Bjorn Borg revolutionized tennis forever when he unleashed his massive topspin forehand on the world in 1972. He was completely unconventional in his technique, with a two-handed backhand and an unheard of (back then) western grip on his forehand. Even crazier was the way he used that grip to hit his forehand. Here is Borg on how he did it (taken from Bjorn Borg: My Life and Game, 1980):
So the topspin revolution was launched over 40 years ago in 1972. And even though Roger Federer and Raphael Nadal have taken Borg’s forehand to extremes that would have shocked even him, the teaching world largely ignores the fact, or is unaware of the fact, that topspin is the bedrock principle of modern tennis.
So imagine my delight when Phillip Hofmeyr contacted me many months ago. Phillip intuitively understood that topspin needed to be taught first – as the core principle around which everything else would develop.
But it’s not easy to “teach topspin”, right? It’s one thing to say to someone “brush low to high”, but it’s another to actually give your students a way to feel the movement. Especially when they are skeptical, thinking “how can brushing up the ball possibly make it go forward?” So, lucky for us, he invented a teaching device to do just that!
How cool is this?! The ball spins around a pin when you brush up the ball, but it also moves forward on a spring like mechanism so it teaches you to move forward as you quickly brush up the back of the ball. The screen is there as a visual aid to show how your racket face needs to stay on the same plane as it brushes upward.
Phillip originally contacted me because of some graphics I had created showing how the face of the racket goes right up the back of the ball, with the strings facing forward, through contact and well after contact. It was visual proof that his device teaches you to do what professional players are doing!
Phillip just launched a Kickstarter campaign to start shipping his Topspin Pro. Check out his kickstarter page, support Phillip’s incredible work and inventiveness, and get
one of these awesome devices for yourself. I have one coming in the mail right now and can’t wait for both of my kids (3 and 5) to use this device to teach them, from the get go, how topspin works. And it will be my go to device to teach anyone how modern tennis works.
I hope the Topspin Pro takes off and becomes a ubiquitous teaching aid – from kids starting out in tennis to adults who never were taught topspin as the key ingredient to mastering the modern game.