Pickleballs are holey. Full of holes. Compared to tennis, this fact changes the impact of topspin, backspin, and sidespin on a pickleball’s flight path and bounce. Let’s share the primary ways you can use each of these 3 spins in pickleball to your advantage.
TOPSPIN – the forward rotation of topspin helps keep the pickleball in the court. How? See the graphic that shows high air pressure above the ball hit with topspin and lower air pressure under the ball. This is what brings the ball downward faster than a ball without topspin. In addition, after the bounce, topspin travels further and faster before it will bounce again compared to flat or other spins. Hit topspin on angled shots and your opponents will have more trouble retrieving them!
BACKSPIN – the backward rotation of backspin (also known as underspin or slice) is used for efficiency and control. First, every pickleball has a little topspin after it bounces. So, hitting with backspin means you will not have to change the direction of the ball’s rotation. This requires less swing speed (power or force), making it easier to control your shots.
SIDESPIN – hitting a pickleball with sidespin may take some trial and error, but it has arguably the most impact on the ball’s flight and bounce. Many players also find it easier to create more ball rotation with sidespin as compared to topspin or backspin. One of the reasons is that when the ball rotates sideways, the high pressure and low pressure relationship increases the balls rotation as compared to topspin where it makes the ball drop into the court. Sidespin does require a faster swing speed than backspin but the impact on the ball’s flight and bounce can be very effective.
Three spins and three different considerations. Experiment with each of them. Have fun. You will see how each spin affects each one of your opponents by the look on their faces!
Joe Dinoffer is a Master Professional in both the USPTA and PTR, has been recognized with numerous national awards including the 2019 City of Dallas Humanitarian Award for contributions to inner city tennis, and has conducted clinics and exhibitions in over 50 countries. Joe is the author and editor of 9 books and more than 20 DVDs, has more than 300 published articles in various tennis and pickleball magazines, and has aired many instructional tips on the Tennis Channel. Plus, Joe’s YouTube channel has more than 2 million views and growing! His latest book “Words, Wisdom, and Whimsy” is the second volume of an illustrated series called “Poems from the Heart.” In 1994, Joe founded OnCourt OffCourt, Ltd., a company dedicated to serving the tennis, pickleball, fitness, yoga, and physical education industries with innovative training aids and educational tools. Today, he has designed and manufactured more than 150 creative products being distributed and used in 100 countries worldwide.