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View Full Version : How practical is it to vary your service stance location?


SirSweetSpot
11-27-2009, 10:52 AM
I'm trying something new, to hopefully throw different angles and attacks at my opponents. But how often in a match is too much? Sometimes I'll stand right by the sideline in deuce court (I'm a righty). The next serve in deuce might be from the middle of the court, then closer to the center line etc. If anything I've been practicing my serves from various locations instead of being cemented a foot from the center line which I've always done.

I'm aware that the further away from center you are, the likelihood increases that your opponent has much more open court to blast the return into. However, utilizing the flight path to more of the lower part of the net has increased my first serve %, this includes flat and especially my slice serves, which have a tendency to dip into the net at about the 39.5" area of the net. So there seems to be a little compromise.

If anything, it makes practicing serves more fun than it used to be, when I was stagnated near the middle of the court. Sometimes it seems I'm a little too spontaneous about where I'm going to serve from. Is anyone else facing this dilemma? I'm now addicted to hitting slice serves into the ad court while standing near the sideline too.:)

LeeD
11-27-2009, 10:59 AM
Well, you vary your service position from singles to doubles, so you can do it.
Works best against overthinkers. They tend to think if you stand out wide, they'd get a wide serve...or overthink into thinking your faking them.
Most pure hitters just react to your position change by moving over a few feet, and concentrate on hitting your serve, so it doesn't work as well.
And when you stand out wide to a good player, they'll hit to open court or behind you when you try to cover the open court.
There's a reason we try to split the difference in serve location, and that reason is best court coverage.

Ripper014
11-27-2009, 11:05 AM
I know a lot of people that do this... but they do it to try and open up one side of the service box or the other. Standing wide so they can serve wider and near the T to go up the middle. They won't it ever time... they will stand near the T and serve wide but 80% of the time standing on the T means up the middle.

As the returner it doesn't make any difference to me... I just adjust were I am to bisect the angles they can hit from that service position. Who I would think it would effect more is the server, having to adjust your serve from different areas of the court, but it works for some people.

I myself serve from a rather neutral spot half way between the hash and singles sideline for doubles and half that distance for singles. From there I can hit all parts of the service box with decent angle and speed. Being a righty I can break it out with slice half way up the service box in the deuce court or a flat serve down the T. Or I can do the same in the ad court... with a slice or flat serve up the T and a 3/4 flat serve about 3 feet up the sideline out wide (getting in 90 mph is more important than hitting it hard and out at 110 mph).

For me I like to serve from one comfortable and fimilar spot, for you it might be better to spice it up... but then I am also the guy that goes to a restaurant and orders the same meal almost everytime... but then I am never disappointed with my meal I know what I am going to get.

I think the key is if you can be consistantly effective you can stand anywhere you want.

Cindysphinx
11-27-2009, 02:22 PM
Personally, I don't find it troubles me if the server changes her service start position (I play mostly doubles). Like Ripper, I just adjust my position.

In doubles, I will sometimes change my shot selection if the server serves from a very wide position, though. For instance, if you stand really wide in the deuce court, I promise you I will try to moonball the BH of the net person, and the server will have some serious ground to cover to hit a running BH passing shot when I move into net. Even if my moonball is too low, the net person will often miss it because few opponents have a solid high BH volley.

Steady Eddy
11-27-2009, 03:04 PM
I think changing where you serve from is a good technique in doubles. Don't expect it to get you outright winners, but it seems to sometimes keep opponents from teeing off on the serve. It confuses them just enough so they settle for just getting it back which often keeps the serving team in control of the point.

Jagman
11-28-2009, 04:35 AM
Where you stand while serving, IMO, is important for three reasons.

First, as LeeD mentioned, you want to reduce the amount of court you, as server, have to cover off the return. This is probably the most critical element in positioning, as the other rationales offered are fundamentally linked to and dependent upon considerations of coverage.

