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View Full Version : Pancake serve really that bad ??


coyfish
07-26-2009, 07:33 PM
Before I begin I have dislocated my dominant shoulder twice from soccer / snowboarding. Its fine now but I start developing pain unless I really stretch well and after about 50-60 serves. It really bothers me on kick serves where you really need to twist and throw all your inertia into your shoulder / arm. Im a solid 4.0 or low 4.5 player.

Anyway . . . I was messing around the other day and I did a few pancake grip serves. Meaning pretty much serving with a full western. Like holding a pan. Like you see the beginners "tapping" the ball on their serves. Ive clocked my normal flat cont grip serve at 100-110mph on average. Ive always had a pretty powerful first serve but its not that consistant. Probaly get it in 40% of the time. I was suprised with the results. I was serving a little bit slower. I haven't had them clocked but I estimate not much slower at all. Maybe 95-100. Still hitting the back fence relatively high on one bounce. The difference was I felt no strain at all in my shoulder and I had pinpoint accuracy. I was getting them in right where I wanted about 80% of the time.

I know this is always looked down upon because you don't get that wrist range of motion you do with a traditional continental grip but other than that are their any cons? Im still getting good power and taking it much easier on my shoulder. This is just for flat serves of course. For slice / kick I would switch back to continental.

BU-Tennis
07-26-2009, 08:30 PM
I really don't think you're getting that much power. and even if you were, its impossible to add spin to the serve which makes it very predictable and leaves you know options when the returner hits it well.

pvaudio
07-26-2009, 08:50 PM
There is no way you're pancakeing anything at 100mph and not doing more damage than continental at 110. You need to have a coach look at your continental motion in that case, because a continental grip with a pronation is actually a biomechanical movement, meaning that the movement is natural and puts almost no strain on the muscles involved. It's only when doing something improperly that something is off.

WildVolley
07-26-2009, 09:13 PM
That's interesting. Usually I find that people who hit the ball hard that way usually have a lower serve percentage because the contact point is lower than with the continental.

coyfish
07-27-2009, 10:09 AM
I know my continental serve is better. The issue is that my shoulder is damaged from 2 dislocations. The motion may be fluid but the damage is done and I get an uncomfortable sensation in my rotator / shoulder after 50-60 hard serves. I weightlift and stretch / work rotator cuff weekly so not much more I can do there. My serve technique is good. Im yet to see someone serve over 100 mph using a bad technique.

The serve is definately weaker than my cont but its still relativlely powerful. Hitting the back fence a good 3-4 feet above the floor. For slice / kick I would simply change grips so thats not a big deal.

Ill fool around with it a bit more and keep you guys posted.

pvaudio
07-27-2009, 11:32 AM
I know my continental serve is better. The issue is that my shoulder is damaged from 2 dislocations. The motion may be fluid but the damage is done and I get an uncomfortable sensation in my rotator / shoulder after 50-60 hard serves. I weightlift and stretch / work rotator cuff weekly so not much more I can do there. My serve technique is good. Im yet to see someone serve over 100 mph using a bad technique.

The serve is definately weaker than my cont but its still relativlely powerful. Hitting the back fence a good 3-4 feet above the floor. For slice / kick I would simply change grips so thats not a big deal.

Ill fool around with it a bit more and keep you guys posted.
Well obviously it isn't good if you're torquing your rotator cuff. From not knowing how to serve properly, I've gone through 3 bouts of physical therapy for my rotator cuff. It was only until the last time that I decided to change my motion instead of just thinking i had a weak RC. A few years later, I haven't had a single twinge from my shoulder after changing the motion. You're likely using your arm too much, supinating your shoulder or extending it above your elbow (as in a powerful kick serve with a bent back instead of bent legs).

charliefedererer
07-27-2009, 12:33 PM
Well obviously it isn't good if you're torquing your rotator cuff. From not knowing how to serve properly, I've gone through 3 bouts of physical therapy for my rotator cuff. It was only until the last time that I decided to change my motion instead of just thinking i had a weak RC. A few years later, I haven't had a single twinge from my shoulder after changing the motion. You're likely using your arm too much, supinating your shoulder or extending it above your elbow (as in a powerful kick serve with a bent back instead of bent legs).

