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View Full Version : Do you aim "upwards" on the serve?


morten
10-20-2007, 08:00 AM
I sort of aim down, my serve is not too good..... and i cant get a kick either...I mean as you hit the ball.

Mahboob Khan
10-20-2007, 08:34 AM
In the third component of the swing (the backscratch) the racket is lifted from your back to above your head. Because the racket head is moving upward, this will put some topspin on the ball even on the first serve.

Yes, for the second kick serve almost all the Pros hit up on the ball. Let's say that the face of the ball is a clock. For the kick serve, you defuzz the ball from 7 to 1 o'clock positions. This upward and out movement of the strings, will put enough forward rotation on the ball to cause it dip inside the box and then jump up.

morten
10-22-2007, 02:22 AM
anyone else?

Cindysphinx
10-22-2007, 02:52 AM
I aim down on the ball, trying to get on top of it.

I don't have a kick or topspin serve, though.

Oleg
10-22-2007, 10:57 PM
Every type of serve requires swinging upward on the ball to a different degree. Unless you are 7 ft tall or if you do not mind having only a 3 inch window above the net to hit through.

Top spin on the ball provides consistency, conrol, makes it more difficult to track for the receiving player, more pace and action after the bounce.

RoddickistheMan
10-23-2007, 07:51 AM
Every type of serve requires swinging upward on the ball to a different degree. Unless you are 7 ft tall or if you do not mind having only a 3 inch window above the net to hit through.

Top spin on the ball provides consistency, conrol, makes it more difficult to track for the receiving player, more pace and action after the bounce.

Totally agree. If you look at a pitchers motion a serve is basically the same motion but instead of throwing forward you are throwing directly upward. It took me forever to grasp that concept, and it is definitely the most important concept to understand.
________
YAMAHA ARTIST HISTORY (http://www.yamaha-tech.com/wiki/Yamaha_Artist)

Bagumbawalla
10-23-2007, 04:35 PM
Imagine hittiing a topspin drive. Are you hittiing upwardward or forward?

Don't try to answer, because it is a poorly worded question that assumes a one-or-the-other type answer.

Same thing in the original question to this thread.

Just as in a topspin drive where your main force is directed forward and some of the force is angled upward, as follow-through, to create spin-- something similar happens in most serves. Most of the momentum is directed "forward" while the follow-through angles off at an "upward" angle to impart some kind of spin (depending on the exact angle).

To imagine all of the force directed "up" would be an over-simplification.

drakulie
10-23-2007, 05:08 PM
In the serve, your target is the ball, not the service box. Your racquet should be aimed up at the ball, not forward.

A good drill to get this is as follows. (no racquet needed). Get two tennis balls, one to toss like you regularly do, and the other to throw at the tossed ball.

Go thru your service motion and try to hit the ball that you just tossed with the other ball. This is what your swing should look like. (Throwing the racquet up at the tossed ball).

What actually happens when you serve though is that the racquet when swung up, naturally snaps down causing the ball to go into the service box.

(HOpe I explained this in a manner you understand. )

Good luck.

ubel
10-23-2007, 05:46 PM
In the serve, your target is the ball, not the service box. Your racquet should be aimed up at the ball, not forward.

A good drill to get this is as follows. (no racquet needed). Get two tennis balls, one to toss like you regularly do, and the other to throw at the tossed ball.

Go thru your service motion and try to hit the ball that you just tossed with the other ball. This is what your swing should look like. (Throwing the racquet up at the tossed ball).

What actually happens when you serve though is that the racquet when swung up, naturally snaps down causing the ball to go into the service box.

(HOpe I explained this in a manner you understand. )

Good luck.
I gotta disagree with that.. I think the topspin serve is two-parts:
(a) the forward motion of the racquet through the ball pushes it towards the service box (velocity).
(b) the upward/diagonal brushing motion of the racquet imparts topspin+sidespin on the ball, which increases ball's angle of arc [think vertically stretched sin graph] (increases likelihood of ball landing in).

Doesn't that make sense?

And to the OP: on my first serve my aim is ever so slightly downward, but I'm still swinging upward and forward through the ball to impart topspin.. My second serve I aim slightly upward so as to create an arc. I'm still working on understanding it fully, but at least it works :D

drakulie
10-23-2007, 06:03 PM
^^^ Well, if we are talking about the topspin serve the trajectory of the racquet is altogether different. The racquet is going upwards but also traveling from left to right.


Bolleteri (spelling), has a real good video (Sonic Serve) that shows the drill I'm talking about.

sureshs
10-23-2007, 06:10 PM
I know the theory, but I have to go with Cindy on this one. For flat serves and even slice serves, I think I hit down on the ball. To increase depth, I aim more forward instead of down. But I don't think I am hitting up. For topspin serve, I do have a slight upward motion at the end.

nousername
10-23-2007, 06:22 PM
Imagine hittiing a topspin drive. Are you hittiing upwardward or forward?

Don't try to answer, because it is a poorly worded question that assumes a one-or-the-other type answer.

Same thing in the original question to this thread.

Just as in a topspin drive where your main force is directed forward and some of the force is angled upward, as follow-through, to create spin-- something similar happens in most serves. Most of the momentum is directed "forward" while the follow-through angles off at an "upward" angle to impart some kind of spin (depending on the exact angle).

To imagine all of the force directed "up" would be an over-simplification.
i think what you said here is right, even the last point, but where i don't agree is the original posters was not concerned about forward vs upward... he was essentially taking for granted the "forward" part and was wondering what to do about the vertical component? ... should you focus on down or up?

the answer being, UP.

see point 3 (and the whole thing too) in this fairly extensive post i wrote:
http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showpost.php?p=1820210&postcount=10

Trinity TC
10-23-2007, 06:33 PM
I used to try to pound the first serve parallel to the ground...with the knowledge that it has a bit of top and side spin which along with gravity give it the necessary downward trajectory to carry it to the service line. Mechanical keys were to not pull my head down too soon nor too much.

sureshs
10-23-2007, 06:33 PM
Everyone says they are aiming up. But are they? (for non-kick serves).

What about the infamous "wrist snap"? Would that still be considered aiming up?

If the serve is similar to an overhead, do you aim upwards in overhead smashes?

I can understand a volleyball floater serve being aimed upwards. Somehow I could never visualize it in tennis. I need to study this more.

nousername
10-23-2007, 06:38 PM
What actually happens when you serve though is that the racquet when swung up, naturally snaps down causing the ball to go into the service box.

i second the other guy that didn't agree... this i definitely not true. the "snap" or more precisely pronation, imparts a purely forward and upward motion to the racquet. never think down on a serve.

if that sounds confusing or not intuitive, and are wondering how the heck the ball gets down into the courts... PLEASE HOLD ON... there's a very good explanation. here is what should bring the ball down on a good serve:

1) the upward motion of the swing which is accelerated by pronation imparts topspin on the ball. topspin brings the ball into the court.
2) the angle of the racquet face is forward and slightly down, which is a result of the toss being into the court AND the motion of the server as he strikes the ball. that angle EVEN if the racquet is moving upward and forward will impart a downward force on the ball.

point to note and NEVER forget: at contact on a serve, the racquet should have purely horizontal motions (i.e. upward/sideways) and forward motion. that covers them all: flat, slice, kick, whatever

if you think DOWN and you try to hit the ball down, all you will do is impart back spin on the ball b/c you'll tend to pull down on your arm.... that's never good on a serve, and will likely cause it to go long.

drakulie
10-23-2007, 06:39 PM
^^^ Yes. You are aiming up at the ball. Remember, your contact point with the racquet is the ball, not the ground. So, you aim up to make contact with the ball, which is above your head, rather than down at the ground.

drakulie
10-23-2007, 06:42 PM
this i definitely not true.

Yes it is true. As for the rest of your post, you don't need to put any topspin to get the ball into the court. And no, you don't have to be 9 feet tall either. A 5'5'' person could put a flat serve (no spin) into the court, so get your facts straight. And weher do I state to "think down"? I have said to swing up.

Here is a serve that went into the service box at over 100+. Please show me where the racquet face is facing down?

2) the angle of the racquet face is forward and slightly down,


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v736/drakulie/1.jpg

nousername
10-23-2007, 06:46 PM
Everyone says they are aiming up. But are they? (for non-kick serves).

What about the infamous "wrist snap"? Would that still be considered aiming up?

If the serve is similar to an overhead, do you aim upwards in overhead smashes?

