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crash1929
10-10-2009, 10:46 PM
I know this has been discussed thoroughly. Howver the recent post of the djokovic tennis lesson on utube adds some perspective.

On the one hand there is the idea that you shoot from the elbow and the wrist plays a passive role.

On the other hand is that the wrist plays an important and active role.

Up until recently i was in the former camp. I never really used my wrist. But you can see here in the djokovic video that he says, "at the moment of impact the speed and pace you get is from the wrist". Also, the person with the fastest serve I know said he uses his writs as well. He can hit a 130mph serve. The person I know also said he uses his wrist to place the ball.

I wish more pros would post videos like this. Thanks Novak!

xFullCourtTenniSx
10-10-2009, 11:07 PM
I know this has been discussed thoroughly. Howver the recent post of the djokovic tennis lesson on utube adds some perspective.

On the one hand there is the idea that you shoot from the elbow and the wrist plays a passive role.

On the other hand is that the wrist plays an important and active role.

Up until recently i was in the former camp. I never really used my wrist. But you can see here in the djokovic video that he says, "at the moment of impact the speed and pace you get is from the wrist". Also, the person with the fastest serve I know said he uses his writs as well. He can hit a 130mph serve. The person I know also said he uses his wrist to place the ball.

I wish more pros would post videos like this. Thanks Novak!

You do get your pace from the wrist. But it's due to a loose wrist, not an active, conscious snap.

(EARLY WARNING: PREPARE TO BE FLAMED FOR MENTIONING MY PET PEEVE) :evil:

One does NOT snap down, or even forward, on a serve. Such ideas are faulty and detrimental to a good serve! Any coach that encourages such a thing should be fired! One must serve with a continental grip (or a backhand grip) so that the wrist action on a serve (pronation) will happen naturally. People serving with frying pan grips CAN serve 130 mph (never seen or heard of one, but it IS plausible). However, if they switched to the continental serve and worked on their form, they could probably easily bomb 170!

Power comes from the kinetic chain. A technically sound serve stores energy all over the body. You bend the knees, rotate the hips, rotate the shoulders, and have the shoulder joint, and all parts of the arm loose. The arm and racket at this point have no energy stored. Next, you reach up to the serve, forcing you to extend the legs. This in turn rotates the hips and shoulders while also pushing them up. Then the racket drops down and the elbow points up. Energy has been transferred from the lower body, core, and chest to your shoulder joint and elbow. The elbow is sent flying up, dragging the forearm up with it, which drags the racket up to the ball (handle first). Once the elbow fully extends, the resulting energy culminated from all the energy stored all over the body goes up to the forearm and wrist. The forearm and wrist pronate to present the racket head to the ball. Then finally the wrist (because it is loose) releases the energy into the racket and sends the racket up and through the ball. On a serve, all the energy you generate will eventually be focused into the wrist. The only way you can efficiently use all of that energy is to have a loose wrist. If your wrist is even the least bit tight or firm, then you lose energy. If you focus a different motion into the wrist that doesn't come naturally from the forces you generate, you are fighting those forces and lose even more power!

The wrist plays a VERY active role in our serves. It is SO active, that our interference would simply hinder it's job and slow it down. So stop bugging your wrist and loosen up! It'll do it's job WAY better than you can!

Granted you can still serve high speeds with lack of efficiency (because your body is just that damn gifted in the subject), but to have a serve like Andy Roddick, you need to load up heavily the body and have a very loose arm and wrist. Even Novak says that you must be very loose. Come on man! Pay attention!

crash1929
10-10-2009, 11:44 PM
Thanks for the post. I like this concept. It is a good visual: "The arm and racket at this point have no energy stored" I think a lot of players don't get that. I agree power comes from the kenetic chain. But as you may or may not know the previous controversy on here was wether or not you should use your wrist at the end of that chain.

Novak covers the serve in the first minute. Again, to me it sounds like he means you should use your wrist. He says your legs are the most important part of your body for the serve, including the wrist. he then says "its very important the moment of impact the speed and pace you get is from the wrist". So what do you think he means by that? On top of all this though is that it seems like English isn't his first language.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R0dldQUtRbo&feature=related

It would be interesting to do one of those polls on here to get people's levels and wether or not they use their wrists. Can anyone put up one of those polls?!!

x are a teaching pro?

