fbpx

Topspin Forehand V.S. Flat Forehand [Comparison]3 min read

Apr 28, 2018 | Blog, Technique | 0 comments

So, what’s the difference between the topspin and drive forehand?

And when should you use them?

That, my friends, is the million-dollar-question we will be answering today.

In this video, I’ll compare the grips, stroke paths, and the contact point of the modern topspin and flat forehand.

Let’s go.

Advantages & When to Use

Topspin

In modern tennis, the vast majority of players on the ATP & WTA hit with varying degrees of topspin.

You could use it in neutral positions where consistency and accuracy are important.

People with heavy topspin usually hit with more effort because they can while maintaining consistency.

They don’t need to be conservative with their racket head acceleration since it would not increase the chance of the ball going long.

Topspin can be useful when you’re hitting with less pace because there is greater height and spin.

Flat

For Federer, the flat forehand is a major building block for his game. It fits well into his style of play as he is constantly looking to come to the net.

You could use the flat shot effectively in offensive situations.

When you’re hitting aggressive shots. Maybe a winner or finishing a floating high ball.

More pace. But equals more risk.

Grip

The grip plays a notable role in the amount of topspin that’s produced in the forehand stroke.

But how?

It changes the racket orientation at the contact point.

Nadal, with a straight arm contact point and semi-western grip achieve a greater average rotation per minute than Federer at 3,200 – 5,000 RPM.

In a forehand using a more extreme western grip = More topspin than Eastern because racket angle is more closed on contact.

Swing Path

There is a congruent tradeoff between a ball’s topspin (RPM) and speed (MPH).

So, if 2 players hit with identical force on the ball, the player with more topspin will have less power

 

According to a done by Elliot et al., the total racket speed is similar for flat and topspin strokes.

However, the respective horizontal (towards the court) and vertical (along the baseline) velocities were vastly different.

 

Horizontal (m/s-1) Vertical (m/s-1) Total (m/s-1)
Flat 17 8 25
Topspin 14 12 26

 

But, this doesn’t mean you should abandon topspin for power.

Players with high topspin forehands maintain consistency when hitting hard, and they are able to consistently generate more force.

This is because players are allowed to generate more force because they can maintain consistency.

Players with flatter forehands tend to be more conservative with their force.

If you make contact from a higher position like Del Potro, consistency wouldn’t be a problem, and you can blast 80 mph forehands consistently.

Contact Point

In the vertical/sagittal plane, the trajectory angle has been measured from 17° to 47° from the horizontal.

Smaller angles tend to produce less spin while larger angles sacrifice ball speed and the depth of the shot.

The optimum angle of the racket in the vertical plane = 28°.

This angle provides good spin production without losing too much speed.

Regardless of the grip, stroke arc, swing, and footwork the of a topspin forehand stroke requires a nearly vertical or a slightly closed face (7°) racket at impact.

Conclusion