I can understand a volleyball floater serve being aimed upwards. Somehow I could never visualize it in tennis. I need to study this more.
yes, to all. =) literally...

the only exception is for some overhead smashes, but that's b/c it is a very different situation. one, you are likely close to the net; two, sometimes you can get away with letting the ball drop a little lower than on a serve, and three, your smash doesn't need to land inside the service line. but on all others, i still aim up on my overheads.

nousername
10-23-2007, 06:51 PM
Yes it is true. As for the rest of your post, you don't need to put any topspin to get the ball into the court. And no, you don't have to be 9 feet tall either. A 5'5'' person could put a flat serve (no spin) into the court, so get your facts straight.
your right a 5'5" person can get a flat serve in the court without any of my advice, but i guarantee he could get a bigger faster one in the court if he aims up and gets the right spin on it. if you get a chance, watch the pros from court level. you will quickly see even their huge "flat" server have a LOT of topspin.

i'm not trying to offend anyone, i just repeating stuff i learned that greatly helped my game, and i just want to pass it on to others... take it or leave it.

nousername
10-23-2007, 06:58 PM
Yes it is true. As for the rest of your post, you don't need to put any topspin to get the ball into the court. And no, you don't have to be 9 feet tall either. A 5'5'' person could put a flat serve (no spin) into the court, so get your facts straight. And weher do I state to "think down"? I have said to swing up.

Here is a serve that went into the service box at over 100+. Please show me where the racquet face is facing down?




http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v736/drakulie/1.jpg
a few things (nice pic by the way)...

- i mentioned 2 points, you quoted one. i had them ordered 1-2 for a reason.
- in the point you quoted, i said "slightly" down
- your pic is just before contact. "move" forward a millisec... won't the racquet then be "slightly" down?
- it's a snapshot, no velocity can be seen. i'm sure the racquet has no downward component of velocity.

i can completely agree that this serve was 100+.

drakulie
10-23-2007, 07:02 PM
your right a 5'5" person can get a flat serve in the court without any of my advice, but i guarantee he could get a bigger faster one in the court if he aims up and gets the right spin on it. if you get a chance, watch the pros from court level. you will quickly see even their huge "flat" server have a LOT of topspin.

I have seen pros up close and taken pictures of them up close. Here is a thread where I attended the United States Clay Court Championships for 45's. I took over 600 pictures. In every picture where I captured the contact point, not one person has the racquet face facing down at contact. Not one.

http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=161872

And again, I have repeatedly stated to swing up. Please read what I have posted. By the way, the more spin put on the ball, the slower it will go, so you are wrong when you state one could "get a bigger faster one in the court if he aims up and gets the right spin on it".

Frank Silbermann
10-23-2007, 07:15 PM
I could not get the feel of a topspin serve until I got the idea of trying to hit a very short topspin lob from a ball that is above my head.

I did not get the feel of a heavily sliced serve until I thought about hitting a short lob with side-spin from a point over my head.

I guess the idea is that the point of contact is NOT the highest point in the ball's trajectory. Thinking of it as a lob was a way of overcompensating for my tendency to hit down into the net.

Trinity TC
10-23-2007, 07:25 PM
Everyone says they are aiming up. But are they? (for non-kick serves).

What about the infamous "wrist snap"? Would that still be considered aiming up?

If the serve is similar to an overhead, do you aim upwards in overhead smashes?

I can understand a volleyball floater serve being aimed upwards. Somehow I could never visualize it in tennis. I need to study this more.
I'm with you, sureshs...I actually visualize the tennis first serve as being similar to the spike serve in volleyball. I don't think about hitting up, down or sideways because my arm swing was pretty much established from years of throwing a baseball, softball etc. I think more about accelerating the racquet in a trajectory that is parallel to the ground just before the point of contact.

You can trip yourself up trying to break down everything into it's smallest component and over analyzing the problem. The problem is overanalysis.

Morten...take the racquet out of your hand and put in it's place a handball (are you European?) or small playground ball that you can grip comfortably with one hand. Practice throwing that for awhile until you develop a good throwing motion. It should take you about ten days to two weeks...or you can overthink the problem and never figure out the service swing.

nousername
10-23-2007, 07:28 PM
I have seen pros up close and taken pictures of them up close. Here is a thread where I attended the United States Clay Court Championships for 45's. I took over 600 pictures. In every picture where I captured the contact point, not one person has the racquet face facing down at contact. Not one.

http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=161872

And again, I have repeatedly stated to swing up. Please read what I have posted. By the way, the more spin put on the ball, the slower it will go, so you are wrong when you state one could "get a bigger faster one in the court if he aims up and gets the right spin on it".
i really don't know what you are trying to prove. none of those pictures disproves anything i said... i said slightly downward. your pic in this thread, and "some" of the ones you link confirm that (most are inconclusive b/c of blur... post #77 is the best). go find some real pictures, like a good 1000 fps video of some touring pros and watch.

as for the topspin issue, in a sense you are right... but not really... topspin always gives you the potential to hit harder. ball X traveling 100 mph with no spin, or ball Y traveling 100 mph with topspin, which is more likely to go in?

drakulie
10-23-2007, 07:33 PM
i really don't know what you are trying to prove.

I didn't link that thread to show you pics of guys serving and making contact, I posted it so you are aware I have seen pros up close and taken photos of them as well. And the photo in this thread is at contact, not before.

as for the topspin issue, in a sense you are right... but not really...

Sorry, but I am right. It is harder to get more pace on a ball with spin, than without.

Furthermore, one has to impart way more energy, and have a much faster swing speed into a topsin serve going 100 mph, than a flat serve going 100mph.

Lastly, like I said>>> throughout this thread I have been stating to swing up (same as you), so go back and read, before you state I am incorrect.

nousername
10-23-2007, 07:46 PM
I didn't link that thread to show you pics of guys serving and making contact, I posted it so you are aware I have seen pros up close and taken photos of them as well. And the photo in this thread is at contact, not before.



Sorry, but I am right. It is harder to get more pace on a ball with spin, than without.

Furthermore, one has to impart way more energy, and have a much faster swing speed into a topsin serve going 100 mph, than a flat serve going 100mph.

Lastly, like I said>>> throughout this thread I have been stating to swing up (same as you), so go back and read, before you state I am incorrect.
you're right... we are kind of on the same page: swing up. guess we just disagree about the details.

your right there is more energy in a 100mph+topspin than 100mph+flat, but the thing with the serve is that it is such a complex shot, and SO many recreational players do it incorrectly. with improper technique, it's VERY easy to waste energy in the service motion. if there's some dude serving 100mph flat with bad technique, he is ABSOLUTELY using MUCH more energy than a guy with good technique who can serve at 115mph with a nice flat-topspin serve.

rec players are usually NO WHERE near their power potential. i'm just trying to help people tap that power-potential, so they can use it effectively on their serve... if they learn how to tap it, they can then put that power potential into spin or speed on their serve.

nousername
10-24-2007, 07:08 AM
And the photo in this thread is at contact, not before.

surprised you are arguing this point... we all can see the photo.

in addition, contact on any shot is not instantaneous, the ball rests in the strings for a finite amount of time. even in your referenced pic, what do you think the angle of the racquet looked like when the ball just left the string bed?

also, keep in mind, the "slightly forward" was my 2nd point, AND i only said "slightly" for a reason.

you might want to check the link here captioned as "Where do High Speed Tennis Serves come from?"
http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showpost.php?p=299990&postcount=22

for ease, i'm specifically talking about this (see towards the bottom):
http://www.coachesinfo.com/category/tennis/202

two of the better servers the game has seen, sampras and phillipoussis, both when serving 1st serves at 120mph+ had topspin in the range of 2000-2500rpm. a GOOD "flat"-first serve *will* have a good amount of topspin. if you cannot generate pace and spin on a flat 1st serve i think there is likely a problem with the technique. you make it sound impossible to generate spin and speed at the same time. it seems like you don't have much faith in what your bodies can actually do.

topspin on a "flat" serve adds consistency, control, and higher serve percentages, and by trying to teach flat serves otherwise is doing a disservice to the players (i believe).
-----------------
EDIT: oh, yeah, one other benefit of topspin on a flat serve: adds more "action" after the bounce, thus making them more difficult for the returner to track and return.

nousername
10-24-2007, 07:12 AM
point to note and NEVER forget: at contact on a serve, the racquet should have purely horizontal motions (i.e. upward/sideways) and forward motion. that covers them all: flat, slice, kick, whatever

oops... this was suppose to be:

point to note and NEVER forget: at contact on a serve, the racquet should have purely horizontal motions (i.e. forward/sideways) and upward motion. that covers them all: flat, slice, kick, whatever

Cindysphinx
10-24-2007, 07:18 AM
I'm with you, sureshs...I actually visualize the tennis first serve as being similar to the spike serve in volleyball. I don't think about hitting up, down or sideways because my arm swing was pretty much established from years of throwing a baseball, softball etc. I think more about accelerating the racquet in a trajectory that is parallel to the ground just before the point of contact.

You can trip yourself up trying to break down everything into it's smallest component and over analyzing the problem. The problem is overanalysis.

Morten...take the racquet out of your hand and put in it's place a handball (are you European?) or small playground ball that you can grip comfortably with one hand. Practice throwing that for awhile until you develop a good throwing motion. It should take you about ten days to two weeks...or you can overthink the problem and never figure out the service swing.

