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How to Handle The Spin Meister

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The spin meister uses an unpredictable mix of topspin, backspin, and sidespin to keep opponents off balance. Spin has all kinds of uses. The three that most directly disrupt the opponent are these:

  1. Varied spins have a powerful effect on how much the ball slows down when it hits the court, making it much harder for you to time your strokes. If you're a power hitter, especially, a timing error of even a fraction of a second can send your shot into the net, long, or wide.
  2. Heavy topspin can make the ball jump well above the height at which you like to strike the ball. Slice can make the ball skid uncomfortably low. By forcing you to meet the ball at awkward heights, the spin meister can keep you from dictating play with the shots you want to hit.
  3. Topspin makes the ball drop faster as it flies. Backspin makes the ball float. Sidespin makes it curve right or left. A skillful spin meister can use these effects to complicate your perception of where the ball will land on the court. Many players find themselves surprised by a topspin that lands in when it looked like it would surely go long or a backspin that lands four feet deeper than expected.
One way to handle the spin meister is to beat her at her own game. It takes precise timing to execute a heavy spin, and sending her an unpredictable mixture of spins can throw her timing off enough to draw errors. She'll also have trouble executing her favorite spins if you send her balls too high or two low. Topspin is especially hard to execute at a very low point of contact, and players who try often dump the ball into the net, so send her low, skidding slices. Kicking the ball high to her backhand should also work: few players can generate much topspin on high backhands.

If you're not all that proficient at generating spin, you might disrupt a spin meister simply by hitting hard and thus depriving her of the time it takes to execute those relatively long, brushing strokes.

To regain a comfortable height of contact against a spin meister's heavy topspin, try taking her ball on the rise. This requires good timing on your part, but the benefits can be worth the difficutly: while you're meeting the ball lower, you're also meeting it earlier, which gives your opponent less time to react to your shot.

All opponents should be tested for their skill at hitting passing shots, and spin meisters vary greatly in their proficiency. Some will be able to use topspin to hit brilliant crosscourt angles, perfect lobs, and clean down-the-line passes, but because many are used to almost always playing baseliners, whom they can drive crazy just using spin, they haven't cultivated aim, and they'll hit a net player a ton of easy put-aways.

The flipside of attacking the net is, of course, to force your opponent to the net. You'll find that a lot of spin meisters are poor volleyers, so you'll want to send them low, short balls that bring them in far enough that you can pass them with relative ease.

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