consciously 'wrap' the racket over the top of the ball to give it top spin. Rather, there's a lot of physics and factors involved in executing quality topspin forehand with a broad sweet spot. A well executed stroke doesn't necessarily require knowing any of the physics involved — oh to be the lucky who just do it naturally because it feels right… Just do it… Donald McDonald May 6, 2014 at 12:23 am - Reply 20 years ago everyone in golf knew the initial path of the ball was determined solely by swing path. 10 years ago everyone knew the initial path was determined solely based on club face angle. Now they know roughly 30% of initial path comes from swing path and 70% face angle based on studies with Trakman. Tennis is more complicated because the ball is moving with both spin and speed. Since a golf contact lasts less than one-tenth as long as a tennis contact, I expect that it will turn out near half and half in a serve where the ball is effectively motionless. The examples you showed were all topspin shots on the way down. I expect that you would get much more severe angles if you were showing topspins off the short hop where the ball was still rising. Those you could cover. Although that still is not the same thing as rolling over. But the point I would make is the concept "top" of the ball is fairly meaningless. What you really deal with is a combination of linear and angular momentum. Professionals usually use the "fairly vertical" solution, because they get in good positions. medardo tomaquin May 5, 2014 at 5:24 pm - Reply Ian, can i ask for your input? I ruined my forehand when i started to practice the wiper forehand . I can't even start a rally anymore; either the ball goes upward to my right or downwards to my left. This might have something to do with muscle memory. What should i do to rectify my predicament. I have been desperate to ask for advice. Hope you can help me. TY in advance. Alberto G May 5, 2014 at 5:17 pm - Reply Awesome videos and explanations. I can'twait to see the video about what does create topspin. johnm May 5, 2014 at 4:49 pm - Reply As a child(11 years) I taught myself to hit the ball by wrapping the racquet around the ball. Every now and then I would hit a` beauty` thus reinforcing the perception that the method was correct. Then along came Rod Laver who apparently changed his grip from eastern to continental on the forehand to achieve `more topspin`. In the 50`s and 60`s a lot of Australian players had continental grip on the forehand. Ah well I`m on the right path now and thanks for illuminating the stroke with excellent video and description of what is really happening. Now it is up to all of us to get on with it. Alan May 5, 2014 at 1:21 pm - Reply Ian Great video on top spin. It is important to understand the stroke in order to execute it properly to help keep us injury free. Major Dan May 5, 2014 at 12:41 pm - Reply Ian- I'm simply amazed that this myth still lives on!?!?!? Vic Braden debunked it in the 70's 🙂 Yet I still hear some TV commentators using the terminology, and Chris Evert, in a recent Tennis Tuesday effort on the swinging volley promoted covering the ball to get topspin and keep it in the court !?! wow… on the above-center, center, below-center issue, I suspect that center or a bit below center get the same effect. Above center hits are more dysfunctional – try it and see. so I suspect that the pros err on the side of center to below center. With their racquet speed and steepness of swing, the margins are really small to get every hit dead center, and below center a bit doesn't materially affect the shot – above center is flirting with framing the ball and sending it into the crowd. and that does happen on occasion. Donald McDonald May 6, 2014 at 12:50 am - Reply Re: above center and below center contacts. You always try to hit the sweet spot, but the sweet spot of a swinging racquet is different from a motionless racquet. With a full swing it moves toward the tip of the racquet. With topspin it moves slightly down also, with underspin it moves slightly up. I assume the effect varies with the amount of vertical force involved. So a topspin hit 1/2 an inch low might be right in the sweet spot. With the same swing, a contact 1/2 an inch high might be slightly outside the sweet spot. Check out serves, the sweet spot for right-handers is in the upper left part of the racquet. Rob May 5, 2014 at 12:24 pm - Reply Absolutely brilliant analysis as always Ian. Thank you so much! Fred May 5, 2014 at 12:07 pm - Reply Great but I think you should have included the proper stroke/movment. Bob C. May 5, 2014 at 11:27 am - Reply And Ian, I saw the video the first time and liked it. Like it even more now. Bob C. May 5, 2014 at 11:26 am - Reply John, this is off topic, but you didn't live in Pittsburgh in the 50s, did you? johnm May 5, 2014 at 4:52 pm - Reply No. Kalgoorlie Western Australia. Sunshine 7 days a week 365 days of the year. Bob Colleran May 5, 2014 at 11:25 am - Reply Back in the 80's Vic Bradens book Tennis for the Future dealt with the same misconception. When they studied the top 50 pro's men and women, they found all had vertical racket face at contact as well as straight out to the side. To answer the how do they get topspin question, I use the term "friction lifting" to describe what is happening. DeWitt Thomson May 5, 2014 at 11:17 am - Reply Ian, That was the best "myth buster" production on THAT topic ever! Hope it goes viral and we can make believers of all rec players/wannabes once and for all.Seeing IS believing. John Ward December 31, 2013 at 12:22 pm - Reply That was a very interesting video, and high lights exactly the miss -conceptions people have on cetain points of the game Denis Hopking November 26, 2013 at 5:42 pm - Reply Hi Ian. According to your analysis my question is what is the purpose of the different grips if the actual contact of the ball is 'flat'? Surely then the whole secret is not the grip but the racket head speed and the angle of your swing on contact of the ball – this gives the ball its topspin? If the swing is straight back and then straight onto the ball the result is a flat minimal topspin ball, right? But with the same grip angled up the result will be high rotational top spin? Thanks for your excellent footage Ian. Dave November 2, 2013 at 5:11 am - Reply Excellent videos and explanations! Well worth watching over& over again . I'm definantely guilty of bad terminology ! El Macpherson October 31, 2013 at 7:36 pm - Reply It looks like the wrist takes an extra lay back just before the swing forward. Is this right If so when does the wrist release Thanks peter prendergast August 7, 2013 at 5:43 pm - Reply So if coming over the ball isn't what's creating topspin,what is ? Thanks for your advice. Helps a lot. Doug May 5, 2014 at 2:52 pm - Reply Brushing up creates the topspin. Best illustration of this is imagine you are rolling a basketball up a double hand rail. If you push flat you can move the ball up but will encounter almost maximum friction. If you " brush up" on the ball it will roll up the rails relatively easily, and do it with topspin. (this is a Jim McLennan illustration btw). Alex July 9, 2013 at 8:31 am - Reply Really a great video, Ian! Thank you so much for posting such great videos for free. It feels like I am learning here more than I did ever in practicing for my own on the court! 