Shhhhhhhhhhh . . . Don't let the secret out! :)

Seriously, I had read on these boards that you should hit up up up on serves. It totally wasn't working for me. Lots of serves flying long or having nothing on them. Finally, I asked my pro during a lesson.

He said you should get on top of the ball and hit down for flat and slice, with topspin being a different species altogether. My serve improved in consistency and pace just in the course of that one lesson, and the improvement has stuck. If my serve goes off in a match, the first thing I do is tell myself to slow down and be more careful with the toss. The second thing I tell myself is to hit down on the ball.

nousername
10-24-2007, 07:41 AM
Shhhhhhhhhhh . . . Don't let the secret out! :)

Seriously, I had read on these boards that you should hit up up up on serves. It totally wasn't working for me. Lots of serves flying long or having nothing on them. Finally, I asked my pro during a lesson.

He said you should get on top of the ball and hit down for flat and slice, with topspin being a different species altogether. My serve improved in consistency and pace just in the course of that one lesson, and the improvement has stuck. If my serve goes off in a match, the first thing I do is tell myself to slow down and be more careful with the toss. The second thing I tell myself is to hit down on the ball.
i actually sounds like you might be doing the same as what we all mean by "hit up". it's just that some of our minds operate differently, and maybe you (and others) are ones that just take slightly different mental cues to get your body to do the right thing... make sense? ... maybe??? =)

hitting "down" can kind of be good, as long as you are truly trying to reach up and over the ball to get on top of it so you can hit down. since the toss is far above the head, then only way to get "down" on it is to... go up first. if you are actually trying to hit down on the very top of the ball, then you are probably properly going "up" to it.

since it's actually impossible to hit the top of the ball, in *trying* to do so, one will "inadvertently" brush up the back of the ball which imparts topspin. that's a good thing.

imagine looking at a right-hand server from his back and imagine the ball is a clock, from this view contact should start at 3 o'clock and the racquet face should rotate up and over the ball towards 12 o'clock (never actually reaching 12 o'clock though). this can be accomplished by "reaching up", OR in your case by really reaching for the 12 o'clock spot to hit down.

what you said about a kick being a whole different beast, i don't really agree with. the only difference (in my view) is a slightly different toss, and a slightly different swing motion and possibly a different grip. but all the "upward" (or "down") stuff and the rotate/brush up from 3 to 12 o'clock is all the same.... or at least that's the way i'd tell people (other's like drakulie may not agree).

Cindysphinx
10-24-2007, 08:55 AM
I think you may be right.

When I tried to hit up on the ball, I was probably hitting more toward the bottom of the ball, causing serves to fly long.

And as a matter of physics, I imagine that if one hits down on a tennis ball, the ball will land on one's big toe.

So it is all about mental imagery on some level. I'm sure glad my pro straightened me out, because I was seriously getting frustrated!

Regarding kick serves and suchlike, I will defer to others. I know my pro spent a few minutes just showing me what it should look like, and we agreed my practice time would be better spent learning to do the things that might actually help me win a point in a match (groundstrokes and volleys).

sureshs
10-24-2007, 11:20 AM
And as a matter of physics, I imagine that if one hits down on a tennis ball, the ball will land on one's big toe.


But if you hit up on the ball, it should go towards the sky.

Let us take slice and topspin serves out of the picture for now and look at flat serves only. Question is: at the moment of contact, what is the direction of the normal (perpendicular line) to the string plane? I would say it is down and forward, approximately joining the ball to the bounce point on the ground. I cannot see this as hitting up in any manner.

Now, what about the trajectory of the normal prior to getting there? It is indeed an upward motion, followed by a downward snap at the end, like an arc of a circle.

In a floater volleyball serve, an upward hit on the side of the ball has enough horizontal velocity component to get it across, but there is no need to keep the ball within a service box. For a spike serve, the hit has a downward component in addition to the forward component, but not an upward component.

I cannot see the upward motion in tennis automatically resulting in a downward snap because the racquet face is closed. The racquet is a rigid, linear entity. One part cannot be going down while the other part is going up, whatever is the angle of the face.

For the slice, I think the downward motion is still needed. For the kick, I agree the ball can be struck up and topspin will bring it down.

sureshs
10-24-2007, 11:21 AM
Finally, I asked my pro during a lesson.

He said you should get on top of the ball and hit down for flat and slice, with topspin being a different species altogether.

That is what I said and I did not even charge for it.

sureshs
10-24-2007, 11:26 AM
I once attended a Vic Braden clinic and he said serves should be pitched as in baseball. I did not take it seriously, and thought that is a last-minute attempt to salvage a botched toss. Then, I saw Federer hit some serves as if he was pitching them, with a bend at the elbow. This reminded me of the infamous and illegal "throw ball" in cricket: the arm is supposed to swing like the hand of a clock, with no bend at the elbow, but every now and then, a player would "pitch" it, and the sports board would look at videos to issue a ruling.

Rafa freak
10-24-2007, 11:36 AM
I sort of aim down, my serve is not too good..... and i cant get a kick either...I mean as you hit the ball.

how tall are you.

sureshs
10-24-2007, 11:52 AM
In every picture where I captured the contact point, not one person has the racquet face facing down at contact. Not one.

http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=161872



On the very first page, the White, Yellow and Sleeveless guys all appear to be hitting down on the serve. Now, could be after contact, but that is all I can make out in the photos.

Slazenger
10-24-2007, 11:55 AM
I think there's a whole issue of semantics going on here with people describing the same thing but with different sensations.

I will say that you don't hit down on your serve. You will net the serve everytime or end up brushing slightly downwards on your serve giving it some backspin.

You definitely swing up to hit over the net. The swing is not a straight drive down into the court.
YOu are swinging up, but the ball goes into the opposing service box and not the sky because you don't leave the arm extended out straight towards the opponents service box. You do extend the arm up into contact but the forearm and wrist pronate as a consequence of the service motion and grip.

http://www.sfgate.com/blogs/images/sfgate/sportsevents/2006/09/08/b_08300046_federer.jpg

Pros have such major pronation, that is why they can get such big serves in.

When teaching students I definitely have them swinging upwards on the serve.

sureshs
10-24-2007, 12:04 PM
YOu are swinging up, but the ball goes into the opposing service box and not the sky because you don't leave the arm extended out straight towards the opponents service box. You do extend the arm up into contact but the forearm and wrist pronate as a consequence of the service motion and grip.


What is "you"? In my definition, it is the closest part of my body to the racquet, i.e., my palm and wrist. If it pronates, that means that "I" am hitting down, not up (for non-kick serves). What my upper arm is doing, or my legs are doing, etc are very important, but what matters to the ball is the perpendicular direction to the string plane at impact. The ball does not know the history of what my arm was doing before.

morten
10-24-2007, 12:17 PM
Quote: "The problem is overanalysis."

Too late, i can throw very far, very athletic guy, tall too, but a major flaw thought to me as a 13 yo messed up my serve, making me consentrate too much on the pronation, not letting it happen. Also visualizing my idol Edberg did`nt help either. I am top 60 in my country with a weak serve, pushing the ball....

hjminard
10-24-2007, 12:20 PM
This thread is confusing ...

It seems to me that you DO swing up at the ball ... initially ... but at contact (on a flat serve) the racquet face would have to be either vertical or angled very slight downward.

Most flat serves I've seen (including mine) have some spin, but certainly not enough to keep the ball in the box if it doesn't have the correct trajectory. I don't see how it could possibly achieve that trajectory if the racquet face was pointing upward.

I'm no expert ... but I see it as an upward swing path initially, but by contact with the ball the path has reached it's vertical peak and has (just barely) started to travel downward.

Slazenger
10-24-2007, 12:37 PM
What is "you"? In my definition, it is the closest part of my body to the racquet, i.e., my palm and wrist. If it pronates, that means that "I" am hitting down, not up (for non-kick serves). What my upper arm is doing, or my legs are doing, etc are very important, but what matters to the ball is the perpendicular direction to the string plane at impact. The ball does not know the history of what my arm was doing before.

It may feel like you are hitting down on your serve, but I can assure you, you aren't (If you are serving with a continental grip or eastern bh with good form.)

sureshs
10-24-2007, 12:46 PM
This thread is confusing ...

It seems to me that you DO swing up at the ball ... initially ... but at contact (on a flat serve) the racquet face would have to be either vertical or angled very slight downward.

Most flat serves I've seen (including mine) have some spin, but certainly not enough to keep the ball in the box if it doesn't have the correct trajectory. I don't see how it could possibly achieve that trajectory if the racquet face was pointing upward.

I'm no expert ... but I see it as an upward swing path initially, but by contact with the ball the path has reached it's vertical peak and has (just barely) started to travel downward.