I agree there's something fishy about technique if the shoulder feels better with a pancake serve.
Also something fishy about an 80% first serve percentage at 100 mph with this method, and formerly only a 40% first serve percentage.

fuzz nation
07-27-2009, 12:59 PM
I'd like to think that if it doesn't hurt, then maybe it's not anything bad for you and I'm not much one to criticize since my shoulders have always been healthy. I'm just noodling with a racquet though, trying to figure out how you're getting a pancake serve happening with a western grip (I'm assuming forehand). I personally go ultra-flat on my serve if I shade toward eastern from continental.

In terms of staying healthy, it could be worth the investment if you were to have a serving lesson with an accomplished pro. Since you've adjusted your mechanics in the wake of injuries, a trained eye might be able to steer you away from long term trouble once you make that person aware of your vulnerable shoulder. Some pros know enough about the construction of the rotator cuff that if you were to look around, you might find just the person to help you with the right compensations.

pvaudio
07-27-2009, 01:35 PM
I'd like to think that if it doesn't hurt, then maybe it's not anything bad for you and I'm not much one to criticize since my shoulders have always been healthy. I'm just noodling with a racquet though, trying to figure out how you're getting a pancake serve happening with a western grip (I'm assuming forehand). I personally go ultra-flat on my serve if I shade toward eastern from continental.

In terms of staying healthy, it could be worth the investment if you were to have a serving lesson with an accomplished pro. Since you've adjusted your mechanics in the wake of injuries, a trained eye might be able to steer you away from long term trouble once you make that person aware of your vulnerable shoulder. Some pros know enough about the construction of the rotator cuff that if you were to look around, you might find just the person to help you with the right compensations.There must be something wrong with his continental motion. The eastern grip serve will destroy your shoulder very easily once you really start adding pace to it. I guarantee that a good club server generates more pace by just pronating than a great pancake server. It's the same (literally, the biomechanics are the same) as someone throwing a ball as hard as they can "like a girl" versus someone easily throwing with a wrist snap. Your body is made to use that motion, while it is not made to swing your arm around and then bring it to a stop with a weight on the end of it.

stanfordtennis alum
07-27-2009, 01:59 PM
its great for the 3.5 level but if u want to go the next step, u need to develop a good serve, flat, kick, spin, etc..

Noveson
07-27-2009, 02:12 PM
Before I begin I have dislocated my dominant shoulder twice from soccer / snowboarding. Its fine now but I start developing pain unless I really stretch well and after about 50-60 serves. It really bothers me on kick serves where you really need to twist and throw all your inertia into your shoulder / arm. Im a solid 4.0 or low 4.5 player.

Anyway . . . I was messing around the other day and I did a few pancake grip serves. Meaning pretty much serving with a full western. Like holding a pan. Like you see the beginners "tapping" the ball on their serves. Ive clocked my normal flat cont grip serve at 100-110mph on average. Ive always had a pretty powerful first serve but its not that consistant. Probaly get it in 40% of the time. I was suprised with the results. I was serving a little bit slower. I haven't had them clocked but I estimate not much slower at all. Maybe 95-100. Still hitting the back fence relatively high on one bounce. The difference was I felt no strain at all in my shoulder and I had pinpoint accuracy. I was getting them in right where I wanted about 80% of the time.

I know this is always looked down upon because you don't get that wrist range of motion you do with a traditional continental grip but other than that are their any cons? Im still getting good power and taking it much easier on my shoulder. This is just for flat serves of course. For slice / kick I would switch back to continental.

This is a hilarious post. Can't believe you actually wrote that. I'd like to see a video of this.

coyfish
07-27-2009, 04:27 PM
There is no way you're pancakeing anything at 100mph and not doing more damage than continental at 110. You need to have a coach look at your continental motion in that case, because a continental grip with a pronation is actually a biomechanical movement, meaning that the movement is natural and puts almost no strain on the muscles involved. It's only when doing something improperly that something is off.

