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View Full Version : serve: snapping the elbow vs. snapping the wrist


lendl lives
03-22-2004, 01:21 PM
a friend who has a hugemungus serve was giving me some tips yesterday. i had always thought about snapping my wrist on the serve. he said this was wrong and that your wrist should be loose. Instead you should do the snapping with your elbow. i haven't tried it yet since i'm out with and injury right now. what do you guys think about this? bungalo?

Kobble
03-22-2004, 01:29 PM
It would coincide with article that told me the greatest contributing muscle is the triceps. When I think back, some of my biggest serves felt like I did what he described.

Morpheus
03-22-2004, 02:12 PM
I have a friend who works for a robotics company (packaging automation) and they built this robot that can through baseballs (the CEO is an ex-pitcher) for use at tradeshows.

They had a hard time getting the ball to go faster than 80 mph until the CEO told them that all the speed comes from the last few inches of the throw--the wrist snap. They made adjustments and the robot through 140 mph.

Interesting debate, but I wouldn't discount the role of the wrist snap.

Japanese Maple
03-22-2004, 02:29 PM
Snapping your elbow is an interesting concept, but I think a more
effective technique to generate pace on your serve and create
better angles into the court is to actually snap your racquet head
at contact so that it is pointing down. When you do this you get
excellent forearm/wrist pronation without thinking about it. Just
before contact your racquet and arm will form a straight line and
as you make contact with the racquet tip moving forward and down you elbow will pop up . What most people do is not snap
the racquet head forward ahead of their arm but actually follow-through with the racquet and arm together in a straight line with
no forward and downward snap of the racquet tip. A touring pro who
use to work out at Saddlebrook often hit warmup serves with
this racquet snap without any follow-through-he would just snap
the racquet and hold his position after contact with the tip downwards. He said its very important to raise your contact point
with a higher toss and feel like you are snapping the ball downwards-this will give you big time power if done correctly!

Phil
03-22-2004, 04:30 PM
How in the world do you "snap" your elbow? When you snap the wrist-i.e. pronate-that starts the elbow and the entire upper arm moving in concert, in the same direction as the wrist. I'm not an expert on physiology, but I doubt that it's even possible to "snap" the elbow without snaping the wrist-the wrist leads.

Cypo
03-23-2004, 02:51 AM
I snap my shoulder :o ....Seriously, it's probably not recommended, but my elbow and wrist feel loose and the motion comes from the shoulder - kind of like throwing an American football.

Tim Tennis
03-23-2004, 05:22 AM
The legs, hips, stomach and lower back muscles provide the foundation for the serve, well for all the strokes for that matter. Their actual contribution to racquet head speed is quite negligible. I call these the base support accelerators.

The real generation of racquet head speed starts when the upper body starts to uncoil. The shoulder rotation, the pectoral muscles, the tricep, the muscles in the forearm including the wrist snap all contribute. Note that when you pronate you are actually turning your forearm to square up the racquet face don't confuse this with laying the wrist back and the wrist snap. They may occur at the same time but are actually moving the racquet two different directions. What happens is as the serve or stroke progresses each muscle group is making it's own contribution to the racquet head speed. The wrist snap is the last addition to the speed of the racquet but this does not mean it makes the greatest contribution. A good test is to hold your serving hand stable over your head with your other hand. Now try to throw your racquet just using your wrist. It won't go very far will it. Now hold your arm up, keep the wrist firm but load the tricep, yup back in the old backscratch position, now pop it, the racquet will take off. The tricep is the major accelerator if you load all of the muscles properly and you have correct mechanics on your serve.

You got to love the game.

Bungalo Bill
03-23-2004, 08:42 AM
Lendl lives,

I AGREE!!!!!!!!!!

Some advances players are going to disagree with me on this one I can feel it.

I have a big serve and I dont snap! I dont consciously do anything except for maintaining a rythymic motion and hit the ball right on the sweetspot of the strings!

I have never purposely forced my wrist to snap. Snapping is a terrible word. It really sounds painful. I prefer to say bending.

