One big, long page here for working to develop topspin on your forehand. Learning topspin is a critical skill for players looking to compete at a high level. Topspin is when the ball looks like it is rolling on the ground as it travels through the air, so the ball rolls from the back to the top to the front. What that does is makes the ball dive downwards as it travels, meaning that the ball doesn't have to wait for gravity to make it fall. That allows you to hit hard shots that don't always go long.
Notice the topspin shot was hit harder and aimed higher, yet it comes down sooner.
So, how do you do it? Topspin can be hit with any grip, but most players are learning to hit it with a semi-western grip. You can search YouTube for 1000 videos on that (and I'd recommend taking a quick look since they will be more detailed than my quick version). But here are the super-basics.
Continental from Above
Semi-Western from Above
For a right-hander, the semi-western is turned about 1/8 of a turn counter-clockwise, so you see the back side of the strings when you look down on it. But notice that my index/pointer finger is also a bit extended, so my whole hand is a little more relaxed. The easiest way to get this grip the first time is to put the racquet on the ground with the grip pointing at you, then just pick it up. You probably picked it up in a semi-western grip.
Now, for getting the spin, you are going to want to swing low to high, brushing your racquet up the back of the ball as you hit it. Your racquet face should still be straight up and down at contact so that you hit the back of the ball, not the under side of it. Check out this video.
So, what should you see the ball do after you hit it? I like learning topspin with these foam balls (contact Todd to get one) because you can really see the spin.
And here are a few more visual clues to work on brushing up the back of the ball.
Okay. Back to the reading. If the 60mph vs 50mph diagram didn't convince you, here are the tons of other reasons topspin is awesome:
You can hit harder and still have the shot go in (way less missing long)
You can aim higher over the net and still have the ball drop in (way less missing in the net)
The ball bounces at your opponent pushing them back
Because you aimed higher for #2, the ball bounces higher to your opponent which is tougher
If a player is at the net, the topspin helps drop the ball down at their knees which is a much tougher volley
When the wind is behind you, you can still hit hard and keep it in play.
When you play in Bend or anywhere else high altitude, topspin will offset the lack of air resistance.
Because the ball drops faster, you can hit sharper angles and have it go in.
You can really attack your opponents weak shots without fear of hitting long.
Do you really need any more? Fine. You look much cooler.