🙂 misalaki July 5, 2013 at 3:48 am - Reply Hi Ian, Yes, great video!!! But have you ever thought about forehand corkscrew spin motion? Maybe this movement is similar. Desmond May 29, 2013 at 9:06 am - Reply Excellent video. Really clear. john May 29, 2013 at 12:22 am - Reply Great video. I wished I lived near you because I would be begging you for private lesson 🙂 Ron May 28, 2013 at 1:41 pm - Reply Hi Ian. Just watched this video again. Watching you capture the pros hitting below the center of the racquet is both encouraging and discouraging: It's encouraging to see that the pros aren't "perfect" in hitting the center on every shot. Then again, my mishits are not as forgiving. Can you talk more about the wrist "snap"? I notice the wrist is laid back (extended) until the racquet strings strike the ball. I assume this adds final power to the shot, as well as more topspin. I sweep my arm and racquet up to the ball to get more topspin (as in scooping water in a pool). Will that last minute "snap"/pronation help with more topspin on the forehand? Love your mythbusting videos. Ron Ron Ian Westermann May 28, 2013 at 1:45 pm - Reply In short: yes, that last minute "snap" would help get more topspin via more racquet head speed. That laying back of the hand/wrist is pretty universal among pros and it's something I'll be doing a video about in the near future! I wouldn't go so far as to say that it's necessary for club players to copy that movement, however, I believe to reach one's full potential on the court it would be a huge help. Jeremy July 27, 2013 at 4:45 pm - Reply Awesome! I've wondered the same thing, as the whip like motion seems to extend into their core too. (turning hips then stopping them, then whipping arm & wrist around). One question I hope you can address a little bit in the video is whether the speed of the racket or straight up only the acceleration matters. Tough to fully address this as things like weight of racket come into play, but I wonder if you can't make a comment about it. Keep on rockin. jack May 7, 2013 at 2:24 pm - Reply It appears that the uperward swing from a lower position is actually creating teh tipspin rahter than turnign the racket over. Wold you agree? If so, the I need to get my racket lower than the point I intend to hit the ball. Thank you, Jack Dan May 5, 2013 at 1:24 am - Reply Thanks for this one and the mythical "Wrist Snap" video, Ian! Your logical explanations of these topics reminds me of reading Vic Braden's "Mental Tennis." That book is a huge help to me and your work and resources are even more helpful! Thanks, again! Ian Westermann May 6, 2013 at 4:28 pm - Reply You're very welcome, Dan! john katronis May 2, 2013 at 1:23 pm - Reply just yesterday in my lesson from college number one player… come over the ball, in response to hitting the ball long..maybe my grip pressure is too tight..maybe I'm not coming up on the ball enough.. or maybe I'm trying to turn the racquet..but I'm not getting the consistent top spin I want, and I work on it everyday peter prendergast April 29, 2013 at 7:54 am - Reply Ian,love your stuff and learn heaps. but you talk too much and repeat yourself. my question: so if turning the racket over the ball doesn't create top-spin,what does ? Keep up the good work. Ian Westermann April 29, 2013 at 11:41 am - Reply I'd always prefer being accused of talking a bit more than necessary than not enough 😉 I'll be creating a video on what DOES create the topspin very soon. peter prendergast May 2, 2013 at 6:02 am - Reply Many thanks peter prendergast August 7, 2013 at 5:48 pm - Reply Ian: In an earlier reply to my question about what creates topspin if it isn't coming over the ball you promised a video on this very thing – what it is that does create topspin. Have you done it yet and I've missed it,or is it still in the pipepline ? Artzy67 May 28, 2013 at 6:34 pm - Reply He explained that in this video, and anyone can see what happens with the pro samples Sol April 21, 2013 at 4:11 pm - Reply What a great buster! Good analysis Ian more power to you and your good samaritan works……. Just have a quetion about the wind shield wiper, Is it also a myth? Thanks again Ian.. Christopher Robinson April 19, 2013 at 5:51 pm - Reply Your stuff is priceless, Ian. Excellent production quality, superb presentation and analysis. Thank you. I think you have to agree that avid rec and pro players play with intent, that is, we go for our shots as we can and work with what we get (thanks, Pat! ) Then, I suggest that all the dynamics of our swing at the ball are imparted at that moment of contact even as we have tried to produce that near vertical, tricky wall, string face. BTW, did you give Will permission to use your mailing list and the banner "essential tennis"? Many thanks again for your dedication to excellence and sport. -C. JimF April 19, 2013 at 4:26 pm - Reply Tangentially, ball typically hits on center then slides below center (co-poly, string snap = topspin etc). Two Fed pics I editing to show that. He hits with closed face and ball deforms and slides down: http://www.flickr.com//photos/jfawcette/sets/72157633284508956/show/ Ian, any thoughts on how string slide relates to pull-and-flip stroke? thx/ jim Sam April 18, 2013 at 1:11 am - Reply I love when you say ''please!'' 😉 Joyce Wilson April 17, 2013 at 2:39 am - Reply I'm a visual learner and I love your slow motion videos! More lights go on in my head. Ball dynamics are an important part of the equation. We don' t get enough of that. I really appreciate your sharing this information. Thanks so much! Robert April 17, 2013 at 12:50 am - Reply Just for fun I went through the first three hits (racket center contact) frame by frame. Djokovic's racket appears to begin to close in the fourth frame after contact. Federer's during the fifth. Nadal's during the third. By then the ball has flown nearly half a meter. The miracle of super slow motion video gives us an opportunity to witness what the eye just cannot see in 'real time.' mark Davy April 15, 2013 at 1:00 pm - Reply Good one Ian I have had this misconception for years wondering why i cn't hit topspin coming over the top. Mark Michael Phillips April 15, 2013 at 3:56 am - Reply Hi Ian, Thanks for your hard work producing these videos! I found your lesson on contact point and "closing the racket face" myth very useful. What would be a proper tip for students to produce topspin: to brush up the back of the ball with a near perpendicular racket face? Thanks for your help. Mike David April 14, 2013 at 11:45 pm - Reply Ian, please begin to address the backswing with the forehand and the backhand. As the racket comes down from the loop backswing the wrist takes the head way back and with a slow slapping motion comes forward to hit the ball. Watch the wrist in preparation for the hit. Another thing, the reason these guys are hitting low on the racket head is that they are taking too much time with their loop backswing. They need to be under the ball more than they are with the shoulder down, the wrist down or the knees down. Get under the ball if you want topspin or any other stroke perfection. Also, they are lifting up too soon with their body to get a really good piece of the ball which is needed for good topspin. Example: