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View Full Version : Serves: Moving to proper "trophy" style


ananda
10-16-2007, 09:30 PM
I assume that most of us started serving using a simple standing style. At some stage we switched to the pro style: knee bend, trophy etc.

I have a decent fast serve for a beginner, and can place and spin decently. But its a standing serve. No rotation, bend etc.

Last week i was studying the pro service style at fuzzyyellowballs.com.
Last night i shadow served for about half an hour and i think i now have the full motion in, as correctly as i can without actually serving: weight transfer, knee bend, trophy pose, rack drop with pushing up and then swing and pronate.

But when i went to court today am, and tried to serve with it, i would not even get the ball :-(
So the two options is can see are:
1. I just keep trying with the full motion till i start getting the ball some day.

2. I introduce parts of the motion into my serve, bit by bit till the whole motion comes through.

In the second option, i will need tips from you all as to how i can go about it. Your experiences would be valuable.

My target was to be serving this way by the end of this week!

(I would also like to thank you all for your feedback on 1hbh - its overshadowing my fh now!)

Solat
10-16-2007, 09:37 PM
the first thing you should do is give yourself 6 months to learn a totally new action not 6 days....

Oleg
10-16-2007, 10:05 PM
You will have to simplify the full motion by first bending your elbow and placing your hitting hand (on grip) above your shoulder with the frame pointing to the side fence behind your head. Then practice the "full" motion: toss, get under the ball, rotate shouulders, etc. from that position.

Study the motion that you are trying to copy using a frame by frame video. As soon as you feel comfortable with a simplified motion, try to incorporate the hitting hand. Also check out Todd Martin's serve as his serve is based on the same simplified racquet takeback.

You will need to videotape yourself and watch in slow motion or frame by frame and try to compare to the serve you are copying.

ananda
10-16-2007, 10:05 PM
the first thing you should do is give yourself 6 months to learn a totally new action not 6 days....
first, it will take how much time it takes. that was just a thought !

i started playing 3 months ago, and every week (if not everyday) i am altering my serve to get it faster. it is evolving. so its not like i have one fixed serve. every week IS a totally new action, almost.

Last week i did a 1hbh for the first time, and its going very well within just 2 or 3 sessions).
Two days ago i made some pretty major alterations to my fh (based on feedback here) and the changes are settling in fine.

At present i am at the beginner's stage, where learning is fast, i agree honing and perfecting the pro serve may take six months, or praps 6 years! but i'd like to have it working as fast as possible.
Cheers.

ananda
10-16-2007, 10:12 PM
You will have to simplify the full motion by first bending your elbow and placing your hitting hand (on grip) above your shoulder with the frame pointing to the side fence behind your head. Then practice the "full" motion: toss, get under the ball, rotate shouulders, etc. from that position.



Are you suggestion standing in the racket drop position, or slightly less than it, with frame pointing at side fence (sort of horizontal) and serving balls from that position -- to start with. thanks.

TheShaun
10-16-2007, 10:30 PM
i'm working on the "trophy" serve right now. and when i do it, i seem to have better success with my serves. problem is, it's not my habit yet and if i don't remind myself to do it, i go back to my old ways, shallow to no knee bend, etc.

Oleg
10-16-2007, 11:23 PM
Are you suggestion standing in the racket drop position, or slightly less than it, with frame pointing at side fence (sort of horizontal) and serving balls from that position -- to start with. thanks.

I meant the racquet head should still be pointing up, not horizontal. Just slightly behind your head rather than pointing above your head. Not really important but will insure that racquet head will drop and your arm can be more relaxed in that position.

ananda
10-19-2007, 09:40 PM
I know, this sound a bit childish ...

today was the second day when i tried the trophy and it worked (last time i wasn't even touching the ball) !
last night, i shadow served a bit with the trophy, and somehow i felt i would get it today.

I admit the action still needs a lot of refinement, but i was getting leg bend and upward thrust. i was ack hitting the ball! And it was landing in the service area or slightly out.
Mostly it was getting sliced or topspun. I am hoping for fast and flat.

i guess it will take a week or maybe month to get the proper rotation, facing back during trophy and the entire action properly coordinated.

