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myservenow
07-13-2009, 12:31 PM
What is the key to good placement on the serve?

I think I rely too much on my arm trying to place the serve and it is causing a lot of tennis elbow/golfer's elbow problems. I don't exactly know what I am doing with my arm, but I can tell a big difference in my motion when attempting a slice out wide or kick serve. I guess I am trying to direct the ball with my arm rather than shoulder/body/toss location, etc.

I am looking for a few good swing thoughts to incorporate into my serve to help with placement (and not cause so much arm pain). Thanks.

SethIMcClaine
07-13-2009, 12:51 PM
Yeah it sounds like you might be trying to twist your wrist and arm to get placement. Concentrate lining up your body with where you are trying to place the ball and youre toss. You aim should come more from the swing path than the angle of your racquet head.

pvaudio
07-13-2009, 01:41 PM
Yeah it sounds like you might be trying to twist your wrist and arm to get placement. Concentrate lining up your body with where you are trying to place the ball and youre toss. You aim should come more from the swing path than the angle of your racquet head.
I disagree for three reasons:

1. Having a different ball toss based on where you're going to be serving is noticable for anyone over a 3.5 after your first few service games. You need to disguise the serve as much as possible. When I serve, I do my "intro" movement aka bouncing the ball, lifting up the toe, whatever, then I look up and look right at the opponent. Sometimes I'll look wide or at the T, and if I do, I make sure that I never actually serve there. Giving no indication as to what you're doing or throwing off your opponent is a powerful asset.

2. Where the ball goes is a function of where the strings are pointed, nothing more. The more you try to arm the serve to get it where you want it, the more prone you are to injury. I know this as I used to do it and have destroyed my rotator cuff...twice, and I'm just on the other side of 20 years old. I used to pop aleve to get rid of the pain and I thought the pain was because the serve was big, but in fact, it was because the technique was bad. Just change the racquet face at the last moment to aim the serve.

3. Aligning your body with the serve works great when serving down the T. When serving wide, I don't see this being a great idea as you'll end up falling to the left and as a consequence not driving the ball forward enough. You should be focusing on the shoulder turn to get pace, yes, but turning around to face where the serve ends up? I'm not so sure that's a good idea. If you want to move into the court, I don't know if you want to be moving towards the corner of the service box when rushing the net after a serve. That opens up a bigger angle for a cross court return. Note that I don't mean cutting off the angles the returner can hit, I mean running so that you're opening up the other side of the court.

Nonentity
07-13-2009, 01:50 PM
I always start out with my shoulders closed, like i am serving to the right side of the service box, both on ad and deuce court.

When i go to hit the ball, I roate my shoulders around depending where i want to go. So if i am serving from Ad side, and I want to go for the center line, i rotate my body(as late as i can without messing up the serve so it can't be read early). Of course If i was serving out wide from the same spot, i would still rotate my body, but not as much.

So in my case, at least, how much the body rotates is what directs where the ball goes.

BU-Tennis
07-13-2009, 01:54 PM
When I serve, I do my "intro" movement aka bouncing the ball, lifting up the toe, whatever, then I look up and look right at the opponent. Sometimes I'll look wide or at the T, and if I do, I make sure that I never actually serve there. Giving no indication as to what you're doing or throwing off your opponent is a powerful asset.



If you look down the T, then I will figure out soon enough, just like you said, that you are not going to serve down the T, allowing me to cheat a little and rip the wide ball. But in any case...

The topic of "aiming" a shot comes up all the time, yet most people cannot really say how they aim up the T or out Wide. I know for me, I just think about it and it happens. This is probably because, when speaking strictly of a flat serve, I come into the ball on a different angle. However, when using a slice serve, which I never hit down the line in the deuce side, or out wide in the ad side because it sits right in their hitting zone, I usually aim the ball by changing the amount of spin I use. To hit wider I apply less power into the ball and more spin, while when i use the body serve I hit into the ball a little more.

Honestly, I cannot say for sure how I aim, only theorize. The one thing I do not do is change my toss for different angles. I may change my toss for different serve types a little, but even if my opponent can recognize what type of ball is coming, at least i still have options of how much spin, speed, and placement to apply.

Bagumbawalla
07-13-2009, 02:09 PM
First of all, unless you have some kind of pre-existing condition or injury-- the serve should be without pain. If you have pain, then it is likely that your are forcing your action and overly tense.

Like a good groundstroke, the serve should be moderately loose and free of any forced, muscled action. The racket should swing THROUGH the ball in the direction you want it to tarvel without making any kind of "adjustments", twisting, forcing, or angling of the wrist or arm.

So, think about what you do when you are trying to place a groundstroke. The racket flows up to the ball, smoothly, meets the ball and follows through at an angle (low to high for topspin)-- but the overall direction tof the racket and the racket face, is toward the intended placement.

Same thing with the serve (excepteverything is tilted up on its side. The preparation and chain of motion that begins the serve should be smooth and well timed so that you strike the ball in the same spot every time (within reason). What directs the ball is the path the racket takes through the ball (just as in the groundstroke) You may impart various spins to the ball or hit it (relatively) flat, but the main direction of the racket face and the racket path it toward the intended target.

As far as "swing thoughts"-- watch the ball intently at the striking point of the toss. In a sense, "hold" it there with your eyes and imagine the path the racket must travel through the ball to get the spin and direction you require. Then, as if it were one smooth, continuous motion, with the racket relatively loose, whip your racket up and though the ball-following through toward the "target".

Practice, practice, practice.

pvaudio
07-13-2009, 02:12 PM
If you look down the T, then I will figure out soon enough, just like you said, that you are not going to serve down the T, allowing me to cheat a little and rip the wide ball. But in any case...

The topic of "aiming" a shot comes up all the time, yet most people cannot really say how they aim up the T or out Wide. I know for me, I just think about it and it happens. This is probably because, when speaking strictly of a flat serve, I come into the ball on a different angle. However, when using a slice serve, which I never hit down the line in the deuce side, or out wide in the ad side because it sits right in their hitting zone, I usually aim the ball by changing the amount of spin I use. To hit wider I apply less power into the ball and more spin, while when i use the body serve I hit into the ball a little more.

Honestly, I cannot say for sure how I aim, only theorize. The one thing I do not do is change my toss for different angles. I may change my toss for different serve types a little, but even if my opponent can recognize what type of ball is coming, at least i still have options of how much spin, speed, and placement to apply.
This happens only on huge points. Looking where you're going to hit is stupid, but if you have a lot of pressure to win the point, or to make sure the opponent doesn't win, the last thing on their mind is that you might be tricking them. Just looking at them seems to make a difference too, seems to make them more apprehensive since you're not showing them anything.

pvaudio
07-13-2009, 02:14 PM
And I agree, using the same toss for all serves is crucial. I still can't disguise my slice serve, but I hit it so rarely, opponents are always thrown off by it, probably thinking I just ****ed up the toss.

BU-Tennis
07-13-2009, 02:36 PM
This happens only on huge points. Looking where you're going to hit is stupid, but if you have a lot of pressure to win the point, or to make sure the opponent doesn't win, the last thing on their mind is that you might be tricking them. Just looking at them seems to make a difference too, seems to make them more apprehensive since you're not showing them anything.

I agree with this, I was just a little confused by your first post.