Applying Topspin

To Apply Spin, Use the Clock

By Rob Castorri, Executive Director of Ivan Lendl International Junior Tennis Academy


The right amount of spin allows one to make up for lack of precision. It can also help to hit incredible angles at high rates of acceleration. Topspin is ideal for “bending” your shot to land in play.  Without spin, you’d have to take a lot of speed off the shot in order for it to be in play.

At the Ivan Lendl International Junior Tennis Academy on Hilton Head Island, S.C., we ask our players when they hit a ball long or wide if they would choose to hit with more spin next time, instead of power. The answer is generally yes, as they know spin brings a ball in bounds.

Position 1

Imagine six and 12 o’clock positions on the tennis ball, as if it were the face of a clock. If one of your shots goes long (assuming it was solid and out front), on the next shot, think about quickly manipulating the top edge of your racquet over the 12 o’clock position as it is striking the ball (Position 1). Since the ball stays on the racquet less than a blink of the eye, this isn’t actually occurring. However, attempting to make the racquet’s top edge break the plane of the ball’s top edge, will produce more top spin. Ultimately, it causes the ball to drop sooner and, hopefully, on the other side of the net.

Position 2

The second scenario is if the ball falls short or into the net. Start your swing towards the ball with the top edge coming from “under the six” (Position 2), as it moves its way towards going over the 12. This will normally correct shots landing too short, by sending them higher.  If the next shot goes into the net again or short, start even lower under the six.

As you train, focus on the need to get under the six or over the 12 sooner with your racquet’s top edge. This will provide a simple, visual reference for your mind to grasp easily and apply immediately.

Rob Castorri Headshot

About Rob Castorri

A native of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Rob Castorri has been involved in tennis for over 30 years as a professional player, coach, club manager and event promoter. He’s won numerous championships since turning pro in 1978, and achieved a No.1 ranking in Florida’s Men’s Open Division.

As Executive Director, Castorri oversees program development, instruction and operations for Ivan Lendl IJTA. The Academy exemplifies Ivan Lendl’s desire to give back to tennis and develop future champions through a new-era curriculum and holistic training approach. He believes in personalized programing for each student.  Primary focuses include classic fundamentals, leading-edge biomechanics, strength training / fitness and mental preparation. The staff subscribes to a personal, hands-on approach with students instilling dedication, focus, hard work, motivation and overall preparation.

For more information: www.LendlTennis.com/info,