Agreed. Even with slice added to a flat serve (which comes naturally with a continental grip, not so much with an eastern grip), there is not enough differential downward air pressure to bring down the serve. The slice also mainly contributes to a sideways shift in any case (and a little downward one too). The serve has to be hit down (and forward).

nousername
10-24-2007, 12:57 PM
This thread is confusing ...

It seems to me that you DO swing up at the ball ... initially ... but at contact (on a flat serve) the racquet face would have to be either vertical or angled very slight downward.

Most flat serves I've seen (including mine) have some spin, but certainly not enough to keep the ball in the box if it doesn't have the correct trajectory. I don't see how it could possibly achieve that trajectory if the racquet face was pointing upward.

I'm no expert ... but I see it as an upward swing path initially, but by contact with the ball the path has reached it's vertical peak and has (just barely) started to travel downward.
for those wondering about the trajectory of the serve to the service box, note that the best "angle" to the service box is from the doubles alley over the center of the net INTO the far corner of the service box. when serving from this point, to get a straight shot to the court you must hit the ball at over 8 ft above the ground. all other places on the court, require contact points even higher than that. sooo... unless you are over 6ft tall and always serving from the doubles alley to the far corner of the service box it is not likely that you can rely only on gravity.... you need spin, unless you serve really slow then gravity will do the job.

if you really, have doubt about the benefit of spin on a flat serve, i again reference the link a few of my posts back. it gives stats on the spin from sampras and phillipoussis's 120mph+ serves. they both have 2000-25000 rpm of spin.

nousername
10-24-2007, 01:05 PM
What is "you"? In my definition, it is the closest part of my body to the racquet, i.e., my palm and wrist. If it pronates, that means that "I" am hitting down, not up (for non-kick serves). What my upper arm is doing, or my legs are doing, etc are very important, but what matters to the ball is the perpendicular direction to the string plane at impact. The ball does not know the history of what my arm was doing before.
if you are standing flat, and you hold up your hand and pronate... yes, the racquet goes down. but when you serve, you are far below the ball, knees bent, and you go up to the ball. there is so much upward motion at the point of contact, the pronation combines with the extention of your forearm all results in a net upward velocity of the racquet head.

but you are correct the plane of the racquet is still slightly downward, but don't let that mislead you in thinking the racquet must be moving down. it's not.... or more correctly, is shouldn't be moving downward. the angle will, as you correctly point out, give you the proper trajectory: down towards the service box. the upward motion gives the spin to bring it in the court.... note my previous post about the trajectory, not many players have a clear shot into the box... and even if you do, adding spin give you many benefits which i pointed out many times in this thread.

sureshs
10-24-2007, 01:05 PM
for those wondering about the trajectory of the serve to the service box, note that the best "angle" to the service box is from the doubles alley over the center of the net INTO the far corner of the service box. when serving from this point, to get a straight shot to the court you must hit the ball at over 8 ft above the ground. all other places on the court, require contact points even higher than that. sooo... unless you are over 6ft tall and always serving from the doubles alley to the far corner of the service box it is not likely that you can rely only on gravity.... you need spin, unless you serve really slow then gravity will do the job.

if you really, have doubt about the benefit of spin on a flat serve, i again reference the link a few of my posts back. it gives stats on the spin from sampras and phillipoussis's 120mph+ serves. they both have 2000-25000 rpm of spin.

Most people seem to serve from close to the center line in singles, and a few feet away from it in doubles. They seem to do it with all kinds of serves - flat, slice and kick.

There are some who serve as you said - and they do happen to be tall.

nousername
10-24-2007, 01:09 PM
It may feel like you are hitting down on your serve, but I can assure you, you aren't (If you are serving with a continental grip or eastern bh with good form.)
so true... i'm looking for some good pics and videos, so this issue can be put to rest. please post if you find something conclusive...

sureshs
10-24-2007, 01:14 PM
but you are correct the plane of the racquet is still slightly downward, but don't let that mislead you in thinking the racquet must be moving down. it's not

The only way I can see that happen (again, for non-kick serves) is if the racquet was kept at a closed face, then launched like a cannon at an acute angle to the ground, and hits the ball tangentially. Then the ball will go forward and down. This is in fact the case with a "topspin" serve in table tennis - the paddle surface is pulled from low to high, catching the tossed ball tangentially.

Since the tennis serve is usually overhand and involves a rotation of the arm, this kind of motion does not seem possible.

nousername
10-24-2007, 01:14 PM
Most people seem to serve from close to the center line in singles, and a few feet away from it in doubles. They seem to do it with all kinds of serves - flat, slice and kick.

There are some who serve as you said - and they do happen to be tall.
don't know if you are agreeing or disagreeing ... my point was that most people that do not have clear straight-line shot to the box. in such a case, a *truly* flat hard shot (100+) is very hard to go in for people of average stature without some help. gravity helps, but spin can help to a much greater extent.

sureshs
10-24-2007, 01:17 PM
don't know if you are agreeing or disagreeing ... my point was that most people that do not have clear straight-line shot to the box. in such a case, a *truly* flat hard shot (100+) is very hard to go in for people of average stature without some help. gravity helps, but spin can help to a much greater extent.

Agreeing.

Disagreement was with something else - whether the ball is hit up or down in flat and slice serves. If topspin is added, upward motion is needed, as we all seem to agree.

nousername
10-24-2007, 01:31 PM
Agreeing.

Disagreement was with something else - whether the ball is hit up or down in flat and slice serves. If topspin is added, upward motion is needed, as we all seem to agree.
ok, i see....

i think we'd also agree that on any serve the net force is down... otherwise how does it get to the court? right... =)

the question is how to get that downward force. i tend to believe that "good" serves of all varieties (flat, slice, kick, etc) require that the velocity vector of the racquet head will always have a non-zero upward component during contact... that combined with the proper head angle will produce a net downward force.

sureshs
10-24-2007, 01:46 PM
ok, i see....

i think we'd also agree that on any serve the net force is down... otherwise how does it get to the court? right... =)

the question is how to get that downward force. i tend to believe that "good" serves of all varieties (flat, slice, kick, etc) require that the velocity vector of the racquet head will always have a non-zero upward component during contact... that combined with the proper head angle will produce a net downward force.

Only if the movement is like a tangential cannon fire as I described above. Otherwise, I cannot see the role of upward motion at impact.

nousername
10-24-2007, 02:10 PM
Only if the movement is like a tangential cannon fire as I described above. Otherwise, I cannot see the role of upward motion at impact.
it simply adds spin. nothing more...

and it comes at a very low cost in terms of energy. it's not hard to add a little upward velocity. as long as you have a good fundamental motion, the upward velocity then becomes mostly a timing issue. once you start to experience and realize the added benefit of spin on a flat serve this may seem like a waste... but trust me, once you learn how to do it it's not a waste. see the end of post #27 for the benefits of spin on a flat serve.

if you are convinced that a truly flat "flat-serve" is best. then my advice will be of little value.

on the other hand, if you do choose to try to implement this "new" view of flat-serving, i would encourage you not to write it off too quickly if things don't work out right away... make sure you find someone else who agrees with this technique to can confirm whether your form is right.

this "up and over" mentality will do wonders for your serve... when done correctly... =)

nousername
10-24-2007, 02:17 PM
The only way I can see that happen (again, for non-kick serves) is if the racquet was kept at a closed face, then launched like a cannon at an acute angle to the ground, and hits the ball tangentially. Then the ball will go forward and down. This is in fact the case with a "topspin" serve in table tennis - the paddle surface is pulled from low to high, catching the tossed ball tangentially.

Since the tennis serve is usually overhand and involves a rotation of the arm, this kind of motion does not seem possible.
this is basically right... but don't constrain your self to "tangential"... allow that acute angled face to move upward slightly as it moves across.

the overhand motion does seem counter-intuitive to this idea, but we are only talking about motion of the racquet during contact, which is a short time. for that short of a time, the racquet head is moving close to a straight line.

drakulie
10-24-2007, 02:18 PM
you make it sound impossible to generate spin and speed at the same time. it seems like you don't have much faith in what your bodies can actually do.

I never said or implied this. I agree with everything you have stated in regards to putting spin on the ball, technique, etc.

Like I have been saying, we are both in agreement.

drakulie
10-24-2007, 02:27 PM
For those interested. Here is a link with an analysis of the Sampras serve. You could follow his racquet path on all the different serves (slice, kick, flat, etc).

http://www.tennisserver.com/set/set_03_09.html

Here is a vid analysis of his serve.

http://www.tennisserver.com/set/images/set_03_04/serve1.mov

sureshs
10-24-2007, 02:33 PM
the overhand motion does seem counter-intuitive to this idea, but we are only talking about motion of the racquet during contact, which is a short time. for that short of a time, the racquet head is moving close to a straight line.

