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View Full Version : Finally got around to recording my serve... (fix my pain!)


Shyatic
10-23-2011, 03:04 PM
Okay, so by the time I finished serving this set of balls, my bicep/tricep felt like they were going to explode, as well as my shoulder having a good amount of pain. I don't know if there's somethign in my technique that is doing it.

Also, most of my serves are right into the net. I'd say 75% of them. I hit a few second serves in the mix of these videos (they should be more obvious, I think) but the vast majority is of me trying to get my first serve in and reliable. I've had a hell of a time doing that.

Thanks for any advice, it would be *greatly* appreciated as my pain is pretty severe so I can only play once a week or so. If it's doubles, maybe twice :)

Links:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-8S0nJGeJGY
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QISlqcE2lnc

One from the side, one from the back.

Thanks!

TennisCoachFLA
10-23-2011, 03:12 PM
Just curious...did you warm up before you cranked those serves? Is warming up properly part of your usual routine. Tennis 101, work up a light sweat with a full body warm up before hitting even 1 ball.

The reason I asked is that I don't see a lot of guys wearing jeans when hitting serves.

AceServer
10-23-2011, 03:18 PM
You don't seem to have a trophy position. Bend your knees more and explode into the serve. Unless you have knee pain.

Shyatic
10-23-2011, 03:23 PM
Just curious...did you warm up before you cranked those serves? Is warming up properly part of your usual routine. Tennis 101, work up a light sweat with a full body warm up before hitting even 1 ball.

The reason I asked is that I don't see a lot of guys wearing jeans when hitting serves.

I generally do, today I didn't (much). I just had the opportunity to actually go and record it, so I went out and did it. Warming up only lets me hit a few more serves, but the pain persists regardless.

Passion4Tennis
10-23-2011, 03:57 PM
You need to stop serving until you're healed. After that, find yourself a good instructor and take a few lessons. You are trying to blast each ball, but your technique isn't nearly good enough for you to do that. Power is the last thing you should be concerned about on serves or ground strokes at your level. Consistency, placement, and spin is more important at this stage. Your motion is basically just an arm swing. Even though you are trying to use your legs, they are out of sync with your upper body.

You have a live arm, so if you get proper instruction and put a lot of time in practicing, you'll eventually have a good serve.

dozu
10-23-2011, 04:13 PM
scrap the whole thing, use FYB to rebuild the serve from scratch.

Shyatic
10-23-2011, 04:24 PM
You need to stop serving until you're healed. After that, find yourself a good instructor and take a few lessons. You are trying to blast each ball, but your technique isn't nearly good enough for you to do that. Power is the last thing you should be concerned about on serves or ground strokes at your level. Consistency, placement, and spin is more important at this stage. Your motion is basically just an arm swing. Even though you are trying to use your legs, they are out of sync with your upper body.

You have a live arm, so if you get proper instruction and put a lot of time in practicing, you'll eventually have a good serve.

My doctor tells me to rest too... I'm a glutton for punishment. I haven't played in ten years, and this is the first year that I've really played and thoroughly enjoyed it. I have no passion for sports except this one, so until the season is still going, I'll still be playing. My guess, probably until November. I know I should rest, and then I'll have a lot better chance to do better, but I just really, really enjoy playing.

That said, I've taken one lesson already, though I came away thoroughly unimpressed with the guy's coaching style. He didn't look at my grip, didn't comment on my stance, but concentrated a lot on my toss. It has helped a bit, but we didn't even make it to second serves. Hard to find a good coach out in NJ, I suppose. Or at least, I don't know how to find a good one. :)

Shyatic
10-23-2011, 04:24 PM
scrap the whole thing, use FYB to rebuild the serve from scratch.

Easier said than done... I've been on FYB forever watching, but translating that into reality is tougher than it seems. I think I just have a lot of bad habits that don't break easily :)

dozu
10-23-2011, 04:33 PM
Easier said than done... I've been on FYB forever watching, but translating that into reality is tougher than it seems. I think I just have a lot of bad habits that don't break easily :)

continental grip, swing edge up, pronation.... work on that first, pay no attention to pace.

