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Slider
10-19-2007, 08:41 AM
I'm a 6'2" 210 lb. dude, 4.0 NTRP ranking.
I joined my first leauge, it's doubles, and when I look around, I don't see anyone serving nearly as fast as me (across 6 courts of players). That makes me feel good, but, I have a couple problems.

1. Consistency - I can only land my flat serve around 25 - 50% during league play, when it's recreational, it improves to 40 - 50%. most of my balls go long, rarely into the net.

2. Technique - A coach told me I still have 50% of my power untapped. Something about more forward momentum into the court? I don't know if this is true, or what I can do to get more speed. This coach said I was serving over 120 m.p.h., I have never been clocked.

Here's pictures of me serving (two different serves, though they look similar). Any advice is appreciated. Both of these serves landed in, first serve lands far corner of the box, second serve lands down the "T".

http://i22.tinypic.com/nbf2ux.jpg

http://i22.tinypic.com/35i2dlz.jpg

skiracer55
10-19-2007, 08:53 AM
...you're serving with a Western forehand grip, and that ain't gonna cut it if you want power...or anything else. Switch to Continental, and a lot of your problems will solve themselves. Second, you may *think* that getting both feet off the ground is giving you more power, but it's actually doing the opposite, and hurting your consistency, to boot.

In general, see what I said in this thread:

http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=125062&highlight=dave+hodge+serving

Geezer Guy
10-19-2007, 09:47 AM
Rule #1 in Doubles is to get your 1st serve IN.

That's why when you look around no one else is serving as hard as you.
It's not necessarily that they can't - it's that they don't because that's not how you win Doubles.

I'll best most if not all the other guys in the league get in a much higher percentage of 1st serves.

Slider
10-19-2007, 09:52 AM
Rule #1 in Doubles is to get your 1st serve IN.

That's why when you look around no one else is serving as hard as you.
It's not necessarily that they can't - it's that they don't because that's not how you win Doubles.


That's a good point. I'm new to doubles, so this is great advice. I'll try using more control, but I'd still appreciate advice on developing my flat serve.
I'll use more control next time I play doubles though. :)

Slider
10-19-2007, 10:29 AM
...you're serving with a Western forehand grip, and that ain't gonna cut it if you want power...or anything else. Switch to Continental, and a lot of your problems will solve themselves.

I read the other post, and am smarter for doing so. You mentioned in the post power servers use continental, or more towards forehand grip, but I'm guessing you didn't mean as much forehand grip as I am using.

I have tried continental, but it feels like I have to force arm rotation to get the angle correct. I'll try your advice next time I practice, and rotate towards using a continental grip till it feels comfortable, and let you know what happens. Thanks.

Geezer Guy
10-19-2007, 10:36 AM
That's a good point. I'm new to doubles, so this is great advice. I'll try using more control, but I'd still appreciate advice on developing my flat serve.
I'll use more control next time I play doubles though. :)

Thanks to my web browser, I cannot "see" the pictures you posted. So, here are some random thought for improving power that may or may not apply to you.
> Get your toss out in front of your body, so you fall into the court.
> Work on relaxing your arm before you serve, serve with a loose floppy arm, and remember to snap your wrist on contact.
> Face the side of the court, with your shoulders pointed to where you want to serve. (In other words, if you extend your "tossing" arms straight out from your side it will be pointed at the service box.) Don't come around too soon.
> Get the racquet head nice and low in the "back scratch" position so you can generate lots of racquet head speed before contact. Remember - loose floopy arm & snap your wrist.


And, a couple of tips for serving in Doubles:
>> 1st rule of Doubles - Get your first serve in.
>> 2nd rule of Doubles - Get to net.

> If you serve a bit slower you can get closer to the net before you have to make your first volley. This makes your volley easier.
> Guys often will just block back a 1st serve and try to rip a 2nd serve. If your first serve is in, you'll get an easier return to play.
> When you get a comfortable lead, throw in some BIG first serves to keep your opponent honest.

> Obviously, you can't just throw in lolly-pop serves or you'll get your net-man killed. There's a fine line between trying TOO hard to get ALL your 1st serves in, and hitting a good high-percentage first serve. You'll get the hang of it.

