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View Full Version : Help me get more pop and accuracy on my serve


pvaudio
07-13-2009, 08:40 AM
Hi guys, it's my first post here and I want you to help me out on my serve. This is a two part post with two videos. THe first part is what my serve used to look like. After videoing it, it looked atrocious as there was so much wasted energy (yes, I'm a nerd). The second video is shot a few days later and is after a couple revisions. I'm looking to get more consistent placement on it with a bit more pop. Note: the first video is is me serving at 100% match pace, and the second video is 70% match pace (by pace I mean effort) as I had already met with my coach for an hour and a half that day and had already been serving for two hours when I rememberd I still had my camera. As such, my arm was a bit tired :)

Oh, and the results of the last video are posted below, adios NRG2 :(

Video 1:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wYes-qt27M0

Video 2:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9zKOZhJ4lwk

Results of serving:
http://img301.imageshack.us/img301/3097/img0057b.jpg

theZig
07-13-2009, 09:30 AM
You're swinging "down" instead of "into" the court, but that's a minor change. I also don't know how tall you are, so maybe it's unwarranted advice. That's the only real things I'd say could add a lot more pace is: A) Making sure your racket head is going more forward than down, B) a slightly smoother racket drop to up swing [watch the pros, its a very relaxed drop (federer is a beast at smooth); yours seems to me forced and then you just sort of whip it around via shoulder rotation, a common sign that a player is too eager to hit the ball], and then this is a pretty big maybe C) Instead of hitting with your racket aligned to your arm, break your wrist a bit to make an angle between your arm and your wrist. It will give you a lot more leverage, especially when you pronate. A video of this is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7bsYFra60Q0 . Your serve is very good, though, and all of this is basically just nit-picking. I can tell you've put a lot of work into that shot, and allow me to be the first to say you're on the right path. I hope this helps a bit.

Zig

WildVolley
07-13-2009, 09:54 AM
Good serve. I'd like to see a little more shoulder over shoulder movement. By that, I mean point your tossing hand a little higher so that you get that front shoulder high and then have the back shoulder move up as you drive up to the ball. At the start of your current serve, I think your shoulders stay a little too parallel to the ground.

pvaudio
07-13-2009, 10:16 AM
Sounds good guys, thanks for the tips.

Oh, and I'm 5'10" and some change.

pvaudio
07-13-2009, 10:28 AM
You're swinging "down" instead of "into" the court, but that's a minor change. I also don't know how tall you are, so maybe it's unwarranted advice. That's the only real things I'd say could add a lot more pace is: A) Making sure your racket head is going more forward than down, B) a slightly smoother racket drop to up swing [watch the pros, its a very relaxed drop (federer is a beast at smooth); yours seems to me forced and then you just sort of whip it around via shoulder rotation, a common sign that a player is too eager to hit the ball], and then this is a pretty big maybe C) Instead of hitting with your racket aligned to your arm, break your wrist a bit to make an angle between your arm and your wrist. It will give you a lot more leverage, especially when you pronate. A video of this is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7bsYFra60Q0 . Your serve is very good, though, and all of this is basically just nit-picking. I can tell you've put a lot of work into that shot, and allow me to be the first to say you're on the right path. I hope this helps a bit.

Zig

A/B. Yes, it is forced, good eye :shock:. THe reason is because if you note in the first video, I take the racquet up with the toss at the same time which throws my body off and the toss is horribly errant at times. That was the first day that I had that serve (i.e. I decided to change it just the night before), so I'm still working on getting the mechanics down. I equate smooth with efficient, and efficient with power. That's my end goal. When my arm was fresh, the new serve clocked a 121 on the gun, whereas my old serve struggled to get above 115, so already I'm seeing a nice increase in pop, but I know there's more to be had.

C. I don't understand what you mean, so I'll watch your video and see if that clarifies.

pvaudio
07-13-2009, 10:31 AM
After watching that video, I will not be doing that technique. That version of pronation is making my shoulder cringe all by itself. I used to have horrendous shoulder problems because my serve was fast, but the technique was harmful. I can just see my rotator cuff going out for the third time if I tried to do that leverage technique, but thanks just the same.

theZig
07-13-2009, 11:38 AM
After watching that video, I will not be doing that technique. That version of pronation is making my shoulder cringe all by itself. I used to have horrendous shoulder problems because my serve was fast, but the technique was harmful. I can just see my rotator cuff going out for the third time if I tried to do that leverage technique, but thanks just the same.

