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Eph
04-07-2008, 03:21 PM
I was able to start using my video camera to take shots of my serve. I know there's a lot of room for improvement (weight transfer, back bend, and toss come to mind) but I'd like your critiques. Don't be nice about it, tell me what's wrong so I can fix it. I'll continue posting videos of my progress. I am not sure how great of a back bend I can get with my back problems, but I'll give it my best.

There are both front and back views. If there are any other views I should do for next time (Wednesday) please let me know.

I think my best serve was the final serve of the second video. And yes, I was playing today without my knee brace - my surgeon gave me the okay to not use one *all* the time.

Thanks!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i--hqu4ClWs (chest view)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UoIzpNWNASI (back view)

N.B. The videos were stitched together with a video program.

Essential Tennis
04-07-2008, 03:40 PM
Eph,

If you want something close to a high level serve, you're going to need a lot of work and practice. Thats just telling it how it is man. If you're motivated to do it, you can, but be prepared for it to take time.

There's small things that you could do to improve your serve as-is, but thats not the way I teach. If you came to me for a lesson I would change your grip immediately. You need to get a continental grip and start getting used to taking a service swing with it. Currently you swing with an eastern forehand grip, which means your large knuckle of your index finger is on bevel #3, you need to slide that up to #2. If you're not sure what that means go to www.fuzzyyellowballs.com and watch the grips video lesson, its well done.

After switching your grip you're going to start missing all of your serves badly to the left. At this point you'll have to start learning how to pronate your arm and shoulder in order to square the racket up more to the ball. This is a good thing, it will introduce more range of motion and muscles into your swing, in the long run the grip and learning to pronate will be really huge if you want to make large strides in your technique.

Lastly, after getting on your way on the first two things, you will have to learn to begin swinging UPWARDS towards the ball and not AT or downwards at the ball towards the box. Currently your contact point is very low, and you're almost striking down at the ball. You still make some over because your face is open at contact since your wrist and hand are laid back. The grip change and learning to pronate will change those things, at which point you'll have to learn to make an upward swing at the ball to clear the top of the net. Right now the trajectory of your serve is very straight, and there's an extremely narrow margin for error. A tiny bit too low and you're hitting the net, and a tiny bit too high and its going much too far. Once you change your grip, learn to pronate, and start swinging upwards at the ball, you will widen that margin for error a great deal while striking the ball much more aggressively than you currently are. This is all after making those technique changes however. While you're learning these things I would highly, highly suggest cutting back to half speed while you feel and learn these new things.

That enough for ya? haha

Vision84
04-07-2008, 04:21 PM
A lot of things to work on there. Start with your grip. That is the first thing you want to do right and the easiest thing. Make sure you use a continental grip and as the racket comes through pronate (twist your wrist) to show the ball more face on the racket.

Secondly make sure you get a high contact point. You want to reach up to the ball instead of letting it drop to much and scrunch up. One typical way to practice this is to stand next to a fence and throw the ball up and then trap the ball beteen the fence and your racket trying to get it as high as possible.

Those are the two things I recommend starting with. Don't try to change to much at once.

:edit: this is pretty much the same as what the poster above me wrote.

Once you get those two things down and in your muscle memory then you can work on bending your knees and exploding upwards and forwards into the serve and a good shoulder turn and racket drop. You start your acceleration forward when your racket is high up which results in a significant loss of power. You want to develop a good trophy position and then unwind and accelerate everything from there.
However as i said before don't change to much at once.

drakulie
04-07-2008, 04:54 PM
Eph, you got some solid advice from the two posters above. Thanks for sharing the vid, and good luck!

Rafael_Nadal_6257
04-07-2008, 06:05 PM
Yes, you do have quite a lot to work on. Check out fuzzy yellow balls' website on the serve to complement the above advice from the first two posters, which is, btw, really well written.

1012007
04-08-2008, 07:26 AM
Do you have a K90. Maybe it's best to get another racket for the mean time while you improve. Maybe a 98"+ head would be ok

supersmash
04-08-2008, 07:55 AM
Syrup goes well with pancakes, not with the holy grail that is the K90.

What the above poster meant was that you should invest in a larger frame, geared toward developing players, as opposed to a racket that the game's elite may even have trouble using.

1012007
04-08-2008, 07:57 AM
Yeah... Sorry didnt explain myself very much.

Djokovicfan4life
04-08-2008, 08:36 AM
First of all you should be jumping into the ball, not leaning down to hit it. This will give you more power and a better angle and therefore margin for error. This will also encourage proper leg drive. As others have said, use the continental grip no matter haw weird it feels and you will be rewarded later on. If you use a forehand grip you will never learn how to pronate properly.

After your toss you should be rotating your shoulders back towards the back fence in order to load up power. Once you start your swing you can open up towards the net and really explode into the ball.