In singles, the middle of the court, near the baseline, is the best starting point to bisect the angle of likely returns. As you have a partner in doubles, and responsibility for a generally smaller probable area of return, there is a tendency to initiate serve from a position closer to the sideline. This also protects against the short angled return out wide, which is a high percentage return in doubles due to the increased width of the court.

Second, for the S&V singles player, trying to get to the net, the center hash mark is the closest you can get to the net at the start of the point. This logic also applies to the server in doubles, who similarly tries to control points by getting to the net. Since the server's area of responsibility shifts towards the sideline in doubles, their approach to the net is normally offset, too. Again, the closest the server can get to the net at the start of the point in doubles, is a position nearer to the sideline. While this second rationale is focused more on finding the shortest distance to the net for the volleyer, we are still, like the baseliner, primarily concerned with being in the best place to intercept the ball off the return.

Third, serving from close to the centerline for the singles player opens up the angles to the service box. From this position, the skillful server can launch a variety of serves out wide, down the T, or into the body of the returner. More importantly at higher levels of play, the adept server has better disguise, as his service motion should appear similar from the perspective of the returner. In singles, the closer the server moves to the sideline, the more his angles into the service box are reduced. This is also true of the server in doubles, except there is a tradeoff in doubles wherein the server generally loses court coverage by gaining angles.

Moving closer to the sideline on serve in singles does lengthen the distance the ball must travel into the service box. If you are being plagued by a tendency to serve long, this positioning will offer a short-term fix, although it does nothing to address the problem, which is rooted in technique.

Varying position along the baseline can be helpful in enhancing your ability to hit a particular serve. However, in doing so, you become, as a server, highly predictable. At more advanced levels of play, your opponent will be able to do more off the return and will quickly take the offensive if given the opportunity. It does not behoove the server to aid the returner's anticipatory skills by telegraphing his intentions.

Best to learn and practice these things early in a player's development, IMO.

Again, these fundamentals take on more meaning at higher levels of play. My thoughts are also more rooted in a traditional or classic view of tennis. There are many schools of thought on such subjects. For what I would consider an almost "radical" take on modern doubles play, take a look at Pat Blaskowers' The Art of Doubles, 2nd Edition. Pat expresses a very non-traditional view, IMO, of court positioning in doubles, which --- again, IMO --- is a big departure from the same book in the first edition. Times they are a'changing.

Cheers!

SirSweetSpot
11-28-2009, 03:31 PM
Where you stand while serving, IMO, is important for three reasons.

First, as LeeD mentioned, you want to reduce the amount of court you, as server, have to cover off the return. This is probably the most critical element in positioning, as the other rationales offered are fundamentally linked to and dependent upon considerations of coverage.

In singles, the middle of the court, near the baseline, is the best starting point to bisect the angle of likely returns. As you have a partner in doubles, and responsibility for a generally smaller probable area of return, there is a tendency to initiate serve from a position closer to the sideline. This also protects against the short angled return out wide, which is a high percentage return in doubles due to the increased width of the court.

Second, for the S&V singles player, trying to get to the net, the center hash mark is the closest you can get to the net at the start of the point. This logic also applies to the server in doubles, who similarly tries to control points by getting to the net. Since the server's area of responsibility shifts towards the sideline in doubles, their approach to the net is normally offset, too. Again, the closest the server can get to the net at the start of the point in doubles, is a position nearer to the sideline. While this second rationale is focused more on finding the shortest distance to the net for the volleyer, we are still, like the baseliner, primarily concerned with being in the best place to intercept the ball off the return.

Third, serving from close to the centerline for the singles player opens up the angles to the service box. From this position, the skillful server can launch a variety of serves out wide, down the T, or into the body of the returner. More importantly at higher levels of play, the adept server has better disguise, as his service motion should appear similar from the perspective of the returner. In singles, the closer the server moves to the sideline, the more his angles into the service box are reduced. This is also true of the server in doubles, except there is a tradeoff in doubles wherein the server generally loses court coverage by gaining angles.