Yeah, it's why I said it's a pretty big maybe. You can still have a world-class serve without it, but it's a pretty easy way to add a lot of pace and angle to your serves.

pvaudio
07-13-2009, 12:08 PM
Any tips on the accuracy? I really want to be able to place the serve on a dime. I can hit the ball targets, which I think happens in the video once, but I want to put that ball close inside the T and about a foot up the line out wide for more angle.

Tennisman912
07-13-2009, 12:15 PM
Pvaudio,

The best way to help your accuracy is a consistent ball toss. That is the first step in improving your accuracy and usually your serve as well as most rec players are pretty much all over the place.

Good tennis

TM

theZig
07-13-2009, 12:21 PM
Any tips on the accuracy? I really want to be able to place the serve on a dime. I can hit the ball targets, which I think happens in the video once, but I want to put that ball close inside the T and about a foot up the line out wide for more angle.

Think about where you want to hit, and think about the mechanics to make it work. There's no "Quick fix", and the thing you have to remember is that when you hit a serve in two different spots, your technique DOES change. Hitting a serve out wide is NOT EXACTLY the same as hitting one in the middle (duh!). You need to find what works with your particular mechanics to make sure the ball goes a certain direction. Pay attention to how certain serves feel, and how they are different from each other. Being stubborn and saying you are going to use 1 form for every serve will get you just that, one serve.

pvaudio
07-13-2009, 12:28 PM
Think about where you want to hit, and think about the mechanics to make it work. There's no "Quick fix", and the thing you have to remember is that when you hit a serve in two different spots, your technique DOES change. Hitting a serve out wide is NOT EXACTLY the same as hitting one in the middle (duh!). You need to find what works with your particular mechanics to make sure the ball goes a certain direction. Pay attention to how certain serves feel, and how they are different from each other. Being stubborn and saying you are going to use 1 form for every serve will get you just that, one serve.
Oh no, don't interpret my post for me being dense, I was just using an overly zealous statement to say what I want each serve to look like :)

I have no trouble aiming the serve down the T or out wide, however, I'm talking about the general area. I can't hit up the line on wide serves twice in a row. One might land in the corner, the next might land up the line, the next might land a foot further into the box, etc. I am wondering if there's anything you can see that might cause me to not be able to have consistent aiming. I have a pretty decent serve percentage, but as far as putting it exactly where I want it, not necessarily.

pvaudio
07-13-2009, 12:29 PM
Pvaudio,

The best way to help your accuracy is a consistent ball toss. That is the first step in improving your accuracy and usually your serve as well as most rec players are pretty much all over the place.

Good tennis

TM

Any tips on making the ball toss more consistent?

volusiano
07-13-2009, 03:22 PM
Any tips on making the ball toss more consistent?

I used to find it very tricky to get a consistent toss if I started my toss by holding the ball with my palm facing sideway (which is what you currently do). This is because I'd have to turn my hand upward during the toss and time the turn and the ball release perfectly, or else the ball will veer too far to the right or the left. After I changed it so that my palm already faces upward before the toss, it got much simpler because I no longer have to turn my hand and time the release of the ball anymore. My ball toss became much more consistent with this change.

martin8768
07-13-2009, 03:31 PM
practice your toss, a lot, without hitting it, let it drop, observe your tossing habits: to much to right, left, to low to high, etc and practice to correct them.

pvaudio
07-13-2009, 03:40 PM
You seriously string at 48lbs? I would be launching balls through the curtain :)

And yes, I do this all the time.

LeeD
07-14-2009, 07:50 AM
You CAN have a decent serve.
It's terrible for your athletic ability and your strength right now.
Waay too high a trophy position, your rackethand is around shoulder high. You are NOT MartinaNavritilova, she's a female...sorta.
Your limp elbow, loose shoulder motion provides no punch to back up the rackethead speed. It is also inconsistent at best.
You don't employ enough lower body and trunk, so you're basically just arming thru the ball with a limp grip, elbow, and shoulder.
You swing nice and hard. Your serves barely reach 90 thru poor technique.
Watch some vids of the top pros, like ANY of them.
Notice how, except for Nadal, they all have good posture at the prep position. Some great servers had poor posture, like Ivanesivic, but you can't copy his motion, he's an abberation player...everything wrong, but at 6'5" and 175, can get away with it.
STOP...
Set foot and prep hands.
Takeback is hands below shoulder level .... STOP.
Then explode into the ball with ankles, knees, hips, torso, in addition to shoulder, elbow, wrist and hand.
Don't break your wrist, keep it loose, but in control.

