Backspin, also known as underspin, in tennis is a type of spin where the ball rotates backwards (in the opposite direction to the direction of flight) as it travels through the air. Backspin is created when a player strikes the ball in such a way that the top of the ball is hit with a downward force. This type of spin causes the ball to bounce lower and slower than it would without spin or with topspin.

Backspin is commonly used in defensive shots such as the slice, where a player swings the racquet from high to low with a slightly open racquet face. This action generates backspin and causes the ball to float more slowly over the net, giving the player more time to return to a favorable court position.

Another shot where backspin is commonly used is the drop shot. In a drop shot, the player aims to barely get the ball over the net with enough backspin so that it barely bounces on the other side. This can be an effective tactic to move an opponent up to the net, especially if they are positioned far back in the court.

Backspin can make it difficult for an opponent to generate power on their return. This is because the backspin causes the ball to bounce away from the opponent, forcing them to hit up on the ball. However, using backspin effectively requires good control and timing. It’s a skill typically developed with practice and experience.

When Should A Tennis Player Use Backspin?

Backspin, often used in shots like the slice or drop shot, can be an effective tool in a tennis player’s arsenal. Here are a few situations when a player might choose to use backspin:

  1. On the Defensive: When a player is pushed wide or deep into the court and needs to buy some time to recover their position, using backspin can slow the ball down and keep it low, making it more challenging for the opponent to hit an aggressive shot in response.
  2. To Vary Pace and Spin: Variety is key in tennis to keep an opponent off balance. If a player has been consistently hitting topspin, throwing in a shot with backspin can disrupt the rhythm of the opponent and force them to adjust their timing and shot selection.
  3. Drop Shots: If an opponent is standing far back in the court, a well-executed drop shot with backspin can be a smart tactical choice. The backspin ensures that the ball bounces as little as possible after it lands, making it hard for the opponent to reach.
  4. Approach Shots: Backspin can be used on approach shots, particularly on faster surfaces where the ball stays low after the bounce. This can make it difficult for the opponent to hit an effective passing shot.
  5. Return of Serve: Some players use a slice (backspin) return of serve, especially on faster serves. The backspin can help control the pace of the incoming serve and ensure a more consistent return.
  6. Against Power Hitters: Against players who hit the ball hard and prefer a high bouncing ball (like many topspin hitters), backspin can be used to keep the ball low and prevent them from striking at a comfortable height.

Remember, while backspin shots can be effective in these situations, they also require good control and finesse to execute correctly. It’s important to practice these shots and understand how they fit into your overall game strategy.

What Are the Best Tips for Novice Tennis Players Looking to Learn How to Hit Backspin Shots?

Learning to hit backspin shots in tennis is a great skill that can add variety and strategy to a player’s game. Here are some tips for novice tennis players looking to learn how to hit backspin shots:

  1. Understand the Mechanics: Backspin is created when the racquet contacts the ball from high to low with a slightly open racquet face. The idea is to ‘brush’ underneath the ball, causing it to spin backwards as it moves forward.
  2. Adjust Your Grip: For many backspin shots, such as a slice backhand, you will need to use a continental grip. This grip allows the necessary open racquet face at contact point to create backspin.
  3. Swing Path: Your swing path should go from high to low, brushing under the ball. The degree of the downward motion will impact the amount of backspin and the trajectory of the ball.
  4. Keep Your Eye on the Ball: Make sure to watch the ball all the way onto your racquet strings. This will help you hit the ball cleanly and generate the desired spin.
  5. Control Your Follow-through: Even though you’re hitting a slice, you should still have a controlled follow-through. Your racquet should extend towards your target after the downward brushing action.
  6. Positioning: Try to hit the ball at waist height where possible. Hitting a slice from above shoulder height can be challenging, particularly for beginners.
  7. Practice: Start by practicing the stroke slowly, then gradually increase your swing speed as your confidence grows. Consistent practice is the key to mastering backspin.
  8. Get Professional Guidance: Consider getting coaching or lessons if you’re serious about improving. A coach can provide personalized advice and correct any technical issues early on.

Remember, learning to use backspin effectively will take time and practice. Don’t be discouraged if you struggle at first; keep practicing, and over time, you’ll see improvement.