Moving closer to the sideline on serve in singles does lengthen the distance the ball must travel into the service box. If you are being plagued by a tendency to serve long, this positioning will offer a short-term fix, although it does nothing to address the problem, which is rooted in technique.

Varying position along the baseline can be helpful in enhancing your ability to hit a particular serve. However, in doing so, you become, as a server, highly predictable. At more advanced levels of play, your opponent will be able to do more off the return and will quickly take the offensive if given the opportunity. It does not behoove the server to aid the returner's anticipatory skills by telegraphing his intentions.

Best to learn and practice these things early in a player's development, IMO.

Again, these fundamentals take on more meaning at higher levels of play. My thoughts are also more rooted in a traditional or classic view of tennis. There are many schools of thought on such subjects. For what I would consider an almost "radical" take on modern doubles play, take a look at Pat Blaskowers' The Art of Doubles, 2nd Edition. Pat expresses a very non-traditional view, IMO, of court positioning in doubles, which --- again, IMO --- is a big departure from the same book in the first edition. Times they are a'changing.

Cheers!

Actually, I'm just tired of my flat and slice serves slapping tape. I moved over to the sidelines because I never served from there before (I don't play much doubles), and found my ball trajectories flying over the lowest part of the net with astounding consistency. As mentioned by LeeD also, the returner can assume that such an extreme location will result in a serve out wide, which of course you vary by going up the T or into the body.

It's more out of frustration because somedays my flat serves (when standing at the "proper" location by the center mark), will be spot-on and blistering, while other days I'm not as consistent. Moving over has given me some serious appreciation of the difference a few inches make regarding the net. Standing near center, slice serves will drift out towards 39+ inch mark. Move a few feet over and the trajectory is more ideal for clearing the net, thus giving me more confidence to attempt to put even more bite on the ball when I make contact.

My main problem, and I could REALLY use some help here, is to perfect the down the T serve in deuce court (again I'm a righty) utilizing the low part of the net. My flat serves have a tendency to always go to my opponents body. Are there any little tips I need to remember? Maybe I just need to move like one more foot or so?

LeeD
11-28-2009, 04:23 PM
Rightie, duece court, hard serve drifting into opponent can be cured with slightly more forehandy grip...still conti, but a slight twist more towards what you'd use for a forehand. Too much, it goes into ad court. Practice it.
Some top servers used conti twisted towards EFH for all their serves.

papa
11-28-2009, 05:17 PM
Yeah, I'd go along with LeeD. Its more effective in the doubles game (I think) than in singles for the reasons pointed out. However, I'd suggest you practice serving from different locations and "maybe" even from a few inches behind the line. I like to suggest this to players because when the ball starts to fly long by a little bit or someone calls all line balls out, you can just back up a couple of inches and keep everything else the same.

shwetty[tennis]balls
11-28-2009, 05:28 PM
In singles it's not really effective at all. If your serve is fast enough and accurate enough to place it well, you don't need to move at all.

BounceHitBounceHit
11-28-2009, 05:30 PM
I'm trying something new, to hopefully throw different angles and attacks at my opponents. But how often in a match is too much? Sometimes I'll stand right by the sideline in deuce court (I'm a righty). The next serve in deuce might be from the middle of the court, then closer to the center line etc. If anything I've been practicing my serves from various locations instead of being cemented a foot from the center line which I've always done.

I'm aware that the further away from center you are, the likelihood increases that your opponent has much more open court to blast the return into. However, utilizing the flight path to more of the lower part of the net has increased my first serve %, this includes flat and especially my slice serves, which have a tendency to dip into the net at about the 39.5" area of the net. So there seems to be a little compromise.

If anything, it makes practicing serves more fun than it used to be, when I was stagnated near the middle of the court. Sometimes it seems I'm a little too spontaneous about where I'm going to serve from. Is anyone else facing this dilemma? I'm now addicted to hitting slice serves into the ad court while standing near the sideline too.:)

No lesser an expert on serving than the great Stan Smith recommends the very thing with which you are experimenting. Namely, varying your position on the baseline when serving in both singles and doubles.