I would love to see where you are getting that information. Throwing puts enourmous strain on the joint / tendon / shoulder in general which is why so many tennis players have had shoulder injuries as a direct result of serving. Maybe gently throwing or serving is semi natural but once you start putting pace you are putting an enourmous /unatural load on the body.

http://www.stms.nl/download/BJSM/2006/Shoulder_injuries_in_tennis_players.pdf


My RC isn't weak. Its just my shoulder has been weakened (joint / tendon) from being dislodged. I can no longer throw a ball hard.

I think the reason the pancake hurts me less is because im not twisting as much. I bend down and explode vertically and forward without that twisting motion that permeates through the body up the shoulder / arm to the wrist and on the ball.

pvaudio
07-27-2009, 04:34 PM
I would love to see where you are getting that information. Throwing puts enourmous strain on the joint / tendon / shoulder in general which is why so many tennis players have had shoulder injuries as a direct result of serving. Maybe gently throwing or serving is semi natural but once you start putting pace you are putting an enourmous /unatural load on the body.

http://www.stms.nl/download/BJSM/2006/Shoulder_injuries_in_tennis_players.pdf


My RC isn't weak. Its just my shoulder has been weakened (joint / tendon) from being dislodged. I can no longer throw a ball hard.

I think the reason the pancake hurts me less is because im not twisting as much. I bend down and explode vertically and forward without that twisting motion that permeates through the body up the shoulder / arm to the wrist and on the ball.
See, you're not getting it. The pronation is a natural movement that you do many times a day. It's only when you need more than the body can produce that you end up with injuries. Your shoulder will be ripped from it's socket were you to actually be pancaking the serve in at 100mph like you say. Your body has muscles specifically built to do the pronation movement, and guess what they're called: pronators

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pronation
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pronator_quadratus
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pronator_teres_muscle

Please listen to me when I say that there is a reason why continental grip serving is the only way you should be serving, and also believe me when I say there is something wrong with your motion if it hurts to hit said motion.

dave333
07-27-2009, 07:27 PM
I would hope this is trolling...

GuyClinch
07-27-2009, 10:33 PM
You can pancake serve pretty hard. I am not sure about 100mph but a guy on Tennis one demonstrates a pretty hard one if I remember right. I'd say 80mph is easily possible. But the serve is pretty flat..

Virtua Tennis
07-27-2009, 10:43 PM
I call shenanigans on 100mph pancake serve. Get a radar gun or it didn't happen

Ballinbob
07-28-2009, 05:44 AM
That's really interesting.... It's hard to believe but I'll take your word for it.

I know absolutely nothing about medical stuff (like your shoulder), but it wouldn't it just be better if you did therapy and waited until your shoulder feels better?

And by the way, off topic a little, but if you decide to keep using a western grip to serve, might as well learn the reverse slice serve as it's hit with that grip. Would be an interesting serve to add to your repertoire haha

user92626
07-28-2009, 11:03 AM
Let me ask you folks this question:

Would a coach worth his salt (not sure if that's the expression :)) stop his students from using the pancake serve or the very eastern grip serve?



I recently saw a coach who constanly gave feedbacks and coaxed his student while he (student) was serving but didn't say anything about that. Admittedly, one of his students' pancake serve was very fast for me to return effectively.

pvaudio
07-28-2009, 01:11 PM
Let me ask you folks this question:

Would a coach worth his salt (not sure if that's the expression :)) stop his students from using the pancake serve or the very eastern grip serve?



I recently saw a coach who constanly gave feedbacks and coaxed his student while he (student) was serving but didn't say anything about that. Admittedly, one of his students' pancake serve was very fast for me to return effectively.
Absolutely, without a single doubt. The only time I can see this being different is in very young players (by that I mean <14 yrs) who are just trying to get the ball over the net. Once you're playing tournaments or enter high school however, you need to be using a continental. For the preceding, it's whichever comes earliest.

coyfish
07-28-2009, 02:28 PM
Im a solid 4.0-4.5 player so I am experienced and I play with college players. Speaking of radars I was using the ball machine today practicing my recently swithced 1H backhand and they have a radar there.