MacEnroe takes a very short low backswing so he hac more placement control of the ball sooner. Your thoughts? Jim Anderson April 14, 2013 at 5:13 pm - Reply I hate to be a kill-joy. But how's this for an alternative explanation. Suppose Rafa et al purposely hit their forehands off center — with the bottom of their strings? According to your videos, this wouid produce torque that would turn the racquet in their hand & make it appear that they were "hitting over on the ball". As you viewed "hundreds of videos", how many of them show "off center hits"? With respect to serve, would off-center hits increase spin? Ian Westermann April 14, 2013 at 10:33 pm - Reply That's an excellent question, Jim. If you skim the comments below you'll actually see that several others brought up that possibility. As of right now I'm not 100% sure either way whether or not any of these are purposeful…..I do think it's possible. That being said, even IF they are doing it on purpose, it isn't something I'd ever recommend for anybody below a 5.0 level. alan April 24, 2013 at 11:18 pm - Reply Hi Ian, for some reason whenever I hit the ball too high or long, my coachtells me to roll over the ball for more topspin. Is that right? theresa April 14, 2013 at 1:19 am - Reply Wonderful to see video in slow motion which illustrates just what you are saying. The repetition is good!! Tim Moran April 14, 2013 at 12:06 am - Reply I get your point, but I can't get over trying to understand the crazy grip Novak has in the first clip…his fingers are on top, and his wrist on the bottom of the racket at contact – that seems really awkward to me… Luis Perez April 13, 2013 at 10:39 pm - Reply Hi Ian, Please let me congratulate you for such a great video!!! Thiis video has not only clarified the hitting the ball over the top myth but it has actually showed me how the pros get the racket really low as I have alwas wondered if that could be one of the reason why my forehand shots go long at times! This clearly showed me that I have a very important opportunity to improve on!!! Thank you!!! Luis A. Pérez T. Rick Ellis April 13, 2013 at 8:46 pm - Reply I teach and have coached tennis at the high school level and have never heard hit over the ball. Brush up the back of the ball for top spin and the faster the racket head speed the more spin. I have always told players when you watch what looks like a pro rolling over top of the ball the ball was gone long before the roll occurred. High school boys want to roll their wrist and 99 per cent of the time the ball goes into the net. Keep up the good stuff, the slow motion videos really impress the kids. Masako Hingley April 13, 2013 at 12:56 pm - Reply Thank you so much. I will try it tomorrow and I am sure my topspin getsbetter. frank m. April 13, 2013 at 12:03 pm - Reply This was some of the finest video analysis I have ever seen. Congrats! Armand April 13, 2013 at 10:30 am - Reply EXCELLENT IAN. Insightful and HELPFUL!!!!! Gratitude Rodney Fong April 13, 2013 at 10:18 am - Reply Thanks Ian. Ed April 13, 2013 at 10:12 am - Reply Unfortunately, you are right that coaches say that you need to hit "over the top" for top spin. I believe that is one of the the main causes of my developing "tennis elbow". A new coach taught me differently and the "tennis elbow" gradually went away! Thanks for the info delivered with video. The info sinks in so much faster for some of us when we can see it. Ed marjorie April 13, 2013 at 8:50 am - Reply ok now we know that the racket doesnt go over the top of the ball and that the wrist snap is bogus so ….. WHAT ABOUT THE FABLED WINDOW WASHER FOREHAND???? Stavroula April 13, 2013 at 8:08 am - Reply Many thanks I still can Not believe it. alexandra franco April 13, 2013 at 4:35 am - Reply Ian, could you please, show us how these pros bring the racquet back. There also seems to be a myth that you supinate your arm in the backwing but from what you show, just before going forward(that's where your videos start) they all have strings facing the ground and therefore pronated arms, whereas many WTA still supinate their arms in the backswing. Why is this? thank you for your great work.. Steve K April 13, 2013 at 1:52 am - Reply The super slo-mo indicates to me that, what imparts topspin on the ball is the low-to-high path of the racket face just before impact with the ball. Of course, the racket is also moving forward toward where the ball is being aimed at – after all, this is a 3-D game! kathy April 12, 2013 at 11:43 pm - Reply Great information. thank you Jorge de la Fuente April 12, 2013 at 9:52 pm - Reply Excelent way of explaining the Topspin. Is interesting to see how they are graving the very tip of the racket handle. Thank you so much. Jorge Bob C. April 12, 2013 at 9:03 pm - Reply Great video, again. I completely fail to see any advantage in purposely hitting the ball with the lower half of the racket. First, the sweet spot is in the middle of the racket face, so balls hit toward the outer edges have less power. Second, repeatedly absorbing the shock of balls hitting outside the sweet spot would quickly lead to injury, especially at the pro level. Finally, if you try to hit the ball in the center of the racket, you'll catch some high, some low, some in the middle, but they all have a chance of making it back over the net. If you deliberately try to hit the ball with the lower half of the racket, same thing: some will be higher (they will hit the middle), some lower. Guess what happens to the balls lower than the lower half of the racket. For those who need help: they'll hit the frame or you'll swing on air. That means, on average, one third of your strokes will be air shots. Get real, folks. Jerry April 12, 2013 at 8:59 pm - Reply Excellent video and explanation. The slow motion helps clarify so many things. So few people understand the physics of tennis or life. To bad understanding the physics doesn't make the shots always work. Practice practice practice but at least knowing what to do helps know what to practice. Thanks for all your help, Jerry Doug Larson April 12, 2013 at 7:51 pm - Reply This is great myth busting Ian. Thanks! In practice swings I've tried imparting spin by rolling my racquet and the technique felt strange and of course was not effective, as the shot invariably went into the net or lower. Just as foreign though, for a person used to mostly hitting flat western forehands, is the grip which has the fingers of the grip leading (forward) at impact. My (limited) experience suggests I would lose the power of having my palm behind to generate power. How is power (and that secure feeling of having the palm at the back of handle during impact) generated in this manner? Thanks so much for 'myth-busting! Doug L. Bob April 12, 2013 at 6:10 pm - Reply Tnx Ian, Good details – the motion reminds me of sweeping a broom from behind yourself . It would be nice to do a side comparison of a flat stroke as one may think this technique is how to hit flat. Btw – where u get that pink? Ball in the opening of the tape? Bob Brent Patterson April 12, 2013 at 5:50 pm - Reply Thanks for these myth videos Ian. I thought your wrist snap video was particularly good. I have heard both the "over the top" and the "wrist snap' descriptions, particulaly from TV announcers. Not to name names, but one of my pet