My arm is very very loose at the elbow as much as it can be throughout the entire service motion. This believe it or not takes training!!! The brain is used to contracting muscles for a hit. You have to train it in the opposite fashoin. AS long as your toss is in the right location it is not too high were it drops to fast (I prefer meeting it at its peak), you will have all the time in the world to hit that sucker hard.

The terms whip, snap, etc. are analogys for having a loose arm all the way up to the wrist. That is all it is. Pronation happens naturally, the wrist bend happens naturally, etc. etc.
In fact, I shake my arm several times before serving to loosen it up.

IF you look at the way your arm works. You will see that the elbow will eventually extend to its fullest, this transfers momentum to the wirst area till it cant bend down anymore from the weight of the racquet. I use a heavier racquet just because my loose arm will fling or "snap" the racquet head into the ball. It is like a whip. My shoulder is the handle, my arm is the rope, and my wrist is the tail. Use whatever you need to visualize a relaxed arm. That is a huge thing to have a big booming serve.

I also know plenty of players that have purposely torqued the wrist in effrots to snap it down and have developed tendenitis in their wrist.

The human body is made beautifully just let it work!

jun
03-23-2004, 09:29 AM
I mostly agree with Bill. But there are going to be disagreements on that issue, even some pros like Andy Roddick says that they use wrist on spin serves.

Elbow snapping or elbow "hook" as tennisone.com did the article on a while ago, SHOULD happen naturally, if it is meant to happen at all. Sampras has noticable elbow hook. What ever happens on the followthrough of the serve should be the result of good technique;

1)Loose arm,wrist,grip.
2)Hip stretch.
3)good knee bend (not too deep)
4)Going up for the ball.

If you do all these correctly, you are likely to have some elbow hook. IMO, the degree can differ depending on how much whip you are able to put on.

I have tried so many different things on serve, snaping wrist, intentional pronation, elbow hook. Right now, I am serving the best I have ever have.

And the only thing I ever pay attention to is loose arm and keeping my eye on the ball.

Kobble
03-23-2004, 12:24 PM
Just like In golf, everyone has a swing key. It is a thought or two that we all use to make sure the rest of the motion stay in sync. Some may focus on the wrist being loose, or the elbow etc. The problem with adapting someone elses swing keys is that it may be a false visualization that they apply to achieve something they are unaware of. Most of us had realized this when we saw are selves on tape for the first time. This is the reason why I tell so many people to let the video be the judge of what you should do. My personal belief is that swing keys should be a means of maintaining what you have created in reality when you can no longer use the instant feedback of a mirror or an instant replay as guidance. However, it is also necessary for the building or experimental phase of your strokes. With that said, many people obviously use different means of creating speed. Amer Delic and Sampras use a gradual building up of speed. Roddick and Rafter use a more explosive method to generate speed. Both are acceptable, but one category's swing key may not work for the other category for many obvious reasons. Few people have ideal serves, and even many pros could do better. When I review a recent video I want to see flaws, because if I don't I will be stumped on what to do next. Never In my life have I seen a player with a model serve struggle to serve over 120 mph on regular basis. If people familiarize themselves with the common traits of a big serve, along with the work ethic to implement them, I believe most people will be astonished with their results. An example of what I do when I practice the serve.

1. I bring approximately 10-20 balls. I doesn't matter if they are new or not.
2. Bring a camcorder.
3. I also bring a list of what I want to feel during the motion. For example. A) You a looser wrist with the 1st 10 balls. B) Use a looser elbow with the 2nd set of 10 balls C) Use a higher toss with the 3rd set of 10 balls. This will allow me to see how the things I feel in the serve affect the reality of what I am doing. I also combine variables to see how one affects another.
4. I hit a few till I am warmed up, and then I turn the camera on.
5. Sometimes I check the camera while I am out there so I can attempt on court corrections, but sometimes I don't.

The one experience that made me adopt this method was when I tried to imitate Roddick's serve. I hit some very solid serves, but I did not want to adopt his style. When I checked the tape I looked nothing like him, and more like the ideal serve I was trying to achieve. My motion was actually getting to loose and the Roddick thought corrected it. It taught me that no feeling is too bizarre to be ignored, especially when it produces results.