Good luck with your serve, keep us updated!

junbumkim
04-08-2008, 08:50 AM
While there are definate works to be done, there are good signs as well.
Besides some technical flaws, your motion doesn't have extra yeeps, unnecessary movements, and your motion is consistent and seems to have a rhythm.

Don't try to make all the changes at once. Work on one thing at a time. Some chagne will be easier than the other. I have listed some changes you should make in order of easiness.

I like the fact that your toss the ball from your hip area, not from waist - Don't change that.
You don't jerk it or rush with it. BUT your tossing arm needs to stay on the front side of the body. Right now, it' goes behind your body -> NOT GOOD.

Also, your stance is a little too wide. Make it more of shoulder width. Right now, it's wider than that.

You need to get rid of the first knee bend that you do before ball toss. You toss the ball as you shift your weight from back foot to the front foot. The knee bend occurs at this stage. Good clip to watch might be Pete Sampras' serve motion. Watch his legs.. He lifts his front toe of left feet indicating his weight is on the back foot. As he brings the toe down, his weight shifts forward and tosses the ball.

Your toss is out in front, which is good. It's a little low in my opinion, so make is just a little higher. Try to do it with the same tossing motion and effort.
Although your toss is out in front, you are not really taking advantage of your legs to go after it. So just for now, you might want to bring your toss in just a little bit. Maybe half a foot or something. I won't be surprised if you often hit serves into the net.

Here comes the major challenge - the grip change. Everyone here will probably say you need to go continental, which I agree. But given your age, you probably won't have time to work on your serve everyday.

So I would suggest eastern forehand for your serve. Right now, you are using something of semiwestern grip. Eastern forehand grip will feel less foreign to you and require less work for you. As you get comfortable, you can tinker with continental grip which will allow you to hit slice serves. Then you can use continental for slice and eastern forehand grip for flat serves.

Here is the catch, if you feel comfortable with continental grip quickly, then the change and effort is worthwhile. Or if you can consistently work on it, then I would recommend the change. Heck, if you were 12~14 year old kid, I would insist on you using continental for all serves. But if you keep struggling with it, don't be afraid of using eastern forehand grip to be comfortable. And use continental for slice serves.

Bungalo Bill
04-08-2008, 09:01 AM
I was able to start using my video camera to take shots of my serve. I know there's a lot of room for improvement (weight transfer, back bend, and toss come to mind) but I'd like your critiques. Don't be nice about it, tell me what's wrong so I can fix it. I'll continue posting videos of my progress. I am not sure how great of a back bend I can get with my back problems, but I'll give it my best.

There are both front and back views. If there are any other views I should do for next time (Wednesday) please let me know.

I think my best serve was the final serve of the second video. And yes, I was playing today without my knee brace - my surgeon gave me the okay to not use one *all* the time.

Thanks!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i--hqu4ClWs (chest view)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UoIzpNWNASI (back view)

N.B. The videos were stitched together with a video program.

Eph,

Several issues right off the bat.

1. Change the grip to a continental.

2. Stretch the front side of your body fromthe toss and leave it there for as long as possible keeping your eyes on the ball. Go up and get the ball from there. Your serve motion is to level with the court.

3. Toss high enough so when you make contact your arm is extended.

4. Shift your weight sooner. It is on your back foot too long.

Take a look and compare.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=npxP6Jej9iE&feature=related

Iknow youmightbe a little intimidated on using your legs more, however, you eventually are going to have to get there. The little curtsey you are doing is not doing anything for you. Watch how Rodgers legs are used to send up energy and is fluid with the body motion. The idea is to get yoru front hip stretched out so you front body works like a pole vaulters pole.

Makes

smoothtennis
04-08-2008, 09:44 AM
Eph - thanks for posting.

Essential Tennis offered the truth. And no, it isn't easy, and does take time and hard work.

I am not going to suggest how to fix your serve, because Essential Tennis already said it. What I will say is this. There is a glass ceiling with your current serve technique. You can't really improve it like it is. It's almost maxed out given your grip. You must change your technique - starting with the grip, which will change everything else.

Essential Tennis will have you loading down, and springing up to the toss, which will be higher- and your rotation and muscle involvement will dramtically increase. It can be done. I would hook up with him, and start working on it. You will love the results.

smoothtennis
04-08-2008, 09:47 AM
The little curtsey you are doing is not doing anything for you.
Makes

Right. Notice the curtsey, has already staightened, and lost all loading before he even strikes the ball, so all that stored energy is gone.

Eph
04-08-2008, 10:45 AM
Eph,

Several issues right off the bat.

1. Change the grip to a continental.

2. Stretch the front side of your body fromthe toss and leave it there for as long as possible keeping your eyes on the ball. Go up and get the ball from there. Your serve motion is to level with the court.