peeves. That's just one reason we mute the TV;) Do you think the "windshield wiper" description also deserves to be categorized as a myth? In my opinion it's similar to the "over the top" description, in that it's something that happens well after impact as a natural result of trying to hit up the top of the ball in an extreme manner. Personally I think it can be counterproductive, since it sometimes encourages players to hit too much up and not enough through the ball. Just curious what you think. Thanks again. Lynda Sheehan April 12, 2013 at 5:02 pm - Reply S W E E T! You should have been a lawyer but I am sure happy you are an online tennis guy! indisputable evidence!!! Ed April 12, 2013 at 4:39 pm - Reply Hi Ian, that was a fantastic explanation … Thanks so much … Really enjoy the clarity and focus of of classes! Patrick Kelley April 12, 2013 at 4:25 pm - Reply Great video Will. The video of off center hits effect on the racket head makes total sense and has finally convinced my long time playing partner that the Pros do not intentionally turn the racket head over the ball at contact. Good video and great explanation. Patrick Kelley April 12, 2013 at 4:28 pm - Reply Sorry IAN. I was just watching Will Hamilton before I came to your site. I love your emails and know that you are Ian not Will. You provide a ton of great information. Michael April 12, 2013 at 4:19 pm - Reply To help my students determine how to hit their desired shots I suggest: 1 shape of the swing determines the 2 shape of the FLIGHT of the ball, which in turn determines the 3 GROUND FORCE reactions to the spin (Bounce) christopher April 12, 2013 at 4:16 pm - Reply A tangential topic/myth to the "cover the ball" for topspin is the notion you come over the top to impart topspin without excessive loopiness in the ball trajectory. I guess the notion is that coming over flattens the arc of the flight of the ball (not flat as in reducing rpms). Obviously, this is dispelled by your video as well, but what are the components at contact that control the combination of spin (rpms) and trajectory (the arc of the flight)? -c Aaron April 12, 2013 at 4:02 pm - Reply Fantastic vid and advice Ian, thanks man! I feel like you covered everything, but I do have one very serious question: where did you get that awesome RF jacket? Is it an older model? I couldn't find it on any of the big tennis equipment sites. Thanks Badri April 12, 2013 at 3:31 pm - Reply The racket face turning on contact also tell you how loose the Pros grip the racket. Club players have a tendency to tense up and end up with a death grip at contact. Ian Westermann April 12, 2013 at 3:40 pm - Reply Couldn't agree more. Hugh Jass April 12, 2013 at 2:49 pm - Reply Two things: 1) I have never heard a pro say, "hit over the top to get topspin". The more common cue is "brush up the back of the ball", which is accurate, as evidenced by the high speed footage. I feel like you're manufacturing a myth just to bust it. 2) If the coaches of those three pro forehands told them to "hit over the ball", even though that's physically not possible, (and I feel probably unlikely), I would think that the action of attempting to do it is what produces the results. A case of this would be when a coach tells the student to "try to the ball with the edge of your racquet" in a service motion, knowing full well the pronation of the wrist will, in all likelihood, keep that from happening. These guys learned to hit their forehands without the benefit of this high speed footage, so clearly whatever their coaches were having them do has worked. Ian Westermann April 12, 2013 at 3:16 pm - Reply 1) If I manufactured it then it seems strange that so many commenters are not only familiar with it but have been trying to achieve exactly what I described (read the comments). Wouldn't you agree? 2) Obviously every coach wants their students to have great technique, and if saying X phrase produces a positive result even if it isn't what they actually said to do then I'm totally for that. What I'm not OK with is coaches using X phrase because it worked for one student, but the next student literally does was being asked of them (not the correct technique) and then no further adjustments or explanations are given. I'm also not OK with coaches using X phrase thinking that it's what actually happens when the reality is that it's not. One of those two things is happening (or it's just players perpetuating the phrases themselves) because the misconception is a very real thing. Robert April 17, 2013 at 12:25 am - Reply It is certainly the case that a good number of people have never heard that dictum (hit over the top), but a great many more have. I have heard many players talk about needing to "come over the top" of the ball and "get on top" of the ball. I personally came to my own understanding of the term, and that a person has to underscores a problem with such subjective terminology. Patrick Kelley April 12, 2013 at 4:32 pm - Reply I have heard teaching pros and coaches talk about coming over the ball or covering the ball hundreds of times in the past few years. I know many just use that as another way of saying hitting with topspin but it has confused thousands of aspiring tennis players. Jack April 12, 2013 at 2:42 pm - Reply Great video, thanks Ian! Just like in golf there is such a misunderstanding of what actually happens at contact, and TV announcers don't help but rather perpetuate the misconceptions by using phrases like "hitting over the top" and "didn't get under" the ball. There is a huge difference between feel and real during a swing. Ian Westermann April 12, 2013 at 3:17 pm - Reply So what's the top one in golf? Jack April 13, 2013 at 1:08 am - Reply In golf you hear that the golfer "did not get under the ball." It's impossible to get under the ball because the ground is there! A golfer swings from high to low, causing the ball to roll up the club face and imparting backspin, thus the grooves on an iron (like the mains on a racquet). Driver and putter are just hit with a slightly different swing path. The physics involved in the tennis and golf swings is very similar, but the jargon used in descriptions is different in both sports and can cause confusion. Videos like yours are worth a thousand words! Keep up the great work Ian. Kevin April 12, 2013 at 2:31 pm - Reply Great videos and analysis. Can you further elaborate on the top spin creation formula. Is it just hitting from low to high or is it based on the Raquet head speed , the direction of the raquet head path or what exactly is the main action that create it Thanks Ian Westermann April 12, 2013 at 3:17 pm - Reply Great question, Kevin. I'll be covering that topic more in the near future! dane crouch April 12, 2013 at 2:17 pm - Reply i love your explanation and video. i also love the fact that you point out that it may "feel" like you are going over it after contact, but you MUST contact the ball with the racquet close to 90 degree to the ground… then you can 'allow' the racquet to move into a position of facing downward. what things FEEL LIKE is so frickin' crucial. i wish someone would have pointed this out to me many many years ago. the common train of thought at that time was NOT to allow your racquet to face downward after contact. i spent many years trying to keep my racquet face from doing just that. that part of the stroke is so important to the follow through. i am assuming at this point that it is that part of the stroke that causes a heavy topspin shot to have power and penetration combined with spin vs merely the 'brushing' the ball. sadly, i did these things naturally after coming from a strong ping pong background and then 'trained' myself NOT to do it… it messed up my forehand something fierce. but then like Yoda said in Star Wars, "you must UNLEARN what you have learned." 