The winner of Sportsmart and Wilson’s tennis sponsorship program, Scott Lyons, provides regular blog articles on his favourite topic – tennis …

1) How tight should you hold your racquet?

There is a common misconception that the harder you hold your racquet, the more power you will receive. However, this is not true! When you are tensing your arm you reduce flexibility in it and your swing becomes rigid as a result. When swinging you want to swing through as fast as possible, but more importantly, you want to be accelerating through the ball. This means you must follow through over your shoulder. If you try holding your racquet really tight, you will notice your arm comes to a halt very shortly after striking the ball, meaning you are decelerating your swing as you hit the ball. Instead, hold your racquet relatively loose so that you allow yourself to accelerate through the ball and continue the swing over your shoulder.

On the other hand, make sure you are still holding your racquet tight enough so that the racquet doesn’t twist in your hand as you hit the ball. Hold it tight enough so that it will come loose if another person tugged at it two or three times. Another way to think about it is to consider that you are holding a bird with two hands- you don’t hold it so tight that you hurt the bird, but you hold it tight enough so it stays firmly in your hands.

2) How do you hit with topspin?

The key aspect to focus on when hitting topspin is to hit from low to high. But so how do you swing your racquet from low to high, without the ball sailing to the moon and back? When hitting the ball you do not hit the ball with an “open face” of the racquet, instead you alter your grip so that the racquet head is tilted forward (towards the ground). This allows you to “brush” over the ball, while still hitting up.

If you are still confused, imagine someone is holding up a rollerblade sideways with the wheels facing you. How would you swing the racquet so the wheels spin forwards? Of course if you hit with a horizontal swing you will not spin the wheels at all, and probably only hurt the other person! However, if you swing more vertically, and “brush” the wheels, you will make the wheels spin forwards (or top spin in tennis). Top spin is a hard thing to master and can take years of practice. But don’t be put off. Just start with slight adjustments of your grip and swinging motion, and work your way from there!

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