Passion4Tennis
10-23-2011, 04:41 PM
Yeah, I know what you mean about playing through pain, but you really need to take some time off. When I was in my 20's, I had a bad case of tennis elbow, and I never let it heal properly. I would rest it a week to ten days at most, when I should have taken a couple of months or more off.

You're from Jersey, huh? I used to live in South Jersey. It shouldn't be too difficult to find a good instructor at one of the clubs. It can be costly for private lessons, but if you have a friend that is interested in taking some too, then it would be pretty affordable. Good luck.

fuzz nation
10-24-2011, 06:00 AM
Easier said than done... I've been on FYB forever watching, but translating that into reality is tougher than it seems. I think I just have a lot of bad habits that don't break easily :)

Unfortunately amigo, I think you're right. The thing about the service motion is that it has about twice as many components to synchronize as a forehand or a backhand. It's much more complex and someone's trained eye out there on the courts with you is going to steer you toward those good habits. Until then you'll be practicing a lot of the bad ones and un-learning them takes time. The sooner you get to work, the better.

I definitely agree though, that it's important to have the right person to coach you. While I appreciate the importance of a consistent, well placed toss, that doesn't take a whole session to cover and you've got a LOT more going on there than just a funky toss. Just saying that you might consider a lesson with a different person who will cover more ground.

Ever throw a whiffle ball really hard? For a lot of us, it's actually easier to throw our arms out doing that than it is throwing a baseball hard. Looking at your serve, it immediately reminded me of throwing that whiffle ball. Even though you have a little forward momentum taking you into the court, your swing at the ball is almost all arm. Based on what you're feeling, you need to fix that motion now or you could honestly do some real damage if you keep it up.

Aside from getting a new instructor, I'd say take a few days off to rest things up before you pick up your racquet again. Once you've done that, I'd offer that you take your racquet outside, not even to the courts, and work on a slow, easy motion with almost no effort coming from your chest, shoulder, and arm. As long as it doesn't hurt, just make some easy motions with a focus on your legs driving up through the swing and your torso contributing to your forward turn through contact. Engage that "lower half" like you would if you were throwing something really heavy like a javelin. Can't do that without your legs pitching in, right?

When you get the feel for smooth tempo in your motion and you use your larger, stronger muscle groups to make the serve happen, your arm strain should drop off to near zero. You'll even want to use an especially loose wrist and light grip pressure to let the racquet "release" well over the top. Again, I think you'd be smart to get some new instruction once you're not sore anymore, but I get the feeling that you're going to mess around some more on your own before then. Just take it slow and remember, pain means stop, at least with a tennis serve.

RyKnocks
10-24-2011, 07:48 AM
www.servedoctor.com

Simplified Spring Loaded Drill (http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=serve%20doctor&source=web&cd=2&ved=0CDcQtwIwAQ&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DIxx-MCC7D88&ei=NIalTo2jDsSqiAKy-fCXDA&usg=AFQjCNFJEJR3qPTACd_yyZn8JvAI2PJMGw)

These two videos helped me immensely. I too suffered from painful service drills until I watched these two videos.

Honestly, there's not much in terms of fundamentals in your service technique. You have one foot glued to the ground, almost no knee bend, and you look like you muscle your way through the ball (which in itself is a recipe for pain). I used to think it was about muscle, until I saw videos of 14 yr old girls hitting the back fence off a single bounce.

When your season is done (or better yet, now), you should take 3-4 weeks off to heal your shoulder a bit then go hire a coach or really study those videos I posted. You said you were unimpressed by the coach because all he taught you was the toss. Well, the toss will make or break your serve. If you toss it over your head you can get pain. If you toss it too low, you'll get pain. Even Federer himself said the most important part of the serve is the toss.

I feel your pain because I was like you where I wanted results fast, but I really had to step down and work on each part individually. Honestly, you really need to break it all down and start over from step 1 after your shoulder has healed.

sportsfan1
10-24-2011, 08:12 AM
Easier said than done... I've been on FYB forever watching, but translating that into reality is tougher than it seems. I think I just have a lot of bad habits that don't break easily :)

I second the FYB recommendation, and would also add checking some other youtube videos as well on serve for additional pointers. From my experience, its easy to pick up the forehand and backhand from watching FYB, but the serve takes a lot of patience and even more practice. The return on effort isn't as immediate as on other shots.