I actually had the chance to talk with him once for a few minutes about this very issue. I met him while watching David Witt (once the "Next Great American Tennis Player") at the Indianapolis tournament. It came up in the context of Witt's match, and later I believe he wrote an article about it for tennis magazine.

By varying your position along the baseline when serving AND varying the pace, spin, and placement of the serve, you create umpteen possible 'looks' your opponent must respond to in a split second. It prevents good returners from 'grooving' on your serve, and thus negating one of your best weapons. ;)

BHBH

Jagman
11-28-2009, 07:12 PM
Boy, BHBH, I'm not sure I agree with Stan Smith on that one. At least not so far as using constant service stance placement as a tactic. I've always had drilled into me the importance of having a ritual regarding service preparation and keeping everything the same. I know, who am I to argue with Stan Smith, lol. Still, I don't recall him ever employing such a device in his matches, although frankly, I must admit being more caught up with the Aussies of that period.

Having said that, I'll admit that there are occasions where varying the place of service along the baseline is somewhat useful. Certainly, I've had sun and sometimes wind chase me about the backcourt trying to find a workable angle from which to serve. Rather than a tactic, that was just a case of trying to get the ball over the net under less than ideal conditions.

I've also had instances wherein the quest for ritual and sameness on the serve has eluded me. Thankfully, that doesn't happen often, but it may force me to adopt a rough body index for service delivery that has me changing stance/position for a short-term fix, much like SirSweetSpot.

Of course, my options are much more limited than those of a touring professional. I still have several old tennis books on my shelf from that era. If I see anything regarding this topic, pro or con, I'll post it.

SirSweetSpot, I can only speak from my own experience and haven't had the opportunity to see you play, so please take my well-intentioned ramblings for what they're worth. I suppose "caveat emptor" and "you get what you pay for" apply. :)

Usually, where I've seen players hitting the netcord on serve, the problem is that they are effectively hitting down on the ball. This may occur even when they are making a concerted effort to hit up on the ball during serve. In that case, the server is often dropping the off shoulder or head prematurely. Along with focusing on pulling the racquet up through the ball, workable remedies include leaving the left arm extended longer after the toss (for a righty), and keeping eyes/head up through the service motion instead of trying to track the ball's path too soon. Of course, other factors can also affect the ball's trajectory on serve, to include the toss and service grip.

I have a general service stance similar to McEnroe's, which my 15 year old has also emulated, for better or worse. While this is, I think, a versatile stance, there is a tendency when serving into the deuce court to present the toss to the side as opposed to into the court. This can sometimes result in almost a sidearm motion on the serve that can pull the ball down into the net or carry the ball more to the server's left as a result of an exaggerated follow-through. If you have a similar stance, where you start by essentially presenting your back to your opponent, that could be a causal factor in both hitting into the net and misdirecting your flat serve down the T.

Serving into the deuce court, I try to position the toss about a foot into the court and placed roughly between my shoulder blades (placement varying by the type of serve) as I turn into the court. For a flat serve down the T, if you imagine an extension of the centerline, the tossing arm goes straight up on that azimuth and then the shoulders turn into the ball with the racquet path coming straight up over the shoulder. For me, this is a serve that I have to fully commit to in the sense that I'm coming to net behind it; whether the execution is good or bad, I have no choice. Serving into the ad court, the motion is more natural and, unsurprisingly, my percentage of service winners and aces is higher on that side.

Again, this is all speculation on my part. If something seems to ring a bell, you can try it, but you would be better served (no pun intended :oops:) by having a pro take a look at your serve. Many times, a technical problem is an error of omission; some little thing that you should have done but neglected through a lapse of concentration. Once the glitch is pointed out, you're often good to go. If the problem is more substantial, then you'll really need the services of a pro to do some reworking.

