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RoddickOwnzYou
09-14-2004, 02:47 PM
Hi All. I have developed my own serving motion, completely self taught, and while it does yield decent results at times, i know i'm doing many things wrong. I've been told i have a very "windmill" like motion. I take the racquet back and through in a very roundhouse type way, without ever really "scratching my back" with the racquet. My toss is one of my main problems. I consistenly toss it too low, and am also already starting my swing at the ball while it is still moving up into the air. The things i do well are few, but my grip is definitely solid, my wrist snap through the ball is good, and i finish in the right position most of the time (racquet low, wrist pronated and turned through the ball). I've been working on tossing into the court more and using my body to get better rotation and more power, but my toss is too low and my move to fast and windmill like to get any really good power. If theres any tips you guys can give me on the toss, and how to scratch your back with your racquet, with that 3-step serving motion, it would be MUCH appreciated.

Rickson
09-14-2004, 02:57 PM
I'll add more later, but if you don't bring the racquet down to your back, you won't get good acceleration on the serve.

Bungalo Bill
09-14-2004, 03:31 PM
I'll add more later, but if you don't bring the racquet down to your back, you won't get good acceleration on the serve.

Rickson,

You really need to take the time and study tennis. It might help if you took all of your tips and checked to see if they are simply myths that sound good or are reality.

I believe your intentions are good and your heart is here to help players learn tennis, but you either skip steps in the learning process or provide faulty information. I dont think you do it on purpose I just think you need to spend some time studying this game. You dont have to be a professional tennis player to be a good coach. If you like coaching I would encourage you to see how you can become one. But you cant replace studying tennis if you choose not to become a coach. With that said....

The backscratch position has ruined more serves then it has helped. In truth, the racquet swings around above the head and drops over the right shoulder (not the back) before it heads up to the ball. The drop over the right shoulder does not need to purposely happen. If you have a good swing motion it will happen by itself.

THE BACK SCRATCH POSITION IS A MYTH.

Rickson
09-14-2004, 03:43 PM
So you're saying that if someone swings at the ball without bringing the racquet down whatsoever, he could still achieve good pace on the serve? I've seen some guys serve that way and the serves were very slow.

RoddickOwnzYou
09-14-2004, 03:54 PM
So you're saying that if someone swings at the ball without bringing the racquet down whatsoever, he could still achieve good pace on the serve? I've seen some guys serve that way and the serves were very slow.
Rickson, if you don't believe him, try watching andy roddick...while a bit of an extreme i guess, i can totally see Bills point..he keeps his racquet waist high the entire time...thanks bill, any more suggestions are MUCH appreciated!

Bungalo Bill
09-14-2004, 04:40 PM
So you're saying that if someone swings at the ball without bringing the racquet down whatsoever, he could still achieve good pace on the serve? I've seen some guys serve that way and the serves were very slow.

No I am not saying that the serve motion does not bring the racquet behind the body. You are on track with that. It is not in the "backscratch" position that we sometimes hear. The racquet will drop behind the body because of the natural motion, but it will drop behind the hitting shoulder before it is pulled up to the ball. If you think about it this makes sense since the racquet is being held on the right side of the body vs. straight over your head.

http://tennisplayer.net/members/biomechanics/quantum_tennis_serve%20_brian_gordon_images/back.gif

http://tennisplayer.net/members/biomechanics/quantum_tennis_serve%20_brian_gordon_images/racquetfig1.jpg

http://tennisplayer.net/members/biomechanics/quantum_tennis_serve%20_brian_gordon_images/racquetfig2.jpg

By trying to implement the backscratch practice in reality often a player will develop a slow down or a hitch in their serve motion to try and get the racquet over their back before bringing it up.

Rickson
09-14-2004, 05:10 PM
Rickson, if you don't believe him, try watching andy roddick...while a bit of an extreme i guess, i can totally see Bills point..he keeps his racquet waist high the entire time...thanks bill, any more suggestions are MUCH appreciated!
I'm not talking about ARod's shortened motion, I'm talking about the racquet never being whipped around whether it be in the so called backscratch or around the shoulder as Bill puts it. Andy brings the racquet way down on his serve, as much as the next pro. I've seen guys who don't bring the racquet head down when serving and I can tell you that their serves are among the ugliest and slowest I've ever seen.

Let me borrow Bill's illustration to show you what I mean. This is what some players don't do, but they should.
http://tennisplayer.net/members/biomechanics/quantum_tennis_serve%20_brian_gordon_images/racquetfig1.jpg

tetsuo10
09-14-2004, 05:11 PM
I like to think of it as leading with the elbow. If you lead with the elbow, the racquet drop will happen automatically. The pictures BB posted illustrate that.