Ken Honecker
10-10-2009, 11:49 PM
OK I know that is how it is supposed to work but do you have any recommendations of how old, fat, stiff, me can retrain my body to have a loose wrist since I have served since the early 70's with my wrist locked. Heck I even start pronated with my strings facing the ball. But I am gaining since I switched this Summer to conti grip rather than eastern on my serve.

crash1929
10-11-2009, 12:06 AM
By the way one thing that has helped me get a foot or so higher on the back wall (when I execute well which is not very often, because the technique messes with my timing) is when I'm slow on the serve and the at the end right before contact really pop it.

Full disclouser to all, I've never had lessons and have learned by simply playing and watching.... At the 4.5 level, I get broken more often that I would like to admit on my serve and often rely on my return game to win matches.

gzhpcu
10-11-2009, 12:06 AM
The wrist action on the serve is similar to that of cracking a whip.

Keep your arm loose, your wrist loose, and whip up and across at the last second.

xFullCourtTenniSx
10-11-2009, 12:42 AM
By the way one thing that has helped me get a foot or so higher on the back wall (when I execute well which is not very often, because the technique messes with my timing) is when I'm slow on the serve and the at the end right before contact really pop it.

Full disclouser to all, I've never had lessons and have learned by simply playing and watching.... At the 4.5 level, I get broken more often that I would like to admit on my serve and often rely on my return game to win matches.

You're a 4.5, yet you have a problem with short balls and holding serve...? You're self rated aren't you! :shock:

Granted I'd rather return serve than serve, but I can hold serve far more easily than I can break (assuming the other guy's serve is match worthy).

xFullCourtTenniSx
10-11-2009, 12:53 AM
he then says "its very important the moment of impact the speed and pace you get is from the wrist".

Don't believe everything a pro tells you. They're describing how it feels to them and some fundamentals they were taught (power from legs was from taught fundamentals, power from wrist is how it feels). Show them a video of themselves and there will be a lot of things where they'll say "oh, never knew I did that" or "I though I did the opposite!" or "I thought I did this instead".

This happened to Agassi. Though that's why listening to how everything feels is important! If you can't feel the ball and what's going on with your body and racket, you can't correct it right away unless you have before and after slow motion footage of yourself. Pros NOWADAYS (not before) have access to that now. It helped Safin quite a bit after his injury and got him to the Wimbledon semifinals last year.

And no, I'm not a teaching pro, though I do coach since I need gas money (and now string money, so I might raise my coaching prices though it'll stay far below market value for the sake of the customers). I'm in college right now and I do a lot of road trips, so I need a lot of gas money. Though I do know how to help people improve their games, either technically or tactically, even if I myself can't pull it off (the reason being is I don't have people drilling me or feeding me balls all day, which is VERY important and highly underrated).

It's hard to teach beginners, because they don't have much of a feel for the ball yet, and most of the work involves constantly feeding them balls and giving them simple things to focus on, then building off of that. I'd rather teach intermediates since all I need to do is help them cover up or fix problems in their game and give them tactics and strategy, insight on how to best use their tools. Building someone's game from scratch I feel is MUCH harder than improving and optimizing an already existing game. This is why we should give Pete Fischer a LOT more credit for completely rebuilding Sampras' strokes, style, and mentality. And to build that serve and that forehand... Damn... He's gotta be a teaching genius! Though he couldn't play if his life depended on it... :shock:

However, I shouldn't be the first person you look to on how to improve a two handed backhand. I can drill you and feed balls all day long and point out some flaws I see and some things I think might help, but I have always used a one handed backhand and have no feel for a two hander (though I know some of the fundamentals behind a good one).

crash1929
10-11-2009, 01:08 AM
hi x thanks for sharing.

xFullCourtTenniSx
10-11-2009, 01:26 AM
hi x thanks for sharing.