But for watching FYB to be of any help, it must translate to following sequence in practice: 1) Good toss 2) Trophy position 3) Back scratch 4) Swing on edge 5) Pronate and meet the ball 6) Follow through, ends up with arm making upside down U.

Off The Wall
10-24-2011, 08:39 AM
Of the ways to learn something, copying a visual is not working for you. Save your money and buy a lesson or two or more. You'll have a better understanding by having someone telling you and showing you and making you move correctly.

SuperJimmy
10-24-2011, 10:40 AM
Okay, so by the time I finished serving this set of balls, my bicep/tricep felt like they were going to explode, as well as my shoulder having a good amount of pain. I don't know if there's somethign in my technique that is doing it.

Also, most of my serves are right into the net. I'd say 75% of them. I hit a few second serves in the mix of these videos (they should be more obvious, I think) but the vast majority is of me trying to get my first serve in and reliable. I've had a hell of a time doing that.



Yeah, ideally, you should rest the shoulder. It took me like 4-5 months to recover from my shoulder pain.

Do you feel the same amount of pain when serving from the ad side? For me, I felt a lot less pain on the ad side because my right arm didn't have to come across my body as much. If that is the case for you, there are ways to adjust your serving on the deuce side to avoid or atleast significantly lessen the pain. Remember you're not trying to serve aces or blast bombs with a shoulder injury. If worse comes to worse, just tap it in if it allows you to play tennis still. Aside from fundamental flaws that could be fixed with a decent coach, some things you could adjust to atleast avoid shoulder pain in the near term:

- You have a small hitch after the toss where you have both arms up and then you end up dropping your right arm just a bit more to try to load up on the serve. You should probably avoid doing that as it would put more stress on your shoulder which you want to avoid currently.

- Your toss is all over the place and you tend to chase those bad tosses. A lot of those tosses are going more to the right of you, and when you try to chase those, you are forcing your arm to not only stretch out to get those, but stretch even more across your body, which is very very painful if you have a shoulder injury.

- Try to turn your body earlier on the deuce side. Having your body facing the court earlier reduces how much your right arm has to cross the body during impact and you should feel less pain.

- Maybe adjust your grip more towards continental. Some of the missed serves on the deuce side almost were headed to the ad court doubles alley.

qwanta
10-24-2011, 10:49 AM
I had similar problems with arm pain until I watched the FYB videos. One big problem you're having is dropping the right arm too far back and down before swinging towards the ball. You're having to muscle the racquet back from a long way away which is putting a lot of strain on your arm/shoulder.
You should have you racquet pointing upwards, and relatively close and parallel to your tossing arm in the trophy pose, the power then comes from letting the racquet drop behind your back and whipping it up - this doesn't take much strength if done right.

charliefedererer
10-24-2011, 11:08 AM
You are arming the ball.

Watch the following video, and see the emphasis placed on getting your power from the legs and "reversing the bow" shape you form with your body:
Nick Bollettieri-Sonic Serve.wmv http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ajoZ0f7hw-A
You don't get your hips front hip out at all, as Will Hamilton (Fuzzy Yellow Balls) explains in this video:
Tennis Lesson: Serve Tips: Lead with the Hip http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HgeYmEScfgQ
[Now the actual reason to "lead with the hip" is to get your upper body tilted backwards- but many resist the need to get that front hip outwards as they don't realize it is a natural part of leaning the upper body back to form the bow shape. "Reversing the bow shape" is a very powerful movement that builds up tremendous force that is then channelled down your arm and racquet.]