RoddickOwnzYou
09-14-2004, 05:20 PM
Thanks for the pics BB. I think my problem is definitely hinged on my toss. Since its low, i dont give myself anytime to load up, while the ball is in the air. I'm abbreviating the motion and skipping a vital step..how i'm gonna fix this i'm not sure, but thanks again for the enlightening pics.

Bungalo Bill
09-14-2004, 06:26 PM
Rickson, if you don't believe him, try watching andy roddick...while a bit of an extreme i guess, i can totally see Bills point..he keeps his racquet waist high the entire time...thanks bill, any more suggestions are MUCH appreciated!
I'm not talking about ARod's shortened motion, I'm talking about the racquet never being whipped around whether it be in the so called backscratch or around the shoulder as Bill puts it. Andy brings the racquet way down on his serve, as much as the next pro. I've seen guys who don't bring the racquet head down when serving and I can tell you that their serves are among the ugliest and slowest I've ever seen.

Let me borrow Bill's illustration to show you what I mean. This is what some players don't do, but they should.
http://tennisplayer.net/members/biomechanics/quantum_tennis_serve%20_brian_gordon_images/racquetfig1.jpg

In this case you are correct about what players dont do enough. The racquet very breifly while it is in motion can pass by the back, but the true "backscratch" position is really never achieved. To be technical, the actual backscratch position happens when the racquet has moved through its motion and is behind the shoulder before going up. That is the truth of the motion.

If we as advanced players lead a person to think about the backscratch position without clarification, players who are learning to improve their serve will take the information in a literal sense. That sows the seeds of frustration.

The other myth about the serve which I have proven and now if you watched any of the US Open you should have seen a very slow-mo film of Roddicks hand/wrist rotation on the serve with absolutely no "wrist snap". I wish I could get that film because it would once and for all show the wrist snap is a myth.

What we have to be careful with is sending someone off to practice something that isn't there. I prefer to teach the arm motion in its entirety because it is technically one motion. I don't want them to think of the backscratch because they will stop there in order to achieve that position so it registers in the brain and that can lead to a hitch.

I prefer to use the ball attached to the string to illustrate a free flowing motion. All I do is make sure they are swinging the ball right and the brain learns that the service motion has no middle point but flows in a continuous motion into the ball.

Joe Average
09-14-2004, 07:58 PM
I agree with Bill. An over-awareness of the backscratch has ruined so many serves. I serve my best when I'm not conscious of the "backscratch," the racquet pointing downward. The racquet goes down automatically, after the forward rotation of the shoulders (toward the ball, the net) is initiated. When I was having trouble with my forehand, I tried this experiment in my living room: I had my racquet in my hand and swung at an imaginary ball using as little arm swing as possible. Doing that demonstrated to me what my "swing" should be ... and the role of my "body," using torso stretch, shoulder and hip rotation to hit the ball. You can do the same with the serve. Try hitting your serve using as little arm swing as possible (it should be as limp as cooked spaghetti). Use the flexing of the knees, the torso turn, the rotation of the hips and shoulders to "hit" your serve. And, believe it or not, you'll find that the racquet will automatically point downward. And you'll be using your body and not just your arm in the serve.

predrag
09-15-2004, 09:10 AM
[snip]
I prefer to use the ball attached to the string to illustrate a free flowing motion. All I do is make sure they are swinging the ball right and the brain learns that the service motion has no middle point but flows in a continuous motion into the ball.

When I try to explain free flowing motion to my students I tell them to hold racquet
with the thumb and index finger only. (If they are not strong enough, then add the middle finger)
If the service motion is correct, they should be able to emulate it with a hold like this.
This is basically the same thing as the device BB is describing.

Regards, Predrag

Bungalo Bill
09-15-2004, 10:07 AM
Thanks for the pics BB. I think my problem is definitely hinged on my toss. Since its low, i dont give myself anytime to load up, while the ball is in the air. I'm abbreviating the motion and skipping a vital step..how i'm gonna fix this i'm not sure, but thanks again for the enlightening pics.


Keep in mind, a low toss is not in relation to how high it is above your head. It is in relation to how high or low it is compared to you having a fully extended body, arm and racquet at contact.

Once you have determined how high your racquet face is at full extension, that is where you want to toss the ball - to that height.

If the toss is too low in relation to this you will have a bent elbow at contact. This is not good.

Usually players toss the ball higher then the fully extended contact point and allow the ball to come down no more than two feet and then meet the ball at full extension (see pictures and animation above).

