3 strategies to improve your pickleball topspin: How, why, & when to hit a topspin

Learn how to create topspin on the pickleball ball and how it can transform your dinks and drops.

Barrett & Danea Bass

how to play pickleball


May 30, 2024



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Many pickleball players work on getting to their next level, but don’t know where to start. It's becoming more and more important in pickleball to learn how to manipulate the ball with spin. Learn how to create topspin on the pickleball ball and how it can transform your dinks and drops.

Putting topspin on your forehand crosscourt dink

The most common shot that you're going to see people putting topspin on at the kitchen line is the forehand crosscourt dink. This shot will allow you to put a lot of topspin on the pickleball ball and make it an aggressive shot.

3 things to keep in mind when putting topspin on a ball

There are three things that you want to keep in mind when effectively putting topspin on a ball:

#1: The apex of the pickleball

An “apex” in pickleball is letting the ball get to the highest point of its bounce, or even letting it fall and decelerate some before making contact with the ball. This is especially important in topspin because if you try to hit topspin off of a short hop — meaning the ball bounces and you're trying to hit it — now physics is working against you because the ball is moving upwards and you're trying to manipulate the ball in the opposite direction.

It's important to let the ball bounce to its highest point to create topspin. If you have to take the ball off the short hop, you will not want to apply topspin. Make sure, when you're dinking, to give yourself enough time to let the ball bounce to its highest point.

#2: Create spacing between you and the ball

The next thing that will help you hit your pickleball with topspin is to create space between you and the ball. You can create space by taking a step back in the court to see the bottom of the ball and so the ball does not to get too close to your body.

There will be times when it's better to take that ball out of the air, or even take it off the short hop, but that's not a dink that you would put topspin on.

You will want to create space and be in control and balanced to get an aggressive topspin on this dink.

#3: Brushing the pickleball ball

Another thing that can be important when creating topspin is learning how to “brush the ball.”

To brush the ball, pretend there is an equator across the ball: you will want to see the bottom half, or the Southern Hemisphere. You will contact with the bottom half of the ball and “brush it,” or create a brushing motion. A great way to practice that is to go up to the net put your paddle flat on the net and brush.

When you're brushing the back of the net, you don't want to brush straight up like you're going to hit yourself in the head. You will want to brush out and finish across over the net, which will create topspin.

When you finally do this with the ball, you will see the bottom half of the ball — creating space and letting the ball apex, and then you will brush. That motion is what will allow you to put topspin on the ball.

Pickleball drill: Fundamentals for your topspin drop & dinks

The fundamentals to hitting the topspin forehand dink use the same fundamentals and technique for hitting a topspin drop. Here is a drill that will help you with your dinks and drops. It's called the Slinky Drill.

Here are the steps to the Slinky Drill:

  • Set yourself up across the net from your partner, with both of you on the kitchen line.

  • Your partner will feed you balls.

  • You will start at the kitchen line and successfully hit three balls.

  • You will then take a step back until you successfully hit three more balls.

  • You will continue taking a step back and hitting three balls until you are at the backcourt.

  • Once you hit three balls at the backcourt, you will begin working your way back up, hitting three balls until you get back to the kitchen line.

  • With the three balls, you will be working on hitting:

    • The apex of the ball.

    • Giving yourself space.

    • Brushing the ball.

  • Your follow-through must be forward, not just up.

The Slinky Drill will help you practice topspin fundamental techniques, and help you improve hitting your dinks and drops with topspin.