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Cindysphinx
10-25-2007, 12:18 PM
I was hitting with my practice partner the other day, and we decided to do some serves. She suggested that I change my serve. The change would be to kick backward with the right foot and have the left foot hop and land. That's an awkward way to describe it, but it conforms with what the pros do.

Now, I haven't asked my pro to do anything with my serve in a long while. We've been focusing on the things that cause me to cough up points in matches (forehand, approach and defensive volley). I know he has said I need to use my body more when I serve, but I don't really want to change anything now as we head into winter and I won't have a facility to practice/groove anything completely new. I think the last time he offered some advice on the serve, we talked about shoulder turn, not feet/kicking, and I never had time to try to take this advice on board.

Here's my question: what is the purpose of landing on the left foot and kicking back with the right? Do all good servers do this, and if so, do they do it on all serves?

smoothtennis
10-25-2007, 01:06 PM
Once you transfer your weight from you back foot (right) to your front foot (left), you push off the ground with your left, and your right foot naturally kicks back to counter balance your weight. This happens without concious thought. It sounds like you may not be tranfering your weight forward on the serve, and your partner is seeing the manifestation of that.

volusiano
10-25-2007, 01:13 PM
They're just the end results of doing the right serve, but they're not part of the steps you try to do when you execute the serve. If you have enough knee bend to help propel your racket reach as high as you can, and toss the ball far enough into the court so that you can throw your body momentum forward into the court, you'll find that you end up landing on your left foot and your right foot will kick back.

But again, they're just an indication of a well executed serve and not part of the execution steps.

Cindysphinx
10-25-2007, 01:28 PM
OK, thanks. This is helpful.

I was trying to consciously do this, and it felt awkward and foolish.

And, uh . . . my knee bend is insufficient. I know that. I'll fix it in Spring 2008, I promise.

Cindy -- very unsure her left knee can stand the strain anyway

skiracer55
10-25-2007, 01:34 PM
They're just the end results of doing the right serve, but they're not part of the steps you try to do when you execute the serve. If you have enough knee bend to help propel your racket reach as high as you can, and toss the ball far enough into the court so that you can throw your body momentum forward into the court, you'll find that you end up landing on your left foot and your right foot will kick back.

But again, they're just an indication of a well executed serve and not part of the execution steps.

Some really good servers move their feet a fair amount, some don't move them much at all. The question is, if I move my feet as your partner suggested, what am I getting out of it? It sounds like an attempt to get more pace, and that's not the way to do it. You have to be balanced on any stroke to make it happen effectively, or even to happen at all. The serve is no exception. My coach saw a lot of unneccesary body English going on with my serve, so he had me serve without moving the feet, and by keeping the body behind the stroke and letting the racket face (not the body) lead the stroke.

There are a number of Bad Things that can occur by trying to kick back and hop forward:

- You can foot fault.

- You can cut down your consistency, because the move sequence you're talking about will tend to pull your head down when you really need to drive up and through the ball.

- Per the above discussion, you'll lose balance, and therefore leverage, and you'll probably lose, not gain, power.

JRstriker12
10-25-2007, 02:45 PM
Cindy, is your partner talking about using a pin-point stance vs. a platform stance?

-Here's a good article on stances and finishes for serves: http://www.tennisserver.com/turbo/turbo_07_05.html

In a pin-point stance you drag the back foot forward and bring the feet together before launching into your serve. If you are right handed, the right foot would come forward and you would sort of jump up, land on your left and kick the right foot back at the finish. (See Roddick serev here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9s3E-jnzRiE )

I would say all good servers transfer thier body weight into the serve, but players who use a platform stance - I think Pete Sampras used platform (http://www.tennis.com/yourgame/instructionarticles/serve/serve.aspx?id=327 )- don't drag the one foot forward during thier motion.

So you can have a good serve with out the little hop in the service motion like in the pin-point stance (Sampras Serve with Platform - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wsUMOeNi6BU) , but the pin-point stance does help initiate that forward body motion.

I personally use the platform stance. I tend to fall on my behind if I try to do pin-point. I still use the leg drive to more my weight forward and into the court, but dragging the right foot forward throws off my rythm.

sureshs
10-25-2007, 03:26 PM
Actually, even some advanced players (I think some oldies on the Champions tour too but I could be wrong) land with their right leg in without lifting completely off the ground. Lifting off and landing on the left foot and maintaining balance is not an easy job.

Jump rope exercises might help.

volusiano
10-25-2007, 04:37 PM
Cindy -- very unsure her left knee can stand the strain anyway

If you're currently using the platform stand, perhaps switching to a pinpoint stand can help relieve some of the strain put on you left knee by sharing more of the load on the right knee.

JRstriker12
10-25-2007, 04:54 PM
If you're currently using the platform stand, perhaps switching to a pinpoint stand can help relieve some of the strain put on you left knee by sharing more of the load on the right knee.

I'd think the platform stance would be less stressful since your weight is distributed on both legs longer than in pin-point. Pin-point requires the server to place a majority of their weight on the front foot as the back foot de-weighted and moved forward, so he's a case where there's more stress on the left knee plus additional stress in providing stability during the movement.

Cindysphinx
10-25-2007, 05:42 PM
Cindy, is your partner talking about using a pin-point stance vs. a platform stance?