Thinking about it more, I think I can accept the idea of a horizontal (i.e, neither upwards or downwards) path of the string plane. When this combines with the falling of a tossed ball, the resultant direction will be forward and down. I suppose it could be extended to say that hitting upwards on a falling ball could produce a downward component, but I think the force with which the ball is hit (for slice and flat serves) is so much that gravity will not be enough to bring the ball down if the hit is upwards. This is sort of proved by the topspin serve, where it is the spin which pulls the ball down. If you hit upwards without spin, you are not likely to get a flat serve going straight into the box.

drakulie
10-24-2007, 02:41 PM
Here is another Serve analysis of the Sampras serve. In this analysis, you could follow his swing path, and velocity of the raquet from the beginning of the motion until the end.

Notice how on every type of serve, his velocity reaches it's peak while swinging up at the ball, not down.

http://www.tennisserver.com/set/set_03_11.html

tbini87
10-24-2007, 02:49 PM
i brush up on the ball for my kick serve. gets good spin for net clearance and kick once it bounces.

sureshs
10-24-2007, 02:55 PM
Here is another Serve analysis of the Sampras serve. In this analysis, you could follow his swing path, and velocity of the raquet from the beginning of the motion until the end.

Notice how on every type of serve, his velocity reaches it's peak while swinging up at the ball, not down.

http://www.tennisserver.com/set/set_03_11.html

I see that in:

Flat 1: racquet is slightly facing down at contact

Slice 1: Ditto

Slice 2: Ditto

Kick 1: racquet is facing up at contact

Kick 2: Ditto

Flat 2 is either horizontal or slightly up (I can't explain if it is up).

Almost all cases seem to show that for flat and slice serves, the string plane faces down at impact.

In some cases, the maximum velocity is at contact, in some cases, it is before contact. The ball knows only what happens at contact, so the racquet head position at contact is important, not before or after, regardless of whether the velocity is maximum or not.

nousername
10-24-2007, 03:04 PM
Here is another Serve analysis of the Sampras serve. In this analysis, you could follow his swing path, and velocity of the raquet from the beginning of the motion until the end.

Notice how on every type of serve, his velocity reaches it's peak while swinging up at the ball, not down.

http://www.tennisserver.com/set/set_03_11.html
awesome stuff... do they reveal which types of serves they are?

it appears to me that it is:

- kick
- slice
- flat
- kick
- flat
- slice

not only does the velocity peak before contact, but it's clear there is upward velocity at contact.... for anyone doubting whether you should have an upward component of velocity (i know you agree drak), here's how to see it:

at the contact point, connect the two nearest dots before and after contact... note the connected dots always point upward. the steepest ones being the kicks followed by the slice then the flat serve.

----------------------------------

EDIT: another oops... i was referring to this link: http://www.tennisserver.com/set/set_03_09.html

drakulie
10-24-2007, 03:07 PM
In some cases, the maximum velocity is at contact, in some cases, it is before contact. The ball knows only what happens at contact, so the racquet head position at contact is important, not before or after, regardless of whether the velocity is maximum or not.

The point is, that his maximum velocity is being reached as he swings UP AT THE BALL, not down.


You want to be a knuckle head and continue thinking to hit down on the ball, then by all means keep hitting those serves into the net.

nousername
10-24-2007, 03:08 PM
I see that in:

Flat 1: racquet is slightly facing down at contact

Slice 1: Ditto

Slice 2: Ditto

Kick 1: racquet is facing up at contact

Kick 2: Ditto

Flat 2 is either horizontal or slightly up (I can't explain if it is up).

Almost all cases seem to show that for flat and slice serves, the string plane faces down at impact.

In some cases, the maximum velocity is at contact, in some cases, it is before contact. The ball knows only what happens at contact, so the racquet head position at contact is important, not before or after, regardless of whether the velocity is maximum or not.
------------------------------

EDIT: again, sorry, my initial comments were based on the wrong link. i deleted the errant comments from me.

they were made when i was referring to this link: http://www.tennisserver.com/set/set_03_09.html
i sped through those posts and didn't realize there was more than one linked page to this website.

drakulie
10-24-2007, 03:09 PM
awesome stuff... do they reveal which types of serves they are?

it appears to me that it is:

- kick
- slice
- flat
- kick
- flat
- slice

not only does the velocity peak before contact, but it's clear there is upward velocity at contact.... for anyone doubting whether you should have an upward component of velocity (i know you agree drak), here's how to see it:

at the contact point, connect the two nearest dots before and after contact... note the connected dots always point upward. the steepest ones being the kicks followed by the slice then the flat serve.

Look at my other post (before the one you quoted), and i think that one shows what tpe of serves they are.

sureshs
10-24-2007, 03:26 PM
I don't see why the racquet head orientation should not be considered. The people who did the study included it, didn't they?

And what was the rpm on the Sampras "flat" serve? Wasn't it like 2000? Then is it really flat? If he was in fact doing another kind of serve (if translated to the recreational level), then he could be putting all kinds of action on the ball which doesn't really apply to a rec player trying to hit flat or slice.

bhupaes
10-24-2007, 03:38 PM
You shouldn't be confusing the angle of the racquet face with the direction of motion of the racquet head. The racquet may be facing downwards, as a lot of pictures seem to show, but the head is moving upwards at the moment of impact. That's how I serve.

sureshs
10-24-2007, 03:51 PM
You shouldn't be confusing the angle of the racquet face with the direction of motion of the racquet head. The racquet may be facing downwards, as a lot of pictures seem to show, but the head is moving upwards at the moment of impact. That's how I serve.

That can only produce slice or topspin, not a flat serve. And that too it needs to be a very heavy slice (like Sampras' presumambly), when the spin could bring the ball down (bringing it to the side also brings it down, as it reduces the forward component). For a recreational player who cannot produce so much action, an upward movement without "going over the ball" will sail the ball long.

I think the confusion here is that 1) people don't place top spin in a different category 2) they look at videos of Sampras and don't realize how much side spin his "flat" serve has 3) repeat the mantra of hitting up.

Listen to what the coach mentioned previously said - for slice and flat, hit down on the ball. For topspin, hit up.

When/if anyone here gets to be like Sampras, they can hit up, do a couple of somersaults after the toss before hitting, whatever.

bhupaes
10-24-2007, 04:12 PM
Well, it's up to you if you want to learn/use the right technique or not. If you hit perfectly flat - assuming that is possible, and I don't think it is - after the hit, the ball should continue in the direction in which the racquet face was moving at the moment of contact. There are (at least) two problems with this. One is, could you possibly generate such a movement at the height at which you need to make the contact? The other is, when you address the ball flat on, your margin for error will be very, very low. IMO, even people who think they are hitting perfectly flat are not really doing so.

drakulie
10-24-2007, 04:28 PM
For a recreational player who cannot produce so much action, an upward movement without "going over the ball" will sail the ball long.

No it won't. You are forgetting things like gravity, drag, distance traveled, etc.

If you were to hit "down" on a totally flat ball that travels in a straight line, you would have to be 9 feet tall (including wing span and frame length) in order to get it into the service box. This shot would barely skim the net, and leaves you absolutely no margin for error.

Recreational players that put no spin on the ball, are actually hitting the ball **FORWARD**. (THIS MEANS THERE RACQUET FACE IS PERPENDICULAR TO THE GROUND). Gravity and drag is what brings the ball into the court.

Lesson over.

BeHappy
10-24-2007, 04:42 PM
the point of the phrase ''hit up at the ball'' isn't, aim the ball up, it's swing up, ie, low to high


idiots

claycourtextraordinaire
10-24-2007, 05:07 PM
for me....
first serve: try and get "over the ball", toss the ball nice and high and in-front. Visualise where over the net and where in the court. watch the ball (duh!).
second serve: racket speed is key... you want a lot, don't focus on angle the racket hits the ball, toss it up slightly behind you.

WildVolley
10-24-2007, 05:30 PM
I aim down, but the racquet face is probably pretty much perpendicular to the court or facing very slightly up at contact. I'm mostly making contact under 10' in the air. If I aimed up, I'd most likely hit the ball over the back fence. I think the subjective feeling of aiming down has more to do with body lean than racquet face positioning.

In any case, what you "feel" yourself doing and what the racquet is actually doing can be two completely different things. Where and how you "aim" isn't nearly as important as how consistently you are hitting and where the ball is going.

Trinity TC
10-24-2007, 05:34 PM
Quote: "The problem is overanalysis."

Too late, i can throw very far, very athletic guy, tall too, but a major flaw thought to me as a 13 yo messed up my serve, making me consentrate too much on the pronation, not letting it happen. Also visualizing my idol Edberg did`nt help either. I am top 60 in my country with a weak serve, pushing the ball....
Do you have any video of your serve?

nousername
10-24-2007, 06:20 PM
Look at my other post (before the one you quoted), and i think that one shows what tpe of serves they are.
yep, i see... my bad.

