PDA

View Full Version : How to develop a service motion/toss that is not a giveaway of serve direction


sgrv
10-28-2009, 11:30 AM
I have been self-learning tennis for an year now. I can now hit both 1st and 2nd serves consistently, main options being slice, topspin and kick serve. Still developing a consistent flat serve.

One area for improvement is for me to serve in such a way that my toss does not indicate to the opponent where the serve will go. Right now, my toss is a very easy giveaway of my intention. Toss on the side => slice. Overhead => topspin. Overhead and on side => Kicker

How should I approach this issue?

mikeler
10-28-2009, 12:03 PM
Either toss it in the same position every single time or recognize that you are giving away the type of serve to your opponent but make sure you can mix up the direction on all your serves regardless of where the toss is.

moroni
10-28-2009, 12:06 PM
well, different serves require different contact points so if you do not want to different tosses you'll have to adjust stance

a_2c+
10-28-2009, 12:12 PM
talk to Mr. Sampras.

I'm pretty sure he'll give you an answer.

;)

mikeler
10-28-2009, 12:13 PM
talk to Mr. Sampras.

I'm pretty sure he'll give you an answer.

;)


Sampras and Federer are great examples of servers that could hit any serve off of 1 toss.

tricky
10-28-2009, 12:19 PM
A true kicker is going to require a different toss (even Sampras.) For everything else, work on hitting the ball at the same point using the clock metaphor. Usually if you visualize the clock face during the windup, you can better hide it.

Aiming at the ball with your colllarbone can aid in pronation. This also gives you finer control of the angle of your service arm, which enables you to do more stuff with the same toss as well as not tip off the opposite server with your trunk position.

Fedace
10-28-2009, 12:20 PM
Copy Pete Sampras..

SystemicAnomaly
10-28-2009, 12:33 PM
talk to Mr. Sampras.

I'm pretty sure he'll give you an answer.

;)

I'm fairly certain that Sampras actually had 2 different tosses. (Think I also recall a quote from him stating this). He would pretty much hit anything off these 2 tosses.

mikeler
10-28-2009, 12:40 PM
I'm fairly certain that Sampras actually had 2 different tosses. (Think I also recall a quote from him stating this). He would pretty much hit anything off these 2 tosses.


It's been a while since I've seen Sampras play. OK, I'll retract my statement. I've seen Fed enough to say his toss is pretty much the same every time.

LuckyR
10-28-2009, 12:51 PM
I have been self-learning tennis for an year now. I can now hit both 1st and 2nd serves consistently, main options being slice, topspin and kick serve. Still developing a consistent flat serve.

One area for improvement is for me to serve in such a way that my toss does not indicate to the opponent where the serve will go. Right now, my toss is a very easy giveaway of my intention. Toss on the side => slice. Overhead => topspin. Overhead and on side => Kicker

How should I approach this issue?

To be honest, at one year in, my guess is there are many, many areas of your game that will win you more points if improved, than this area.

In D Zone
10-28-2009, 01:15 PM
If I were you - I would work on improving the pace and placement of your serve.

Changing what you already have can mess you up.

As LuckyR pointed out work on other areas of your game. Develop strategy, work on attacking the shot after your serve is returned, etc....

In D Zone
10-28-2009, 01:18 PM
I've played guys who are higher level - with just sticking to 2 types of serves. Yes, they stuck with the service motion /toss. But watch out - the ball coming at you is fast and has heavy spins.

They have excellent control and placement on their serve - forcing you to play into their strategy. Finish you off in one two punch.

tennisdad65
10-28-2009, 02:13 PM
Copy Pete Sampras..

here are 3 videos of Pete serving.

twist serve: seems like the toss is at 11 around baseline:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N6E3vPigzxI

topspin serve: seems like the toss is at 12 and a bit into the court:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yf7uwvybBOc

flat serve: seems like the toss is at 12:30 and well into the court:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4DpptgXq5j4

maybe its only a myth on these boards that Pete had the same toss for everything?