Any more than two feet and the ball gains a lot of speed. This can affect your timing because the dropping ball passes through the sweetspot of the racquet very quickly. On a windy day, this can be very frustrating.

Ideally you want to hit the ball at full extension when the ball has reached its peak from the toss. The ball sort of suspends itself in the air allowing you plenty of time to hit the ball sqaurely and powerfully in the sweetspot of the racquet face.

Full extension and ball toss hieght are two big keys in developing a powerful serve.

Dont confuse a players high toss in relation to the ground or his head. The player could have a higher toss then you but when he is at full extension it is a properly tossed ball. That player simply has the ability to really extend up to the ball before hitting it.

fastdunn
09-15-2004, 03:49 PM
I've heard "scratch your back" is a very old school thing.
Today, I've heard to "scratch your neighbor".

One time ESPN showed slow motion analysis of Sampras
scrtaching his neighbor while serving.

Long time ago, I was playing 70 old guy in 3.0 league.
After the match(I lost !), he commented, "You have great serves
but you don't scratch your back like this. You'll get more
consistency this way..."

Joe Average
09-15-2004, 04:13 PM
Well, back in the good ol' days, beginners were taught to begin with the backscratch position ... before the ball toss. I know people who still serve that way.

lenosucks
09-15-2004, 08:29 PM
When i've worked on my serve i've honestly never thought about doing the "back-scratch" position, and never had a coach tell me to do it. The things i've always concentrated on are keeping my head up, keeping my tossing up as long as i can, and keeping my arm loose, along with knee bend and hip turn.

Bungalo Bill
09-15-2004, 08:56 PM
Well, back in the good ol' days, beginners were taught to begin with the backscratch position ... before the ball toss. I know people who still serve that way.

The backscratch position evolved because of lack of good serve footage to really see what was going on. It was also used as a concept to help a player eliminate the so called "waiters wrist". Unfortunately without good research some coaches took it literally and the "backscratch" myth pervailed.

Vic Braden was one of the first stroke analyzers to combat the myth of the backscratch. His slo-mo film showed that during a good service motion the racquet does not achieve a backscratch position. When this proof came he he pioneeered the "scratch your neighbors back" because he felt (and rightly so) this was what was really happening before the racquet came up to meet the ball.

On another note, I do not use the ball on a string to teach having a loose grip. I use it to teach the student to have a loose arm especially at the elbow. This facilitates a smooth circular motion and helps the student elminate stalls or hitches in the service motion for the arm. It does not teach keeping a loose grip so it is not the same as showing students to hold the racquet with two fingers etc.

The key to the serve is to meet the ball with an extended arm. The arm needs to be loose which means you need to hold the racquet firm enough to not allow it to fly out of your hand and loose enough to keep flexibility to the wrist and forearm area.

Most players have a problem with their serve because they dont extend enough. They dont toss the ball to the proper hieght because they dont know what hieghth their racquet achieves with an extended arm and all the other elements that contribute to the serve.

Bungalo Bill
09-15-2004, 09:03 PM
Well, back in the good ol' days, beginners were taught to begin with the backscratch position ... before the ball toss. I know people who still serve that way.

The backscratch position evolved because of lack of good serve footage to really see what was going on. It was also used as a concept to help a player eliminate the so called "waiters wrist". Unfortunately without good research some coaches took it literally and the "backscratch" myth flourished.

Vic Braden was one of the first stroke analyzers to combat the myth of the backscratch. His slo-mo film showed that during a good service motion the racquet does not achieve a backscratch position. When this proof was available he began to pioneer the "scratch your neighbors back" concept because he felt (and rightly so) this was what was really happening.

On another note, I do not use the ball on a string to teach a loose grip. I use it to teach the student to have a loose arm - at the elbow. This facilitates a smooth circular motion and helps the student eliminate stalls or hitches in the service motion. It does not teach keeping a loose grip so it is not the same as showing students to hold the racquet with two fingers etc.

The key to the serve is to meet the ball with an extended arm. The arm needs to be loose which means you need to hold the racquet firm enough to not allow it to fly out of your hand and loose enough to maintain flexibility in the wrist and forearm area.

Most players have a problem with their serve because they don't extend enough. They don't toss the ball to the proper height because they don't know what height their racquet achieves with an extended arm and all the other elements that contribute to the serve.

lenosucks
09-17-2004, 07:18 PM
BB, is it true that it's easier to hit a serve with more pace with a lower toss compared with a higher toss? I seem to remember one of the announcers saying something like this during the US Open.