I don't see why the racquet head orientation should not be considered. The people who did the study included it, didn't they?

And what was the rpm on the Sampras "flat" serve? Wasn't it like 2000? Then is it really flat? If he was in fact doing another kind of serve (if translated to the recreational level), then he could be putting all kinds of action on the ball which doesn't really apply to a rec player trying to hit flat or slice.
i just think the pictures are slightly miss leading. it's a given that the racquet is slightly more at an angle on a kick than a flat. so for a kick up the middle vs a kick out wide that angle will appear different to a viewer at the side.

sampras's flat rpm was 2500+ rpm, so not not flat at all. his kick was 5500+ rpm. yes, a rec player (an most other pros and D1 college players too) can't get that much spin. but any rec player should be able to develope a flat spin serve, and kick with slightly more spin.

You shouldn't be confusing the angle of the racquet face with the direction of motion of the racquet head. The racquet may be facing downwards, as a lot of pictures seem to show, but the head is moving upwards at the moment of impact. That's how I serve.
exactly!! =) ... another fellow believer, any others?

That can only produce slice or topspin, not a flat serve.

dude... you need to change your thinking on what a "flat" server means. "flat" when discussing serves is a RELATIVE term. it means "flatter" than others, it does NOT mean totally flat. believe it or not, you can develop a sampras type motion... of course, you won't serve like him and you won't generate the exact rpms he does, but you will be able to develop a nice flat-topspin serve.

nousername
10-24-2007, 06:33 PM
I don't see why the racquet head orientation should not be considered. The people who did the study included it, didn't they?

here's clearer reason why not to... the kick serve for example... when viewed from the back of the court, the racquet is slightly sideways at contact. roughly speaking, the handle would be around 5 o'clock and the head at 11 o'clock. so now take the view of the writers of that article, a view from the side and slightly in front... from that angle, a the sideways tilt of the racquet will appear as a backward angle, EVEN IF the racquet plane is still slightly downward... that's why you shoudn't use the racquet as a reference in these pics.

sureshs
10-25-2007, 12:52 PM
Here are some links, with my comments in italics. This should help clear up the misconceptions floating around here.

http://tennis.about.com/od/serve/a/raiseptcontact.htm

The most common first serve used by advanced players, including the pros, has a combination of topspin and slice (sidespin) that results from brushing and striking the ball at a point that would be between the 1:00 and 2:00 positions on an imaginary clock face (for a right-hander).

[Between 1 and 2 is hitting down, not up]

On a flat serve (rarely used in the pros) or on a topspin-slice serve, the racquet is very close to vertical at contact,

http://www.freeessays.cc/db/46/sjf185.shtml

Topspin is caused by an implement striking forward-upward. Backspin is produced when the strike is made forward-downward. In the serve topspin is added to draw the ball out or make it jump up. Backspin is added to make the ball fall short, so to make the opponent run to the net.

http://www.**************.com/serve-technique.html

It is tennis mind game which was edited out.

Video 1: He does NOT recommend it, but if you notice, the first of his 3 serves land in. The ball was not hit up, nor is he Ivo Karlovic. You have all seen this serve from guys (who mostly throw it into the net). But it can be done. This is an absolute flat serve, hitting down, and is still possible.

Video 2: pronation with a flat/slice serve - is he hitting up? No.

Video 3: topspin serve - is he hitting up? Yes.

http://www.tennisserver.com/turbo/turbo_04_07.html

Some pros (like Pete Sampras) can serve all the various flat and spin serves using one contact point. Most of us mortals need to vary the toss to vary the contact point to produce different spins.

[Sampras is a bad example to analyse for recreational players]

http://www.operationdoubles.com/how_hit_slice_serve_tennis.htm

Watch Ju's slice serve. Is she hitting up? No.

http://www.operationdoubles.com/how_hit_flat_serve_tennis.htm

when you hit flat, all the racket head's momentum is in the direction of flight, because you hit straight through the ball.

More comments:

There is a misconception here resulting from a confusion between a slice and a topspin-slice serve. In a slice serve, the ball is struck on the right, for a rightie. The racquet is moving down (see Ju's serve above) at contact. The reason you don't need to be 11 feet tall is because the side spin floats the ball and brings it down to the left eventually. Posters here have not understood this. The topspin-slice serve is neither the slice serve nor the topspin serve (http://www.operationdoubles.com/spin_serve_tennis.htm). In that serve, used widely at the pro level, the ball is hit slightly up. That is why you claim that Sampras' "flat" and "slice" serves are hit upwards. Sampras does not need to read this section for tips, so we can forget about him for now.

Second misconception here is that a ball hit flat will follow the straight path it started out with. In fact, you can hit a flat serve with a vertical face (driving thru the ball - see reference above) aiming further down from the service line, and wind resistance will keep the ball in. It is possible to do so with being Dr. Ivo (see Video 1 above).

drakulie
10-25-2007, 01:08 PM
^^^^^ For starters, if you literally hit a ball between the 1 and 2 o-clock position, the ball would go straight down.

By the way, every video shown the server is hitting up, not down. What happens with the racquet **after** the ball has been struck is insignificant.

sureshs
10-25-2007, 01:51 PM
http://www.tennis.com/yourgame/instructionarticles/serve/serve.aspx?id=46380

5th photo in Braden's analysis of Murray's serve.

Is the racquet face (normal to it, that is) pointing up or down at contact?

nousername
10-25-2007, 01:54 PM
Here are some links, with my comments in italics. This should help clear up the misconceptions floating around here.

http://tennis.about.com/od/serve/a/raiseptcontact.htm

The most common first serve used by advanced players, including the pros, has a combination of topspin and slice (sidespin) that results from brushing and striking the ball at a point that would be between the 1:00 and 2:00 positions on an imaginary clock face (for a right-hander).

[Between 1 and 2 is hitting down, not up]

On a flat serve (rarely used in the pros) or on a topspin-slice serve, the racquet is very close to vertical at contact,

http://www.freeessays.cc/db/46/sjf185.shtml

Topspin is caused by an implement striking forward-upward. Backspin is produced when the strike is made forward-downward. In the serve topspin is added to draw the ball out or make it jump up. Backspin is added to make the ball fall short, so to make the opponent run to the net.

http://www.**************.com/serve-technique.html

It is tennis mind game which was edited out.

Video 1: He does NOT recommend it, but if you notice, the first of his 3 serves land in. The ball was not hit up, nor is he Ivo Karlovic. You have all seen this serve from guys (who mostly throw it into the net). But it can be done. This is an absolute flat serve, hitting down, and is still possible.

Video 2: pronation with a flat/slice serve - is he hitting up? No.

Video 3: topspin serve - is he hitting up? Yes.

http://www.tennisserver.com/turbo/turbo_04_07.html

Some pros (like Pete Sampras) can serve all the various flat and spin serves using one contact point. Most of us mortals need to vary the toss to vary the contact point to produce different spins.

[Sampras is a bad example to analyse for recreational players]

http://www.operationdoubles.com/how_hit_slice_serve_tennis.htm

Watch Ju's slice serve. Is she hitting up? No.

http://www.operationdoubles.com/how_hit_flat_serve_tennis.htm

when you hit flat, all the racket head's momentum is in the direction of flight, because you hit straight through the ball.

More comments:

There is a misconception here resulting from a confusion between a slice and a topspin-slice serve. In a slice serve, the ball is struck on the right, for a rightie. The racquet is moving down (see Ju's serve above) at contact. The reason you don't need to be 11 feet tall is because the side spin floats the ball and brings it down to the left eventually. Posters here have not understood this. The topspin-slice serve is neither the slice serve nor the topspin serve (http://www.operationdoubles.com/spin_serve_tennis.htm). In that serve, used widely at the pro level, the ball is hit slightly up. That is why you claim that Sampras' "flat" and "slice" serves are hit upwards. Sampras does not need to read this section for tips, so we can forget about him for now.

Second misconception here is that a ball hit flat will follow the straight path it started out with. In fact, you can hit a flat serve with a vertical face (driving thru the ball - see reference above) aiming further down from the service line, and wind resistance will keep the ball in. It is possible to do so with being Dr. Ivo (see Video 1 above).
a few things...

all serves are/should be topspin and slice, b/c it's nearly impossible to hit pure topspin or pure slice. i hope and think we would be all mostly in agreement on this. i don't know why you brought it up.

the 1 and 2 o'clock reference doesn't make sense b/c the ball is 3D and a clock is 2D... the writer must first state his perspective when mapping 3D onto 2D. it is not clear.

sampras is a wonderful example for rec players. simple and smooth. period.

who's ju?

if ju is not hitting up on his slice serve, then he has bad form. i didn't see any video.

i'm running out of energy with these posts... i will give up soon... i think.

sureshs
10-25-2007, 01:56 PM
i'm running out of energy with these posts... i will give up soon... i think.