🙂 onward thru the fog! i am anxiously awaiting your next stuff! Ian Westermann April 12, 2013 at 3:18 pm - Reply Keep up the great work, Dane 🙂 Jon April 12, 2013 at 2:14 pm - Reply Ian, you're cool. I love watching all your videos. Very good analysis and explanation. Keep 'em comin' 🙂 Ian Westermann April 12, 2013 at 3:19 pm - Reply You're cool too, Jon 🙂 pman at large April 12, 2013 at 2:05 pm - Reply I don't really know anyone who thought "come over the top" meant to be on top of the ball, most people understand if you get on top of the ball it's going into the net or worse The expression is to create the racket path, it's that path of the racket that creates the top spin, all of these players are indeed "coming over the top" as to said path of their racket btw, in this footage the only pro here who looks like they actually hit the center of their string bed was the fed Ian Westermann April 12, 2013 at 2:10 pm - Reply Read below to meet several people who thought it was what I described 🙂 Edz April 12, 2013 at 1:57 pm - Reply Ian, Thx 4 busting the myth. I will try to make contact in the lower half of my racket instead of trying to brush up on the back of the ball to create topspin. Ok what's the catch in the question?? What are you driving at???? Question for you…what is 12 divided by 6 = ? Ask Satjiwan, to shorten it up his comments a little on Apr. 12th 1pm…. 🙂 Ian Westermann April 12, 2013 at 3:21 pm - Reply Sorry, Edz, I'm not really following you. I definitely don't recommend trying to make contact low in the racquet face on purpose. Greg April 12, 2013 at 1:57 pm - Reply Hi Ian, This is the most enlightening analysis piece youv'e done. Thank you. I have been intentionally rotating my racquet face "over the top" after contact because that's what I saw. Now knowing that what happens after contact is coincidental will change my execution for the better, as well as expectations of what an "ok" stroke looks and feels like. Ian Westermann April 12, 2013 at 3:22 pm - Reply I'm so happy to hear that this was helpful to you! eric April 12, 2013 at 1:38 pm - Reply Ian, Again, nice job. AT CONTACT SHOULD I TIGHTEN MY GRIP OR CONTINUE TO HOLD RACKET LOOSELY ?? IS WRIST STILL LAID BACK AT CONTACT ? thanks ! "how loosely the top player grip their racquets nowadays" Ian Westermann April 12, 2013 at 3:25 pm - Reply I suggest keeping your grip loose through contact, Eric. The reality is that you'll probably naturally tighten it at least slightly as impact occurs……but most people are much too tight and hardly anybody at all too loose, so my advice is to error on that end of the spectrum. On most forehand groundstrokes your wrist should be slightly laid back at contact and then move forward to neutral afterward, very much like on the serve: https://www.essentialtennis.com/video/serve-technique/wrist-snap-myth-busted-serve-lesson/16594/ Kay April 12, 2013 at 1:24 pm - Reply Thanks for yet another great video, Ian. Would you venture to say contacting the ball with the center of the strings would produce more topspin than contacting it off center, all other factors (eg. swing speed, angle of attack etc) being equal? Ian Westermann April 12, 2013 at 3:27 pm - Reply That's a great question, Kay. Striking the ball off center can create a heavier ball – in other words, higher ratio of topspin to forward drive. That being said, I do NOT recommend trying to do it purposefully. Most of us have a hard enough time hitting it cleanly on purpose, much less hitting it off center just right amount. trevor simmons April 12, 2013 at 1:04 pm - Reply Hi Ian, I notice that some of the top pros, like Rafa,sometimes use their forehand topspin in such a way that the ball slightly curves initially 'out' then 'in' back to the opponent ie perhaps there is some element of sidespin? Would this be a correct assumption? Ian Westermann April 12, 2013 at 1:10 pm - Reply That would be sidespin, Trevor! Something I might have to cover in the future. Joe April 12, 2013 at 1:00 pm - Reply Such a great video! Vintage Ian. Clear, well illustrated and fun to watch. Ian Westermann April 12, 2013 at 1:10 pm - Reply Thanks for watching, Joe! satjiwan April 12, 2013 at 1:00 pm - Reply First thanks for the analysis, and footage to make the analysis possible. But, i have similar criticisms with the wrist snap video. I think with both videos you have busted part of the myth. And poor language or poor coaching contributes to some misunderstanding. But i'll argue that both wrist snap on the serve and coming over the ball are things that are happening, to a degree, and if taught properly can add to the successful learning. On the wrist snap, there is a snap from extension to neutral. and possibly when teaching one might show going past neutral to flexion, just for emphasis. Kind of like using the kids serving tool of a fishing net to hit high, moving the wrist toward down, in order to catch the ball and have some wrist mov't in that direction. true your video shows NOT going past neutral. but as a first approximation for learning to do some movement (from ext to neutral) i think the conventional language is partially true and partially wrong. so you busted half a myth. on the over the top of the ball – yes, they are not flipping their wrist over at the miniscule timing of contact with the ball, but they are doing things with their stroke and trajectory to help move the racket up on the back of the ball, which could be described as coming over the ball, and only be partially wrong or misleading. let's take the first nadal clip as an example. I think he is doing two main things to create topspin. (the second needs more video studying to verify) 1. going from low to high. 2 (what is not shown with other clips) changing the racquet face angle from somewhat open to somewhat closed. (and i think this is why he has MORE topspin than others). he's not doing this right at contact, but as part of the motion. teaching wise i think coaches should tell folks to move low to high (and maybe move open to closed, ever so slightly) as part of their stroke. but they are not saying: start from a dead stop, and exactly when the ball hits the racquet, lift it low to high. nor saying hold the racquet a little open and exactly when the ball hits, turn the face toward close. those are both unrealistic to do regarding power, momentum and timing. but the concept of the racquet going low to high and possibly slightly open to slightly closed during the whole swing motion seems pretty good way to teach. provided you don't end up with exaggerated mov'ts adopted. these things are subtle and hard to teach. and should eventually become fluid and part of overal full stroke technique. i think the language of wrist snap and over the top are problematic when adopted in the extreme. but they are also