Japanese Maple
03-23-2004, 05:56 PM
Bungalo Bill,

The word "snap" is an excellent word and technique to use in ones
serve. If you re-read my first post no mention is made about
snapping your wrist or forearm, but you do want to definitely snap
the racquet tip towards the ground after contact-this assures
maximum racquet acceleration and a steep angle into the court
with plenty of net clearance. Most tennis players do not get their
racquet tip pointing downwards after contact and diminish their
consistency and power. Chuck Krese actually recommends his
players hit serves with no legs or upper body, using only their arm
to promote this racquet snap during practice. If you focus on
getting the racquet tip to point downwards the wrist and forearm
will pronate naturally without any thought. However, if you
try to force a wrist snap or forearm pronation you will not necessarily create maximum racquet acceleration with the tip
pointing downwards.

Bungalo Bill
03-23-2004, 06:49 PM
Well if you like the term snap use it! I don't. I say bend because I dont want my students forcing a snap.

I think if you reread my post you will see we agree.

I see you finally got and read Chuck's book. Great! It is exactly the stuff I follow. Good stuff isnt it? :)

Any more concerns?

Japanese Maple
03-24-2004, 11:12 AM
The majority of tennis instruction in books,magazines,videos, and
on court teaching by certified instructors all like to refer to the
explosion of the racquet at the top of the swing as being facilitated
by wrist/forearm snapping,cracking, or whipping the the racquet tip
through the ball and ahead of your arm and wrist in the follow-through. Allen Fox writes in his book Think To Win, "A server need
not consciously concern himself with trying to pronate when serving. The wrist and forearm will naturally pronate on your serve during the act of snapping your wrist." Dr. Jack Groppel writes in
a recent Tennis Magazine article "When snapping your wrist, its
important to get your racquet head through the impact point quickly. If your wrist leads the way, the frame will be late coming through and the ball is sure to go long. So remember to let the racquet head accelerate and overtake the hand and the wrist."
The late Tim Gullikson wrote in Tennis Magazine regarding Pete
Sampras's serve "Here's the payoff of Sampras' relaxed start-he
has generated tremendous wrist snap and forearm pronation, something he could not do if those muscles were not relaxed. The
snapping action is where a lot of his power comes from;it is what
moves the racquet head through the ball." Tim also states in
another Tennis Magazine article on the serve "The second thing is to keep a lose grip on your racquet, with a flexible hitting arm. That way,
you can really snap your wrist and forearm like a whip, accelerating
your racquet into the ball. Snap your wrist and pronate your forearm. That really brings the racquet head through the ball, giving
you a lot of power. The looser your wrist and the quicker you snap
it, the more power you'll get." Frank Early in his excellent book
Tennis Strokes That Win says "The shoulders snap after lagging
behind the hips; the elbow snaps after lagging behind the shoulders;the wrist snaps after lagging behind the elbow; and finally, the racket head whips through after lagging behind the
wrist. After the muscles of the trunk and arm have done their
work, Pioline's wrist snap is the final, explosive action before contact." Jack Broudy in his excellent book The Real Spin On Tennis
says "Throw the head of your racket at the ball-throw the tip straight forward. Always remember that "head first" produces "headweight."
I have a collection of over 60 tennis books and 30 videos in my library and the majority of the authors refer to the serve as a snapping action at the top of the swing versus a feeling of bending.
As a descriptive term for the serve" Bending" sounds contrived,
forced, and lethargic. "Snapping" sounds explosive,forceful, and
penetrating which is probably why most tennis experts like to
use snapping when describing what happens prior to contact on the serve. The serve is without question the most difficult stroke in
tennis to learn and where you will find the most disagreements
as to what actually takes place and how best to teach from tennis instructors. Unfortuately, very few tennis teachers are capable of truly teaching
the serve, I should know because it has been an on-going project for
me for over 20 years and I am still learning!

Puma
03-24-2004, 03:32 PM
Japanese Maple,


Sir, I really appreciate your tennis knowledge. After reading many of your posts, it is clear you have considerable knowledge on most all subject matters concerning tennis. I am impressed. I wish I had your knowledge about tennis.

