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View Full Version : Rising 4.0 needs more power with serve (video included)


red rook
10-26-2011, 05:44 AM
Besides a lack of talent/skill/experience, what are these guys doing that I'm not and how can I get there? Or in more general terms, how can I improve my serve. Leg drive? Toss position? Extension? Would like to break the plateau I'm at and get to the next level.

Here's my serve:

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

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i-D7N782bIQ

Here's Verdasco and friend doing an obvious much better job. But what are they doing that I can try to put into my serve? Or is there any other suggestions? Thanks for the help!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FmHeDYQ89zY

Nellie
10-26-2011, 07:12 AM
As an initial point, your serve looks pretty good - more than adequate to compete at a 4.0 level. I have seen far slower serves be successful at the 4.0 and even 4.5 levels with good placement. But there are certainly some things you could improve. A couple of suggestions for you for more power (the first is easier to try, the second will take practice):

1) when you start/toss, show a litte more of your back to the ball (shoulders lined up with the right net post) so you can get more torso rotation. Notice that between the beginning of the toss and the contact, your shoulders are not turning much

(if you try this, don't forget that your toss will still need to be in the same spot on the court - a lot of people turn the shoulders and then toss way right and get frustrated).

But even this small rotation is lost because:

2) the timing of the service motion is slightly off. To my eye your serve looks like this: 1) a lot of motion and effort to get to an intermediate position in which your chest is turned pointed forward toward the ball and your weight is moved forward, and 2) you then swing from the intermediate position. Because of this motion, the energy used to get to the intermediate position is being lost.

You will get a lot of power from slowing down the first part of the motion so that the forward energy and rotational energy go into the ball. If you look at pros, you see that toss part seems super slow but the swing part seems super fast, because they are waiting as long as possible to swing at the ball.

You accomplish this by keeping your weight back as long as possible (forming an "archer's bow") and swinging up at the ball (and not out at the ball because if you are swinging out, you have aleady rotated)

If it helps for you to think aboout, what you are trying to do is get energy from your (1) arm/shoulder swing, (2) torso rotation, and (3) forward weight movement going into the ball at the same instant.

rkelley
10-26-2011, 07:20 AM
Actually your serve motion is very nice. No weird hitches and a nice smooth motion with all the right basics. I don't see anything that you have to undo.

The next step is to get some more core rotation (i.e. rotation of your shoulders relative to your hips) during your setup to the trophy pose. The rotation of your core is where you get a lot of power on the serve. You're not rotating enough.

A bit more leg bend and a bit looser arm are maybe two other areas.

When it feels right your legs, core, and shoulders should feel like they are whipping your loose arm and racquet into the ball.

tennis_pr0
10-26-2011, 07:49 AM
From a technical point, your serve is great. Your timing is good, contact point is good, wrist snap and leg push is good, everything looks very nice. Now, you are a 4.0 and you want to take your game to the next level, okay. As I said, your serve looks great to me, perfect. However, if you want to take your game to the next level, now you need your serve to become a weapon. I little bit more knee bend, as someone already suggested, would definitely give you some extra power. You want to be "exploding" upwards from the ground and into the ball. Watch videos of servers like Andy Roddick and you will see what I mean. His explodes off the ground with his legs, and really throws his body up into the ball. This is tennis terms is called the kinetic chain. The energy starts from the legs, comes up and ends with a strong rotation of the upper body (shoulders) into the ball. You do this well already, but could be using more of your legs. Next, and again, this looks already good to me, is working on a better wrist snap. Again, think of your wrist as "exploding" into the ball at the contact point. Really let that wrist release into the ball. You can do wrist snap exercises like simply dropping the ball in front of you and snapping the ball with your srist and seeing how high you can get the ball to bounce.

Like I said, you do everything very well, but by working more with your legs and wrist you could definitely add some more pop to your serve and make it a weapon.

red rook
10-26-2011, 07:54 AM
As an initial point, your serve looks pretty good - more than adequate to compete at a 4.0 level. I have seen far slower serves be successful at the 4.0 and even 4.5 levels with good placement. But there are certainly somethings you could improve. A couple of suggestions for you for more power (the first is easier to try, the second will take a lot of practice):

1) when you start/toss, show a litte more of your back to the ball (shoulders lined up with the right net post) so you can get more torso rotation. Notice that between the beginning of the toss and the contact, your shoulders are not turning much

(if you try this, don't forget that your toss will still need to be in the same spot on the court - a lot of people turn the shoulders and then toss way right and get frustrated).

But even this small rotation is lost because:

2) the timing of the service motion is slightly off. To my eye your serve looks like this: 1) a lot of motion and effort to get to an intermediate position in which your chest is turned pointed forward toward the ball and your weight is moved forward, and 2) you then swing from the intermediate position. Because of this motion, the energy used to get to the intermediate position is being lost.