But to get it started in just two sessions was awesome.

jasoncho92
10-21-2007, 06:11 AM
the first thing you should do is give yourself 6 months to learn a totally new action not 6 days....
6 months is wayyyy too much just to learn a new action. Ive pretty much been playing for that long lol

ananda
10-21-2007, 06:44 AM
6 months is wayyyy too much just to learn a new action. Ive pretty much been playing for that long lol

today i did my third session of shadow serving (in living room). this time i even filmed it.
and what shocked me was that when i go frame by frame, i am actually getting the motion correct as per fuzzyyellowball.
e.g. the trophy pose, then the racket drop coinciding with being fully stretched. even my chest is slightly turned back when looking at video. And when serving i never thought i was getting the rack drop at full extension, or the chest turned back.

The racket is a blur during the swing, so i cant verify the pronation, praps actually serving (tomorrow AM) will tell.

i know i have still to actually try this out with a ball toss and there'll be a lot to hone and perfect for the rest of my life. But still amazing to be able to pick this up so fast.

sureshs
10-21-2007, 12:35 PM
I know this sounds unconventional, but just try to serve as hard as possible. For the first serve, toss the ball a little in front, and throw yourself at it with as hard a swing as possible. For the second, toss it straight up or a little behind, and do the kick action as hard as possible. I spent a lot of time doing the trophy position, knee bend, head not falling down, trying to be smooth like Sampras, etc, but had less speed on my serve than some guys who just stood still and whacked the ball using their arm only. Recently, I decided to focus on the ultimate goal for guys - faster serves, with the goal of hitting the fence in one bounce (almost there), and I am winning 5-0 (limited time set) against people I used to lose 3-4 before. Seems almost like focusing on the end result forces you to get your act together.

Remember the Holy Grail of the older recreational male player - to have a monster first serve, and weak everything else. The gasps when you serve an ace are worth more than all the groundstrokes you weakly put across :-) You need to walk away with a swagger after losing the match.

ananda
10-21-2007, 09:44 PM
I know this sounds unconventional,

1) but just try to serve as hard as possible.
2) For the first serve, toss the ball a little in front, and throw yourself at it with as hard a swing as possible.
3) For the second, toss it straight up or a little behind, and do the kick action as hard as possible.
suresh,

1) serving as hard as possible: i actually was doing this recently, and i had added a lot of pace to the serve. but i felt i was possibly slapping the ball. and it was giving me a sharp pain in the deltoid area which would last several days.

They say one should NOT muscle the ball, one should use the momentum of the shoulder turn or leg push etc etc.

2) toss the ball a little in front, and throw yourself at it with as hard a swing : actually this is how i had started, and i used to belt aces.
Three months back i did not know how to hold a racket for fh or bh, but i had a monster flat serve using a flat, sw or w grip!
After changing to continental, i lost pace, and a lot of slice got added. only recently i have managed to get some pace back.

3) although i know the topspin serve, but i am a certified nutjob. I serve fast on the second serve too. Since the first one, if it faults is usually a cm off the line, i don't mind pulling the stops for the 2nd. But when i play something serious, IF, i will certainly be more sensible.


actually today i did try the trophy serve again on court (3rd session), as per last night's shadow practice. but the ball toss put in a new variable and i could not get it.
so i had to reduce the knee bend etc in order to serve properly. i think it will take 5-6 sessions more.

But i will keep your top line in mind ... throw in front and go for it... thanks.

Oleg
10-23-2007, 12:19 AM
I recommend that you study the videos of the top pros frame by frame. You will learn the following common elements:

1. The toss starts when the body weght is on the back foot.

2. Body weight shifts forward to the front foot during the toss.

3. Tossing arm is straight when the upward tossing motion begins.

4. Both tossing and hitting arms go up together from the following positions: tossing hand is around the groin area, hitting hand is about 1 foot behind and 1 foot to the side of the body with the racket head pointing down to the ground. Shoulder muscles are used to initiate the upward motion of both arms.

5. Shoulder turn and knee bend occurr right after the ball is released.

6. Tossing arm points straight up when the ball is at the top of the toss and the hitting hand is in the hitting position (above the shoulder).