LuckyR
10-19-2007, 10:44 AM
Looks like you are getting about a foot of "air" at contact. Probably is helping with your pace (although 120 MPH for a 4.0 who has never been clocked...) but if it were me it would throw off my control and 25 - 50% first serves is a terrible singles percentage and is terminal in doubles.

Slider
10-19-2007, 10:56 AM
Again, great advice for doubles play. I got moved up in the ladder, so I'm doing well enough to get placed with more experienced players, but I had a tougher time hanging with 'em last night. Now I'm wiser.

Also, the serve mechanics that you mentioned, I understand, and am using them all when I serve, from being relaxed to driving with the legs and letting my arm "hang back", followed with body rotation, shoulder, elbow, wrist. Just got to tweak it to get more consistency and optomize power.

Slider
10-19-2007, 11:15 AM
Looks like you are getting about a foot of "air" at contact. Probably is helping with your pace (although 120 MPH for a 4.0 who has never been clocked...) but if it were me it would throw off my control and 25 - 50% first serves is a terrible singles percentage and is terminal in doubles.

That percentage is only if I use a flat serve. I don't always use it for my first, but if I went all out, yeah, that's what happens. It needs work. You mentioned getting air would throw off your control, do you stay planted?

nousername
10-19-2007, 11:18 AM
I read the other post, and am smarter for doing so. You mentioned in the post power servers use continental, or more towards forehand grip, but I'm guessing you didn't mean as much forehand grip as I am using.

I have tried continental, but it feels like I have to force arm rotation to get the angle correct. I'll try your advice next time I practice, and rotate towards using a continental grip till it feels comfortable, and let you know what happens. Thanks.
my serve is the best part of my game, and my eyes were completely opened when i learn a few things.

this guys is right you *must* you a continental grip for power, and better yet it will give you more control too. you must be patience to learn it.

(a side note: i've always been amazed at how many coaches overlook (or even more terrifying if they miss it all together) the service grip. it the easiest thing problem to spot with a serve and easy to change.)

here's a few things to note and remember, and then i'll try to connect them all after:

1) pronation of the wrist is the key to power and control. you can't do it right without the right grip.
2) never ever try to hit the ball down. always try to hit "over" the ball.
3) remember, the best "flat" serves are never flat. the best ones will still have a fair amount of topspin. that's the reason pro's "big serves" seem to bounce 6-7 ft up the back wall... it's not b/c of the speed, it's b/c of the spin.

pete sampras is the epitome of wrist pronation, so watch him if you want to know what it is. basically, it's when you rotate your wrist so you plam turns down then away from your body. this starts just prior to contact and into follow through.

why pronation helps power: b/c the racquet plane is not pointed toward the court just before contact, so in order to get it "facing" the right direction you must rotate your wrist... that rotation adds momentum and energy to your shot that will get transfered to the ball.

why pronation helps control: b/c the natural pronation motion also includes a component of upward motion which will impart topspin on the ball cause it to land sooner.

depending one the exact way you perform the pronation motion you can trade-off power and topspin to get the desired effect, but you will always get a little of each.

why is the continental grip important: b/c you cannot pronate without it. using the grip you currently have the racquet is already facing the right court at contact. there's not need to "rotate" it.

why must you never hit the ball "down": b/c that mind set will always cause you to swing in a way that cocks your wrist back, and more importantly PULLS YOUR ARM DOWN which will impart backspin on the ball... causing them to go long.

instead (VERY IMPORTANT): try to hit "over the ball". the best way to do this it imagine there is a dot on the top of the ball while you toss, try to hit that dot, BUT the catch is you cannot hit hit back or side of the ball, you must hit that dot from the top. =) to do that you must reach "up and over the ball" to hit that spot (and pronating as you do it). with this mentality you will always give your racquet head upward velocity that will brush UP on the ball, which imparts topspin that will bring the ball into the court. as ironic as it is, this is the KEY to a big flat serve.

if you do the above and take time to be patient and learn those techniques your serves WILL have more power AND control. you also won't be swinging as hard, and your balls will be going faster, bouncing higher, and more impressive to those other 6 courts. =)

LuckyR
10-19-2007, 11:25 AM
That percentage is only if I use a flat serve. I don't always use it for my first, but if I went all out, yeah, that's what happens. It needs work. You mentioned getting air would throw off your control, do you stay planted?

