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Mr. Hokey
12-06-2009, 10:22 AM
For the majority of my high school career (2nd year in college now) I only hit kick serves because I would only serve and volley. For the last year and half, I've been trying to develop a flat serve to win some cheap points.

Well yesterday, I was at a racquet-demo event at some local courts yesterday, and at one of the courts they had a radar gun available. Wanting to see the improvement I've made on serve, I tried my hardest to bomb some flat serves and I was getting in the 100 - 105 range. However, what surprised me the most is the fact that they were kicking ridiculously high for "flat serves". According to the others on the court, they definitely had the trajectory of a flat serve, but once they bounced they would kick maybe 6-7 feet upwards.

I'm not a particularly tall guy, only about 5'11"-6', so I have no idea why my flat serves are still kicking. It's not that I mind it, I actually thought it was pretty cool, but I'm curious as to what could be causing this. The instructor with the radar gun told me that my knee bend was pretty massive and that it could be robbing my serve of speed and putting too much spin. Could that possibly account for having a flat serve with a kick?

ayuname
12-06-2009, 11:06 AM
So isn't a kick serve, a mix of a flat and slice serve?

LeeD
12-06-2009, 11:17 AM
105 is really slow for a youngster....
So you're imparting some amount of topspin on your serves, slowing the ball down and allowing it to arc a bit.
What grip? Where over your head is your toss? You could be imparting some deadball, or knuckleball effect to get the bounce. We like to measure height of bounce right at the baseline.
I'm 5'11", and my flat first serves bounce about hip high to equal height players. My twists out wide go around mid head heights. That's 60 degree weather and new balls, sea level.

Mr. Hokey
12-06-2009, 11:28 AM
Yeah, I know my serve is pretty slow. I'll attest that to having terrible upper body strength and poor form.

I'm using a continental grip and I toss almost directly above my head and about a foot into the court. From the baseline, my "flat" serve is maybe around 5 feet up.

LeeD
12-06-2009, 11:47 AM
Toss location, first point....
When you toss over your head, it's for a topspin serve, not always a flat first serve. First flats need it over your hitting side a bit.
5' high is pretty high bounce, usually for guys around 6'2" with long arms. Talking FLAT FIRST serves, not topspins or kicks.
So you're still hitting with topsin, which kills your ball speed.

Mr. Hokey
12-06-2009, 12:05 PM
That makes sense. So I just need to move my toss a little bit more to the right?

While on the subject of ball speed, what muscle groups should I work on to bump my serve up a little bit?

Like I mentioned before, my upper body is pitifully weak.

LeeD
12-06-2009, 12:34 PM
IF your topspin second serves goes around 75mph, then your flat should be hitting above 110 mph.
Fast servers are never strong guys, but skinny whippy guys.
You need conditioning, more likely, rather than pure muscle mass.
If you're anything near 5'10" and 150lbs., you more than strong enough to hit fast first serves.
Holding loosely down by the buttcap can make a good fast first flat serve. Try to land inside the court by at least 18", more if you can handle being that far in.

Mr. Hokey
12-06-2009, 01:54 PM
Haha, my kick serves yesterday were registering around 85-90 I believe.

I'm kind of a heavy set guy, around 190 or so, but the vast majority of that is in my legs. It's mostly from cycling.

As for weight lifting, I go for toning more than pure bulk. I just want to know what muscle groups are particularly important for serving.

SystemicAnomaly
12-06-2009, 02:19 PM
So isn't a kick serve, a mix of a flat and slice serve?

It's a heavy topspin action that accounts for the kick, not slice. Slice (vertical axis sidepsin) makes the ball curve left or right prior to the bounce. but it has no effect on the bounce itself (according to tennis physicist Rod Cross).

LeeD
12-06-2009, 02:26 PM
Why don't you just hit 500 serves in a row and see what starts to get sore, work on that, then hit some more serves and see what gets tired ......

Mr. Hokey
12-06-2009, 02:38 PM
Haha, I'll give that a shot then.

Rambler124
12-06-2009, 03:00 PM
105 is really slow for a youngster....
So you're imparting some amount of topspin on your serves, slowing the ball down and allowing it to arc a bit.
What grip? Where over your head is your toss? You could be imparting some deadball, or knuckleball effect to get the bounce. We like to measure height of bounce right at the baseline.
I'm 5'11", and my flat first serves bounce about hip high to equal height players. My twists out wide go around mid head heights. That's 60 degree weather and new balls, sea level.

105 is really slow? I'd say 105 is good for a college player unless the guy is playing solid D1. Of course a whole host of other factors (spin, placement, etc) but 105 sounds good to me. Won't say its amazing but its solid. Not really arguing that it couldn't be better, but just saying its not really slow.