pvaudio
07-14-2009, 08:33 AM
You CAN have a decent serve.
It's terrible for your athletic ability and your strength right now.
Waay too high a trophy position, your rackethand is around shoulder high. You are NOT MartinaNavritilova, she's a female...sorta.
Your limp elbow, loose shoulder motion provides no punch to back up the rackethead speed. It is also inconsistent at best.
You don't employ enough lower body and trunk, so you're basically just arming thru the ball with a limp grip, elbow, and shoulder.
You swing nice and hard. Your serves barely reach 90 thru poor technique.
Watch some vids of the top pros, like ANY of them.
Notice how, except for Nadal, they all have good posture at the prep position. Some great servers had poor posture, like Ivanesivic, but you can't copy his motion, he's an abberation player...everything wrong, but at 6'5" and 175, can get away with it.
STOP...
Set foot and prep hands.
Takeback is hands below shoulder level .... STOP.
Then explode into the ball with ankles, knees, hips, torso, in addition to shoulder, elbow, wrist and hand.
Don't break your wrist, keep it loose, but in control.
I will put this into consideration even though you listed about 80 different things :)

I was already planning on going for a few hours to serve today after class, so I'll take some more video. Thanks for the critiques everyone :D

And no, I'm not barely reaching 90, as I said before, with a fresh arm the new serve can clip 120, the old serve would average about high 100s to 115.

LeeD
07-14-2009, 10:52 AM
You're joking of course, about the speed of your serve.
Your limp arm rubber band no kinetic chain serve would barely top 90.
When you start to serve like LeytonHewitt, maybe up to 125.
Don't guess your serve speed.
I know mine and many other's. I've been timed in official fast serve contests, have seen tons of vids of my service motions. Unforturnately, nobody vids the rest of my game, so I suck at tennis.
Your serve can't be 3/4 of what it CAN be... in the future, when you develop the right technique.
You have waaaay too many flaws, and more can be listed if you want, but I thought I'd better stop before you got mad and confused.

pvaudio
07-14-2009, 11:32 AM
You're joking of course, about the speed of your serve.
Your limp arm rubber band no kinetic chain serve would barely top 90.
When you start to serve like LeytonHewitt, maybe up to 125.
Don't guess your serve speed.
I know mine and many other's. I've been timed in official fast serve contests, have seen tons of vids of my service motions. Unforturnately, nobody vids the rest of my game, so I suck at tennis.
Your serve can't be 3/4 of what it CAN be... in the future, when you develop the right technique.
You have waaaay too many flaws, and more can be listed if you want, but I thought I'd better stop before you got mad and confused.
Yes, I would be joking and guessing if I didn't see it on the Bushnell gun myself. I don't try to inflate my abilities especially where I'm asking for help. I do not, however, care in the slightest if you believe me for as I already said, I'm asking for you to critique it. Hell, when I was back in HS, I did the serve comp at the RCA championships here and put in a 107. You should also keep in mind that a video from a 100 dollar digital camera cannot possibly show everything as it is in real life. Don't get me wrong, I'm not upset in the slightest. I'm just letting you know that you're flat wrong, but at the end of the day, it doesn't matter because I'm asking you to help me improve :)

Since you seem to be a guru of sorts, list out all the flaws. Believe me, I don't take poorly to criticism. On the contrary, it's hard to see issues with something you yourself are doing when it's something you're comfortable with and feel natural doing.

pvaudio
07-14-2009, 03:22 PM
No new video, my game was all over the place. Didn't help that I was too busy chatting up someone on the girls' team at the same time :D

pvaudio
07-14-2009, 04:21 PM
Lee, I did however implement that shoulder drop you talked about and saw an increase in pace. However, I also tended to put more slice on the ball than desired. Any idea why that might be?

theZig
07-14-2009, 05:39 PM
You aren't used to the change in timing, and are slightly mistiming the ball. Ez-peezee.

pvaudio
07-14-2009, 05:50 PM
All it takes is practice my man, all it takes is practice. However, it's hard to practice when the girls team is stretching on the next court and one comes over to talk to you :D

LeeD
07-15-2009, 07:47 AM
It's all over when the cute one comes over to talk to you ! :twisted:
Your tennis goes to heck, your concentration and willingness to practice goes South, and your knees become weak and spongy.
Pronate more.

pvaudio
07-16-2009, 06:41 PM
Brand new video with a new and (hopefully) improved service motion!

Things that I tried to change:

1. I watched dozens of videos of sampras and noted how he tosses the ball. My toss was all over the place, so after 15 minutes of tossing like him, I had a super consistent toss, and if it wasn't exactly right, it was still close enough to be a big serve.

