Almost all sports involving a ball use spin to control the ball. Baseball has the curve and slider, golf the slice and draw, soccer the “bend it like Beckham” shot to the goal or pass. Even Pickleball now has the slice for dinks or topspin/side spin for a number of shots. 

Tennis is no exception and actually uses more spins than a lot of the other sports to control the ball, especially when serving. Here are the basic spins and their uses: Randy Berg demonstrates a slice backhand stroke on the Incline Village Tennis courts

  • Topspin - the most common spin for tennis and taught to all kids learning tennis for the first time. It is the most important of all the spins since it enables the player to hit the ball hard and keep the ball in the court. Every intermediate and advanced player uses topspin for their groundstrokes, forehand and backhands. The player brushes up and out on the ball which causes the ball to rotate and drop into the court. Advanced players and pros swing as hard as they want knowing the ball will drop into the court due to the spin.
  • Slice - also called underspin, is used for a variety of strokes. Many players have a slice backhand which means they hit the ball with the bottom or leading edge of the racket to cause back spin. Volleys, lobs, drop shots and other special shots use slice to control the ball better for accuracy.
  • Serve / Spins - serves for advanced players use various types of spins, mostly for the second serve. Slice serves cause the ball to really curve just like a baseball, whereas kick serves clear the net and drop in the box then bounce high in the air. Both of these serves have lots of spin that causes the ball to move and make them hard to return.

Other ways to create spin are through your equipment and strings. Some rackets are designed to create more spin than other rackets and have wider spaces between the strings. This causes more grip or grab on the ball when struck. 

Strings also play a huge role, mostly for the intermediate and advanced players. A multifilament string stretches more and doesn’t grab the ball whereas poly strings are thick and rigid and really don’t stretch at all, grabbing the ball better for spin.

For more details on all the above, visit the Incline Village Tennis & Pickleball Center and speak to our USPTA-certified Professional Tennis Instructors for instruction on not only how to hit spin, but what would be the best racket and string for your type of game.

This tip was provided by Randy Berg, the Head Tennis Pro at the Incline Village Tennis & Pickleball Center. Visit the Pro Shop & Tips page for more tip videos and articles. (Summer 2021)