Rambler124
12-06-2009, 03:02 PM
Haha, my kick serves yesterday were registering around 85-90 I believe.

I'm kind of a heavy set guy, around 190 or so, but the vast majority of that is in my legs. It's mostly from cycling.

As for weight lifting, I go for toning more than pure bulk. I just want to know what muscle groups are particularly important for serving.

I'd be willing to take a shot at it that you could benefit more from some technique work more than raw muscle building.

papa
12-06-2009, 03:26 PM
It's a heavy topspin action that accounts for the kick, not slice. Slice (vertical axis sidepsin) makes the ball curve left or right prior to the bounce. but it has no effect on the bounce itself (according to tennis physicist Rod Cross).

I know what you mean hear but lets clear up something so nobody gets too confused. The height of a bounce is directly related/connect to the height of the ball path. You probably know your physics better than I, but this can be worked out using vector analysis but not by me. I realize the court surface is a factor but it would be my opinion that regardless of the friction coefficient involved you cannot transfer much/if any linear motion to vertical motion. So, although I agree with you that slice is not going to bounce as high as topspin, I would think ball trajectory high becomes the biggest factor.

Mr. Hokey
12-06-2009, 03:45 PM
According to the instructor with the radar gun, I should work on reducing my knee bend with the example of throwing a ball. He suggested that if I were to throw a ball, I wouldn't bend my knees that much, which made sense to me.

The conflict is, I've never been told to bend my knees less, and during my high school career, I was actually told to bend my knees more.

I also agree that my serve could use a lot of reforming. I've struggled with my ball toss for ages, and I've only found my groove recently.

I wish I could take a video of it so I could get a better critique but I smashed my SD card a while back on accident.

dancraig
12-06-2009, 04:00 PM
A slight depression in the court, in front of the service line, can make a flat serve appear to kick.

LeeD
12-06-2009, 04:03 PM
Mr.Hokey is second year college, not a high school player, and as such, is fully grown and strong at 5'11" or so.
105 is sorta slow for a competitive college player. Right at non competitive.
105 is about average for MY first serves, and I'm a month shy of 61.
Most Div 11 guys easily break into to low 120's, for FLAT SERVES.

Mr. Hokey
12-06-2009, 04:18 PM
I've never really been a competitive player. I played varsity tennis in high school and am only part of an intramural tennis club in college.

My goal is currently 110 which was the fastest serve from my intramural club.

The reason I suggested that weight training could beef up my serve a little, is because currently, I can only bench about 90-100 or so and curl 60 with both arms. I'm well aware that that is pretty pitiful for someone my size.

LeeD
12-06-2009, 04:24 PM
Just what do benchpresses and arm curls have to do with hurling a tennis racket head at a tennis ball?
LeytonHewitt is 5'9" or so and 150, can serve over 125.
MichaelChang closer to 5'7" and 145, can serve over 125 at the FrenchOpen.
JustineHenin was timed over 120 and she's maybe 130 POUNDS.
And they all could serve faster given a higher strikepoint (physics).

Mr. Hokey
12-06-2009, 04:33 PM
They might have nothing to do with it, I was just trying to provide an example of why I think I'm lacking in upper body strength.

From what I've read, Sampras had a cannon for a shoulder and really strong core. We all know that Roddick is built like a tank. So I was just concerned that the lack of strength in the upper body can prevent my serve from getting faster.

I wouldn't be surprised if all of your examples were significantly stronger than I was.

Granted, I want to improve my technique and form first, but I wanted to make sure I covered all the bases to prevent bottle necking. I mean, given perfect form, some strength could definitely help to add a few mph right?

mental midget
12-06-2009, 05:53 PM
They might have nothing to do with it, I was just trying to provide an example of why I think I'm lacking in upper body strength.

From what I've read, Sampras had a cannon for a shoulder and really strong core. We all know that Roddick is built like a tank. So I was just concerned that the lack of strength in the upper body can prevent my serve from getting faster.

I wouldn't be surprised if all of your examples were significantly stronger than I was.

Granted, I want to improve my technique and form first, but I wanted to make sure I covered all the bases to prevent bottle necking. I mean, given perfect form, some strength could definitely help to add a few mph right?

let common sense be your guide, of course, all else being equal, added strength will only help your game. bulk is obviously of zero use to a tennis player, but most players at the highest levels of the game are strong, explosive athletes.

most of the 'little' guys and girls (hewitt, davydenko, henin, etc.) are built like pieces of beef jerky, quite strong for their size. again, it goes back to your competitive level, but at the top, tennis is . . . pretty violent.

Mr. Hokey
12-06-2009, 05:57 PM
Yeah, I don't plan on getting bulky anytime soon. I just want to have average strength and stamina.