7. Racquet face is moving upward through the contact point.

Marius_Hancu
10-23-2007, 03:50 AM
See my posting at:

Serving Power and Placement
http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=33383&page=2

which includes:

The Sampras serve video is here, just in case:
http://www.uspta.com/html/e-lesson-Flat%20serve.swf
A good analysis of it is here:
http://www.cwtennis.com/prostrokes.cfm
(check Serve, both Flash and non-Flash)
http://www.dono.com.cn/tujie/sampras01.htm
http://www.dono.com.cn/tujie/sampras02.htm
(be patient, site is slow)
(use the slider on the left of each picture to slow-motion)
http://www.tennisserver.com/wtt/movies/sampras3f.mov
and an analysis:
http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=73886

ananda
10-23-2007, 04:13 AM
5. Shoulder turn and knee bend occurr right after the ball is released.

7. Racquet face is moving upward through the contact point.

5. AFTER the ball is released ? Doesn't knee bend happen along with the toss so that the trophy position is realized. Or do you mean that the full knee bend is achieved after the ball is released.

thanks a lot for these points.

Edit: I looked again carefully and yes, i missed this totally. i was doing the knee bend along with moving into trophy pose.

Marius, you have asked me to see sampras' serve.
i notice that he throws up the ball while the other hand is still down. It's not the "down together up together" that FYB is instructing.
I just checked Fed and Henins and Murray's action, both hands move up together. I am wondering if Sampras' is a hard action to emulate.
I am looking at a classic, simple (if possible) style, and have been studying the FYB instructions. But once again thanks for pointing out that the knee bend happens later. Maybe thats why i've been hitting the ball with the upper hoop repeatedly.

For all those who've been talking of Stich's action, i could not find any clear video. if anyone has a link, please share.

wihamilton
10-23-2007, 11:22 AM
Ananda,

We wanted to make the toss / backswing as simple as possible, thus the "down together up together" motion. At the pro level, you sometimes see this (ex: Federer) but, as you pointed out, not all pros do it (ex: Sampras). The variety you see is idiosyncratic -- there is no "best backswing." But, in our opinion, the "down together up together" one is the easiest to learn.

I'm interested to know how our lessons are going for you. Definitely keep me posted. Hope they are helping!

Will

SBGirl
10-23-2007, 11:45 AM
Hi Ananda,

I am taking beginning lessons right now, and our instructor taught us the serve by breaking it down into sections, and then putting it all together. He even did the down together up together like wihamilton is describing. He also had us practice just tossing the ball in the air for quite a while. This is the first time I've learned tennis and we never served just standing, so maybe it's easier without having to break out of a previous technique (although I can't say serving is easy at ALL). Anyway, the instructor purposely had us learn it section by section so that when he critiqued us, if there was a part we weren't getting, we could work on that section.

Sounds like you're getting lots of specific advice from others but wanted to give a fellow beginner's input :D

Good luck!

drakulie
10-23-2007, 03:03 PM
the first thing you should do is give yourself 6 months to learn a totally new action not 6 days....

Exactly. It is extremely hard to get out of one habit and into another totally foreign one.

One thing I could suggest is to practice not only on the courts, but in your home so you could get use to the motion quicker.

Good luck.

ananda
10-23-2007, 08:34 PM
Ananda,

We wanted to make the toss / backswing as simple as possible, thus the "down together up together" motion. At the pro level, you sometimes see this (ex: Federer) but, as you pointed out, not all pros do it (ex: Sampras). The variety you see is idiosyncratic -- there is no "best backswing." But, in our opinion, the "down together up together" one is the easiest to learn.

I'm interested to know how our lessons are going for you. Definitely keep me posted. Hope they are helping!

Will
thanks for looking in Will. And second thanks a lot for the gr8 videos.

Since you asked for feedback, let me sum it up:
1. i redid my forehand based on your instructional videos. There is so much a newbie can miss out when copying video clips that do not have instructions. I was erroneously using a closed stance etc. First, my forehand has immediately improved after studying your videos. But i feel you have not explained the action of hitting the ball very clearly other than saying "hit from high to low".
There is nothing said about elbow bend and wrist bend. I know you are trying to keep the videos simple, and that's the strongest point; keeping idiosyncracies of different players out.
There's been a lot of talk here about push and pull fh strokes, and WTA vs ATP fh strokes. Which i have not been able to really get. I guess you don't want to frighten newbies away with all that :-)

I think you could provide a little more input about the action from the take back to point of contact.


