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Hello Tennis Parents!
We have the grip and the ready position covered earlier.
FH unit turn which will lead to FH preparation is next. Children while growing up hit a lot of FHs during their tennis sessions. The moment ball comes to them on their FH side they prepare themselves and hit that shot, as this is often their favourite shot. They also feel confident that the ball has moved to their FH side. A growing child gets more comfortable towards his FH than BH. Well, mostly.
However, how do they perform their FH unit turn is something which can take time to develop. Do talk to them about FH unit turn and check what they feel about the same and why do they think it is crucial. Do they understand it? Let them then show you an FH shadow in your living room in slow motion. Notice if they are using their arms only to do their FH unit turn or do they use the upper body & shoulders to create it. When you get a chance again, do watch them play and see how they prepare their FH’s unit turn.
Now, please see pic A – it is a unit turn. See Pic B that is FH preparation. A thin line of difference. From A they need to go to B.
If your child is preparing for a FH in shadow practice as similar to what is shown in Pic A—>B above – this is what is essentially recommended. However other version exists and also seen at the pro level, but while training a child (ages 10-16 or even till 18), experts say that it is an excellent idea to build the basics right. Furthermore, there is a concept of the lead, and a part of the FH that needs to creates this lead. Lead can give crucial punch rather effortlessly to the FH.
Fundamentally, a lead is nothing but a responsibility that needs to be fulfilled to get FH to the unit turn phase. The non-racket holding arm-shoulder combination is the one which creates the lead for the FH unit turn to happen. Many times children don’t do this, and they use the racket arm to take the lead and get into the unit turn position. This can easily be missed. For right-handed players, it will be their left arm-shoulder which needs to take the lead.
Once this lead is established correctly by the non-racket arm-shoulder combination, some kids take their racket (backswing) way too high as shown in the red dots in figure B. The trick here is to keep the backswing compact enough to give your child ample drop to generate the swing needed for their FH. How would you, however, know how much of compact backswing is good enough?
Quick check – see the green dots in the figure above. Backswing stops at these dots and height. Did you notice – shoulder and the racket arm holding point (two green dots) are on the same line? That is one way to make sure that the FH backswing is neither too low or too high (red dots).
While all this is happening the racket head can be as straight as possible, and child’s head needs to be looking towards the ball, forward. With the correct FH backswing height, a final FH swing with the proper ball hitting timing is a possibility. The importance of the height of the FH racket’s backswing at times is directly relational to the FH shot timing it produces.
If your child’s FH ready position, unit turn and preparation basics are very different than what has been explained above, you have a good reason to talk to your team to understand that logic behind the same.