Basically, I want toned muscles. I've been looking into isometric and plyometric exercises a lot.

benasp
12-06-2009, 06:21 PM
Just what do benchpresses and arm curls have to do with hurling a tennis racket head at a tennis ball?
LeytonHewitt is 5'9" or so and 150, can serve over 125.
MichaelChang closer to 5'7" and 145, can serve over 125 at the FrenchOpen.
JustineHenin was timed over 120 and she's maybe 130 POUNDS.
And they all could serve faster given a higher strikepoint (physics).

If you can swing a heavier racquet at the same speed, you will serve faster. You just need to be carefull to not bulk too much and restrict range of motion and muscle speed.

xFullCourtTenniSx
12-06-2009, 07:41 PM
I say stick with it and add pace as you can. You'll win many points with that serve if you can place it.

A massive knee bend is good. Generating heavy spin and consistency is good. There is never such a thing as too much spin as long as the ball penetrates the court well and lands deep unless you're throwing the ball at 60 mph without much upward kick. But anyways, I'll reiterate - there is no such thing as too much spin as long as the ball penetrates the court well (landing deep makes things even better).

xFullCourtTenniSx
12-06-2009, 07:43 PM
If you can swing a heavier racquet at the same speed, you will serve faster. You just need to be carefull to not bulk too much and restrict range of motion and muscle speed.

Being able to lift weights has nothing to do with that.

But bulking up gives you added weight, which helps you get more pace.

Doesn't have to be muscle, it can be fat, though being lean helps you get around the court better.

WildVolley
12-06-2009, 08:32 PM
Most Div 1 guys easily break into to low 120's, for FLAT SERVES.

Um, no they don't Lee. Most might have hit a serve that fast, but in most matches there are only a few players regularly hitting flat serves in the 120 range (obviously, Isner was hitting 130+mph flats all the time). A guy with a radar gun did a survey of a Div 1 match and only measured one serve hit over 120mph and an average first serve speed of just over 90mph (though many obviously were slice, kicks, off-pace, etc).

As a general rule, top 100-pros average around 120mph on the first serve (Federer and Nadal usually less). And almost all of them, even Davydenko, can bring 130+mph flat serves. Most division 1 players average about 15-20mph slower on their first serves.

xFullCourtTenniSx
12-06-2009, 11:18 PM
Um, no they don't Lee. Most might have hit a serve that fast, but in most matches there are only a few players regularly hitting flat serves in the 120 range (obviously, Isner was hitting 130+mph flats all the time). A guy with a radar gun did a survey of a Div 1 match and only measured one serve hit over 120mph and an average first serve speed of just over 90mph (though many obviously were slice, kicks, off-pace, etc).

As a general rule, top 100-pros average around 120mph on the first serve (Federer and Nadal usually less). And almost all of them, even Davydenko, can bring 130+mph flat serves. Most division 1 players average about 15-20mph slower on their first serves.

********. D1 players do NOT average 90 mph. I've played D1/D2 level players. Their first serves are well over 100!

Federer averages right around 120 +/- 2 on his first serve.

I can break 100 average easy and still place them well. D1 players can serve much better than I do, and should easily be able to average around 110 on serve.

Slazenger07
12-07-2009, 01:31 AM
Just what do benchpresses and arm curls have to do with hurling a tennis racket head at a tennis ball?
LeytonHewitt is 5'9" or so and 150, can serve over 125.
MichaelChang closer to 5'7" and 145, can serve over 125 at the FrenchOpen.
JustineHenin was timed over 120 and she's maybe 130 POUNDS.
And they all could serve faster given a higher strikepoint (physics).

Alot actually. Everytime I hit a forehand, I use my biceps to help me pull the ball up, whip up the back of it, and a stronger chest allows me to hit through the ball better. Do some serious weight training first before you evaluate the effectiveness of it in improving your game. Training your muscles will make you stronger overall and help make you a better tennis player, no doubt. I wouldnt go for too much mass as you are already a big guy and you dont want to be slowed down, but concentrating on building mass and strength in your legs, core, and upper body should really help you with that serve speed and every shot really. I think you'll find that with more muscle comes more control over your body, more stability, and more ability to crush winners even when the ball's not in your strike zone.

I can say from personal experience that added muscle and strength made me a much better tennis player. I used to weigh 110lbs, I was scrawny and I needed size and strength to help me compete. Ive since gained 35 lbs of muscle and my game has improved significantly because of it. There's a reason Nadal is so dominate, his muscle, his strength, his conditioning, make him a superior player.