Eh, if you haven't noticed, and my friend pointed out, I might not be in the best of moods today. Haha. And this is my pet peeve topic so sorry if I sound really... Mean? Angry? Unnecessary in my choice of words?

fuzz nation
10-11-2009, 05:18 AM
OK I know that is how it is supposed to work but do you have any recommendations of how old, fat, stiff, me can retrain my body to have a loose wrist since I have served since the early 70's with my wrist locked. Heck I even start pronated with my strings facing the ball. But I am gaining since I switched this Summer to conti grip rather than eastern on my serve.

It takes a while to rearrange that habitual furniture in your brain because you have to unlearn those old habits, then start to digest the new ones and get them ingrained. This certainly doesn't happen overnight. Keep in mind that a long term goal, in this case you're improving your service technique, will require throwing a wrench into that serve for the short term. It sucks for a little while, but you'll unlock more serving potential down the road. Be ready to invest a couple of months to completely work this out.

A huge component of the right service motion with the right technique is finding a productive serving tempo. Too many players, including some pros, use a motion that's rushed - they release up through the ball before they're fully set and loaded up for the serve. If you want to experiment with a looser wrist on the practice courts, try taking some practice motions while holding your racquet with only your thumb and your first two fingers on the end of your grip. That makes your grasp effectively more loose, but it probably takes a little longer to crank out those easy practice motions.

If the tempo with that grip is comfortable, try some slow, easy serves with it, but pay attention to your pace and tempo. There shouldn't be any rush in your best service movement and if there is, you might consider getting it further along and getting yourself more loaded up before you even put your toss up in the air. A later toss means that you're more set to pull the trigger and when the ball goes up there, you can be more loose and less rushed through contact. That's when you get your best racquet speed and energy in the serve.

Ken Honecker
10-11-2009, 06:22 AM
After video taping myself this summer I know I am doing most every thing wrong but damn it used to work pretty well before I took almost 20 years off. Sadly tennis weather might be done in my neck of the woods as we have set record lows the last 2 nights and I'm sure the parks will be taking the nets down before our 8 feet of snow hits. Maybe I'll bring a racquet to work and shadow my serve in the middle of the night. The thing is I have to redo almost everything. I know I'm not whipping my arm, I'm powering it and I'm not tossing the ball as high as I should. Currently I have the muscle memory built up where I toss the ball and reach up and crush it without having to wait for it at all, in fact there is absolutely no way I could ever catch a bad toss because my racquet is already moving as soon as I toss the ball but since I've thrown it in the same spot tens of thousands of times it is only out of position a couple of times a match.

SystemicAnomaly
10-11-2009, 06:37 AM
After close scrutiny of Novak's serve (again), I'll still say that the wrist is supple, yet passive. That "wrist action" is mostly pronation with some passive wrist articulation. Take a look at the following vid (in slow-mo mode):

Djokovic serving sample (http://www.hi-techtennis.com/video_sample.php?player_id=15&video_id=346&stroke=serve) (Hi-Tech Tennis)

Photo Study of Novak Djokovic's Strokes (http://tennis.about.com/od/playersmale/ss/djokovicpicsbs_6.htm) (wrist whip???)

LeeD
10-11-2009, 08:09 AM
Wrist is a pivot in the kinetic chain. More angle of racketarm to forearm, the more pivoting action of the relaxed wrist.
Since the head of the racket is well away and behind the wrist at the prep, it catches up with more speed until alignment is reached, at moment of impact. Catching up means it's going faster, so wrist is the one of the pivot points that make the rackethead go really fast.

TonyB
10-11-2009, 08:17 AM
^^^^ Exactly right.

To go along with LeeD's comment, here's my view on it:

I think it would be almost impossible to time a conscious wrist snap at the exact instant during a serve. I think if you actually TRIED to snap your wrist, your service percentage would go into the toilet very quickly. The wrist simply connects the shoulder/arm and the hand/racquet. The pent-up energy in the kinetic chain forces the racquet to swing from the deep drop to meet the ball and continue forward and downward. The wrist just LINKS the power-generating part of the chain and the racquet itself.

The little tiny muscles in the wrist are not nearly strong enough to add any significant pace to the serve. And as I said, consciously snapping your wrist is almost impossible to do at precisely the exact moment during the service motion anyways.

