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View Full Version : Critique the weakest aspect of my game: SERVE (video)


raffi!
07-18-2009, 11:17 AM
Okay, so here's the skinny.

I've been struggling with the serve ever since I once again picked up a racquet. As a kid, I played tennis incessantly, and loved it--but stopped before high school began because the competition was making the game less than enjoyable.

So this year, as a senior, I tried out for the varsity team after not having played for 3-4 years, and I made it. And I love the game once again.

So now I have been playing for about 6 months now, and have been improving rapidly, especially since I deciphered the windshield wiper forehand (they didn't teach me that when i was a kid).

Now my serve. I've been working on it every day for an hour at least, and it's definitely improving. I realize that mine isn't quite the "proper" form, in which you bring the racquet down by your feet and then into the trophy position, etc. But I wasn't doing well AT ALL with that; I simply could not get my timing right. So I shortened the form, after noticing that maybe this would be okay since Nadal and Roddick both do it (I realize I am neither Nadal or Roddick, and I have no delusions about such things).

Anyway.

Critique my serve, please.

Be harsh.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m9ui2qazXv4

Thanks!

volusiano
07-18-2009, 11:36 AM
It looks like you're using the eastern forehand grip on the serve. If that's true, switch to the continental grip first. Then take another video where there's more daylight and also position the camera behind you so we can see where the ball lands and repost.

raffi!
07-18-2009, 11:39 AM
Alright! Sorry for the awful video--I wasn't sure if it would be good enough, but apparently not.

Also, I'm relatively certain that I'm not using an eastern grip. My knuckle is on the first bevel.

raffi!
07-18-2009, 11:43 AM
Or on second thought, I can see why would think it's eastern--it definitely looks that way in the video.

But that's odd, because I really do try to make it a point to go continental on the serve.

volusiano
07-18-2009, 12:32 PM
If you're sure you're using continental and made it a point to use continental, then I believe you. The video can look deceiving depending on how your wrist is turned in your pose.

I think if you like the abbreviated take back, it should be fine if it helps your timing. It's getting more popular now with people.

I see you're having some problem with getting a consistent ball toss (more obvious toward the end of the video where you had to retoss a few times). I see that you don't lock your tossing elbow to keep your arm straight to start out with. Maybe locking your tossing elbow the whole time will help with a consistent toss.

Overall your serving motion looks good, and I see you have the knee bend. But in general, your serve still seem to lack the explosiveness. A little more knee bend and place the toss more consistently in front of you instead of above your head should help with this. Also maybe slow your serve down a little, pause for a second after the ritual bounce and pose, before the serve motion to focus. Otherwise you're just rushing and going through the motion.

raffi!
07-18-2009, 05:07 PM
Thanks Volusiano.

I think part of my problem with the grip on the pose is that I get a bit lazy and forget to keep the wrist straight and pronate.

This, I think, is probably my biggest problem--besides the points you've mentioned.

pvaudio
07-18-2009, 07:57 PM
Number of things:

1. Slow it down. You're up to the line and tossing the ball within a second of one another. Take at LEAST two seconds after getting to the line to begin your service routine. Bounce the ball a bit, pick at your shirt, something that you do every time before you serve. You need to develop a consistent routine and what's in the video is not that. You're rushing through the entire motion. Start with the intro first, then come back and we'll talk about the actual mechanics. There's no point in getting into the nitty gritty just yet. It's a waste to modify your engine when just changing the sparkplugs would give you back the performance you are missing.

2. As said, if you don't have a continental grip, get one. It's vital.

3. You need to load up your body before you attack the ball. You're tossing, knee-bending and hitting the ball all at the same time. They should be three different parts that flow together smoothly. Watch lots of videos of great servers (I do not recommend watching videos of Roddick or Ivanisevic as they both have very unique service motions that can be difficult to imitate) and note simple things they do. Note how Sampras's tossing hand always starts at his crotch. Simple things like that.

4. Learn pronation STAT. Standing on the baseline and simply pronating through the ball will yield almost 2x the pace of what you're doing there by just swinging at the ball. Again, watch videos of great servers.

5. The backwards hat look is not working for you. I suggest something a bit less frat-boyish (I know you're in HS, but you'll soon know what I mean and see that isn't a compliment).

raffi!
07-18-2009, 08:17 PM
Thanks for the tips pvaudio. I appreciate them and will do my best to carry them out. Still, I struggle immensely with pronation--any tips to help me get the hang of it? Just practice?

