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Pickleball Topspin: Everything You Need to Know

Pickleball topspin graphic with seven pickleballs spinning in space

Last updated on February 23rd, 2024 at 09:42 am

The Importance of Topspin in Pickleball

Are you a beginner or intermediate pickleball player struggling to advance to the next level? Have you mastered the art of topspin? If not, adding topspin to your pickleball game will unlock a world of opportunity.  Beyond the flashy play, topspin adds a dimension of control, power, and versatility to your shots, elevating your gameplay to new heights.

Do you wish you could hit shots like Ben Johns or Anna Leigh Waters that gracefully arc over the net and dip sharply as they land in their opponent’s kitchen? Well, with some study, practice, and training aids, you can! The magic of topspin is that it’s not merely about spinning the ball. It harnesses the potential to dictate your shots’ pace, angle, and trajectory, giving you the upper hand in rallying, dinking, and fast-hand battles. 

In this guide, we’ll delve into the intricacies of topspin – from understanding its mechanics to practical tips and drills. Whether aiming to finesse your third-shot drop, perfect your backhand roll-volley, or add variety to your serves, grasping the art of topspin can be the key to unlocking your true potential on the pickleball court.

Table of Contents

What is Pickleball Topspin?

In pickleball, topspin involves spinning the ball forward by giving it a rotational motion. When players use topspin, they make the top of the ball move forward, which makes the ball dip faster as it nears the court’s surface. When hit correctly, this spin creates a curved path for the ball, causing it to dive shortly after passing over the net.

Advantages of Utilizing Topspin in Pickleball

  • Better control: Topspin allows for greater control over the ball’s trajectory, enabling players to place shots more precisely on the court. Adding topspin to your third-shot drops will allow you to aim higher above the net and still land the ball in the kitchen – an absolute game-changer! 
  • Hit harder shots: You can still take a full swing with topspin, and your shots will stay in. Topspin is great for serves when you want to drop it just inside the baseline or when you’re dinking and need to keep the ball in the kitchen. Topspin enables you to generate power without sacrificing control, making your shots both forceful and precise.
  • Put pressure on opponents: The increased rotation from the pickleball’s topspin makes it challenging for opponents to predict the ball’s bounce and speed. 
  • Shot versatility: Topspin can be applied to various shots, including drives, serves, and dinks. You become a very unpredictable and tough pickleball player when you mix topspin with backspin, sidespin, and flat shots. 

What is the Best Grip to use for Topspin?

To hit a forehand topspin shot, it’s best to have the palm of your hand slightly behind the face of the paddle. As you can see in the image, my thumb and forefinger make a “V,” pointing to the pickleball paddle’s top right. This is called the Eastern or Semi-Western Forehand. 

Most players use the more neutral continental grip for shots like a dink, reset, and backhand. The continental grip is where you hold the paddle like a hammer. 

Image of Best Grip to Hit Pickleball Topspin Shot

How to Hit Topspin in Pickleball

As you swing, maintain a relaxed yet controlled wrist. Ensure the paddle head is angled correctly at the contact point with the ball to maximize topspin. Lower your paddle below the ball, aiming to contact it while moving upward with a brushing motion. The angle of the paddle face at the moment of impact is critical for generating effective topspin. Engage your shoulders by turning them to create both power and spin.

Remember, you don’t necessarily need a forceful swing to generate spin, especially when practicing this technique. Initially, try exaggerating the brushing motion to make it feel almost like a windshield wiper. After making contact, follow through by allowing your paddle to complete its motion on the opposite side of your body.

This sequence helps refine your topspin shot. This may take weeks or months to perfect, so consistent practice is crucial.  It breakdown topspin step by step process is crucial for developing a consistent topspin technique.

Which Pickleball Shots Should Have Topspin?

It’s important to be unpredictable in pickleball. An easy way to accomplish this is by putting different types of spin on your shots. Mastering topspin for multiple shots in your arsenal will make you a more versatile and unpredictable player. Here is a list of pickleball shots that should have topspin a certain percentage of the time.

Serve: Stand behind the baseline, arm straight out in front by your forward foot, and keep your eye on the ball when you drop it. I like to swing the paddle up close to my right hip (as I rotate my hips) and then brush upwards on the ball to create topspin. I use topspin about 95% and back or sidespin 5% to mix things up. 

Return of serve: The key to return of serve is to return the ball deep, close to your opponent’s baseline. Backspin or sidespin works best as it forces your opponents to hit into the net often. I will mix in topspin mostly to return serves lower than my waist – roughly 10% of the time. 

Drive: A hard drive is a good option when you’re back by the baseline or mid-court (no man’s land). Adding topspin will allow you to swing hard and drop the ball in the kitchen. When executed correctly, this is a hard shot for your opponents to defend. 

Dink: As your pickleball skills advance and you play with better players, more points will be won while dinking. By putting topspin on your forehand dinks, you can hit harder shots and create unpredictable bounce for your opponents. You can also utilize the kitchen area closer to the net on your opponent’s side. 

Backhand roll (backhand flick): This advanced shot will take practice. It’s also critical to add topspin (and the reason it’s called “roll”). Check out this training video from PrimeTime Pickleball that shows how to execute the perfect backhand roll volley. 