2) Since i have moved to the 1hbh, i have not gven a serious look at the 2hbh video. It would be nice to have a video on 1hbh, as well as volleys, lobs etc -- which i guess are in the making.

3) Serve: Frankly, your videos provided a gr8 deal of clarity. Its impossible for a newbie to watch a pro serving and get all the complex movements without instructions like yours. Based on FYB, I have been shadow serving regularly at home with racket but no ball, and i seem to have the trophy serve well.
However, when i go to court the ball toss totally messes up the serve.
I am wondering how to go about getting into it. Can i break it into steps.

Or does one keep at it till it falls into place?

Drakulie, thanks for your point on shadow serving, i do a lot of that everyday. But again, I began playing 3 months back and i have been changing my serve every week, so there's no ingrained habit.
But i NOW appreciate that a gr8 trophy serve won't be happening this week or month!

Will, praps in your serve video you can mention when the knee bend should start, somehow i was doing it along with the hands "up together".

Another big (ugly) mistake i was making that i caught yesterday, was that my back leg was bending as though i was about to squat! Now i sort of bend it in the forwards direction so its more in unison with the front leg.

Now bending the back leg in the forward direction means that my chest faces forwards! so I do need to twist my shoulders back and see that i am facing the sidefence. I hope i am getting this correct, there is now a lot of rotation happening. Today i got most serves in, I will record it tomorrow and see.
Now i feel the major stretch is happening to the side of the waist muscle (the side that faces the net).

wihamilton
10-24-2007, 06:25 AM
Ananda,

Thanks for the feedback. We will get more in depth, in terms of the various technical elements of each shot, very soon. RE: the forehand, you have a lot of flexibility in how you take the racket back (and that's why you see so many different backswings on tour). The most important function of the backswing is to allow your arm to get into the proper hitting arm position, which is commonly referred to on this board as "the double bend," so if your backswing lets you do this easily you are good to go.

I think Drakulie's suggestion to shadow the toss on the court is a good one. Repetition is going to give you a consistent toss. Pretend you are going to hit a normal serve, focus on getting the toss in the right place and don't actually hit the ball. If you can place the toss correctly 5 - 10 times in a row, try and hit.

Knee bend starts as your weight moves forward. If you watch my serve, my arms are still moving as I bend my knees. It's definitely a complicated motion. I would recommend you nail down the individual components and then try and put them together.

Let me know how it goes.

Will

ananda
10-25-2007, 12:24 AM
Will,
Coming back to the serve if I look at the FYB RACQUET DROP video at around 1:15 - 1:30, I think after the trophy pose, you are lowering your serving shoulder/elbow before you bring the elbow up.

I have been moving directly from the L pose, to elbow raise and did not get the same deep rack drop. Looking again at the video, its almost like your elbow traces a circular pattern, first going down then around and up.

Is this actually happening ? Thanks.

wihamilton
10-25-2007, 05:21 AM
Ananda,

My arm is moving slightly to get in the correct racket drop position. The "L" position is supposed to make it as easy as possible to get there. I wouldn't focus too much on how my arm moves from "L" to drop -- stick with the macro. I'm a big believer in going from macro to micro in terms of stroke development.

If you want to practice getting to the correct racket drop, take an old tennis racket and goto a field (make sure no one else is around) and (starting in the "L") throw it straight up in the air. That should do the trick :). Let me know how it goes.

ananda
10-25-2007, 05:33 AM
Will,
Yes I did see the last video in the serve section which talked of throwing the racquet. I must do that seriously.

I have one more "micro" question -- I have been shadow serving a lot and somehow the knee bend did not feel right, tried many angles and configurations. And i _was_ moving my weight forward.

But finally i noticed that you actually move your hip forward slightly, and that allows you to spring/burst forward. Then I looked at various other videos and it does seem others are doing it, too. Perhaps the angle of your video does not bring that out too well. Earlier I was sitting the hips down sideways or even behind.

Must try this out on court tomorrow am. Thanks.

wihamilton
10-25-2007, 06:39 AM
We don't talk about the hips, but yes, you do want them leading when you push off. Some people refer to this body position as a "bow." If you want to get really technical, you could call the body position is a "double bow" because the back is also arched. Sampras is a great example. We'll add a video on this at some point, but again, it's not the first thing I would teach :).