Runnin’ Up That Hill
We’ve covered this in the other groundstrokes, but I’ll reiterate for those who’ve come straight to the two-handed backhand section.
Unless you are hitting down on the ball for slice, pretty much every groundie is hit…
- 1: with a racket face that’s edge-on / at right-angles to the ground and…
- 2: with a swing traveling low to high, which will put some degree of upwardly-mobile cloth-rip (topspin) on the ball.
In effect, topspin forces the ball back down to earth: – the greater the amount of topspin, the greater the downward force on the ball, enabling players to hit higher over the net, in the knowledge that the spin will bring it back down to earth within the court.
And how do we get topspin?
By peeling the strings up the back of the ball, like Andre does above and below.
In the top animation he’s turned to approach the travel line of the ball, looped up some head speed and gets the racket head way down below the hands and ball.
The degree of topspin you put on the ball rises in proportion to the degree of low-to-high upness of your right-angles racket face and Agassi’s head work in the second click-thru suggests a flatter stroke than the previous effort – its still topspin, though not as steep.
- Throughness = more power.
- Throughness + Upness = topspun power.
- Extreme Upness = extreme topspin, a topspin lob, or a chintzy flick if you don’t bite sufficiently into the ball with strings
- The more steeply you hit up low-to-high…
- The more the ball will dip back down to earth high-to-low
Rafa also gives a great demo of topspin hill, as she hits from low to high with a racket face edge-on to the ground, with a free-running animation of the full Nadal’s backhand in the final frame 5.
Jim Courier, too, uses the extra hand to power up topspin hill from beneath the racket handle in this aggressive open delivery.