I have never been videoed but my guess is on flat serves I probably get an inch or two of air.

desilvam
10-19-2007, 12:41 PM
I have never been videoed but my guess is on flat serves I probably get an inch or two of air.

Thats an inch or two more than me :D

My left foot (toes area) never leaves the ground. But I am 42, and I emulate a bit of Stich's simple motion, to conserve my back and knees.

Slider
10-19-2007, 01:08 PM
1) pronation of the wrist is the key to power and control. you can't do it right without the right grip.
2) never ever try to hit the ball down. always try to hit "over" the ball.
3) remember, the best "flat" serves are never flat. the best ones will still have a fair amount of topspin. that's the reason pro's "big serves" seem to bounce 6-7 ft up the back wall... it's not b/c of the speed, it's b/c of the spin.

Thanks alot for the great advice, and everything else that you wrote. I'm now more eager to train using the continental grip. I didn't realize it was that important. Do you recommend the same grip for kick serve's as well?

Jonny S&V
10-19-2007, 01:16 PM
Thanks alot for the great advice, and everything else that you wrote. I'm now more eager to train using the continental grip. I didn't realize it was that important. Do you recommend the same grip for kick serve's as well?

Yeah, leads to more disguise. You can get away with a continental because you are a little taller then most. I'm only 5'11" so I have to use a modified continental for my flat and an eastern bh for my twist (thats right, not a kick, an American twist. Old school baby!).

LuckyR
10-19-2007, 03:06 PM
Thats an inch or two more than me :D

My left foot (toes area) never leaves the ground. But I am 42, and I emulate a bit of Stich's simple motion, to conserve my back and knees.


46 here. No reason on the spinning stuff, but when you want to uncork one...

nousername
10-19-2007, 05:31 PM
Thanks alot for the great advice, and everything else that you wrote. I'm now more eager to train using the continental grip. I didn't realize it was that important. Do you recommend the same grip for kick serve's as well?
yeah, in general i try to always use the same grip, but honestly, i think subconsciously i modify my grip a bit for a kick. don't really change from a continental, but i just grab it slightly more "hammer" like... do you know what i mean?

but like jonny sv said, it better for disguise if you don't change, BUT for that to be effective you need to have a really really good toss (i.e. highly disguised). i think spin/kick potential is more dependent on toss placement than grip. by good toss i mean fed or sampras: always the exact same toss. it is one that "loops" over their head, it doesn't just go up to one spot. starts slightly in front of them and "drifts" back toward/over their head. they just pick it off at different points depending on the serve.

also, don't let my first pieces of advice overshadow the importance of what others have said: the toss (placement and consistency), and fluidity/smoothness of your motion. all these things a pretty critical for consistency. regarding fluidity, it appears that you have the "double-jump" in your motion. your knees are fairly bent while you begin to toss, then you straighten up, then you bend again during the final coil. not only are you wasting energy, but it's probably affecting (adversely) you rhythm. that first tuck is unnecessary and it kind of like an overall hitch in your motion preventing you from obtaining good fluidity. it also might be an indication of an over zealousness in *trying* to jump. is it, eh? =) ... as others have said jumping should be an effect not a cause. never try to jump. for instance, jumping will be a natural result of trying to go "up and over" as i mentioned before. if that's not motivation enough to change the "double-jump", sorry to break it to you but it also just looks a little goofy. =)

for the toss (this might be old news to you), it should be in the court about 2ft, and slightly in front of you for a flat serve, and slightly less in front of you and more over your head for a kick serve (but still into the court). a "disguised" toss is one that "hits" both of these places along its path. of course, it's a compromise, b/c it'd be nearly impossible to have the toss hit both the ideal place for a flat serve and for the kick serve. you just want it to be close to each ideal spot. btw, i don't try to disguise my toss, i'm not good enough yet for it to matter. i basically have a different toss for each serve.

hope i haven't sounded overly critical, just trying to help 'caused you asked. all the stuff i said is stuff i have learned, and try to do... a lot of it i'm still trying to do with consistency.