ATP (Around the Post): The Cadillac of pickleball shots! This shot requires topspin as well as perfect timing. For both a forehand and backhand ATP, you’ll need a lot of spin to catch the back corner of your opponent’s court. 

How do you Return a Topspin Shot in Pickleball?

Now that you’ve mastered topspin, you understand its power and effectiveness. It’s a difficult shot for your opponents to defend. What do you do when you are the opponent and must defend a shot with topspin? 

Prepare. If you’re returning a serve with a lot of topspin, move a few steps behind the baseline. Giving yourself extra room will give you more time to react after the ball hits the court. I do the same thing in the kitchen as well. If a topspin shot comes straight at my feet, I’ll either hit a cut shot out of the air or step back to see how the ball will react. 

Respond. How you counter topspin depends on your ability, knowledge, and flexibility. The first step is to soften your grip. Generally, a soft pickleball grip is good practice most of the time. I prefer to respond to topspin with a cut shot at the kitchen line. Ensure your knees are bent, paddle in front of your body, and hit a cross-court cut shot. If you know the ball will take a high bounce (and you have time), take a step back and hit a hard speed-up off the bounce. 

Tyson McGuffin's Pickleball Topspin Drills

For a comprehensive learning experience, watch the full video tutorial.

The Best Topspin Dink Drills

Topspin Dink Drill for 4.0+ Players

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What is the Best Pickleball Paddle to Use for Topspin?

If you ask 100 people their opinion of the best pickleball paddle for topspin, you may get 100 different answers. I’ve seen some outstanding players hit incredible topspin with a $40 graphite face pickleball paddle. I’ve also seen 3.0 players unable to put topspin on a $300 Selkirk. With the proper mechanics and training, you should be able to hit some degree of topspin with any paddle. Aiming for a killer topspin requires a paddle with a textured hitting surface that grips the ball effectively.

Generally, the best pickleball paddle for topspin should have a carbon fiber face. The carbon fiber weave helps create natural grooves in the paddle that grip the ball and create more spin. After playing with over 20 different paddles, I’ve found the CRBN 1 best for topspin. 

Can You Practice Pickleball Topspin at Home?

Pickleball training aids are a great way to improve your game away from the court. Here is one of our favorites from TopspinPro:

The TopspinPro for Pickleball

Mastering the consistent application of topspin is simplified with the TopspinPro training aid, designed specifically for recreational and beginner to intermediate players across all age groups, including pickleball coaches. This tool accurately mimics the precise biomechanics required for topspin groundstrokes, emulating the techniques employed by today's professional players.

Enhance your topspin serve's reliability and elevate your topspin volley to professional levels using this trainer. Whether you're on the court or indoors due to unfavorable weather conditions, dedicating just 2 minutes daily can refine your technique and establish lasting muscle memory.

The TopspinPro is adaptable and versatile, featuring height adjustability to accommodate children aged 5 and up, as well as players measuring up to 7 feet tall.

Buy on Amazon Buy on TopspinPro Website
07/18/2024 04:58 pm GMT

Pickleball Topspin FAQs

What is the Best Pickleball Ball for Topspin?

The best pickleball balls for generating topspin should have a slightly rough surface. Pickleballs with more texture grip the paddle surface better, allowing players to create and control topspin more effectively. You’ll also want balls with 40 holes (vs. 20) since they’ll have better airflow. 

Outdoor pickleballs are the best pickleball balls for topspin. Some balls are better for warm weather, while others are better for cold weather. The best all-around ball for topspin is the Franklin X-40

Common Mistakes When Hitting Topspin

  • Avoid relying solely on your arms for power; instead, engage your entire body for smoother and more effortless strength. Initiate your swing by leading with your chest and hips, allowing your arms to naturally follow through.
  • Maintain fluidity in your stroke; stiffness hampers your performance. A relaxed, fluid motion yields better results, so aim to minimize tension.
  • Ensure your swing path moves from low to high, completing with a follow-through over your shoulder. Emphasize the follow-through—it’s crucial!
  • Be discerning about which balls to apply topspin. Attempting topspin on a ball at shoelace level is generally challenging. Opt for balls that allow waist-level contact for more effective topspin.

Can Topspin Help Me Add More Power to My Pickleball Game?

Yes, you can add more power to your pickleball game with topspin, enabling you to become more aggressive and accurate. 


Incorporating topspin into your pickleball is essential to becoming a better player. Utilizing a pickleball topspin cheat can simplify the learning curve, allowing for quicker mastery of this skill. If you take the time to learn and practice topspin, your enjoyment of the game will increase. In summary, here are the benefits you can expect to enjoy with topspin:

  • Serve assertively with height, depth, and speed.
  • Drop the ball closer to your opponent’s feet.
  • Generate wider angles along the sides of the court.
  • Opt for more forceful lobs, aiming higher and faster.
  • Employ topspin to lift volleys, allowing them to drop smoothly.
  • Execute powerful drives with a heavy, dipping topspin.
  • Play assertively during dink exchanges.
Good luck and happy dinking! 
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