Fedace
10-28-2009, 02:22 PM
here are 3 videos of Pete serving.

twist serve: seems like the toss is at 11 around baseline:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N6E3vPigzxI

topspin serve: seems like the toss is at 12 and a bit into the court:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yf7uwvybBOc

flat serve: seems like the toss is at 12:30 and well into the court:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4DpptgXq5j4

maybe its only a myth on these boards that Pete had the same toss for everything?

Not a myth. You can't read it. toss is same or slightly different but in a different position every time

Geezer Guy
10-28-2009, 02:33 PM
... One area for improvement is for me to serve in such a way that my toss does not indicate to the opponent where the serve will go. Right now, my toss is a very easy giveaway of my intention. Toss on the side => slice. Overhead => topspin. Overhead and on side => Kicker

How should I approach this issue?

Not trying to nit-pick with you, but what you said doesn't really add up. True, your toss may indicate the spin you're putting on the ball, but that does NOT indicate "where the serve will go". You can hit slice, topspin or kicker to ANY of the three basic service locations - and you should. You shouldn't always hit your slice wide to the deuce court and your kicker wide to the ad court. Mix it up. They may know a topspin serve is coming, for instance, but they needn't know where.

rk_sports
10-28-2009, 04:25 PM
quoting FiveO from another thread..

... Sampras serve practice is legendary in that his coach could pick serve type and direction for Pete after the toss and Pete would be able to hit it via swing path and contact point. Path and contact are what allows these serves to change direction and spin w/o giving it away by toss placement.....

this is interesting and not sure how you can practice this w/o a coach...

tricky
10-28-2009, 04:38 PM
this is interesting and not sure how you can practice this w/o a coach...

And remember -- coach would call out the direction of the serve after the ball was already tossed. This is one level above hitting various kinds of serves from the same toss. Sampras would actually time his pronation phase in order to execute Landsorp's (I think it was Landsorp) drill. When he wanted to spike down the T, he would slightly delay that pronation.

Probably goes without saying, but you need to have an advanced serve before you can pull that off.

sgrv
10-28-2009, 04:49 PM
Interesting to see the responses. Maybe I should have rephrased my question to indicate, how can I make my server more effective? There are couple of levers including

1. Adding disguise - which I asked
2. Pace & Spin
3. Placement

Feel free to provide tips for (2) and (3). There are definitely obvious improvements/tweaks that would help my game which is not too mature to start with. What low-hanging fruits should I attempt in the short term?

tricky
10-28-2009, 04:51 PM
BTW, are you a platform or pinpoint guy?

sgrv
10-28-2009, 09:07 PM
BTW, are you a platform or pinpoint guy?

I don't understand what the above terms mean in this context, can you clarify?

tricky
10-28-2009, 09:37 PM
I don't understand what the above terms mean in this context, can you clarify?

Does your feet move in your service motion, or do they stay in place? That is to gauge your original question about hiding placement. Pinpoint-based servers inherently reveal more, so in that case, the answer would be different than somebody who has a platform stance-based serve.

sgrv
10-28-2009, 09:52 PM
Hmm, that's an interesting question. Didn't think about it. To my knowledge, the feet stay in place, they only move vertically due to knee bend followed by jump before contact with the ball.

Also, as I stand on the baseline to serve, feet take the same position for all the serves, including 1st and 2nd, slice/topspin/kick.

Please note that my game is not much advanced, 3.5 at best. It is improving though. Hence, any tips to increase effeciveness of serve by power, spin, placement, guise would be helpful. Thanks!

GuyClinch
10-28-2009, 10:56 PM
Well - one piece of advice I heard on this is that changing the left/right nature of your toss is a dead giveaway. But the into the court and back towards you - or depth of your toss is hard to pick up.

So you can vary the depth of your toss - like more into the court for a flat serve and more near your head for a kicker to keep your opponent off balance.