-Here's a good article on stances and finishes for serves: http://www.tennisserver.com/turbo/turbo_07_05.html

In a pin-point stance you drag the back foot forward and bring the feet together before launching into your serve. If you are right handed, the right foot would come forward and you would sort of jump up, land on your left and kick the right foot back at the finish. (See Roddick serev here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9s3E-jnzRiE )

I would say all good servers transfer thier body weight into the serve, but players who use a platform stance - I think Pete Sampras used platform (http://www.tennis.com/yourgame/instructionarticles/serve/serve.aspx?id=327 )- don't drag the one foot forward during thier motion.

So you can have a good serve with out the little hop in the service motion like in the pin-point stance (Sampras Serve with Platform - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wsUMOeNi6BU) , but the pin-point stance does help initiate that forward body motion.

I personally use the platform stance. I tend to fall on my behind if I try to do pin-point. I still use the leg drive to more my weight forward and into the court, but dragging the right foot forward throws off my rythm.



I think I am getting confused. If I use platform, I should land on my left foot, then?

Tennismastery
10-25-2007, 05:54 PM
Cindy, The kick back of the right foot (for right-handed servers) is to prevent the over-rotation of the hips during the serve. If your hips were allowed to rotate, you would end up pulling the serve well to the left and your swing speed would be diminished because the swing would have to be at the same speed of the hip rotation to keep the serve from being pulled to the left.

The push and landing of the left foot can be practiced by serving while balancing on the left foot, pushing and landing after the serve on this same foot. Not only does it help you learn this aspect of the foot pattern, it also helps you learn to serve with better balance. (A tip I wrote about on TennisOne dealing with drills and practice tools.)

Players who serve with an eastern forehand 'waiter's grip' service motion usually step through with the back right leg because they swing on a fairly linear, 'armed' swing pulling the elbow down.

Also, some pros believe you will get to the net sooner by stepping into the court with the back right leg. This is completely false because the player who lands on the correct left foot will be in essentially the same distance as a player who steps in...but, the natural inertia of the swing will then carry the back leg around basically putting the player in another step at the completion of the serve. Those who step through and land on the right foot will have to reverse their inertia to get their left foot to step in after landing on the right foot.

Anyway, there are many subtle complex elements of the serve that have many 'cause and effect' points. This is just one of them.

Good luck in developing your serve!

P.S. if you do have my book, I address this very issue in depth.

JRstriker12
10-25-2007, 06:06 PM
If you use platform, you will still end up landing on your left foot first more or less. It's just that you don't have the little hop and the right leg kick back isn't there is isn't exaggerated.

For example - check out Sampras' serve http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wsUMOeNi6BU

His weight comes forward and he pushed off with both legs. When he lands, both legs are close together, but he lands on the left first.

It's not as exaggerated as Roddick, where he lands pretty much only on his left foot (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9s3E-jnzRiE ).

Make sense?

JR

volusiano
10-25-2007, 07:58 PM
It's interesting to see in the Roddick serve video how he takes a tiny step forward with the left foot before hitting the ball. The Sampras serve is probably a more conventional one to emulate.

I serve with the platform stance myself so I can't argue with JRstriker12 whether the pinpoint stance is better or worse for the strain on the left knee or not. I can see his logic about putting more stress on the left knee during the little movement of the right foot forward. But my thinking is if the strain is coming more from the jump up to hit the ball (instead of providing stability during the right foot movement), then perhaps it helps a little with the right and left foot being closer together when you make the jump. But on the other hand, even on the platform stance, you still use your right foot to assist in the jump anyway. So it's a toss up to me.

FedererISBetter
10-25-2007, 09:27 PM
Even though I am a 4.5, my serve is the weakest and having to redevelop the whole thing to make it more effective. I have a problem though, and that is about the kicking off part.

Should I be kicking off BOTH legs upward instead of just one? My serve is similar to Agassi form and I am confused about the "explosion" of leg power release from his legs.

volusiano
10-25-2007, 11:47 PM
I kick off with both legs on my serve with the platform stand, although more of my weight is on my left foot when I kick off because I try to toss the ball more into the court.

furyballs
10-26-2007, 10:48 PM
You can think of it like throwing a baseball pitch. In the windup your weight is on your right leg (right handed) and you transfer your weight to your left on release.

Nellie
10-28-2007, 10:40 AM
Funny - I was going to say the same thing about the analogy to a baseball toss.

Don't get confused by the different stances, forms etc. It all does not matter because, As others have noticed, the movement is not really the desired result, but rather a sympton of the proper weight transfer.

In particular, you will want to start your weight mostly on you rear foot (likely your right, if you are a righty). You may notice that some servers, such as Sampras, would lift the toes on the left foot to insure a full weight transfer. During the service motion, you will strive to bring all of your wieght from the rear foot, to the front left foot. For many, this means lifting your right foot and shifting forward to land entirely on your left foot. For others, they start and land on both feet, but the process of moving all of the weight forward is the same.

As an aside, remember that this movement indicates a proper weight transfer, but does not ensure it. One of the more difficult aspects is the timing of the kenetic chain on the serve. I often see people take a huge jump/step too soon, only to land, lose the energy, and hit a weak serve with only some arm movement. It is like taking a big swing at a ball, only to stop before contact and then restarting the swing.

orangeblood
02-22-2009, 09:42 AM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0lCKrzAlARo

Just curious, but how does Noah make landing on the right foot work for him? I've tried it in practice, and it's the most awkward thing ever, but he makes it look so easy.