3. Toss high enough so when you make contact your arm is extended.

4. Shift your weight sooner. It is on your back foot too long.

Take a look and compare.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=npxP6Jej9iE&feature=related

Iknow youmightbe a little intimidated on using your legs more, however, you eventually are going to have to get there. The little curtsey you are doing is not doing anything for you. Watch how Rodgers legs are used to send up energy and is fluid with the body motion. The idea is to get yoru front hip stretched out so you front body works like a pole vaulters pole.

Makes
What do you mean by number 2?

I am going to see my knee surgeon tomorrow to see if I can get a brace that is more suited for tennis and not skiing so I can have better range of motion. We'll see what he says. The last thing I want to do is tweak my knee again (or tear up the other one, with my luck).

What's the best way to change to the continental? I use the grip for serving now because it just feels 'natural.' How do I get that way with the continental grip?

And how many practice serves a day should I be doing? Right now I hit about 50-75 a day.

Bungalo Bill
04-08-2008, 10:57 AM
What do you mean by number 2?

I am going to see my knee surgeon tomorrow to see if I can get a brace that is more suited for tennis and not skiing so I can have better range of motion. We'll see what he says. The last thing I want to do is tweak my knee again (or tear up the other one, with my luck).

What's the best way to change to the continental? I use the grip for serving now because it just feels 'natural.' How do I get that way with the continental grip?

And how many practice serves a day should I be doing? Right now I hit about 50-75 a day.

#2: Go here for a visual: http://www.tennis.com/yourgame/instructionarticles/serve/serve.aspx?id=327

When you toss, you should stretch your front side. The front hip should move outward a bit as the motion gets going. The main thing is when you toss, keep stretched longer.

I also am leery of suggesting major changes to your lower body movement. Which leg is injured? Left or right?

Vision84
04-08-2008, 11:00 AM
What's the best way to change to the continental? I use the grip for serving now because it just feels 'natural.' How do I get that way with the continental grip?

Just use the continental and the more you practice with it the more comfortable it will become.

Eph
04-08-2008, 11:01 AM
#2: Go here for a visual: http://www.tennis.com/yourgame/instructionarticles/serve/serve.aspx?id=327

When you toss, you should stretch your front side. The front hip should move outward a bit as the motion gets going. The main thing is when you toss, keep stretched longer.

I also am leery of suggesting major changes to your lower body movement. Which leg is injured? Left or right?

Ah, okay.

My right leg has had three failed ACL surgeries, 2 failed MCLs, the medial meniscus is gone and the LCL is torn. So the only ligament left there is the PCL. However my strength is almost what the other leg is, so that's a good thing. Once it is even again, I can begin working out more vigorously.

Bungalo Bill
04-08-2008, 11:04 AM
Ah, okay.

My right leg has had three failed ACL surgeries, 2 failed MCLs, the medial meniscus is gone and the LCL is torn. So the only ligament left there is the PCL. However my strength is almost what the other leg is, so that's a good thing. Once it is even again, I can begin working out more vigorously.

Well that might not be too bad. It is your left leg that when you transfer your weight properly it will take most of your weight over it. That leg pushes off the most allowing your body to go upward and outward into the court more.

Your toss should lead the way. For now, just work on getting used to the Continental grip. That should be enough for now.

Nellie
04-08-2008, 12:33 PM
Eph,

even if your knees are bad, I am sure you could get a better serve following the advice above to introduce more shoulder/torso rotation to do the work, instead of just using your arm. There are wheel chair players that hit regularlly in the 100s using good rotation.

As an additional point, you look really stiff and are trying to muscle the ball. Try loosening up and being more relaxed so you can whip the serve instead of forcing it. If you look at good baseball pitchers, you will notice most whip the ball using their whole bodies

Essential Tennis
04-08-2008, 12:41 PM
Eph,

even if you knees are bad, I am sure you could get a better serve following the advice above to introduce more shoulder/torso rotation to do the work, instead of just using your arm. There are wheel chair players that hit regularlly in the 100s using good rotation.

very true. In fact, I would forget about all the suggestions having to do with your legs until you get the grip and other upper body techniques down. I can hit a 60-70mph serve in the box from my knees, upper body is more important, heh.

Not that the advice of getting rid of the extra knee bend and others was bad, the biggest changes are just going to come from using your upper body correctly. Add to that a good lower body push, and you'll be in business.

Fay
04-09-2008, 01:29 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=npxP6Jej9iE&feature=related

BB that is an excellent video. Peter Samprass and Pancho Gonzales are the two people who I first started trying to pattern my serve after.

The serve is complicated and I have worked on a piece of it at a time. A good coach once told me to bounce the ball on the opposite side of the baseline from which I was standing, ahead of me so I had to bend my knees to do this, and to be sure it came down in that exact same spot. That is a good starting place.