I do NOT however admire your delivery. It is quite obvious your need to berate other fellow contributors in the act of proving your own point. This is not only ugly, it has become disruptive and quite honestly childish.

It is unfortunate that one such as you with such knowledge must continue to degrade yourself and your message with such tactics. There is no way I can be of any tennis benifit to you as far as tennis is concerned. As you have stated, you have many books, videos about tennis. The only recommendation I COULD make is a suggestion. Try reading "How to Win friends and influence People".

Bungalo Bill
03-24-2004, 05:47 PM
The majority of tennis instruction in books,magazines,videos, and
on court teaching by certified instructors all like to refer to the
explosion of the racquet at the top of the swing as being facilitated
by wrist/forearm snapping,cracking, or whipping the the racquet tip
through the ball and ahead of your arm and wrist in the follow-through. Allen Fox writes in his book Think To Win, "A server need
not consciously concern himself with trying to pronate when serving. The wrist and forearm will naturally pronate on your serve during the act of snapping your wrist." Dr. Jack Groppel writes in
a recent Tennis Magazine article "When snapping your wrist, its
important to get your racquet head through the impact point quickly. If your wrist leads the way, the frame will be late coming through and the ball is sure to go long. So remember to let the racquet head accelerate and overtake the hand and the wrist."
The late Tim Gullikson wrote in Tennis Magazine regarding Pete
Sampras's serve "Here's the payoff of Sampras' relaxed start-he
has generated tremendous wrist snap and forearm pronation, something he could not do if those muscles were not relaxed. The
snapping action is where a lot of his power comes from;it is what
moves the racquet head through the ball." Tim also states in
another Tennis Magazine article on the serve "The second thing is to keep a lose grip on your racquet, with a flexible hitting arm. That way,
you can really snap your wrist and forearm like a whip, accelerating
your racquet into the ball. Snap your wrist and pronate your forearm. That really brings the racquet head through the ball, giving
you a lot of power. The looser your wrist and the quicker you snap
it, the more power you'll get." Frank Early in his excellent book
Tennis Strokes That Win says "The shoulders snap after lagging
behind the hips; the elbow snaps after lagging behind the shoulders;the wrist snaps after lagging behind the elbow; and finally, the racket head whips through after lagging behind the
wrist. After the muscles of the trunk and arm have done their
work, Pioline's wrist snap is the final, explosive action before contact." Jack Broudy in his excellent book The Real Spin On Tennis
says "Throw the head of your racket at the ball-throw the tip straight forward. Always remember that "head first" produces "headweight."
I have a collection of over 60 tennis books and 30 videos in my library and the majority of the authors refer to the serve as a snapping action at the top of the swing versus a feeling of bending.
As a descriptive term for the serve" Bending" sounds contrived,
forced, and lethargic. "Snapping" sounds explosive,forceful, and
penetrating which is probably why most tennis experts like to
use snapping when describing what happens prior to contact on the serve. The serve is without question the most difficult stroke in
tennis to learn and where you will find the most disagreements
as to what actually takes place and how best to teach from tennis instructors. Unfortuately, very few tennis teachers are capable of truly teaching
the serve, I should know because it has been an on-going project for
me for over 20 years and I am still learning!

Good the next book you might want to read is "How to Get Along with Other People!" Especially since you said your a Certified Pro. If you are you will probably remember agreeing to a certain code of conduct with other Certified Pros.

Mush Mouth
03-24-2004, 07:18 PM
Hear Hear! I am getting a little fed up with this also. Japanese, are you having a hard life? down on your luck? Trouble at home?

I also don't think his knowledge is that great otherwise he wouldn't be trying so hard to prove himself. He just repeats what he has seen or read. Maybe it is time to pull the posts and contact TW for help. Who cares who calls what by what term! Do you really spend all this time trying to downplay others? What a waste of energy. I remember you saying that your father taught you to stand up for yourself. Look like Father forgot to tell you when you should stand up for yourself. And 9/11? 9/11 was about people joining together and helping each other grow not about tearing people down. BB has far more knowledge then you do - and he proves it on the court by the feedback he gets. Why don't you grow up, dude! Your just a bitter high school tennis player that never made it to college tennis. lol

Japanese Maple
03-24-2004, 07:51 PM
Lendl lives,

I AGREE!!!!!!!!!!

