Are you interested in improving your topspin forehand? I know a lot of players struggle with getting enough topspin on their tennis forehand, despite using a semi-western grip. In fact, I recently received a question from a Tennis Evolution member named Len who was still struggling with hitting his forehand too flat.
He just can’t seem to hit a consistent topspin forehand, which was costing him to lose close tennis matches. Thus, I have decided to put together my best topspin forehand tips. I am very committed to helping players get access to the right information, tips, drills strategies to help you all out there get better.
In this tennis article, I will discuss five specific steps to master the topspin tennis forehand. Those include the grip, first move, swing path, contact point, and finish. Moreover, I will share two amazing tennis drills to practice your topspin forehand and hit it like the top tennis pro players in the world.
Let’s get into them!
First of all, I want to start out with the grip. I’m a big believer that you should have a semi-western, maybe even an eastern grip. However, it will be more challenging to generate topspin on your forehand. Again, you can do it, but I prefer more of a semi-western forehand grip. Hence, I simply recommend trying either one and see what works best for you. To find the proper semi-western grip on your forehand ensure to spread your index finger. Also, make sure to angle your hand and have its heel underneath your racquet.
When you hold the racquet correctly, you’ll be able to swing the racquet in a more relaxed fashion. Moreover, you will completely avoid the deadly “block grip” which can hinder your topspin forehand success. At the end of the day, you want to reduce tension, increase feel and relaxation. If you don’t get the right grip on your topspin forehand, you won’t be able to create them.
The second step to hit more topspin on your tennis forehand is to make a strong first move like the pros. You can greatly benefit from modelling Novak Djokovic’s first move. He’s got arguably one of the best topspin forehands in modern tennis. When Djokovic takes the racquet back to hit a topspin forehand, his racquet strings typically face the back fence at a slight angle. Unlike most other players, whose racquet strings will usually be facing the side fence during their backswing. (This is highly impacted by the grip style used).
Having your racquet strings facing the back sense during the backswing will allow you to drop under the ball easier. Consequently you can brush up on it and create more topspin on your forehand. If you have an eastern grip, you will not be able to use this tip. But don’t worry… if that’s the case, I’ve got plenty of other topspin forehand tips for you.
Learning the correct swing path is the third step to easily generate more topspin on your forehand. A good swing path for the topspin forehand will go from low to high. You’ll start below the ball and finish well up above your shoulder. A really good drill to help you get this concept is called the “net drill.” Of all the topspin forehand tennis drills you can practice, this is one of the most effective.
This drill teaches you the feeling of brushing up the back of the ball from low to high. Consequently, you can create the heavy topspin you desire on your tennis forehand. To perform this drill, get close to the net. Then, make a practice forehand swing where you will brush the racquet face against the net. The racquet tip has to drop well below the net; hence, you can properly brush up along it. From there, your racquet face will naturally go up over your shoulder.
You want to practice the low to high swing with the proper tennis forehand grip. This is the easiest way to create consistent topspin without manipulating the arm and the racket down. Additionally, it will help you to keep a solid technique when you’re playing under pressure.
If you’re wondering how to get more topspin on your forehand, you should focus on your contact point. There are two specific aspects that you will need to work on for making perfect contact on your topspin forehand. First, make sure to keep your head at contact like Roger Federer. In fact, this is one of his secret tips to hit consistently amazing topspin forehands. If you look up or lean too far forward, you won’t be able to brush up the back of the ball as much. This is because your body won’t be in a great position to create much topspin.
Second, focus on hitting the bottom outside corner of the ball. For a righty this is the bottom right corner, and for a lefty the bottom left corner. This will ensure that you are making contact with the bottom part of the ball first and then brushing upwards. You also want to hit the outside corner of the ball so that you can easily hit the ball crosscourt and to create angles with your new and improved topspin forehand.
The last step to master your topspin forehand is the finish. In fact, this is a technical area which most tennis players and coaches rarely think about. Many players think that what you do after you’ve made contact with the ball couldn’t possibly impact your topspin forehand. But surprisingly, that’s not the case.
