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View Full Version : Federer and the archer's bow


stephan_58
10-25-2011, 03:26 AM
I've been wondering about this for quite some time now. It's always said that Federer has this textbook-serve which has all the important elements of a good power-serve and is easy to copy and adapt. Generally I absolutely agree with this, yet there's one element that's mentioned in almost every serve-instructional-video that Fed doesn't (or barely) seem to implement in his motion, the archer's bow (or "lead with the hip"). I always thought that's one of the most important factors in getting a lot of power (among other things of course). So why is he one of the only top pros who doesn't do it and how come he still has one of the best serves in the world?

Good view of Fed's second serve: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PLwz3noMt8o
FYB's "lead with the hip": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HgeYmEScfgQ

stephan_58
10-25-2011, 03:30 AM
Here's a good video to compare. Has almost the same angle (it's Söderling in his trophy position with an archer's bow): http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=NaAhBME6jtA#t=11s

Bartelby
10-25-2011, 03:40 AM
I think there's two ways to serve and you find both:

1. hand and racquet go up almost together and you push off from the base position

2. hand goes up and racquet lags far behind and then catches up as the feet reach the pinpoint position

The bow is clearly more present in the second version.

Limpinhitter
10-25-2011, 04:44 AM
The purpose of the "archer's bow" is to achieve tilt of the spine and shoulders. There is more than one way to do that. Rather than flexing from the hip, Federer flexes more from the knees. Here's an example from another view where you can see Fed's spine angle and his use of his legs to achieve it:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=InYd8IrFnkU

charliefedererer
10-25-2011, 07:52 AM
^^^ But even in this clip, you can see the left hip slide forward at 28 seconds, and then subsequently backwards as he "reverses the bow".

How about the "leading with the hip" in this clip, where he does it more forcefully: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WWC1hcKBh4g


But he uses much more coil/uncoil than Soderling, who has an exagerated leading hip as part of relying almost entirely on the bow/reverse the bow movement, rather than a significant coiling component as does Federer and most pros.

Limpinhitter
10-25-2011, 08:16 AM
^^^ But even in this clip, you can see the left hip slide forward at 28 seconds, and then subsequently backwards as he "reverses the bow".

How about the "leading with the hip" in this clip, where he does it more forcefully: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WWC1hcKBh4g


But he uses much more coil/uncoil than Soderling, who has an exagerated leading hip as part of relying almost entirely on the bow/reverse the bow movement, rather than a significant coiling component as does Federer and most pros.

That's an older clip. Perhaps Fed just isn't as flexible as he was. Or, perhaps your vid shows a better angle from which to see the bow.

If by coil you mean a combination of turn and tilt (that's what I mean when I say it), then yes, Soderling has a big tilt but doesn't turn much at all. I suspect that is a result of a lack of throwing sports experience growing up.

NLBwell
10-25-2011, 08:25 AM
I've always divided (good) servers into two types. Knee servers and hip servers, depending upon which appears the more prominent hinge point. However, both are used by every good server, just in differing proportions. One thing I like about Rusedski's serve is that both are prominent.

Limpinhitter
10-25-2011, 09:01 AM
I've always divided (good) servers into two types. Knee servers and hip servers, depending upon which appears the more prominent hinge point. However, both are used by every good server, just in differing proportions. One thing I like about Rusedski's serve is that both are prominent.

No one that I've seen had a more prominent combination of knee and hip bend in their serve technique than Sampras.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N6E3vPigzxI

stephan_58
10-25-2011, 10:26 PM
So who else is there that has as much of a "knee"-serve as Fed? Most of them seem to have a rather extreme archer's bow in their serve...

charliefedererer
10-26-2011, 07:00 AM
That's an older clip. Perhaps Fed just isn't as flexible as he was. Or, perhaps your vid shows a better angle from which to see the bow.

If by coil you mean a combination of turn and tilt (that's what I mean when I say it), then yes, Soderling has a big tilt but doesn't turn much at all. I suspect that is a result of a lack of throwing sports experience growing up.

I think we are in agreement that for each player there has to some combination of turn and tilt (or coil/uncoil and bow/reverse the bow) to use the body effectively in serving.


According to this very interesting analysis of Roddick's serve, that coil/uncoil motion would seem to be by far the dominant source of power/speed:
Roddick 150 mph Serve Analysis http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pLf_MJXzBVg [and clearly the need for rotational speed in the coil/uncoil motion is quite a valid one.]

But an APAS analysis of Andy's serve shows an obvious added source of power from his powerful bow/reverse the bow motion: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kqSKBBxO3qU&feature=related

(I don't think it will ever be possible to accurately measure the exact contribution of each, and the blend will vary with different tennis players. Roddick and Sampras's serving prowess clearly is a powerful blend of both.)