I stand for my serve so that my belly button is facing the back corner ... you are looking towards the net and using a "frying pan" grip. You will be happy you learn a continental grip right away as it will help you volleys and your volley continental grip will help you serve.

I turn my back to the net and bend my right leg (I am right-handed) so that my right hip drops below the left one. I have my left hip pointing to where I want to hit the ball. Most players at my level have no clue that that is a tell ... but being a skater and having to orient within my body, that works for me. Try not to face your belly button toward the net or you will have to where to go except away from the ball when you go to hit. You see a lot of that serve style at clubs, but none in the pros, so when I started I decided I was going to learn it right even if it took me a while.

When I toss the ball I lift the left (stretch) side of my body so that my shoulder line is pointing up at the ball (left clavical much higher than right side) and I keep MY CHIN UP while I look at the ball/racquet contact. I start my toss low and keep my elbow straight, but you will lots of different ways.

I try to contact the racquet on the thumb side of the middle and toward the top as I pronate.

I have loaded my body by turning my back to the net, so when I go for the ball which is now slightly on the other side of the baseline and slightly in front to my left, I must launch my body up and forward to reach it.

this sounds complicated but if you work on each piece individually you can eventually put all of the pieces together. I started as an adult so I know an adult CAN learn to serve well.

The pronation is something that should be natural and not forced or you may develop joint problems. It sort of helped me to turn my wrist in a sort of seim-martial arts movement, but I am sure this is clear as mud.

But I started out without the jump, without the back twist, and such and just stood in a platform base so that I would have weight transfer with the hit. My feet eventually came to touch in the air with the jump, but that is an awful lot of planes of motion to learn at once.

Some people start with a pin-point base, but I could not get enough weight transference forward using that.

When I hit the net, I remind myself to hit UP and TO THE RIGHT.
That gives me enough spin to keep the ball up and drive it down on the other side into the service court. But that is NOT the video of Pete and Pancho that we often see. Those are fast more flat serves. It helped me to use some spin when I learned. Less error for me.

These images might not work for you, just what works for me.

good luck and BRAVO to you for getting advice before you have bad habits ingrained.

Djokovicfan4life
04-09-2008, 04:38 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=npxP6Jej9iE&feature=related

BB that is an excellent video. Peter Samprass and Pancho Gonzales are the two people who I first started trying to pattern my serve after.

The serve is complicated and I have worked on a piece of it at a time. A good coach once told me to bounce the ball on the opposite side of the baseline from which I was standing, ahead of me so I had to bend my knees to do this, and to be sure it came down in that exact same spot. That is a good starting place.

I stand for my serve so that my belly button is facing the back corner ... you are looking towards the net and using a "frying pan" grip. You will be happy you learn a continental grip right away as it will help you volleys and your volley continental grip will help you serve.

I turn my back to the net and bend my right leg (I am right-handed) so that my right hip drops below the left one. I have my left hip pointing to where I want to hit the ball. Most players at my level have no clue that that is a tell ... but being a skater and having to orient within my body, that works for me. Try not to face your belly button toward the net or you will have to where to go except away from the ball when you go to hit. You see a lot of that serve style at clubs, but none in the pros, so when I started I decided I was going to learn it right even if it took me a while.

When I toss the ball I lift the left (stretch) side of my body so that my shoulder line is pointing up at the ball (left clavical much higher than right side) and I keep MY CHIN UP while I look at the ball/racquet contact. I start my toss low and keep my elbow straight, but you will lots of different ways.

I try to contact the racquet on the thumb side of the middle and toward the top as I pronate.

I have loaded my body by turning my back to the net, so when I go for the ball which is now slightly on the other side of the baseline and slightly in front to my left, I must launch my body up and forward to reach it.

this sounds complicated but if you work on each piece individually you can eventually put all of the pieces together. I started as an adult so I know an adult CAN learn to serve well.

The pronation is something that should be natural and not forced or you may develop joint problems. It sort of helped me to turn my wrist in a sort of seim-martial arts movement, but I am sure this is clear as mud.

But I started out without the jump, without the back twist, and such and just stood in a platform base so that I would have weight transfer with the hit. My feet eventually came to touch in the air with the jump, but that is an awful lot of planes of motion to learn at once.

Some people start with a pin-point base, but I could not get enough weight transference forward using that.

When I hit the net, I remind myself to hit UP and TO THE RIGHT.
That gives me enough spin to keep the ball up and drive it down on the other side into the service court. But that is NOT the video of Pete and Pancho that we often see. Those are fast more flat serves. It helped me to use some spin when I learned. Less error for me.

These images might not work for you, just what works for me.

good luck and BRAVO to you for getting advice before you have bad habits ingrained.

Good advice, Fay. Can't get much better than the Sampras serve.