partially right, and finding a good way to convey the concept without getting exaggerated results is what the collective "good tennis coaching" goal should be. again i think you have debunked partially here. and i appreciate being able to analyze it more clearly to improve my understanding. (though, honestly, sometimes correcting my technique is better than correcting my understanding – and gets improvement faster.) Ian Westermann April 12, 2013 at 1:21 pm - Reply Thanks a lot for posting your thoughts, I really appreciate it! Wrist snap on the serve – I pointed out several times in that video that the wrist DOES move (in multiple ways) including from extended to neutral. The myth I was busting was specifically flexion past neutral, not anything else….so I busted a full myth there, not half of one 🙂 If you want to call the wrist moving from extended to neutral a "wrist snap" then that's totally fine with me as long as people know what you're talking about. I've not once in my tens of thousands of hours on the court ever heard anybody define it that way. Over the top – yup, absolutely. I stated several times in this video that the face DOES close as part of a good topspin swing, just not until after the ball is gone. I guess ultimately my reaction to your comments is if a certain way of explaining this is "only partially wrong or misleading" then why in the world would you want to use it?? I very much prefer "fully accurate" in my teaching. Ultimately the goal of any teacher should obviously be to have their students correctly perform the needed skills to advance at the game…..even if cognitively they don't fully understand exactly what's happening. However, that's just not how I personally like to teach. I enjoy teaching most when I'm able to enstill understanding in my students along with the ability to perform. Thanks for watching and thanks again for your input! Artzy67 April 12, 2013 at 3:33 pm - Reply I agree that finding the right terminology to describe tennis technique can be an arduous task. Using the term 'wrist snap' can be very misleading. That will usually conjure up FORWARD wrist snap in most people's minds. Decades ago, due to the lack of readily available high-speed camera footage, teaching pros would tell people to 'snap the wrist', because that's what pronation felt like to them. I think it's useful to teach from a standpoint of letting the body perform as naturally as possible: Build on what the body does to protect itself from tennis elbow, rotator-cuff injury, etc For instance, a simple starting point would be to put your racquet down and just throw your arm forward. You'll find that your forearm will roll inwards (pronate) naturally without you having to think about it. Your palm will be facing outward towards the side fence. You have to be really loose to accomplish this.. throw the arm like you want to let it come right out of its socket. When I do that motion but consciously snap my wrist forward, it hurts my shoulder. Ian Westermann April 12, 2013 at 3:41 pm - Reply Thanks for the input, I appreciate it. I definitely agree that a student who picks up on good technique naturally should be left alone…..only adjusted as necessary. Jerry Broussard April 12, 2013 at 12:57 pm - Reply Ian we all appreciate what you are trying to get us to understand, but I don't think anyone is trying to get someone to actually "roll over" the top of the ball at contact. The path of the swing simulates the action of rolling over the ball to give it better top spin by getting the upper(leading) edge of the racquet to sweep up the back of the ball better. This action of getting the upper edge to sweep up at contact, "roll over" at the top of the swing, then that same leading edge that was in an upper position is now leading in a downward position. On an approach shot there will not be as much roll over "simulation" as in a base line shot because in a base line shot you need more drive through the ball(with spin). Because you need more drive through the ball on a baseline shot to keep it deep on your opponents court the racquet will swing out and away from the body more which will cause that "roll over" feeling. It's really more of a feeling than it is a actuality. You will also find with this feeling, once practiced, will help you keep the trailing(bottom) edge of the racquet from scooping under the ball to much that will send the ball long. Ian Westermann April 12, 2013 at 1:02 pm - Reply I know that, and you know that, but if you simply read the comments below you'll find that what I covered is in fact a big misconception…..just like the "wrist snap" on the serve that several people tried to tell me "nobody ACTUALLY thinks that happens!". Well guess what, lots of people do! As for the "roll over" happening less on an approach shot than a rally ball from behind the baseline, that totally depends on the height of contact. From the service line and knee height you're going to need an awful lot more "roll over" than waist weight at the baseline if you still want to hit it aggressively and keep it in play. As with most things, it depends 🙂 Jerry Broussard April 12, 2013 at 1:10 pm - Reply 🙂 Sorry if that sounded contradictory. Troy April 12, 2013 at 12:46 pm - Reply One of the reasons I really enjoy you videos is because you go through both the "why does" and the more traditional "how to". These slomo videos are becominig an excellent source for breaking down a lot of those pieces. So, just to bring the lesson full circle then, is topspin only generated by the motion of the racket from low to contact to high to over the shoulder? Ian Westermann April 12, 2013 at 3:28 pm - Reply Not necessarily over the shoulder, no, but from below the ball to above it with a flat racquet face behind it, yes. hugh April 12, 2013 at 12:44 pm - Reply Excellent. You could have added that hitting the ball low on the face (racquet turns over) actually gives less topsping due to the gear effect (happens in golf too). The racquet face and the ball act as gears would, so when the racquet is turning over the ball actually turns the other way. Thus hitting the ball on the top of the face gives more topspin (but you'd have to be pretty good to do it intentionally). Ian, show some backhands of Novak and you can really see the face not turn over at all! Thanks and keep 'em coming. Ian Reed April 12, 2013 at 12:42 pm - Reply Ian, Excellent, but you missed a great chance to "accentuate the positive" and include a comment as to WHAT IS creating the topspin. Presumably the "low to high" is the explanation. However there are a lot of newer players watching who DON"T KNOW and because of advertising and TV commentator remarks ,innocently believe that strings and racket design are of equal or even greater importance than the stroke itself. Best, Ian Reed Ian Westermann April 12, 2013 at 12:44 pm - Reply Another topic for another video, Ian 🙂 Don't worry, I'll be covering it. Viacheslav April 12, 2013 at 12:22 pm - Reply Thanks for such a great lesson! Regards, Viacheslav+ (Russia). Ian Westermann April 12, 2013 at 12:24 pm - Reply You're welcome, thanks for watching 🙂 Warren Y April 12, 2013 at 12:19 pm - Reply Great footage. Enjoy the super slow motion and explanation of what we see. Now what I need is a good explanation of what it takes to get reliable topspin. Ian Westermann April 12, 2013 at 12:28 pm - Reply I'll be covering that in the future, Warren 🙂 Sergii April 12, 2013 at 12:18 pm - Reply Ian, good job! That was well-constructed and right to the point. My son and I will definately stick to those fluid easy grip motions when going for top spin. Ian Westermann April 12, 2013 at 12:28 pm - Reply Great to hear, Sergii! Rachel April 12, 2013 at 12:17 pm - Reply Soooo….myth de-bunked. 