Slider
10-19-2007, 06:06 PM
Not at all, I appreciate the feedback. I actually didn't know that I did a "double jump" motion, until I taped my serve. I noticed it right away. I think I do it to reduce the use of my arm during the toss, more use of my legs to gently lift the ball into motion, and my toss is very consistent, usually right where I want it. (although that may not be in the perfect place yet....) :).

As for the jumping on the serve, I actually didn't even know I jumped until the first time I was taped, I was a little suprised. Even in these serves, I'm not forcing it, it's just part of my natural service motion, when I try to rip the ball as hard as I can. (everything else kind of fades away).

I noticed I move my left foot ahead during my toss though, which is interesting... on both serves, something I'll have to experiment with. along with a few other things you have mentioned. Thanks again nousername. :)

nousername
10-19-2007, 06:25 PM
Not at all, I appreciate the feedback. I actually didn't know that I did a "double jump" motion, until I taped my serve. I noticed it right away. I think I do it to reduce the use of my arm during the toss, more use of my legs to gently lift the ball into motion, and my toss is very consistent, usually right where I want it. (although that may not be in the perfect place yet....) :).

As for the jumping on the serve, I actually didn't even know I jumped until the first time I was taped, I was a little suprised. Even in these serves, I'm not forcing it, it's just part of my natural service motion, when I try to rip the ball as hard as I can. (everything else kind of fades away).

I noticed I move my left foot ahead during my toss though, which is interesting... on both serves, something I'll have to experiment with. along with a few other things you have mentioned. Thanks again nousername. :)
it's good you're not forcing the jump, but it's NOT good to try to rip the ball. power should come from proper technique and not muscle. in tennis it's easier to convert speed into power than to use muscle. pronation for instance... doesn't take muscle to do it, but it adds momentum/speed/acceleration to the racquet which gets converted to power when done correctly.

my biggest serves ALWAYS come when i'm relaxed and literally NOT trying to pound it.

Slider
10-24-2007, 08:03 AM
Had my advanced lessons last night, We did serving and return of serves, I noticed I use a full continental grip for my kick serves, feels very comfortable, but still like to rotate slightly towards a western forehand for the flat serve.

My consistency was better on my flat serve, I am trying to hit over the ball as you had mentioned, and it's going in.

Was able to hit several big aces, and got a few complimentry comments.

Slider
10-24-2007, 09:37 AM
This is something I need to work on though.. I have very mild pronation compared to this guy...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4DpptgXq5j4

nousername
10-24-2007, 09:54 AM
nice to hear things are helping. just stick with it.

when you first start trying to actually think about pronation, you might lose a little control. right away when i started thinking about it i got a ton of power. but over time, you'll learn that it can also be used effectively for spin and control. in the long run, it should be natural and you shouldn't have to think about it.

as for the grip, it's fine if you adjust a little from the continental. grips are always a rule-of-thumb, b/c everyones preference is slightly different... and our bodies are different too. there's always a little fudge factor... if you get close to a real eastern forehand, then you *might* be getting too far over...

skiracer55
10-25-2007, 12:45 PM
I read the other post, and am smarter for doing so. You mentioned in the post power servers use continental, or more towards forehand grip, but I'm guessing you didn't mean as much forehand grip as I am using.

I have tried continental, but it feels like I have to force arm rotation to get the angle correct. I'll try your advice next time I practice, and rotate towards using a continental grip till it feels comfortable, and let you know what happens. Thanks.

...you're talking about comes because you are opening up with your chest and shoulders way too early. On the serve, the tip of the racket should lead the stroke, then the body follows naturally. If you turn the shoulders before contact, you've just used up all the juice you built up. Take a look at a video of Sampras' serve, and you'll see what I'm talking about...

witit
10-26-2007, 03:26 PM
Check this out. I learned a lot from it. http://www.operationdoubles.com/serve_motion_tennis.htm

You may want to try planting your right foot angled to the left of your left foot (see Sampras' in the link above). It helps creating more rotational power.

And yes, the continental grip is really important. It felt weird at first but once it becomes natural, it helps creating more power and spin.

Cheers!