I don't really try to practice that tip though. I think its more important to get action on your serves even if your toss is a 'giveaway.'

Pete

xFullCourtTenniSx
10-28-2009, 11:40 PM
Sampras and Federer are great examples of servers that could hit any serve off of 1 toss.

I actually think Sampras might be able to hit every serve from every toss! :shock:

Like he can juke you out with a slice serve toss, then bomb a flat one the other way. Then he'll throw a kicker toss, and throw out a crazy slice. Then he'll use the same toss and throw a flat bomb.

Not sure if that's 100% true though. Wouldn't doubt his ability to do so though.

Basically, just find a toss where you can hit every serve relatively comfortably from that position, then just change the type of spin you use at contact. Do this for first and second serve tosses. I'm still trying to work on sliding one down the ad court T with a second serve toss. I can kick one there, but I want a nice slider that moves away from the returner.

This combined with a quick swing (which is needed anyways to hit a serve over 100 mph with heavy spin) will make it difficult for the opponent to get an early jump on your serve UNLESS you give them an obvious tip off with a less obvious yet still noticeable motion, such as pointing at the corner you wish to serve to and actually serving to that spot, or that tongue thing that Becker does that apparently did the exact same thing. :shock:

NamRanger
10-28-2009, 11:50 PM
I'm fairly certain that Sampras actually had 2 different tosses. (Think I also recall a quote from him stating this). He would pretty much hit anything off these 2 tosses.



The 2 were almost identical in position from a far distance though. You had to look up close to see the difference.

Blake0
10-29-2009, 02:37 PM
Well, you say you're at a 3.5 level at best, so you don't really need to learn how to hit all serves with one toss yet..it's not very important..most people don't read the service toss at that level. I'd say it's more important to be able to hit every serve with a regular toss and be able to hit it with whatever spin and wherever you want to hit it..with a reasonable amount of consistency. Learn that first, then worry about your toss when you're about a 5.0 level.

SystemicAnomaly
10-29-2009, 03:37 PM
The 2 were almost identical in position from a far distance though. You had to look up close to see the difference.

That may very well be true for both Pete and Roger. Can't see how a server, even a super-human one, can hit a twist and flat (or slice) serve off the exact same toss. I can see that Roger has a lot of arc to his toss and can intercept it a different locations for different serves, but it would still nearly impossible to hit all serve variations from exactly the same toss.

junbumkim
10-29-2009, 04:17 PM
It's true that Sampras' serve was very difficult to read, but it really is a myth that he hit everything off one toss.

In tennis magazine, he did say that he tosses more to his left for kick serve. I think it was in 1997.

In post match interview in Aussie Open, he said that he had to hit more kick serve because the sun was where his toss would be.

In a lot of clips, you can see his kick serve toss is further to his left as well.

So, you could probably tell if Sampras was hitting a kicker or flat serve, but it would be really difficult to tell where he's going with it..He could hit any serves to anywhere on the court while a lot of players are more comfortable with hitting kickers out wide on ad side etc.

tricky
10-29-2009, 04:42 PM
The 2 were almost identical in position from a far distance though. You had to look up close to see the difference.

To be fair, Sampras's normal toss is already halfway to one you'd have for a kicker.

To my knowledge, the feet stay in place, they only move vertically due to knee bend followed by jump before contact with the ball.

Just wanted to verify whether you used a platform stance, which you are. It's inherently more difficult to hide a serve were one somebody using a pinpoint stance. Such that if you were using a pinpoint serve, I would have said to not worry about that and just work on accuracy and placement. And so on.