🙂 Then, what DOES cause the creation of topspin? Is it "brushing up the back of the ball?" Another phrase I hear a lot. Other that simply meeting the ball at almost perpendicular, is there a particular motion that generates the spin? Thoughts? Fred Lucia April 12, 2013 at 12:16 pm - Reply As always, great information, and I appreciated it thank you. If you allow one minor criticism from teachers perspective(not tennis teacher but high school, vocational) you might have explained what does create good topspin! I realize this may be obvious to most, but I'm sure not to everyone. Thanks again. Fred Ian Westermann April 12, 2013 at 12:18 pm - Reply Definitely not obvious, Fred. That's another topic for another video…..in this one I just wanted to focus on busting the myth and nothing extra. 11 minutes is really long as it is 🙂 Peter April 12, 2013 at 12:15 pm - Reply Oscar Wegner has been saying for years the top pros hit below center on the racquet-this is further proof. Ian Westermann April 12, 2013 at 12:17 pm - Reply Really? Do you have a video/article of his about that? Would be curious to see what he says. Warren May 28, 2013 at 1:55 pm - Reply From the pictures I have seen it looks like the "sweet spot" (not really a spot I guess, but an area) is not centered on the string pattern but appears to be a bit low(longitudinally) on the string pattern, rather than concentric with it. In that case wouldn't that be what Oscar Wegner is referring to? Or is he talking about the lateral dimensions of the string pattern? Maury April 12, 2013 at 12:07 pm - Reply Thanks Ian. Keep the myth busters coming. roberto April 12, 2013 at 12:07 pm - Reply Thank you for your work, I really apreciate it. Its amazing. Roberto Núñez.- from Rosario, Argentina. Ron April 12, 2013 at 12:03 pm - Reply Hi ian. Nice slo mo demonstration of NOT flipping the racquet to create topspin. I tried to demonstrate topspin to a friend by showing the racquet moving low to high and behind the ball with a vertical face. He insisted that Roger hits the ball with the racquet closed ("I've seen dozens of his forehands–it's true!") and didn't think I knew what I was talking about. His demonstration of his topspin forehand? It died before it got to the net. I'm still working on my topspin, since I learned watching Connors hit his flat forehand that skimmed the net. Ian Westermann April 12, 2013 at 12:26 pm - Reply I've had many such conversations, Ron. Definitely a motivation for me creating this video! Geoff Jones April 12, 2013 at 12:00 pm - Reply Great video, almost seems better if you do make contact low to produce this shot. What do you think? Thanks Ian Westermann April 12, 2013 at 12:05 pm - Reply I honestly haven't made up my mind on that yet, Geoff. For now I'll say that I think it's possible some shots (topspin groundstrokes) are hit off center on purpose, but I need to talk to some more people and study more footage to be sure. Even IF some pros do it on purpose it isn't something I'd ever, ever recommend for any rec player. Period. Lance April 12, 2013 at 12:00 pm - Reply Thanks for that myth buster. But, how about hitting over the top on your serve to get topspin? Ian Westermann April 12, 2013 at 12:06 pm - Reply Nope, doesn't happen 🙂 More on that in the future. Bob C. April 12, 2013 at 11:59 am - Reply Great myth busting–again. Tell me if I'm wrong: the racket face will have to be slightly open or slightly closed depending on whether contact is made low or high in the strike zone and whether the ball is rising, dropping, or at its peak upon contact, and what type of ball the player wants to hit. If the ball is coming into the middle of the strike zone and is at the top of its rise, the racket face will probably be almost vertical. If it's a shoulder high ball, maybe the racket face will be closed a degree or two. (I haven't studied any slomo videos). Is it affected by the type of shot the player wants to hit? The racket face angle could be perpendicular to zing a low, flat shot but maybe slightly open for an arc ball. Ian Westermann April 12, 2013 at 12:08 pm - Reply Yes, you're absolutely correct, Bob. The changes in face angle aren't nearly as much as people think, but every shot is definitely NOT hit with the same angle. Dennis April 12, 2013 at 11:57 am - Reply I thoroughly enjoy seeing such clear examples of the dynamics involved with racket and ball. Thank you! I'd love to see demonstrations of how, during the serve, the various grips and angles at which the racket hits the ball effect the direction, trajectory and spin of the ball. Ian Westermann April 12, 2013 at 12:08 pm - Reply Hopefully coming soon, thanks for the suggestion! Chris April 12, 2013 at 11:55 am - Reply My feeling is that although the racquet may not come over the top, sometimes it does feel that way, and a feeling is often a good way to understand what you're shooting for . At times I'll 'feel' the top of the ball as I make contact on a good quality hit. P.S. Am interested in your next talk about the forehand wrist snap; I've been wrestling with different versions of forearm and wrist action; sometimes when I allow my wrist to 'come around' using my body's rotational momentum I get really good topspin. Other times I'll deliberately "pronate" my forearm actively to get more power and spin. Ian Westermann April 12, 2013 at 12:09 pm - Reply Oh it definitely feels that way sometimes (I think I actually mentioned that in this video). I'm perfectly fine with people saying "it feels like I'm hitting over the top of the ball" as long as there's an understanding of what's actually happening. Slice-n-Dice April 12, 2013 at 11:54 am - Reply Ian, This is good stuff, and particularly your showing what happens when these guys make contact low on the string bed. If you look closely, you'll see that their hand, wrist and forearm position really doesn't change, which is a perfect illustration of how loosely the top player grip their racquets nowadays on their buggywhip ground strokes. this is generally NOT how amateur or weekend rec player strike the ball, because the timing required to make solid contact is out of this world, and people generally do not workout on the court 3- 4 hours per day. The racquet simply spins in their hands. Don Ian Westermann April 12, 2013 at 12:12 pm - Reply Really nice observation about how the racquet twists but their wrist/forearm doesn't! jeff s cherry hill, nj April 12, 2013 at 11:52 am - Reply Brilliant, absolutely brilliant!! Total destruction of another age old myth. Tonight I will sleep so much better knowing that pro's like Roger & Rafer miss hit the ball in a way that causes many of us rec players to emulate their mistakes!! DAH! You are becoming a Zen Master and I am your grasshopper! Thanks for this installment of your incredibly valuable help! Looks like the tan is still holding up! Ian Westermann April 12, 2013 at 12:01 pm - Reply