When you are aiming at hitting a forehand with topspin, make sure that you are finishing up above your shoulder with a relaxed hand and arm. If you are gripping your racquet too tightly, you will never be able to create a lot of topspin on your forehand. Likewise, try to point your strings more towards the sky at the finish.
Lastly, I’ll give you a bonus tip called the hand turn finish, which will enable you to create more topspin on your forehand. This is an advanced tennis technique and it is commonly used by Rafael Nadal on his topspin forehand.
Many players and coaches talk so much about acceleration, racquet head acceleration, you know, getting through the ball. These are all great concepts, but people are skipping a step in my opinion. You have to learn ball control first, which means you may have to swing slower to get the field before you can speed up your swings.
The idea is whether you swing low to high or more around your body like, you have to swing at a more constant or smooth. You will think about slowing down after making contact as it will take more time to end the swing. This is where the ball control comes into play. Additionally, I would like you to catch the racket early, and then bring it back slow. This will allow you to hit the ball correctly, and create the right amount of natural topspin on your tennis forehand.
If you focus on developing more ball control and feel, your topspin forehand is going to get a whole lot better. You don’t have to always accelerate the racquet or concentrate on racquet head speed. In fact, it can actually hurt your topspin forehand if you don’t have the ball control first. I guarantee you that your forehand is going to be better under pressure, as you will have more feel and topspin.
Now, let’s get into the second part of this tennis topspin forehand tutorial. Once you have the proper grip, first move, swing path, contact point, and finish, you can start practicing these two amazing drills.
This is an awesome hitting drill that’s going to allow you to create more topspin and consistency on your tennis forehand. To perform it, you will use the buggy whip finish, get under and outside the ball. You’ll have your arm slightly bent and over your head into a hook position, which gives you more relaxation. If your arm is straight, you will carry on more tension on your topspin forehand.
You can practice this drill by rallying crosscourt forehands with your tennis partner or coach. Every single finish on your forehand will be a buggy whip hook by getting outside the ball and creating plenty of topspin. Besides, you will be surprised to see the amazing angles that you can create while working on this powerful tennis drill. Moreover, you will be able to easily clear the net under pressure and play more high percentage tennis.
Topspin Forehand Consistency Drill
The second drill focuses on creating more shape on the ball with your topspin forehand and boost its consistency. As a coach, I’m a big believer in visualization off the court and on the court. You have to be able to see how you want the ball to go over the net when you’re hitting the ball. This drill will teach you how to visualize on your topspin forehand properly.
I like talking about two concepts when it comes to visualising your groundstrokes. The first is “ lasers low” over the net where the ball goes straight and pretty flat with a tight spin. The second one is “rainbows” where the ball is literally arching over the net. Thus, you have to be able to shape the shot or see yourself shaping the shot. What happens when you visualize like this is it allows you to improve your technique.
So in this drill, what you will work on is marking the ball or shaping the ball over the net. Thus, every forehand has to be 4567 feet over the net with arc. I want you to picture hitting that arc or that rainbow over the net. You’ll go down the middle first, every forehand. Likewise, you can either finish low, over the shoulder, or use the buggy whip. Then, you can go crosscourt and focus on the same forehand technical areas already discussed.
To sum up this drill, step on the court and have a goal of how you want the ball to go over the net. Don’t just think about technique all the time, focus on shaping the shot and getting the ball high over the net with loads of topspin.
I think it is very important to develop your tennis topspin forehand fundamentals by focusing on these drills and tips. Focus on each technical area at a time while focusing on the right technique.
I believe in the power of modelling to efficiently accelerate your tennis progress. Thus, I highly encourage my players to record a video of themselves when practicing a specific groundstroke.
Then, you can sit down and analyse it in comparison with my videos shared and tips discussed. This will raise your own self-awareness on the areas you should invest most of the time, which is a key skill in tennis and life.
I hope you enjoyed today’s tennis article on how to get more topspin on your tennis forehand. If you consistently implement them on and off the court, you will start to crush your topspin forehand effortlessly, have more fun on the court, and win more tennis matches.
By Jeff Salzenstein, Founder Tennis Evolution
Jeff is a former top 100 ATP player and USTA high performance coach committed to helping players and coaches all over the world improve.
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