To save your shoulder, you've got to lean to the left with your upper body (leaning from the knees with your heels well up in the air) "aiming your chest up at the ball".*
http://mit.zenfs.com/218/2011/07/federer-serves-2001-2011.jpg
Pat Dougherty, the Bolletieri "serve doctor" explains why in this video:
Your serve technique doing more harm than good? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GgdXawklcZk


And there must be a pronounced shoulder over shoulder action, dropping your left shoulder straight down as the right shoulder comes straight up, as Jim McLennan explains:
Preventing Rotator Cuff Injury http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lTRvxaBMh8s&feature=related


But please rest until your arm and shoulder until they feel fine before putting these suggestions into practice. And if you are not getting better quickly, get some medical advice to be sure that an injury has not already occurred.






*Not only will this save your shoulder, but it will be the missing element from getting your first serves in. By maintaining this upward body tilt by "aiming your chest at the ball" as you you go complete your swing, your racquet is striking the ball, even on your hardest first serves, at enough angle to produce side and top spin. No one (except Karlovic) is tall enough to get their "flat" serve in without some help from top and side spin, and this is how you do it. Check out how Sampras not only "aims his chest at the ball" in the trophy position, but keeps that chest pointed up at the ball through his swing:
http://news.tennis365.net/lesson/img/pro_gif/sampras_serve_04_0402.jpg

lwood
10-25-2011, 11:02 AM
as well as my shoulder having a good amount of pain.

As TCF mentioned always warm-up your body followed by light stretching before and after play. As you age more like some of us you'll find that stretch after play will work wonders.:)

Personally haven't dealt with shoulder pain so I've just briefly reviewed a book "Tennis Injury Handbook" authors Levy & Fuerst, Foreworded by Dennis Van der Meer $14.95. My first take would lead me to agree with several here in regards to rest. Levy from his book disagrees: "How Not to Treat Rotator Cuff Problems
1)anti-inflammatory agents or cortison (steroid) injections. 2) Mentions how high school and college players are told by doctors not to play for weeks only to come back and begin serving with pain that comes back very quickly.

Correct Treatment for Rotator Cuff Injuries

Strengthening Exercises with 15 lbs MAX until fatigue sets in or 50 reps once a day.

the book illustrates the following

Arm Curl
Reverse Arm Curl
Front Lift (Palm Up)
Front Lift (Palm Down)
Lateral Lift
Bent-over Lateral Lift
Bent-over Chest Lift

There are obviously different types of shoulder injuries and some of them do require rest and in some cases a doctor's examination; however you may try with very light weight and very light reps some of the free weight exercises above.

Also, most of my serves are right into the net. I'd say 75% of them

Try visualizing a window directly above the net when you set your hands together to serve. 1st flat serve: window should float 8 inches above the net at 1.5 racquet heads in width high (15-16 inches high) Slice 2nd serve: a little higher margin giving the serve room to drop. The main thing is to have a specific height target;therefor, if you miss your height target you can make an adjustment. If you are still missing in the net or too short in the service box visualize your targets higher.

I don't know if there's somethign in my technique that is doing it.

I feel most of your pain comes from your 2nd serve slice where you are swinging around your body out toward the ad-service box when serving to the deuce side. The stress on your arm comes from not pronating (turning your right thumb down and palm inward toward your body directly after contact) which leads to an abrupt stop as you're holding your upper right arm higher rather than extending and letting the are come on down past the right pocket btw-your pronation is good on a flat serve with good ball toss location. Duplicate that motion when you hit slice as well and this should ease the pressure on your serve.

Might also try not placing your slice toss to the right as much. Try hitting with same location as flat or very slightly off to the right. This should make it easier to swing through and not come to such an abrupt stop. HTH

LeeD
10-27-2011, 02:00 PM
From what I see, you're swinging as fast as you can with your arm, so at least you're trying.
Seems little legs, archer's bow, or rotation right now.
Why start soooo far behind the baseline, you don't really move your left foot, you just pivot it a bit.
Swing slower, but use archer's bow to give you stomach crunch, you start out well sideways, but maybe could use more rotation at the finish, bend your knees more to explode forwards and upwards (for higher strikepoint), and swing your arm slower, but to get the racketHEAD speed, not racketHANDLE speed, slow that hand down near the strikepoint to allow the HEAD of the racket to pass forward of the hand right around impact for the high hand, high elbow finish.