Having seen a number of serving videos posted on this site, many suffer from the problem of seeming to end their serve by spinning around on their left leg at the end of their serving motion. This hardly places them in an optimal position to quickly recover for the return. Adding more bow/reverse the bow (or tilt as you call it) will let them launch up more forcefully, definitively land on their left leg, and be able to bounce back into a split step to get to that return.

Limpinhitter
10-26-2011, 07:53 AM
I think we are in agreement that for each player there has to some combination of turn and tilt (or coil/uncoil and bow/reverse the bow) to use the body effectively in serving.


According to this very interesting analysis of Roddick's serve, that would seem to be by far the dominant source of power/speed:
Roddick 150 mph Serve Analysis http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pLf_MJXzBVg [and clearly the need for rotational speed in the coil/uncoil motion is quite a valid one.]

But an APAS analysis of Andy's serve shows an obvious added source of power from his powerful bow/reverse the bow motion: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kqSKBBxO3qU&feature=related

(I don't think it will ever be possible to accurately measure the exact contribution of each, and the blend will vary with different tennis players. Roddick and Sampras's serving prowess clearly is a powerful blend of both.)


Having seen a number of serving videos posted on this site, many suffer from the problem of seeming to end their serve by spinning around on their left leg at the end of their serving motion. This hardly places them in an optimal position to quickly recover for the return. Adding more bow/reverse the bow (or tilt as you call it) will let them launch up more forcefully, definitively land on their left leg, and be able to bounce back into a split step to get to that return.

I, affectionately, refer to the lack of turn and tilt as "Jimmy Connors syndrome." His serve was all arm and virtually no upper body rotation. And he could still crank it pretty hard when he was in his 20's when he wanted to. The guy tried to improve his serve by taking lessons from one of the all time greats, Neale Fraser. But, all that did was give Connors some of the outward idiosyncracies of Fraser's serve. He never learned to "coil" properly. Just goes to show you that being great doesn't mean that you fully understand why you're great, or enable you to communicate that effectively to others. If Connors could have served like Fraser, he'd have probably surpassed Laver in multiple Grand Slams, and Borg, Mac and Lendl's careers would have been something quite a bit less than they were.

If you're not familiar with Fraser's serve, here his is beating Laver in the 1960 Wimbledon final. He serves at about 1:10, and again at about 1:54 and 2:50: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o0-6cRPqA8g

Anyway, I agree that most players on the men's side have a good coil. But not all, Soderling being an example. But, the women's side . . . UGGH! IMO, the quality of women's serving has gone down since the 60's. I guess the tomboys back then played throwing sports and transferred that skill to tennis, like the men.

For me, the poster child of modern womens' serving is Maria Sharapova. If she knew how to throw a ball, at 6'3", she could have the GOAT serve on the womens' side. I don't know what her coach(s) are telling her. As it is, all she has is a mediocre, inconsistent serve, and an injured, and eventually arthritic, shoulder.

TennisCJC
10-26-2011, 12:04 PM
I've been wondering about this for quite some time now. It's always said that Federer has this textbook-serve which has all the important elements of a good power-serve and is easy to copy and adapt. Generally I absolutely agree with this, yet there's one element that's mentioned in almost every serve-instructional-video that Fed doesn't (or barely) seem to implement in his motion, the archer's bow (or "lead with the hip"). I always thought that's one of the most important factors in getting a lot of power (among other things of course). So why is he one of the only top pros who doesn't do it and how come he still has one of the best serves in the world?

Good view of Fed's second serve: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PLwz3noMt8o
FYB's "lead with the hip": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HgeYmEScfgQ

I agree with you that Fed does not push hip forward as many teach. He does get a strong L side though and he also hits over a hi front should and keeps his toss arm pointing up.

Another weird thing about Fed's serve and Sampras also did this too - they stay strong on their back foot until well after the ball is released. Then, they shift in and strong to the left side in trophy pose.

In your video, Fed's weight is probably more balanced on L/R feet than most too. I think this balance gives him a strong lift up and into contact.

But, Sampras had arch and pointed hip as his toss was more into court. Fed occasionally has more hip point angle too - it may be when the toss is more out front and they shift weight more foreward.

Personally, I think a strong front arm/shoulder and hip are correct and some point hip out more than others naturally. Most rec players do not have a strong front side when they start forward motion. My opinion and observation is vast majority even at 4.0-4.5 levels drop front arm, shoulder and side before they start up into ball. I am currently working on strenghting my front side and keeping shoulder/arm up until starting up/forward swing. Pat Dougherty (Serve Doctor) calls it hitting up the mountain. I think keeping arm/shoulder/hip firm until you hit over front shoulder is sufficient and you don't have to worry about sticking hip out - just my opinion.