Some advances players are going to disagree with me on this one I can feel it.

I have a big serve and I dont snap! I dont consciously do anything except for maintaining a rythymic motion and hit the ball right on the sweetspot of the strings!

I have never purposely forced my wrist to snap. Snapping is a terrible word. It really sounds painful. I prefer to say bending.

My arm is very very loose at the elbow as much as it can be throughout the entire service motion. This believe it or not takes training!!! The brain is used to contracting muscles for a hit. You have to train it in the opposite fashoin. AS long as your toss is in the right location it is not too high were it drops to fast (I prefer meeting it at its peak), you will have all the time in the world to hit that sucker hard.

The terms whip, snap, etc. are analogys for having a loose arm all the way up to the wrist. That is all it is. Pronation happens naturally, the wrist bend happens naturally, etc. etc.
In fact, I shake my arm several times before serving to loosen it up.

IF you look at the way your arm works. You will see that the elbow will eventually extend to its fullest, this transfers momentum to the wirst area till it cant bend down anymore from the weight of the racquet. I use a heavier racquet just because my loose arm will fling or "snap" the racquet head into the ball. It is like a whip. My shoulder is the handle, my arm is the rope, and my wrist is the tail. Use whatever you need to visualize a relaxed arm. That is a huge thing to have a big booming serve.

I also know plenty of players that have purposely torqued the wrist in effrots to snap it down and have developed tendenitis in their wrist.

The human body is made beautifully just let it work!

Bungalo Billy/Puma/Mushmouth-I know how difficult the serve can be to learn
and if I feel a word or phraseology such as "bending" is going to confuse a new tennis player about what actually happens at the
point of contact on the serve, I feel compelled to correct the mistake based upon world authorities and my experience in the game of tennis. I
don't know of any knowledgeable tennis instructor who refers to
the serve as "bending"at the top at contact. Please share with
me who your sources are who advocate "bending" at the top
because I am always looking for new input and ideas,especially if I have never heard of the concept, so long as
they are fundamentally sound and universally accepted by the
tennis community. I hope you don't have a problem with that! I
noticed you don't refute the input of "snapping" the racquet based
on the input of Fox,Groppel,Early,Perlstein, and Gullickson but you
feel compelled to malign my input. I have no issues accept the search for truth and accuracy regarding tennis instruction so children everywhere will feel protected from erroneous information
and enjoy this wonderful game for a lifetime and not get frustrated
and quit the game! BB you make a point to attack my input and
when I provide numerous sources from world authorities to contradict your information, you are religated to attacking my background,experience, and knowledge. As I had asked before
please site your sources regarding "bending" on the serve because
I have never heard of this term used before. As a teaching pro
I tell my students about the value of TW regarding equipment
reviews and feedback. Relax, Relax, Take a deep
breath Great,
Don't take things so seriously!

Bungalo Bill
03-24-2004, 08:11 PM
There is no "mistake" being made. It seems every post I make there is a "mistake" to you. But tennis can be taught and is taught in many different ways. You seem to think your my police to cleanup issues I try to help people with. I receive about 50 emails a day from people all over the world. Everyone one of them has thanked me for the help I provide them and the new enjoyment that I help them with in the game of tennis.

It doesnt matter whether you have never heard of the concept - I use snapping and bending depending on the context at hand.

New tennis players your concerned about? dont think so, otherwise you woudnt have given that advice regarding topspin on a onehander. I think you just try to side step everything.

I also have read all the books you have. The problem I am having and apparently others too, is not what you bring to the table, it is your approach in handling the matter that is very offensive. And others apparently agree with me.

I think we really should take this up with TW, I really do. We need to pull all the posts and go from there.