First, the main thing you want to verify is whether your balance is correct through your toss and windup. At 3.5, it's rare to have that, unless they were involved with throwing sports. So, things to look for:

1) Do you feel your lower back straining or "compressed" in your windup?
2) Do you feel your weight shift to your back foot at any point in the toss or windup? How about when the ball is at its highest point?
3) Does your trunk open up before the racquet drop?
4) Do you feel like you self-consciously "create" a trophy pose? Do you lift the forearm into the trophy pose?
5) Do you "pause" at any part of your windup or takeback?
6) Do you feel like you have to self-consciously rotate your forearm for the racquet to hit the ball?
7) Do your hips move closer to the net?
8) When you land, does your front foot land into the court?
9) When you land, does your right foot kick up?
10) When you land, is your right foot almost square with the net and not pointing at the right side fence?
11) When you land, is your trunk bending to the left?

Generally, if you say "yes" to any of questions 1-6 or "no" to questions 7-11, there is probably a balance issue. You want to correct that first, because it's the foundation for your service mechanics. One of the side effects is that you become very dependent on the location of the toss in order to vary spin on your serves.

Nellie
10-29-2009, 06:25 PM
If you want to spend the practice time, you can work on serving from a consistent toss direction and using body lean (left/right) to get the desired swing path.

Another thing that is useful is that you can change the toss depth (how far forward you are tossing). This is very hard to read, and the further you toss into the court, the further your serve is go wide to your backhand side.

ms87
10-29-2009, 06:49 PM
i hit everything off of (more or less) one toss, and the trick is to alter your hand/arm position just before the upward swing.

downdaline
10-29-2009, 07:58 PM
Here's my experience:

1) Turn your back to your opponent - People who face forward have a tendency to look or align their shoulders in the direction that they are aiming at. When you turn your back, you force yourself not to. This is something my friends have told me about and something i have observed as well.

2) Feet placement - A pinpoint stance is also likely to give away direction as players tend to lean in the direction that they are serving in at the last minute. Platform stance prevents this leaning to a certain extent.

3) Toss - Different tosses for first and second serves is fine i think. Different tosses for kicker, flat or slice serves is fine, but not too pronounced. Most important is direction. What you CAN vary is depth of toss (how far into the court you toss the ball), because depth of toss is difficult for the opponent to read.

4) Racquet-ready position - As the arm rises to its ready position, how the racquet is turned or how the wrist is flexed can also give an indication of what kind of serve (flat, kick or slice), but not necessarily direction. This varies from player to player, but for me, i have noticed that a few of the people i play against **** their wrist in different positions when serving flat or slice or kick.

Hope this helps.

downdaline
10-29-2009, 07:59 PM
^^^ Jesus, they censored the word c-o-c-k... LoLz...

SystemicAnomaly
10-30-2009, 01:05 AM
^ you should know better than to use phallic references in your post :twisted:

Cody
10-30-2009, 03:31 AM
Here's my experience:

1) Turn your back to your opponent - People who face forward have a tendency to look or align their shoulders in the direction that they are aiming at. When you turn your back, you force yourself not to. This is something my friends have told me about and something i have observed as well.



JMac sure put this one into good use.

I remember somebody asking why they don't see many club players using Mcenroes stance, When i first started playing i used this stance and i felt like it generated spin.

naylor
10-30-2009, 11:54 AM
... flat serve: seems like the toss is at 12:30 and well into the court:
[url]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4DpptgXq5j4[/url

Just look how far inside the court Pete is when he hits that ball. From the receiver's end, the only thing you can see about the toss is that it's in a plane perpendicular to the net - so, if you're waiting to see a toss on a plane parallel to the baseline (such that if the toss is to the right you'll get a sliced serve and if the toss is to the left over the shoulder you'll get a top/kick serve) when Pete serves you don't get that.

What Sampras does is to toss in a plane perpendicular to the net, AND THEN positions himself under the ball for the serve he wants to play. This is in fact how all top servers disguise their serve - they vary how deep they toss the ball into the court for different serves. From the receiver's end, it's very difficult to see how deep the toss is, and therefore what kind of serve is coming. It also means you can do several serves with the same toss, by changing your own position and serve swingpath under the toss.

xFullCourtTenniSx
10-30-2009, 12:21 PM
That may very well be true for both Pete and Roger. Can't see how a server, even a super-human one, can hit a twist and flat (or slice) serve off the exact same toss. I can see that Roger has a lot of arc to his toss and can intercept it a different locations for different serves, but it would still nearly impossible to hit all serve variations from exactly the same toss.