As for the hat--I took this video early in the morning directly after I awoke, and my hair looked funny so I wore my brother's Davis cap. I realize I look like an enormous ******. I don't plan on wearing it often.

And I hate frats. I am attending a small college (Vassar) in upstate New York next year where thankfully there are no frats.

Again, thanks.

Number of things:

1. Slow it down. You're up to the line and tossing the ball within a second of one another. Take at LEAST two seconds after getting to the line to begin your service routine. Bounce the ball a bit, pick at your shirt, something that you do every time before you serve. You need to develop a consistent routine and what's in the video is not that. You're rushing through the entire motion. Start with the intro first, then come back and we'll talk about the actual mechanics. There's no point in getting into the nitty gritty just yet. It's a waste to modify your engine when just changing the sparkplugs would give you back the performance you are missing.

2. As said, if you don't have a continental grip, get one. It's vital.

3. You need to load up your body before you attack the ball. You're tossing, knee-bending and hitting the ball all at the same time. They should be three different parts that flow together smoothly. Watch lots of videos of great servers (I do not recommend watching videos of Roddick or Ivanisevic as they both have very unique service motions that can be difficult to imitate) and note simple things they do. Note how Sampras's tossing hand always starts at his crotch. Simple things like that.

4. Learn pronation STAT. Standing on the baseline and simply pronating through the ball will yield almost 2x the pace of what you're doing there by just swinging at the ball. Again, watch videos of great servers.

5. The backwards hat look is not working for you. I suggest something a bit less frat-boyish (I know you're in HS, but you'll soon know what I mean and see that isn't a compliment).

pvaudio
07-18-2009, 08:50 PM
Thanks for the tips pvaudio. I appreciate them and will do my best to carry them out. Still, I struggle immensely with pronation--any tips to help me get the hang of it? Just practice?

As for the hat--I took this video early in the morning directly after I awoke, and my hair looked funny so I wore my brother's Davis cap. I realize I look like an enormous ******. I don't plan on wearing it often.

And I hate frats. I am attending a small college (Vassar) in upstate New York next year where thankfully there are no frats.

Again, thanks.No problem. The fundamentals of a good serve are the following:

1. Utilization of the core and leg muscles

2. Consistent ball toss out in front

3. Smooth wrist snap through the ball

Of these three, the toss is most important, the snap is second and the first thing mentioned is the least. Reason being, NO serve will work without a good toss, and every good serve needs a pronation. The core and leg work really depends on the person. To practice the pronation, do what I did many a year ago when I was taught:

1. Stand on the service line with about 10-15 balls. Serve into the opposing service box as normal. You'll find that you can't easily hit it when serving with a non pronating stroke. A wrist snap will allow you to serve into the box whether you're standing on top of the net or standing behind the baseline. You can't do that with a normal swing. To practice the snap itself, stand perpendicular to the net as you should when serving (left foot along the service line), take your racquet up around near your ear with your continental grip. The racquet face should be facing the side of your head. While just standing there, practice snapping through the ball without letting the racquet fall below chest level. A snap is the only way this can happen; a full swing will make the ball go long every time.

2. Once you finish with that, take about 20-25 balls to the middle of no-man's land and repeat the drill. Remember, keep the arm up the entire time; you do not want it to drop because the racquet speed you generate is from the wrist snap and it isn't from you swinging your arm through the serve. You must train yourself to use the snap as your main source of pace.

3. Once you're done with the 20-25, get back to the baseline with about 50 balls and practice the snapping drill on the deuce and ad side. Don't worry about aiming yet: you can't hit a target if you don't know how to shoot. Once you get this down, you can worry about trophy pose, back scratch position, and all the other jargon that comes with serving. If you want to know what mine looks like, the link is at the end of the post.

Good luck, if you have any other questions don't hesitate to ask. Especially during HS tennis, a good serve is the best asset you can have followed by a nice slice backhand. Most players aren't used to dealing with either and can both net you free points.

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

2. Once you serve your 10-15 balls into the box

Gaudio2004
07-18-2009, 09:31 PM
Need a bigger toss, bigger extension on your serve, can you serve a very effective twist serve?