For kinetic chain, think legs/abdomen/shoulder/elbow/racquet. Don't focus at all on the wrist. Just start by using the proper grip, the proper stance, and a loose shoulder, and you'll be on your way to 100+ MPH serves in no time.

crash1929
10-11-2009, 11:53 AM
Hey guys thanks for sharing. As I mentioned I've always been in the passive wrist camp. But I am having a very hard time dismissing Novak's statements:

"your legs are the most important part of your body for the serve, including the wrist. he then says "its very important the moment of impact the speed and pace you get is from the wrist".

Why would he mention the wrists so much if it is passive?

Also later in the video on overheads he compares them to the serve. He says,
"like in the serve you need to have this follow through and this wrist action". Then it's a bit unclear but it sounds like the interviewer says, "its the wrists" then it sounds like novack says, "exactly.. you want to pop the wrists you want to relax the upper body..."

Again the language barrier may be a problem in interpreting the video because he obvioulsy does not speak perfect English. For example he says the left arm on the overhead is like your 'target'; rather than saying for example ' you use the left arm to track the ball' - or 'your left arm helps you aim'.... The target would be of course the thing you are trying to hit. You are not trying to hit your left arm on the overhead.

StuckInMalibu
10-11-2009, 12:12 PM
But I am having a very hard time dismissing Novak's statements:

"your legs are the most important part of your body for the serve, including the wrist. he then says "its very important the moment of impact the speed and pace you get is from the wrist".

Why would he mention the wrists so much if it is passive?

The target would be of course the thing you are trying to hit. You are not trying to hit your left arm on the overhead.

You might think of Djokovic's advice as a warning against locking the wrist or arm during a serve. So he was just emphasizing a loose arm. The others already pointed out that "using wrist" really means "pronating."

My coach said a good way to position yourself for an overhead is to point at the ball with the left hand. A drill of mine was to move to catch the ball with my left hand instead of hitting it. If you can catch the ball, you can definitely hit it. The point is to hit the ball when it is up high and in front of you. Obviously you shouldn't be stretching forward to catch the ball or reaching behind your head.

drakulie
10-11-2009, 12:26 PM
break your wrist and snap it down violently, and as hard as you can. when you have pains/aches/broken wrist, let us know how your serve is going.

LeeD
10-11-2009, 01:09 PM
READ MY POST again... :shock:
Wrist is the PIVOT, so it's important. Not the muscle.

SystemicAnomaly
10-11-2009, 01:20 PM
Hey guys thanks for sharing. As I mentioned I've always been in the passive wrist camp. But I am having a very hard time dismissing Novak's statements:

"your legs are the most important part of your body for the serve, including the wrist. he then says "its very important the moment of impact the speed and pace you get is from the wrist".

Why would he mention the wrists so much if it is passive? ...

Did you take a look at the video I provided? It speaks louder than his words.

crash1929
10-11-2009, 07:48 PM
systemic i did. i'm not sure what to make of it.

i tried to today actually involving the wrist and I hit fine. slower but had much better control. when i use a passive wrist i have more power but less control. i'm not sure i can contribute anything else to this thread. novak certianly confused me.

luckily i am playing really really well.

xFullCourtTenniSx
10-11-2009, 08:00 PM
systemic i did. i'm not sure what to make of it.

i tried to today actually involving the wrist and I hit fine. slower but had much better control. when i use a passive wrist i have more power but less control. i'm not sure i can contribute anything else to this thread. novak certianly confused me.

luckily i am playing really really well.

Did you not read what I said? Pros know very little of what they actually do!

All they know are the fundamentals they were taught and how they feel when they perform the stroke.

And you can play with terrible and inefficient form and still do very well. But you can do better with perfect and 100% efficient form. Like if someone with terrible form served at 100% consistency at 120 mph, I guarantee with practice and dedication that with perfect form he can turn that into 100% consistency to serve 130+! Maybe even 140+!

charliefedererer
10-12-2009, 12:25 AM
In this article from Popular Mechanics on "Tennis Physics: Anatomy of the serve", it is estimated that the "hand" contributes 30% of the racquet head speed of the serve: http://www.popularmechanics.com/outdoors/sports/4221210.html
By "hand" it is meant the wrist pronation that the hand exerts on the racquet handle.
And that is more than the contribution of the legs and trunk (20%) and upper arm (10%).

tricky
10-12-2009, 12:48 AM
Yeah, if you've seen studies tracking racquet head speed, wrist flexion provides that 20-30% or so percent, and that contribution is near the end of the serve. The wrist flexion though is entirely a motion dependent effect (i.e. passive)

Stewy30
10-12-2009, 09:09 AM
Something to bear in mind when listening to any ones advice on this forum or outside of it including pros, is that there are two type of people.