You will get a lot of power from slowing down the first part of the motion so that the forward energy and rotational energy go into the ball. If you look at pros, you see that toss part seems super slow but the swing part seems super fast, because they are waiting as long as possible to swing at the ball.

You accomplish this by keeping your weight back as long as possible (forming an "archer's bow") and swinging up at the ball (and not out at the ball because if you are swinging out, you have aleady rotated)

If it helps for you to think aboout, what you are trying to do is get enery from your (1) arm/shoulder swing, (2) torso rotation, and (3) forward weight movement going into the ball at the same instant.

I see what you're saying. I think the intermediate position comes from recently switching from platform to pinpoint. I had a little hitch with the platform and when I tried the pinpoint, voila, the hitch was gone. Plus it kinda feels like I'm going up for jump which is familiar (similar to testing your vertical). Anyways, I think because of this I have my weight moving through the appropriate spot in this intermediate position? Thanks for your analysis! I will definitely try this!

Actually your serve motion is very nice. No weird hitches and a nice smooth motion with all the right basics. I don't see anything that you have to undo.

The next step is to get some more core rotation (i.e. rotation of your shoulders relative to your hips) during your setup to the trophy pose. The rotation of your core is where you get a lot of power on the serve. You're not rotating enough.

A bit more leg bend and a bit looser arm are maybe two other areas.

When it feels right your legs, core, and shoulders should feel like they are whipping your loose arm and racquet into the ball.

Thanks for your suggestion! Will an angled start with my feet at the beginning of serve help in getting this rotation? Leg bend I can see. I sprained my ankle about four months ago and I think I developed a bad habit of not bending my knees. Now that my ankle is somewhat better the habit remains. I will work on it and thanks for your help!

red rook
10-26-2011, 08:07 AM
From a technical point, your serve is great. Your timing is good, contact point is good, wrist snap and leg push is good, everything looks very nice. Now, you are a 4.0 and you want to take your game to the next level, okay. As I said, your serve looks great to me, perfect. However, if you want to take your game to the next level, now you need your serve to become a weapon. I little bit more knee bend, as someone already suggested, would definitely give you some extra power. You want to be "exploding" upwards from the ground and into the ball. Watch videos of servers like Andy Roddick and you will see what I mean. His explodes off the ground with his legs, and really throws his body up into the ball. This is tennis terms is called the kinetic chain. The energy starts from the legs, comes up and ends with a strong rotation of the upper body (shoulders) into the ball. You do this well already, but could be using more of your legs. Next, and again, this looks already good to me, is working on a better wrist snap. Again, think of your wrist as "exploding" into the ball at the contact point. Really let that wrist release into the ball. You can do wrist snap exercises like simply dropping the ball in front of you and snapping the ball with your srist and seeing how high you can get the ball to bounce.

Like I said, you do everything very well, but by working more with your legs and wrist you could definitely add some more pop to your serve and make it a weapon.

Thanks tennis pr0! That's exactly it. I've watched many videos on serving and its helped immensely, trying to get all the basics and try to instill at least some fundamentals. Years ago they didn't have all the resources we have today. But then it's like, hmm where do I go from here, you know. Thanks for your analysis and I will watch some Roddick videos and try to jump up and exert my energy from the jump into the ball and down the court, as well as work on my wrist release. Thanks!

tennis_pr0
10-26-2011, 08:14 AM
You are welcome. I work very hard with my students for them to have the mechanics you have, so you should be very proud to have such a nice looking serve. You do everything well, but to reach that next level, like I said, you have to do those few things I mentioned better than well....

fuzz nation
10-26-2011, 08:25 AM
I agree with our pals that you look to be doing great - I don't see any nasty habits that you need to un-learn before your serve can develop any further (that's never fun).

That idea of rotation often registers well for me and some of the kids I've coached when thinking of turning away from the target as I set to toss the ball. That way I'm better "loaded" to turn back the other way through contact as I release the racquet up through the ball. It's really not unlike throwing a ball where a righty rotates the shoulders back to the right when winding up, then around to the left to compound the arm's throwing action.

This rotation is more about your core and shoulders than your legs and feet. Experiment with starting positions for your feet that give you a comfortable orientation to hit the ball. Shade your stance more closed and also more open, but use a measure of this rotation regardless of the stance you start with.

Ever practiced your serve while holding the racquet with no more than maybe your middle finger, ring finger, and thumb locked into the grip just above the flare at the bottom? As long as the bottom of your grip has that pronounced wider spot, you can hold onto the racquet just fine this way and practice 3/4 speed serves. The idea is to achieve a really loose grip and passive wrist with this minimal connection to the racquet. You can even take practice motions like this without hitting a ball to get a feel for the right tempo in your swing over the top. Looser is faster and faster means more power and/or spin.