One last little nugget, from someone who has BTDT. If you suffer occasionally from a lack of flexibility, or are carrying a little extra in the pooch pouch, that will have similar unwanted consequences on the serve as well.

I hope that answered some of your questions or at least gave you some food for thought. Cheers!

raiden031
11-29-2009, 05:18 AM
A guy I played doubles with does this. But he is predictable about it. Whenever he serves from the T in doubles, he always serves down the T. One time when returning I majorly cheated towards the center, and then he served wide and hit his partner in the back. LOL.

Cindysphinx
11-29-2009, 08:05 AM
A guy I played doubles with does this. But he is predictable about it. Whenever he serves from the T in doubles, he always serves down the T. One time when returning I majorly cheated towards the center, and then he served wide and hit his partner in the back. LOL.

Yeah, at my level players are very predictable about it. Wide = wide, T = T.

SirSweetSpot:

My main problem, and I could REALLY use some help here, is to perfect the down the T serve in deuce court (again I'm a righty) utilizing the low part of the net. My flat serves have a tendency to always go to my opponents body. Are there any little tips I need to remember? Maybe I just need to move like one more foot or so?

I don't know, but I have the same issue. I hadn't considered it a major problem, though.

The reason is that my wide serves to the deuce court have a lot of slice on them. Most opponents in the deuce court, I have found, tend to cheat over toward the middle a tad to protect their BH. At first, the wide slice serve surprises opponents and is good for some free points. Then they adjust by moving over to a wider position. This opens up the T serve. I won't usually hit aces if I then go up the T, but I succeed in reaching their BH. And if I bend it so that it is curving into their body, a lot of players will miss badly.

If I were to vary my starting position, I would lose the element of surprise on the T serve and would have more trouble reaching the BH.

Cindysphinx
11-29-2009, 08:06 AM
For what I would consider an almost "radical" take on modern doubles play, take a look at Pat Blaskowers' The Art of Doubles, 2nd Edition. Pat expresses a very non-traditional view, IMO, of court positioning in doubles, which --- again, IMO --- is a big departure from the same book in the first edition. Times they are a'changing.

Cheers!

Jagman, I'm curious. What did you think about Blaskower's second edition compared to the original?

LuckyR
11-29-2009, 09:02 AM
Changing stances does mentally play with folks who are vulnerable to that sort of thing, but those individuals are uncommon (are you one?, I didn't think so).

Of more import is: why would you change your positioning away from the optimal position to return the return of serve?

xFullCourtTenniSx
11-29-2009, 12:30 PM
I wouldn't do it often, because by serving from wider on the court, even if you get a good angled serve your opponent will have seen it coming and can take advantage of the open court down the line or go for a sharp angle crosscourt.

SirSweetSpot
11-29-2009, 01:56 PM
Agreed, the opponent would have like a half second longer to fixate on the ball when served from sideline position.

I want to thank everybody for their input regarding this matter. LeeD, I've been hitting with a clean conti for so long that cheating to an EFH is something I've never thought about. It seems to make a modicum of sense.

I do not employ a tightrope stance, my flat serve toss is in front of my hitting shoulder. My racquet lags well behind my tossing arm, allowing me to have to play catch-up to the ball and get the racquet head accelerating. I have a very Edberg-esque motion.
I must point out, with the exception of my slice serves, I'm very happy with my serves. It just doesn't make any SENSE to me how my flat serves one day can be unstoppable in a match situation, and another day, get like 40% of them in.
Some will say, "don't swing so hard on your flat serves." How do you NOT try to hit hard, if not the ball sails LONG!:confused: I try to do everything 3/4 speed and it doesn't work. There is such a small window for the flat serve to go over the net and land in.
For some reason I don't hit UP on the ball like my topspins and flats. I seem to think I can always get away with just cutting the ball's ear off and "hook" it in. When I try to explode UP on my slices, er, bad things happen.