Nobody can hit the middle of the racquet every time…..not even Roger 🙂 The tan is fading but actually holding up better than I expected. It's rained 5 days in a row here in Milwaukee 🙁 John April 12, 2013 at 11:52 am - Reply This natural roll over reaction, especially for Federer, helps keep the ball flat with more pace. This is, I believe, why most good top spin players try to impact the ball at the lower half of the racquet 🙂 The deformed string shape is also more favourable to top spin when impact occurs at the lower half. Ian Westermann April 12, 2013 at 11:58 am - Reply I'm actually not convinced (yet) that pro players make contact on the lower half of the racquet on purpose at all, John. I think the examples I'm showing are just simply mishits, just like the rest of us. With the ball traveling that fast and with racquet head speeds what they are for those guys it's impossible to hit the middle every time even if they were trying to (which I believe they are). rich jaffe April 12, 2013 at 11:52 am - Reply Do you recommend the windshield wiper finish, over the shoulder finish or somewhere in between for an average 3.5 player? I notice the wiper finish is a little difficult unless your at least a 4.5 level player. I tell my players the path of the racquet is what matters if you want to generate topspin. As long as you get the racquet head below the ball and swing low to high you will get topspin on your shot. I like to talk about keeping the wrist laid back and right after contact you roll your forearm. You do a great job with all your videos and I always recommend that my high school players should check out essential tennis. Rich Ian Westermann April 12, 2013 at 11:56 am - Reply Thanks for helping me spread the word, Rich! When working with beginners I still use a very traditional "over the shoulder" type follow through. Most 3.5 players should probably be somewhere "in between" but traditional is still all that's needed for them most of the time. Shorty April 12, 2013 at 11:49 am - Reply Hi Ian, Please keep these myth busters coming! From a physics standpoint, a lot of these myths have always left me scratching my head. The ball is on the strings for only hundredths of a second. No human is so coordinated that they can perfectly execute a roll over maneuver in a hundredth of a second. It's all about what you do leading up to that hundredth of a second of contact. If you're looking for other teaching myths to explode, how about the follow through. Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that follow through isn't important. But I always hear coaches saying to follow through on your strokes. To me, follow through isn't something you should be consciously doing or even trying to do. It should be the natural outcome of a well-executed stroke. If you didn't follow through, it means you did something wrong in the moments before you hit the ball, not after. Just tacking a follow-through onto the end of a bad stroke isn't going to make the outcome any better because, like the "rolling over the ball" myth, the ball is already gone. Ian Westermann April 12, 2013 at 11:54 am - Reply Contact = less than .004 of a second. Waaay less than hundredths 🙂 I get what you're saying about the follow through but I actually don't agree for the most part. That's a really interesting topic for me to cover with the super slow motion footage. Maybe soon! Artzy67 April 12, 2013 at 1:14 pm - Reply If you are really loose throughout your motion you will follow through naturally. You don't have to think about it. If you are not following through you are also probably slowing the racquet head down, instead of accelerating, through contact Bob April 12, 2013 at 11:47 am - Reply I am continually being told to hit through the ball i.e. continue the racquet out to the target for a brief time. I have watched these slow motion videos and there may be a linear component of total body movement forward, but not any sense of a conscious movement of extending the racquet thru contact toward the target. Can you comment about this aspect? Derek April 12, 2013 at 11:37 am - Reply Nice video analysis. Thanks, Ian! P.S. I like the color of the tennis you were using.. 🙂 Ian Westermann April 12, 2013 at 11:39 am - Reply I was waiting for the first comment on that….haha. What you see there is what happens when you don't consider using a green screen and yellow tennis ball at the same time 🙂 kamal April 12, 2013 at 11:37 am - Reply Ian Great video. Out of curiosity what happens to the ball Nadal hit on the top half of the racket strings? Did it sail high as a mishit? Also why do the pros deliberately hit the ball below the center and not at the center? Is it because they of the rebound twist that occurs and it is best to let it happen when the ball is hit at the bottom of the strings? thanks kamal Ian Westermann April 12, 2013 at 11:42 am - Reply Good question on the high contact shot by Nadal. Based on the trajectory off his racquet it looks to me like it still had a good shot of landing in although I can't tell you for sure (just one of hundreds of shots I took of him). It definitely didn't sail as high as a mishit, no. My argument (for now) is that what you're seeing here isn't deliberate….they're just off center hits, just like everybody makes. I've heard some interesting theories on purposeful off center hitting and to be honest I haven't made up my mind on that yet… Toby Leffel April 12, 2013 at 2:59 pm - Reply I taught tennis back in the 70's. The basic techniques never change. Example: If i put a heavy desk at the center of the net and want to lift it up, where do i place my hands to provide the most leverage ? Answer: At the very bottom of the desk. The sample principal applies to the tennis ball. Cup the base of the ball and lift.. I prefer to cup the base (bottom) of the ball on the lower outer edge for stability. As you cup the base of the ball drive up through the back side of the ball which creates a forward spin in the direction of the net. Example: same principal as brushing up the back side of a bicycle wheel. I would teach beginners to lift the tennis ball by hitting them lobs. As the ball came down I would have them lift it slowly and tell them to make the ball feel very heavy. After we exchanged the full lob a number of times, I would then gradually compress the lob into lower stages until it reached the height of a ground stroke. This method will evenually allow the student to understand the principals of how to create effective top-spin on the tennis ball. Good Tennis to all – Toby Leffel.. Dr. AY Cohen April 13, 2013 at 6:03 pm - Reply Ian, This is a good one! For years, I could not hit with much of any topspin, even after instruction from pretty talented pros….suggesting many of the "brushing up or hitting over" techniques, grip changing etc, that seemed not to work. Then, a wonderful young woman, a Romanian former pro, Carmen, said "Forget worrying about topspin….just step into the ball, hit from low to high and finish the follow through…..the topspin will take care of itself…." Voila!! It worked ! P.S. To help prove your point about "hitting over," substantial topspin can be produced hitting a ball very low with almost a straight up motion (to the sky) with good follow through. No hitting over or brushing the back of the ball there.