Then just look at my previous post, and correlate the photo with comment #5 in the article - the contact point, and plot the perpendicular to the string face.

nousername
10-25-2007, 01:59 PM
^^^^^ For starters, if you literally hit a ball between the 1 and 2 o-clock position, the ball would go straight down.

By the way, every video shown the server is hitting up, not down. What happens with the racquet **after** the ball has been struck is insignificant.
right, all we are concerned about is the few micro-seconds that the ball is in contact with the stringbed... the direction of travel of the racquet during that time frame and that time frame alone is all that matters.

again, reference drakulie's sampras analysis links. the answer is exceedingly clear ... if you open your mind. (to be honest, it clear even without an open mind... it's just clear.)

there is nothing about sampras's motion that the average rec player cannot imitate. can a rec player do sampras's motion to the extreme that sampras does it... no... but that's not the point. sampras is probably the best example for any player to imitate.

sureshs
10-25-2007, 02:05 PM
^^^^^ For starters, if you literally hit a ball between the 1 and 2 o-clock position, the ball would go straight down.


Between 1 and 2 is an area, not a direction.

sureshs
10-25-2007, 02:06 PM
right, all we are concerned about is the few micro-seconds that the ball is in contact with the stringbed... the direction of travel of the racquet during that time frame and that time frame alone is all that matters.

again, reference drakulie's sampras analysis links. the answer is exceedingly clear ... if you open your mind. (to be honest, it clear even without an open mind... it's just clear.)

there is nothing about sampras's motion that the average rec player cannot imitate. can a rec player do sampras's motion to the extreme that sampras does it... no... but that's not the point. sampras is probably the best example for any player to imitate.

Why don't you just respond to my previous post, instead of all the emotional stuff?

nousername
10-25-2007, 02:27 PM
http://www.tennis.com/yourgame/instructionarticles/serve/serve.aspx?id=46380

5th photo in Braden's analysis of Murray's serve.

Is the racquet face (normal to it, that is) pointing up or down at contact?
in the 5th pic, the racquet is *slightly downward*, it's a very good example of what i've said many times before. i am 100% positive his racquet has an upward velocity the instant the phone was taken (and of course, forward velocity too... and even a bit of lateral velocity if it's a slice serve... lateral = parallel to baseline).

drakulie
10-25-2007, 02:37 PM
http://www.tennis.com/yourgame/instructionarticles/serve/serve.aspx?id=46380

5th photo in Braden's analysis of Murray's serve.

Is the racquet face (normal to it, that is) pointing up or down at contact?

Yes, the racquet is pointing slightly down.

However, Murray is 6'3". This, coupled with a 27 inch frame, a 2 foot arm wing span, and the height he has off the floor at contact would enable him to eclipse the 9 foot ceiling height he needs in order to have a "closed" racquet face at impact.

However, he swung up >>> not down. Stop being a knuckle head.

sureshs
10-25-2007, 04:39 PM
in the 5th pic, the racquet is *slightly downward*

[QUOTE=drakulie;1833593]Yes, the racquet is pointing slightly down.

However, he swung up >>> not down.[QUOTE]

Thanks, guys.

And of course he swung up. The racquet could not have gotten to that height by itself against gravity. At contact, it is hitting down on the ball. The ball sees the string plane coming at it downwards and forwards at impact.

And thanks Vic Braden, Tennis magazine, and the cameraman for educating us.

BTW, lest some of you misunderstand, no one is saying you should not hit up on the ball. By all means, do so. But understand that it is not always done by the pros, and different coaches have different opinions - like Cindy's coach said hit down for flat and slice serves, when she was hitting up and sailing it long.

I always hit up on the ball on my (poor) kick serve. Many pros probably hit "flat" or "slice" serves which are actually topspin-slice, and they will have to hit up. Federer has a nasty one from the deuce court down the middle which heads into the ad court, swings left into the deuce court, turns a little right, and bounces shoulder high, hitting the fence. It is probably a topspin-slice-twist serve.

Sampras is known for hitting all serves deceptively with the same toss and contact point (see my link before). That is possible only if he hits somewhat up (I was wrong when I said he hit down - the racquet picture misled me - and I was corrected that the blue points must be joined), if he wants to topspin off the same toss and contact point.

Obviously it is now proven that Murray (who is higher ranked than anyone here) hit down on at least one serve - a serve which Vic chose to use to write an article.

If you see the other videos I posted, you will find a teaching pro hitting a dead flat serve down, a pronated slice serve down, and Ju hitting a slice down.

drakulie
10-25-2007, 05:03 PM
And of course he swung up. The racquet could not have gotten to that height by itself against gravity. At contact, it is hitting down on the ball.


Suresh, what you are miserably failing to understand is as follows:

First off, I think we can all agree when the racquet has reached perpendicular, it has done so by swinging up and not down.

Now, the distance between PERPENDICULAR, and the photo you provided of Murray making contact is very little. It is barely noticeable. There is no way, Murray reached perpendicular, and **THEN** purposely hit down on the ball. The distance is too short for him to get any independent momentum from perpendicular to magically turn it on at this very moment and decide to "hit down" to the point of contact.

He swing up, and as I posted on the first page, this results in pronation and the racquet face hitting the ball forward and down.

One doesn't hit "down" on the ball. They aim up, and the force of the swing eventually brings the racquet back down.

sureshs
10-25-2007, 05:13 PM
Now, the distance between PERPENDICULAR, and the photo you provided of Murray making contact is very little. It is barely noticeable. There is no way, Murray reached perpendicular, and **THEN** purposely hit down on the ball. The distance is too short for him to get any independent momentum from perpendicular to magically turn it on at this very moment and decide to "hit down" to the point of contact.

He swing up, and as I posted on the first page, this results in pronation and the racquet face hitting the ball forward and down.

One doesn't hit "down" on the ball. They aim up, and the force of the swing eventually brings the racquet back down.

The force of the swing does not bring the racquet down all the time in time, specially in recreational players who don't transfer weight forward and don't have powerful swings. See the first and second videos of my previous link. It is clearly emphasized that pronation is a conscious technique which must be learnt. I see so many older players, set in their habits, who don't pronate. The racquet does not come down automatically, or actually it does, but when it is too late. By that time, the ball has been hit long.

drakulie
10-25-2007, 05:13 PM
^^ To add, this is one reason why one shoudln't purposely snap their wrist "down" on the serve like you have heard so many posters on the boards say they do. They aren't doing anything by purposely trying to get more velocity between perpendicular to contact. The distance is much too short. The wrist "snaps" naturally.

drakulie
10-25-2007, 05:16 PM
It is clearly emphasized that pronation is a conscious technique which must be learnt.

Although many disagree with this, I completely agree that the act of pronating is something learned. When one uses a continantal they must consciously make an effort to rotate their forearm to a prone position in order for the strings to align with the ball. If not, they will hit the ball with the edge of their frame.

sureshs
10-25-2007, 05:17 PM
^^ To add, this is one reason why one shoudln't purposely snap their wrist "down" on the serve like you have heard so many posters on the boards say they do.

Correct, it should be a smooth motion. It is mentioned in that link. There should be no pause and then a sudden downward motion of the wrist.

sureshs
10-25-2007, 05:41 PM
Read a lot about pronation now, and frankly I am not very impressed. Some claim it happens naturally if the swing is powerful and you are moving forward (sure :-)), some claim it takes a lot of effort to learn and they have drills for it, and some say it is not a must for recreational players.

To me, it seems that the only instance where I need pronation (and I already do it unconsciously) is when you want to hit a flat serve with a continental grip (so as not to hit the ball with the frame or on the side). For the slice and kick serves, it seems you do need to hit on the side of the ball, so what is the point?

I think I am not going to do any more wrt pronation.

nousername
10-26-2007, 06:55 AM
Thanks, guys.

And of course he swung up. The racquet could not have gotten to that height by itself against gravity. At contact, it is hitting down on the ball. The ball sees the string plane coming at it downwards and forwards at impact.

i think drakulie is right you are miserably failing to understand some things. it's partially a semantic thing, meaning we are all using slightly different definitions for the same words, BUT that is not the heart of it b/c drakulie myself and others keep explaining over and over and over yet you incessantly disagree... so it leads me to think this is more than semantic differences.

but just in case, first, i will clarify some semantic issues: a downward angle of the racquet head at contact is NOT what we mean by "hitting down". when i say "hitting down" i mean a downward velocity of the racquet head at contact. so again, in pic 5, murray is "hitting UP" with a Downward angled racquet face. get it?


But understand that it is not always done by the pros, and different coaches have different opinions - like Cindy's coach said hit down for flat and slice serves, when she was hitting up and sailing it long.