LeeD
12-07-2009, 08:13 AM
Muscle... why not get into tennis condition?
Speed.... who's talking AVERAGE speed of serves? We all throw in a topspin wide slice once in a while, lowering the average by tons. I'm talking FIRST FLAT SERVES!
Nadal as a monster. OK, I'll give you that. And last year, Federer looked anemic, DJ always looks skinny (you'd kick sand into his face at the beach), and Murray is no physical specimen waiting for WorldWrestlingFederation to call........
Sure, if you guys get beat up all the time, get sand kicked in your faces, and little 12 year old girls punch you out, then by all means, WORK OUT WITH WEIGHTS.

papa
12-07-2009, 01:18 PM
Um, no they don't Lee. Most might have hit a serve that fast, but in most matches there are only a few players regularly hitting flat serves in the 120 range (obviously, Isner was hitting 130+mph flats all the time). A guy with a radar gun did a survey of a Div 1 match and only measured one serve hit over 120mph and an average first serve speed of just over 90mph (though many obviously were slice, kicks, off-pace, etc).

As a general rule, top 100-pros average around 120mph on the first serve (Federer and Nadal usually less). And almost all of them, even Davydenko, can bring 130+mph flat serves. Most division 1 players average about 15-20mph slower on their first serves.

I'm with you on this. Everyone thinks they are serving harder than they actually do. Remember, we're talking about the speed of the ball just as it comes off the racquet. By the time you hit a return, that ball has slowed down significantly - maybe going a little over half of its original speed, depends on the court surface. Not all radar guns are designed equal and many of the cheaper models give false/misleading readings. Being in a "correct" position to get these readings is another matter .

LeeD
12-07-2009, 03:11 PM
Keep your head in the sand, folks, and pretty soon, you'll be left out just like you have been.
Why would one person be talking top speed serves and the other try to compare AVERAGE speeds? Just not thinking ?????
Do you even know that top players don't hit all their first flats the same speed? They vary the speed to keep the opponent off balance.
And throw in the 75mph wide slice, just askews the averages. AVERAGE DON'T COUNT!
Average top speed in a top speed serving contest DO count.
Do you even know the difference?

xFullCourtTenniSx
12-07-2009, 06:25 PM
Keep your head in the sand, folks, and pretty soon, you'll be left out just like you have been.
Why would one person be talking top speed serves and the other try to compare AVERAGE speeds? Just not thinking ?????
Do you even know that top players don't hit all their first flats the same speed? They vary the speed to keep the opponent off balance.
And throw in the 75mph wide slice, just askews the averages. AVERAGE DON'T COUNT!
Average top speed in a top speed serving contest DO count.
Do you even know the difference?

Actually... Averages matter a lot. Though average, range, and mode are all good to look at.

yemenmocha
12-07-2009, 09:36 PM
Winning points with a good serve is not a "cheap" point.

LeeD
12-08-2009, 10:21 AM
xFull....
Average speed DOES count for something.
But these last 7 threads, we're talking the top speeds of Div1 players, not their AVERAGE speeds.
You need top speeds to bracket your potential. High top speeds means higher potential, NOT necessarily higher level of play.
LOW top speed means you have less potential to crack the 6.0's, as MelanieOudin would never crack 6.0 MENS because mainly her serve would get broken every important game.

Mr. Hokey
12-08-2009, 11:59 AM
I would consider it a cheap point not in the sense that it was any less fair, rather, the cost of effort it took to win the point was far less.

I'd rather win the point with just the serve than have to expel effort to play out a point. XD

LeeD
12-08-2009, 04:58 PM
OK, placement is everything unless you can hit 125+....
Keeping it close to a foot from the sidelines would help you get a weak return or no return.
You need a hard flat one into the body, once in 5 serves, unless the returner has trouble getting out of his own way (like me).
Wide serves, always try to hit it wider than the service line/sideline intersects, as the slice will slide away farther into the doubles alley.
If you gots "POP" on your serves, it's usually a good sign of a flat hard serve.

Rambler124
12-10-2009, 07:11 PM
For the majority of my high school career (2nd year in college now) I only hit kick serves because I would only serve and volley. For the last year and half, I've been trying to develop a flat serve to win some cheap points.

Well yesterday, I was at a racquet-demo event at some local courts yesterday, and at one of the courts they had a radar gun available. Wanting to see the improvement I've made on serve, I tried my hardest to bomb some flat serves and I was getting in the 100 - 105 range. However, what surprised me the most is the fact that they were kicking ridiculously high for "flat serves". According to the others on the court, they definitely had the trajectory of a flat serve, but once they bounced they would kick maybe 6-7 feet upwards.

I'm not a particularly tall guy, only about 5'11"-6', so I have no idea why my flat serves are still kicking. It's not that I mind it, I actually thought it was pretty cool, but I'm curious as to what could be causing this. The instructor with the radar gun told me that my knee bend was pretty massive and that it could be robbing my serve of speed and putting too much spin. Could that possibly account for having a flat serve with a kick?

I dunno, looks like he is talking about averages here 100-105 sounds like an average. Not a top speed. Just sayin.