The real basics of tennis begin with ground strokes. The ball bounces, and you hit it over the net. Then the ball bounces on the opposing side. Sounds simple, but it can be far more complicated than that. It all starts with your ground strokes.
A topspin ground stroke is the go-to choice for most all tennis players at all levels. Topspin ground strokes are done with a low to high swing. You can vary the height and depth of your shots, depending on the amount of spin you create with each stroke. The speed of the modern game favors the topspin ground stroke. The spin also adds safety to your shots because the ball tends to dip back down and bounce in the court on the opposing side instead of sailing out.
Backspin, or slice strokes, are also frequently used. The swing is the opposite of the topspin: a slice is a high to low swing. You can also vary this spin with the amount of loft you put on your racket at impact. A problem with the slice at high speed play is the tendency for the ball to go up and too far out. It is much harder to control at accelerated speeds. A slice is a great way to diffuse power from the opposing side. You can cut off the power of a shot coming at you like a bullet by using backspin. A slice move allows a creative player to finesse “touch” on lobs and drop shots. A slice shot is also little easier on the shoulder overall.
A flat stoke is seldomly used these days. It requires perfect timing and a low trajectory over the net. At the speed of today’s game, it’s hard to hit consistently. A flat stroke is basically straight back and straight through the ball. Good luck on this one. You may want to leave the flat stroke to the old timers.
The bottom line is to get out on the courts and spend time developing your ground strokes. A variety of strokes provides the best arsenal on the court, but you may find that you’re a specialist in one or the other of these styles of play.
Do you consistently hit with a topspin? Are you a slicer and dicer? Are you able to put together a variety of ground strokes to take your game to the next level? Come see me on the courts and let’s see what type player you are.
And I almost forgot to mention one of the great benefits of knocking around ground strokes over and over: it is a great stress reliever! See you on the courts.
Tracy Townsend is a resort tennis expert and Director of Tennis at Seaside. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (850) 231-2214. For news, events and court conditions, find Seaside Tennis on Facebook .