2. Focused on trying to drop the rear shoulder down when loading. Not quite there yet on this, but it's better.

3. So as not to arm my way through the serve, I tried to employ a shoulder turn for two reasons: more pace, and more importantly, less wear on my shoulder

Video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-FbSdunVwvw

Compare with the first two :)

pvaudio
07-16-2009, 08:00 PM
Oh and that guy dying of pulmonary edema or whatever the hell he's hacking on isn't me, that's one of the guys on the court 2 down.

theZig
07-16-2009, 10:14 PM
Great job. Greeeeeat job.

naylor
07-16-2009, 10:31 PM
... 2. Focused on trying to drop the rear shoulder down when loading. Not quite there yet on this, but it's better... 3. So as not to arm my way through the serve, I tried to employ a shoulder turn for two reasons: more pace, and more importantly, less wear on my shoulder...

Much smoother motion - the fewer the kinks the simpler and more effective the service becomes.

Just two questions / suggestions:-

1) wrist movement (cupping / uncupping?), you probably don't need to add the extra "wrist slap" into your serve (which could lead to wrist injuries), you can achieve pretty much the same by hinging the wrist vertically (as in hold the arm and racket straight in front, then hinge the wrist so the racket is vertical) when you drop the rackethead down below your wrist and then straightening if back when you throw the racket at the ball on contact - more like a hammering motion;

2) your positioning (quite straight-on to where you're aiming), you might consider bringing your back foot further around (turning your back further to the court), to add more body / shoulder twist to your serve. This will help add variety to your serves (basically, for anything other than a flat bomb, it will generate most of the turning / twisting that you need to add to give you the slice / kick spin) and will also take some of the strain off your shoulder, as some of the power will come from the trunk torsion.

NLBwell
07-16-2009, 10:49 PM
Certainly an improvement. You have overcome some of the rushing up to the ball and have smoothed out your stroke. Your legs and upper body are looking pretty good now, but there should be more you can get out of your core. At the 1:09 mark you get just a hint of a core stretch, but not much. You are also (in the second video - can't see that direction in the third) pretty much straight up with little back arch. If you can delay your forward motion just a bit longer (you might adjust the time you toss) you should be able to engage the stretch of your hips and core. This can be especially important when trying to put more topspin or kick on the ball and should give you even more power and control. Use the extra power for more spin on the ball, swinging upward a little more. The speed of the ball should be about the same, but you should increase your margin of error with the spin. Also, it will be a more difficult ball to return.

NLBwell
07-16-2009, 11:00 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eiH-tOZsZoM&feature=related

From our friend at fuzzy yellow balls .com

Notice how Murray stretches through the hips and core and arches his back.

pvaudio
07-17-2009, 03:48 AM
Thanks guys, I'm off to the courts right now and will try to implement some of this.

pvaudio
07-17-2009, 08:06 AM
Serve was garbage this morning, but I never can serve during my friday practice. Anyway, any other suggestions? I'm really going to work on the core stuff you're saying, but is there anything that you know will net me more consistency?

theZig
07-17-2009, 09:07 AM
Know that no ball is entirely flat, and more spin will add more consistency. That being said, adding spin while somehow keeping the same pace will bring you to the result you want, and will also result in a tougher serve to receive.

Bungalo Bill
07-17-2009, 09:17 AM
Wildvolley gave you good advice. Your shoulder plane is too parallel with the ground. Reach up higher with your tossing arm and pause it as long as you can.

Keep your head up and your eyes on the toss until you see the blur of your racquet go by at contact. You should already know where you will hit the ball in your mind's eye.

Your toss and target practice will help you with consistency and aim. Place cones where you want to hit too and hit them. Hit them all the time until you can do it in your sleep. Nothing takes the place of target practice. Think of it like shooting a gun. You have to take target practice to handle it.

Keep trying to loosen the shoulder and really relax it. Learn to trade places with your tossing arm and your hitting arm when you start to rotate your shoulders. the tossing arm should fold back into the body so you can sling the hitting arm forward.

A very loose shoulder area that has a veyr loose arm and wrist attached to it will help you with pace.

Watch these clips and compare your shoulder level to theirs.

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

NLBwell
07-17-2009, 11:15 AM
As you stretch the front of your body through the hips and core, the front shoulder will necessarily go up and the back go down automatically resulting in the shoulder position that BB is looking for. He is very right in that keeping loose will results in more pace and the importance of the toss. Remember that you are adding another element into your serve by incorporating your core, so it may take some time to make all the pieces work together.

pvaudio
07-17-2009, 03:39 PM
Alright gentlemen, I'll practice over the weekend and report back! Thanks again everyone!