It's not impossible. It just takes practice. I can nail a twist and slice off the same toss (not as well in the ad court with my preferred racket, but with my 13.8 ounce racket I can pull it off very well). And I can also (inconsistently) nail a flat serve off a kick serve toss. It's just something you have to grow yourself into. I was also able to hit a twist serve off a flat serve toss or a conventional slice serve toss (it was just VERY obvious and took a LOT or wrist action). And Sampras and Federer have far better service motions than I do.

And Sampras used to drill where he had to put up a toss not knowing what kind of serve he'd hit until the ball left his hands. To do that, you have to be able to hit every serve off any toss, or hit every serve off a single toss (REGARDLESS OF COURT DEPTH). It's not THAT hard to hit all your first serves off a single toss and all your second serves off another toss if you PRACTICE HARD at it... And Sampras put a LOT of practice time into his serves. He would spend hours a day working on the accuracy of the serve, and his two (AND ONLY TWO) tosses were already worked into his motion and would only be reinforced by this constant practice.

To hit a flat serve off a kick serve toss, the kick serve toss has to be inside the court, otherwise you can't fully extend up and into the court like normal; and it's not hard to hit a kick serve when the toss is inside the court. If anything, your kick serve will be better if you do.

It's true that Sampras' serve was very difficult to read, but it really is a myth that he hit everything off one toss.

In tennis magazine, he did say that he tosses more to his left for kick serve. I think it was in 1997.

Fine... Sampras can hit everything off his kick serve toss, and everything BUT a kick serve on his first serve toss. He can hit anything off two tosses (except a kicker on a first serve toss). Happy now?

SystemicAnomaly
10-30-2009, 02:36 PM
It's true that Sampras' serve was very difficult to read, but it really is a myth that he hit everything off one toss.

In tennis magazine, he did say that he tosses more to his left for kick serve. I think it was in 1997.

In post match interview in Aussie Open, he said that he had to hit more kick serve because the sun was where his toss would be...

We can file the 1-toss myth under the heading of urban legends (& perhaps snopes (http://www.snopes.com/) will will look into it). For decades, tennis coaches and tennis articles had been saying that the service toss should be straight and all serves should be hit off the very same toss. I had suspected for a long time that this could simply not be true.

I started studying videos of the Samras serve in the mid-90s and it became very apparent that his toss was not straight. However, it was somewhat less obvious that his toss varied a bit for different types of serves. When Pete actually mentioned that he employed 2 tosses, my suspicions were confirmed. Granted, the variation between his 2 tosses are not all that great. In studying the toss of Federer, it is even more obvious that his toss is not straight. Even seems to have even more arc that Pete's.


http://web.archive.org/web/20071023184108/www.operationdoubles.com/sampras_serve3.gif
.

SystemicAnomaly
10-30-2009, 02:37 PM
^ 2 myths busted

Ripper014
10-30-2009, 03:31 PM
If you were to ask me I would say do what one of the first polsters recommended... vary your serve with the different service tosses. I see your pain in that to get the maximum effectiveness out of certain serves you need to have the toss in certain locations. I totally understand your plight as I am the same... but I can hit my flat serve up the T when showing what could also be a slice serve out wide, I can also hit a spin serve or a flat serve with what looks like a kicker toss, by throwing the toss a little more in front but still behind me it looks the same to the returner. The same thing for a spin serve... Doing this I find that I can still keep my service toss where I want it, and keep the returner a little off balance so he cannot feel he can totally read my serve.

On top of that... even if they know what is coming... adjusting speed, spin and location can be very effective.