SirSweetSpot
11-29-2009, 02:00 PM
Sorry, it won't let me edit. My last sentence in the above post is regarding my slice serves. I don't toss the ball as high as my other serves. I think because of this lower and to the right toss, I'm not utilizing my legs enough. It seems a serve thats tailor made to collapse and break down. My other tosses are consistent in location and height, I've noticed my slice tosses are all over the map, mainly regarding height. Sometimes it feels more right to hit the ball on the rise, other times it feels better to exagerate the toss to the right more.

Jagman
11-29-2009, 02:03 PM
Cindy,

I liked Blaskower's 1st edition better, as it retained the more traditional approach to doubles. I also think the tried and true methods are proven in more advanced play.

The 2nd edition seems, IMO, to be oriented more to the casual recreational player or senior players who picked up the game later in life. IIRC, I was browsing the frontspiece of another book titled along the lines of "Tennis Over 50" (not Trabert's book) that advocated seniors playing from "no man's land". Maybe that's part of a recent trend. Blaskower's 2nd edition seems to advocate that as well with its staggered one up/one back formation.

My oldest boy and I will sometimes team up in a local flex league, where age and skill levels are quite the hodgepodge. I could see methods espoused in the 2nd edition working in that type of setting, but not in an open tournament or serious league play.

I'm not keen on the recommendations in the 2nd edition concerning what strokes are important/unimportant or useful/useless.

It's a good read and interesting to compare with the prior edition. Probably of value to persons in what I believe to be the intended audience. Kind of thought-provoking maybe for those looking for new things to try. I suspect more seasoned players would be highly selective in what they culled from the book.

Cheers!

Ripper014
11-29-2009, 02:27 PM
My main problem, and I could REALLY use some help here, is to perfect the down the T serve in deuce court (again I'm a righty) utilizing the low part of the net. My flat serves have a tendency to always go to my opponents body. Are there any little tips I need to remember? Maybe I just need to move like one more foot or so?

What I do... and you might want to try this is when serving up the middle on the ad court... is to serve it with a little slice. This way the ball will move away from the receiver... jamming a returner with a hard fast serve is not a bad tactic either.

LeeD
11-29-2009, 02:42 PM
Good advice, but isn't OP asking for rightie serves on DUECE court up the middle, NOT into the body?
Just shift it slightly toward a forehand grip, SLIGHTLY. BAll will go up the middle or farther if you shift it too much. Becker served OK with EFH type of grip.

Ripper014
11-29-2009, 02:54 PM
Good advice, but isn't OP asking for rightie serves on DUECE court up the middle, NOT into the body?
Just shift it slightly toward a forehand grip, SLIGHTLY. BAll will go up the middle or farther if you shift it too much. Becker served OK with EFH type of grip.

Sorry... ok in that case, the same thing... hit it up the T but pronate your wrist a little so the ball moves away from the receiver... it takes a little practice for most people... but it is not hard to learn (it might feel like you are hitting the left side of the ball, but just a little), this is also a great way to serve wide in the ad court. I would rather do this than mess with my grip... because I like to maintain the same feel for all my serves... with my racket.

Jagman
11-29-2009, 03:21 PM
SirSweetSpot,

I've been sitting here mulling over your last comments while awaiting supper. Trying to give advice to a person you haven't seen play is a dodgey affair. I'm sure I get more benefit from the mental exercise of composing a post than you receive in the form of workable suggestions. :)

Within the confines of this thread you've dissected to one degree or another your court position during service, toss height, toss placement, service grip, swing path, and the use of your legs on the serve. That's quite a plateful. I suspect that you may be falling prey, at the moment, to a tendency to over-analyze.

All of those things are important, and worth considering when looking at areas for improvement. However, in my experience, when things go suddenly wrong in matters of technique, it's usually something small. Your concentration wanders, this minuscule but critical factor becomes neglected, and "whammo!", your performance begins to slide downhill in a slurry of offal. The real danger, if you don't pick up on the problem or solution soon enough, is that you begin to pick things apart that were otherwise in good order, and now you have a real mess.