One says the motion through feeling and what they focus on, like Djokovic. He stresses on the legs, and wrist motion.

One says the motion through technical fact using logic and physics, like many on this board. They stress on kinetic chains, that the wrist isn't really snapped, etc etc.

Both are useful, but I believe that in the end of the day, go primarily with what the pros and experts say (with a grain of salt mind you). Telling yourself what Djokovic says will help you more than trying to make an exact science out of it like many are. And if it doesn't work try a different focus, such as one piece of advice you mentioned about using elbow. Two different focuses may end up in the same result in proper motion and success.

They may not know what they are actually doing, but they feel it and focus on it, and the feeling of the motion is really what your brain requires.

Ps. Or perhaps you work better with knowing the physics behind it, who knows. In any case try all focuses and see which one works best. I may have killed my entire argument with this statement but it stresses that you try everything until you find something that works for you!

LeeD
10-12-2009, 09:14 AM
I love it when someone tries a new or different technique ONCE, then immediately proclaims it's "not as good" as his older technique.
Yeah, and Rome was built in one day, as was the Taj and the Pyramids....:):)

Stewy30
10-12-2009, 09:27 AM
I love it when someone tries a new or different technique ONCE, then immediately proclaims it's "not as good" as his older technique.
Yeah, and Rome was built in one day, as was the Taj and the Pyramids....:):)


Yes, I agree.

teachestennis
10-12-2009, 09:41 AM
Interesting post. As a long time teacher I always think of the wrist as passive, I focus on using the tricep and forward edge of the racket to snap, the tricep being the base of the lever and the forearm accelerating upward and across (pronation).

I have spoken with Pete Fischer a lot regarding how he developed not only Sampras but don't forget he also developed Amanda Stephenson who was one of the world's best servers at 17 with a one handed backhand just like Sampras'. Fisher developed two juniors essentially from scratch into the top twenty in the world, something very few coaches have ever done and a boy and girl to boot. Fisher didn't believe in focusing on the tiny muscles such as the wrist, and he also taught to hit up and to the right on the serve, using the large muscles to build what we call the kinetic chain. I teach the serve to not neglect the triceps, and I focus on shaping the shot with the hand. One effective thing I learned from Pete Fischer was to climb up the back of the ball and over the top focusing on the hand shaping the shot, much like I learned from Oscar Wegner. To build tempo, I learned from Wegner to toss the ball one the count of one and not strike it until five, a great tip that works well with my students. That analogy of the strings climbing up the back of the ball when combined with attacking the ball with the edge of the racket before pulling the butt of the racket sharply to the right while covering the top of the ball seems to work wonders. The butt pointing to the ball before the strike also gets the elbow up and maximizes the triceps, and then the energy (like X and Lee pointed out) just whips out through the hand and the wrist does everything it needs to passively. The wrist is just a hinge or pivot, as so well stated earlier.

teachestennis
10-12-2009, 09:49 AM
great post by x man for a non coach

drakulie
10-12-2009, 09:50 AM
To build tempo, I learned from Wegner to toss the ball one the count of one and not strike it until five, a great tip that works well with my students.

Huh?????? could you clarify what you mean here??

Thanks.

Power Player
10-12-2009, 09:56 AM
What helps me get my wrist in the shot w/out thinking about it is to relax it on the racquet drop. It's like I am letting the racquet dangle so the butt end is facing up. When I come through and make contact, the wrist automatically does it's thing and I don't think about it. I think that is what Djokovick is talking about.

teachestennis
10-12-2009, 10:48 AM
Huh?????? could you clarify what you mean here??