1 - "hitting upwards" IS always done by the pros. the only time i can think when it was not done was Change in 89 at the French against Lendl... but he was serving underhand. =)

2 - Not all coaches are good coaches. i'm not a coach, and a lot of things coaches say tick me off b/c they obviously don't get it sometimes. (... if i could make a good living at being a tennis coach ... maybe i would??? i definitely gotta improve my game first though... )


Federer has a nasty one from the deuce court down the middle which heads into the ad court, swings left into the deuce court, turns a little right, and bounces shoulder high, hitting the fence. It is probably a topspin-slice-twist serve.


this is mostly just a good kick, maybe a bit of twist to it. nothing too special. a lot of pros do it, and i've played and seen many rec players do it (~4.5). granted, maybe not with as much action, but the same fundamental shot. ALSO, when you say "heads into the ad court", this is AFTER the bounce. overall, i think you were a little over zealous in your description of the action of that shots. you make it sound like it zig-zags all the way from one end to the other.... =)


Sampras is known for hitting all serves deceptively with the same toss and contact point (see my link before). That is possible only if he hits somewhat up (I was wrong when I said he hit down - the racquet picture misled me - and I was corrected that the blue points must be joined), if he wants to topspin off the same toss and contact point.

sampras does uses the same toss, BUT he does not use the same contact point. i disagree with the author. you need to watch slow-motion vids to see it. his toss, like feds, starts out in front and loops back over his head. he picks it off at slightly different places... in front for flat, and slightly over his head for kick, somewhere in between for slice. it's subtle, but there is a difference.

Obviously it is now proven that Murray (who is higher ranked than anyone here) hit down on at least one serve - a serve which Vic chose to use to write an article.

If you see the other videos I posted, you will find a teaching pro hitting a dead flat serve down, a pronated slice serve down, and Ju hitting a slice down.
i hope first comments in this post clarified your claim of murray "hitting down".

i know who "ju" is now... vids didn't load last time i check those links... justine henin? hmm... yer on nickname basis with her? nice!

sureshs
10-26-2007, 07:38 AM
ibut just in case, first, i will clarify some semantic issues: a downward angle of the racquet head at contact is NOT what we mean by "hitting down". when i say "hitting down" i mean a downward velocity of the racquet head at contact. so again, in pic 5, murray is "hitting UP" with a Downward angled racquet face. get it?



I have no interest in explaining this to you any more: but one last time, a rigid linear body cannot be moving up while exerting a downward force, unless it strikes the ball tangentially (like the Pong videogame). It is NOT like an Olympic diver whose legs can go up while his hands go down. A "closed" racquet face of an upward moving racquet cannot produce a downward force unless the hit is tangential, which it clearly is not. It is very common in table tennis (top spin serves, counter blocks) where the paddle IS moving upward while the ball is pushed to the front. In fact, it occurs in tennis forehand or backhand topspin shots too. These all fall under the "brush up against the ball" scenarios. That is not the case with this serve (but it is for topspin serves).

nousername
10-26-2007, 08:23 AM
I have no interest in explaining this to you any more: but one last time, a rigid linear body cannot be moving up while exerting a downward force, unless it strikes the ball tangentially (like the Pong videogame). It is NOT like an Olympic diver whose legs can go up while his hands go down. A "closed" racquet face of an upward moving racquet cannot produce a downward force unless the hit is tangential, which it clearly is not. It is very common in table tennis (top spin serves, counter blocks) where the paddle IS moving upward while the ball is pushed to the front. In fact, it occurs in tennis forehand or backhand topspin shots too. These all fall under the "brush up against the ball" scenarios. That is not the case with this serve (but it is for topspin serves).
you obviously don't understand rigid linear motion... study harder bro...

rough "guess-timates" of velocity components:

flat serve: 85% forward, 10% up, 5% lateral
slice serve: 70% forward, 10% up, 20% lateral
kick serve: 60% forward, 30% up, 10% lateral

all with downward facing racquet.

it's simple i could show you with a fist and palm...

sureshs
10-26-2007, 09:39 AM
kick serve: 60% forward, 30% up, 10% lateral

all with downward facing racquet.



You know why? Because the racquet is brushed up against the lower side of the ball, with the racquet direction pointing downward from right to left. The down direction of the racquet face is not even in the direction in which the ball takes off. It takes off because it has been hit a glancing blow from below (or even higher) and right. The strings are never on top of the ball facing it squarely down, as in that picture.

Most of the flat and slice serves of the pros may also have some topspin on them.

nousername
10-26-2007, 10:17 AM
You know why? Because the racquet is brushed up against the lower side of the ball, with the racquet direction pointing downward from right to left. The down direction of the racquet face is not even in the direction in which the ball takes off. It takes off because it has been hit a glancing blow from below (or even higher) and right. The strings are never on top of the ball facing it squarely down, as in that picture.

Most of the flat and slice serves of the pros may also have some topspin on them.
sorry, but your post are the most confusing i've ever read. you cannot use word like "right", "left", "tangential", 1 o'clock, 2 o'clock, etc, etc without a specified reference frame... they are relative words, and therefore need a reference frame. it seems like you do not have a science and engineering background, but yet you try to use these words without the technical precision required. please be more careful and specific.

i can't say whether i agree or disagree, b/c it's so unclear... i very well may agree... also (again) this may be a semantic argument... the definitions of words you are using might be slightly different from my definitions. i have a feeling will never get to the bottom.

your last statement is true if by "Most" you mean "All", and by "may also" you mean "do"...

ipodtennispro
10-27-2007, 08:54 PM
Well, this is more of a physics problem. Has anyone used the interactive CD-ROM simulator from the LTA? Correct me if I am wrong, but if
you can serve the ball at over 100 mph it drops roughly about 2 and half
or 3 feet by the time it reaches the net because of gravity alone.
Then we have to account for the spins. The faster you can hit the ball
the further it can travel, however, without the spins it will
obviously go long.

Therefore, at a certain height, it IS possible to hit down on your serve,
especially when reaching into the court which closes the gap even more.
The problem is what constitutes "hitting down" on the ball. A Flat
serve actually has to have some type spin on it to keep it a float in
the air until it reaches over the net and in the service box.

According to the calculations I entered on the LTA CD-ROM simulator, a contact height of 7’ 05” with a serve speed of 173. 99 mph landed in. Hitting 170 MPH serves has not been done but when you program higher heights and lower speeds it is feasible. You will need to enter in the speed, vertical angle, height, horizontal angle, start position and spin. Also, the program asks you to enter in normal, fluffy, or smooth balls. All of these things have to be factored in.

If you would like this CD-ROM, please watch this short video with information on the LTA:

http://iws.punahou.edu/user/lcouillard/petennis/Sportssim.MP4

ipodtennispro
10-27-2007, 10:41 PM
Sorry, the text is locked on that site, only the video plays. You will have to go to the LTA website and ask for the CD-ROM.

www.lta.org.uk

sureshs
10-29-2007, 06:45 AM
sorry, but your post are the most confusing i've ever read. you cannot use word like "right", "left", "tangential", 1 o'clock, 2 o'clock, etc, etc without a specified reference frame... they are relative words, and therefore need a reference frame. it seems like you do not have a science and engineering background, but yet you try to use these words without the technical precision required. please be more careful and specific.

i can't say whether i agree or disagree, b/c it's so unclear... i very well may agree... also (again) this may be a semantic argument... the definitions of words you are using might be slightly different from my definitions. i have a feeling will never get to the bottom.

your last statement is true if by "Most" you mean "All", and by "may also" you mean "do"...

The terms are for a right handed server. I don't have the time or energy to specify everything as rigorously as you seem to want.

sureshs
10-29-2007, 06:54 AM
Therefore, at a certain height, it IS possible to hit down on your serve,
especially when reaching into the court which closes the gap even more.
The problem is what constitutes "hitting down" on the ball. A Flat
serve actually has to have some type spin on it to keep it a float in
the air until it reaches over the net and in the service box.

According to the calculations I entered on the LTA CD-ROM simulator, a contact height of 7 05 with a serve speed of 173. 99 mph landed in. Hitting 170 MPH serves has not been done but when you program higher heights and lower speeds it is feasible. You will need to enter in the speed, vertical angle, height, horizontal angle, start position and spin. Also, the program asks you to enter in normal, fluffy, or smooth balls. All of these things have to be factored in.


A flat serve can have side spin on it if it is hit with a little racquet tilt about the handle. At high swingspeeds, the effect will be more pronounced. The ball curves to the left as it travels thru the air. This further increases the chance of the ball landing in, specially from the deuce court. The same effect can be obtained by hitting forward and down on the ball, brushing it on the right (for rightie). If you have seen serves from the deuce court which appear to leave the racquet and turn left, dip down, and fall short and wide in the deuce court, and bounce further left into the alley, you have seen these serves. The returner is usually too far away to return it.

sureshs
10-29-2007, 06:57 AM
especially when reaching into the court which closes the gap even more.



Throwing into the court makes a huge difference. I have been told that some players throw as much as 3 feet into the court. Pros also leave the ground by several inches in their serve.