I think you might really benefit from having someone take a look at your serve. Of course, I'd recommend a pro, but there may be many reasons why you would not elect that option. I would recommend that you at least have another player --- someone whose opinion you would value --- take a look at your serve and offer some insight, if even only neutral impressions of what they see. Some people might propose you post a video, but I've never gotten much out of few precious minutes of footage, and personally, probably wouldn't place that much weight on the opinion of someone that did. There's a reason why the "mistakes" in a lot of instructional scenarios are often a tad exaggerated.

Steering a course back in the general direction of your original question, you may be introducing too much variation in your serve, at this point in your development as a player, by altering your position along the baseline. There are reasons, pro and con, for doing this in matchplay, but in most things, your priority ---IMO--- should be to strive for and to obtain consistency. I think and would suggest, that all of these other factors (while relevant) be put on the back burner until your serve gets back from the body shop.

Random thoughts from an Appalachian Pollock now living in the deep South who dresses up in a shalwar karmeez for Halloween. Consider the source. :)

Cheers!

SirSweetSpot
11-29-2009, 03:35 PM
Sorry... ok in that case, the same thing... hit it up the T but pronate your wrist a little so the ball moves away from the receiver... it takes a little practice for most people... but it is not hard to learn (it might feel like you are hitting the left side of the ball, but just a little), this is also a great way to serve wide in the ad court. I would rather do this than mess with my grip... because I like to maintain the same feel for all my serves... with my racket.

Are you suggesting opening up the face of the racquet? Do I keep the same angle in my takeback as well?

Thanks Jag, it could be something like my toss being a few inches off. I need to find stationary objects, like a tree in the background, and find out exactly where to place my toss. I can get away with a general area with the kicker and slice but the flat seems to demand a more exact, consistent placement, perhaps a margin of error of an inch to an inch-and-a-half.

papa
11-29-2009, 04:01 PM
SirSweetSpot,

I've been sitting here mulling over your last comments while awaiting supper. Trying to give advice to a person you haven't seen play is a dodgey affair. I'm sure I get more benefit from the mental exercise of composing a post than you receive in the form of workable suggestions. :)

Within the confines of this thread you've dissected to one degree or another your court position during service, toss height, toss placement, service grip, swing path, and the use of your legs on the serve. That's quite a plateful. I suspect that you may be falling prey, at the moment, to a tendency to over-analyze.

All of those things are important, and worth considering when looking at areas for improvement. However, in my experience, when things go suddenly wrong in matters of technique, it's usually something small. Your concentration wanders, this minuscule but critical factor becomes neglected, and "whammo!", your performance begins to slide downhill in a slurry of offal. The real danger, if you don't pick up on the problem or solution soon enough, is that you begin to pick things apart that were otherwise in good order, and now you have a real mess.

I think you might really benefit from having someone take a look at your serve. Of course, I'd recommend a pro, but there may be many reasons why you would not elect that option. I would recommend that you at least have another player --- someone whose opinion you would value --- take a look at your serve and offer some insight, if even only neutral impressions of what they see. Some people might propose you post a video, but I've never gotten much out of few precious minutes of footage, and personally, probably wouldn't place that much weight on the opinion of someone that did. There's a reason why the "mistakes" in a lot of instructional scenarios are often a tad exaggerated.

Steering a course back in the general direction of your original question, you may be introducing too much variation in your serve, at this point in your development as a player, by altering your position along the baseline. There are reasons, pro and con, for doing this in matchplay, but in most things, your priority ---IMO--- should be to strive for and to obtain consistency. I think and would suggest, that all of these other factors (while relevant) be put on the back burner until your serve gets back from the body shop.

Random thoughts from an Appalachian Pollock now living in the deep South who dresses up in a shalwar karmeez for Halloween. Consider the source. :)

Cheers!

Excellent post.