I did about 15 pancakes and they were in the low to mid 80's on average. Fastest was 85 I think and most were about 80-83 mph. Lowest was a 74. So you guys were right it was slower that I predicted. Did a few cont serves and they were all in the upper 90's with a couple low 100's. I already knew my cont serve was faster but im just letting all the haters / NTRP police know so they can stop bashing.



PVAUDIO . . .

Yes you gave website demonstrating that we have joints and muscles that allow us to move . . . thats common knowledge. You answered the question yourself: "It's only when you need more than the body can produce that you end up with injuries." Doing countless 100 mph serves takes its toll. Some are luckier than others but so many pro's experience shoulder damage and many experience it later down the road.

I appreciate your concern and input but its nothing more than a damaged shoulder / tendon. I have undergone physical therapy / MRI and rested my arm from tennis / throwing for over 2 years. The pain still returns and is evident when I try and throw. I can throw like a shockputter but as soon as I wind up / get that torsional energy in there the pain sears up my arm.

Lately my first serve has been giving me trouble during matches which is why I started this thread in the 1st place. When the pain starts I lose pace and consistancy / confidence. I usually just turn to my kickserve to their backhand on both my 1'st and 2'nd. That works well against lower 3.5-4.0 players but against 4.5's and college kids it kills me.

pvaudio
07-28-2009, 03:25 PM
Im a solid 4.0-4.5 player so I am experienced and I play with college players. Speaking of radars I was using the ball machine today practicing my recently swithced 1H backhand and they have a radar there.

I did about 15 pancakes and they were in the low to mid 80's on average. Fastest was 85 I think and most were about 80-83 mph. Lowest was a 74. So you guys were right it was slower that I predicted. Did a few cont serves and they were all in the upper 90's with a couple low 100's. I already knew my cont serve was faster but im just letting all the haters / NTRP police know so they can stop bashing.



PVAUDIO . . .

Yes you gave website demonstrating that we have joints and muscles that allow us to move . . . thats common knowledge. You answered the question yourself: "It's only when you need more than the body can produce that you end up with injuries." Doing countless 100 mph serves takes its toll. Some are luckier than others but so many pro's experience shoulder damage and many experience it later down the road.

I appreciate your concern and input but its nothing more than a damaged shoulder / tendon. I have undergone physical therapy / MRI and rested my arm from tennis / throwing for over 2 years. The pain still returns and is evident when I try and throw. I can throw like a shockputter but as soon as I wind up / get that torsional energy in there the pain sears up my arm.

Lately my first serve has been giving me trouble during matches which is why I started this thread in the 1st place. When the pain starts I lose pace and consistancy / confidence. I usually just turn to my kickserve to their backhand on both my 1'st and 2'nd. That works well against lower 3.5-4.0 players but against 4.5's and college kids it kills me.
Come on man, I'm trying to save your arm here. The pancake motion is FAR more detrimental to your shoulder than pronating. THe best servers in history get injured, yes, but it's rarely a shoulder or rotator cuff injury. It's only when they need to overuse the joint that injuries occur ala Patrick Rafter once having the best kick serve in tennis only because he was torquing his shoulder back so far. :)

coyfish
07-28-2009, 03:50 PM
Come on man, I'm trying to save your arm here. The pancake motion is FAR more detrimental to your shoulder than pronating. THe best servers in history get injured, yes, but it's rarely a shoulder or rotator cuff injury. It's only when they need to overuse the joint that injuries occur ala Patrick Rafter once having the best kick serve in tennis only because he was torquing his shoulder back so far. :)

My arm is dead already but I appreciate it. I am definately thinking twice about the pancake serve now. Really working on my slice serve because my arm can't keep the heat going for too long /:. Ill keep my cont serve as long as I can muster :).

rst
05-02-2012, 12:42 PM
i have a shoulder problem. i cant generate much force from the trophy stance without a significant amount of pain at impact and that throws my motion out of whack.

i have to basically hold my racket like a frying pan as i smack the ball like an overhead shot. at 6'3" with a leap into the ball i can still get some good angle and backspin (low rising) on the ball but with limited velocity.

i just point the flat racket face t and roughly hit to a spot in the serve box.

at best i can perhaps get 80mph.