Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 51 seconds

We are on FH series for some time now and those of you who have missed some of our earlier work on FH, when you have time, please do read the articles. They are all here with a total combined estimated reading time of 17 mins or so.

Moving on.

Today’s post is however on flat vs topspin FH in a growing child (U10->U18). As parents, we have witnessed our child hitting zillions of FHs. Do you think your child hits the FH with some topspin on it or is it mostly flat? What is your answer? Here are some possible scenarios –

1) Hits mostly with topspin
2) Hits flat almost all the times
3) Combines both based on the situation

Point 3 above is ideal. Shows the maturity in a developed FH shot but not something that can be taught early as it takes time to get there.

Point 1 above is not bad either as top spin has many proven +ves.

That leaves us with point 2 above. Hitting mostly with flat FHs. This needs some work. Children hitting flat FH at times get early success. That makes it even more puzzling.

Back to the point.

What type of FH ball leaves your child’s racket? If the ball has the spin on it, it is an excellent early and straightforward sign of topspin on it. If the ball leaves the racket and is not spinning, it could be because your child hits flat FHs.

How does the ball get the spin on it? If the FH has the brush in it. What is a brush? We have tried to show it in the figure below. Have a look below at pic1


pic 1

The red dot in the middle which is point 2 is where the racket brush mostly happens. This racket brush will produce the desired topspin. We have tried to depict it below and broken point 2 further  as shown in pic 2

pic 2

Now coming to the essence of the matter, why topspin is important to develop in your child’s strokes. Below are top five points keeping a child’s developing FH in mind –

1) Margin of error – is less when your child hits with topspin (U10->U12->U14)
2) Depth – is more effective when the ball has topspin on it (U10->U12->U14)
3) Low balls – are easier to handle with topspin shots (U10->U12->U14)
4) Variation – more variation can be produced (U12->U14->U16)
5) Judgement – topspin shots with variation are not easy to judge for the opponent (U12->U14->U16)

Top five reasons why only flat FH shots are not desirable –
1) If your opponent plays with topspin your child will have a tough time in handling those balls (U14->U16->U18)
2) Not much variation – hence opponents can predict your child’s limited variation capability (U14->U16->U18)
3) The margin of error – high against someone who plays with good topspin. For example, certain type of FH flat shots tend to go to net (U-12->U14->U16)
4) Hitting on the run cross court or at times normal cross courts do not work effectively (in terms of depth and placement)
5) No plan B – when a child with flat FHs are in trouble (FH not working) it normally gets worse for them from there onwards, topspin not being in their armoury and hence less variety delivered when needed the most

Last but not the least, flat FHs
1) Can be a lethal when used sparingly under certain special circumstances, like at times to surprise the opponent
2) To finish a key ball that your child might have earned using a topspin battle

As kids grow there won’t be outright winners like in U10->U12 category but well-constructed points and shots with good intention will get an upper hand. The magic of only flat FH winners or gameplay slowly but surely fades away. Well, in most of the cases.

It is a very good idea to check –
1) The spin quality in FH shots in your growing child
2) The FH technique developed so far and if it is effective for producing desired spin
3) To make sure that your team works in developing spin on FH side

If your child for some reasons hits most of their FH shots flat, it is time for you talk to your team and understand what they have to say about the same.

Note: At TuPA we have a team of experts and an ex-head coach Nick Bollettieri academy with us. They are based out of FL, US. Read more about her here
We at TuPA can help you to evaluate your child’s FH and where it has reached so far in their tennis journey. Contact us to know more about our TuPA Check and TuPA Elite programs which can help your growing child’s tennis skills.