Today I happened to be watching a girl practice serving for about fifteen minutes and I thought, on no, another Sharapova look alike. I have never been a fan of her service motion with the high toss and deliberate half knee bend at the start. Well this girl was certainly persistent, had good pace and eventually became quite consistent. But she had all the mannerisms including the little walk, the turn back to the fence, tucking in the hair on both side, stare, grunt, etc - she had it all. I said to my wife, "you can see the influence Sharapova has had on the up and coming kids but wouldn't you think she could change a few things rather than just copy everything".

She then played a practice set with a young guy who was also fairly good. Well, I watched and watched as the guy seemed to be getting the upper hand but she hung right in there and played very strong. After about thirty minutes, I said to my wife, "wait a minute, she isn't copying Sharapova that's Maria herself", and it was.

Ripper014
11-29-2009, 04:09 PM
Are you suggesting opening up the face of the racquet? Do I keep the same angle in my takeback as well?



I am not sure I can explain this correctly... but I will try, like I said it does take a little practice.

Serve like you would normally with your flat serve... just at impact you are going to roll your wrist to the left (for a righty) during your wrist snap. Nothing major... stay smooth just roll your wrist... and the racket face will open, and follow-through like normal.

I would recommend trying this when you can block some time to practice your serve. I can almost guarantee the first few serves will end up all over the place... but if you continue to practice it... you will start to figure it out.

For me I like my toss a little closer to my body... over my head with a full shoulder turn.

Nellie
11-29-2009, 10:03 PM
It is very useful to change the service position if you serve outside in the sun. That way, you can figure out where to toss without staring right at the sun.

LeeD
11-30-2009, 08:21 AM
SSS...
If your serves are slicing into the body, you need to make them go flat straight dead ahead. I'm not sure pronating more would do the trick, as you're probably already pronating to get the first serve.
You have to make the ball go straight, not slice, so twisting your grip slightly to EFH would allow that, and make you serve like BorisBecker, not a particularly bad example.

SirSweetSpot
11-30-2009, 10:56 AM
^^ Thanks LeeD, your suggestions certainly seem to make a lot of sense to me. Ripper, I thank you for your input as well. I will try both techniques out and get back with you. Lee you are correct, I need to straighten out my flat serve. I definitely have the body serve going for me:) now its time to really start using that low part of the net to my advantage.

Thanks again everybody!

Ripper014
11-30-2009, 11:13 AM
^^ Thanks LeeD, your suggestions certainly seem to make a lot of sense to me. Ripper, I thank you for your input as well. I will try both techniques out and get back with you. Lee you are correct, I need to straighten out my flat serve. I definitely have the body serve going for me:) now its time to really start using that low part of the net to my advantage.

Thanks again everybody!

If you draw a line from where you are serving to the corner of the T you are trying to hit... it is impossible to hit a flat serve that will not be directed at the returner unless you are standing on the hash mark. You need to have the ball moving to the right on the deuce court to have it actually served up the T. In order to do this you need to prorate so that the racket face (slightly open) like that of a lefty serving. Like I said it is not a lot... subtle... change in the service motion.

Since coming back to tennis this summer my serve has been eluding me... my location has been not an issue... but power has (starting to return). My location on my serve up the T on the deuce court was a little off initially... but I corrected it by getting more shoulder turn on my serve. I am guessing I was a little open...

GuyClinch
11-30-2009, 12:19 PM
I don't really move much. However - I can think of two instances in which I will move..

1) When facing the 'forehand' returner. This person has no faith in his backhand and thus stands far too close to the middle on the deuce side and way to far out wide in the alley on the ad side. Against such a player its very useful to move around to hit serves out wide.

2) Indoor courts - indoor courts have less room to maneuver so you can hit extreme angle serves that are really very difficult to return. Yes you can hit corners from your regular serving spot. However if your willing go move about you can hit not just corners but the middle of the line. A good serve like this is very hard to return for alot of mediocre players.