Who really cares if one person calls it bending or snapping! I dont like people focusing on the snap but that doesnt mean if you do that your wrong. We just have different ways at looking at it.

You spend a lot of energy downplaying my posts. I explained the concept I was trying to create which by the way matched yours. Why get hung up on such trivial things?

You only made the high school team in tennis and because you read a couple of books you think your the clean up police? Why dont you just try and get along, add your information politely. I have enough information to take this up with TW. I dont want to as I too value you as a contributor to this board. But please stop hanging on every word and taking things out of context.

Read the posts with an open mind and try and understand the concept that is being explained. If you are not clear on something just ask for clarification. I think you will find since we both have read the same information that we agree on a lot of the same things!

C_Urala
03-24-2004, 08:53 PM
I'm russian. And I had a really hard time trying to understand all this fuss about 'snap' and 'bend'. I spent 2 hours in a library to find out all the nuances in the semantics of these words. Did it help me to serve better? No. Because now I can't see a forest behind trees.

Dear Japanese Maple. This is an international board. And many posters (me for examp.) have no idea why it's so important to use one English word instead of another one. And the fact that 'all ladies do that' does not help in understanding your point.

And one thing else. Actually, I like that you post here, but I don't like your posts. I like that you post here, because it helps to have a wider spectrum of opinions and to not fall under the influence of just one expert. And I don't like your posts, because You always sound irritated and acrimonious without a reason. Or there IS a reason (?)

Japanese Maple
03-25-2004, 03:08 AM
C Urala,

Since this is an international board read by many tennis enthusiast
it is critical that the most accurate information is posted so as to
not confuse the tennis players trying to improve. If I make a statement that is not sound, fundamental,and accurate, and is not
generally used by the tennis establishment I would expect to be
corrected unless I can provide solid sources that back up my claim.
If you have read my other post you will find that they are very
professional,insightful, and concise. If I am not knowledgeable about a particular subject posted or feel that it has already been
adequately covered, I will not respond. I feel its healthy to have
differences of opinions and to challenge each other to make this
the most informative tennis resource available.

Tim Tennis
03-25-2004, 09:45 AM
Good grief people, I'm so BENT out of shape now, I don't think I will ever be able to SNAP back. (humor) I glad people don't micro-analyze my posts. I would be in real trouble.

You got to love the game.

lendl lives
03-25-2004, 10:17 AM
bungalo,

I'm glad you related to this one. I still haven't tried it yet since my ribs are just now feeling better............

lendl lives
03-25-2004, 11:34 AM
i just realized there was a page two and am now reading it. this is probably the only forum i know of that is generally civil. most have people on them who are really rude. thats why i like coming here. i'm glad there are people like bungalo who graciously offers his advice. the few pointers he's given me have made big differences in my game.

lendl lives
03-25-2004, 11:41 AM
as a follow up, a new fellow i recenlty met (4.0 player) at the courts is related to this local legend named greg anderson who i believe broke the top 200 maybe even 150. he shared the one time he asked him to hit the ball on the ground as hard as he could and to measure how high it went.....he said he put all of his body into it and watched it go....then he said greg stood perfectly still and calm with out putting his body into it and "snapped" (i know) his arm like a whip and the ball went twice as high.

C_Urala
03-25-2004, 08:34 PM
to Japanese Maple
You said:
"If you have read my other post you will find that they are very
professional,insightful, and concise. "

You are trully modest! ;-)

I don't know if you're right or not. It's not my point. My point is that you sound as if you are attacking other posters. If you do it on purpose, both my posts here are waste of time. If you do not, I hope my contribution will help to correct this situation in the future.

I went off topic. Sorry.

Hyperstate
03-28-2004, 02:41 AM
All this unnecessary conflict over a choice of words. By SOCIAL CONVENTION, the word snap is used by lotsa pros/coaches. Personally, I dislike that word as it seems to give beginners the wrong impressions and end up giving them wrist problems. Some players of course, have no problems with the term. We should agree to disagree. Accuracy is unfortunately, relative, when it comes to every person's interpretation of any word, including those in the tennis lexicon. B. Bill has done no wrong, and has been very enlightening and gracious.