Thanks.

sure, MTM believes in timing mechanisms built into the strokes. You have to remember and believe that modern tennis is a lot like martial arts, something that Oscar integrated into his Modern Tennis Methodology when he realized how force was best applied to a tennis ball. Tempo means there is a consistent timing. I teach to hit up and to the right on the serve, as if I'm throwing a hatchet. To ensure a consistent movement and delay of firing of the kinetic chain (known as waiting) even on the serve, you want to be totally relaxed and very loose. Even Todd Martin still starts his serve with his bottom three fingers off the racket when he prepares to lift his arm and I would send you a pic if I was at my home computer. So the arm is loose and relaxed as you approach the ball. I teach my students to start counting at one when they toss and to keep looking up and hit to the right, attacking the ball with their edge but try and not to strike before five. This allows a coil upwards, and forces the body to coil and then fire upwards and timing is best accomplished by "waiting" due to the count. It is the storing of energy as you lift the elbow and allow the lever of the triceps and forearm to then uncoil and strike the ball using the edge. Try it, I guarantee it works even for high performance players. The pros are very relaxed and will have a steady count, usually 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 before they strike and it also clears the mind and puts the emphasis on finding the ball well on the serve with the the hand. Things have a way of working themselves out when you are relaxed and focusing on a few simple things, such as timing and hitting upward and to the right. Just my coaching experience, and no one ever goes away from a serve lesson not feeling like they have a decent serve. I even teach little kids to serve well with spin.

drakulie
10-12-2009, 01:16 PM
^^thanks, that's what I thought you meant, but your wording confused me.

sureshs
10-12-2009, 02:05 PM
To build tempo, I learned from Wegner to toss the ball one the count of one and not strike it until five, a great tip that works well with my students.

Doesn't it depend on how fast you count? 5 seems awfully long to me

SystemicAnomaly
10-12-2009, 02:15 PM
Did you not read what I said? Pros know very little of what they actually do!

All they know are the fundamentals they were taught and how they feel when they perform the stroke...

This is absolutely true. Elite players will just parrot what they've heard from coaches as they were developing their games as junior players. Even fairly knowledgeable coaches don't really know the fine details of the mechanics. They will oftne say something that is technically incorrect, yet good players will develop good technique despite the flawed instruction.

tennis angel
10-17-2009, 01:19 PM
^^thanks, that's what I thought you meant, but your wording confused me.

Counting to 5 totally works, and not just on the serve, but on every stroke. On the serve it helps to keep the toss arm up, and it helps the server to "find" the ball first before strikingl. Try it - see how quickly you swing at your toss without really looking at it. Wegner's first tenet is "find it". Many players fail to find the ball before they strike the serve. Counting to 5 also works wonders on groundstrokes by forcing you to wait until the very last instant to react. Look at photos of all the pros and see how they stare at the ball from the bounce until after the ball has left their strings. They ae not rushing, they are taking their time, waiting until the last, optimal moment to strike then take their eyes off the ball. That is finding it, and they do it by waiting for the bounce with the racket out in front most of the time. So often when they miss they were early, regardless of what the commentators might say. Watch with your own eyes and you will see for yourself. You must wait until the ball bounces on the ground before you count "one, then the 2,3,4 and contact at 5 comes very naturally. It's not too long. It just proves how much time there is from the bounce to contact - not much in actual stopwatch time, but to the mind which has slowd down and is focused on only the ball, the being has plenty of time to react. Counting to 5 this way also calms the nerves if you start getting uptight in a match. It halts the pesky inner speak that can undermine a player's focus and confidence. If you just starat counting to 5 you will start winning points, which will build back confidence then you're back in the ballgame. It works on volleys, too. One when the opponent strikes the ball and 5 on your volley. The most important thing is not to rush the one count. For this reason we have little kids play bounce/catch as a pre-racket skill. Don't let them catch the ball in the air, but make them wait for that bounce. This develops the skill to wait rather than anticipate/prepare early. A little kid who gets the counting to 5 timing down pat will amaze you and himself with his strokes when combined with a full groundstroke finish. It's almost as if you can't miss. Try it for yourself and see!

tennis angel
10-17-2009, 01:24 PM
Oops, duplication of above. Sorry.