If you feel as through you're leaning forward or sort of bowing down into the court as you hit the ball, you might also benefit from the image of throwing a javelin - everything drives upward and forward through the ball. That can help to get all your energy moving in the right direction - you already carry good forward momentum through contact. Throw that javelin over the far fence to drive up through that serve.

rkelley
10-26-2011, 08:33 AM
Thanks for your suggestion! Will an angled start with my feet at the beginning of serve help in getting this rotation? Leg bend I can see. I sprained my ankle about four months ago and I think I developed a bad habit of not bending my knees. Now that my ankle is somewhat better the habit remains. I will work on it and thanks for your help!

The first video shows you serving from the ad court. Yes, from the ad court I think you'll see most servers (right handed) with their feet turned more than yours were. A general rule of thumb is when serving from the deuce court have your feet roughly in line with the service line. When you go to the ad court turn about 30 CW. This is a very rough rule though.

Also you're using a pinpoint stance (you bring your left foot up from the back before you push off). That's fine, but it probably lessens the impact of your initial stance. Still, I'd turn your feet a bit more than you are to help promote that core rotation.

There's a video on youtube from Pat Dougherty, an instructor at the Nick B.'s academy, showing how you can nail a pretty good serve with just core rotation (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ixx-MCC7D88). He calls it the spring loaded serve. He focuses on the angle between the hips and the shoulders. He has this 100 lb girl hitting some pretty good serves with this. I think the video is instructive as to how much power you can get with core rotation. Ultimately you need all of the other parts (leg bend, loose arm, exploding up to the ball), but there's a lot of power in the core and I think you could tap into a bit more of yours.

red rook
10-26-2011, 09:14 AM
I agree with our pals that you look to be doing great - I don't see any nasty habits that you need to un-learn before your serve can develop any further (that's never fun).

That idea of rotation often registers well for me and some of the kids I've coached when thinking of turning away from the target as I set to toss the ball. That way I'm better "loaded" to turn back the other way through contact as I release the racquet up through the ball. It's really not unlike throwing a ball where a righty rotates the shoulders back to the right when winding up, then around to the left to compound the arm's throwing action.

This rotation is more about your core and shoulders than your legs and feet. Experiment with starting positions for your feet that give you a comfortable orientation to hit the ball. Shade your stance more closed and also more open, but use a measure of this rotation regardless of the stance you start with.

Ever practiced your serve while holding the racquet with no more than maybe your middle finger, ring finger, and thumb locked into the grip just above the flare at the bottom? As long as the bottom of your grip has that pronounced wider spot, you can hold onto the racquet just fine this way and practice 3/4 speed serves. The idea is to achieve a really loose grip and passive wrist with this minimal connection to the racquet. You can even take practice motions like this without hitting a ball to get a feel for the right tempo in your swing over the top. Looser is faster and faster means more power and/or spin.

If you feel as through you're leaning forward or sort of bowing down into the court as you hit the ball, you might also benefit from the image of throwing a javelin - everything drives upward and forward through the ball. That can help to get all your energy moving in the right direction - you already carry good forward momentum through contact. Throw that javelin over the far fence to drive up through that serve.

Thanks fuzz_nation! These are some great tips! I have noticed that sometimes my wrist just clamps down and thus creates a power leak. I will try that drill and also the javelin one. Thanks for your help!!!!

red rook
10-26-2011, 09:16 AM
The first video shows you serving from the ad court. Yes, from the ad court I think you'll see most servers (right handed) with their feet turned more than yours were. A general rule of thumb is when serving from the deuce court have your feet roughly in line with the service line. When you go to the ad court turn about 30 CW. This is a very rough rule though.

Also you're using a pinpoint stance (you bring your left foot up from the back before you push off). That's fine, but it probably lessens the impact of your initial stance. Still, I'd turn your feet a bit more than you are to help promote that core rotation.

There's a video on youtube from Pat Dougherty, an instructor at the Nick B.'s academy, showing how you can nail a pretty good serve with just core rotation (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ixx-MCC7D88). He calls it the spring loaded serve. He focuses on the angle between the hips and the shoulders. He has this 100 lb girl hitting some pretty good serves with this. I think the video is instructive as to how much power you can get with core rotation. Ultimately you need all of the other parts (leg bend, loose arm, exploding up to the ball), but there's a lot of power in the core and I think you could tap into a bit more of yours.

rkelley, from playing golf in the past I can see where the similarities exist. In golf I think they call it the x-factor. That is, getting your body wound up and coiled from the ground up, but I haven't correlated it to the tennis serve. Thanks so much for your help!

MarinaHighTennis
10-26-2011, 09:27 AM
Reminds me of the bran bros serves

red rook
10-26-2011, 09:41 AM
Reminds me of the bran bros serves

Same body type I guess lol! Thanks but the closest I can come is I have a brother and we played doubles in high school lol

mordecai
10-26-2011, 08:21 PM
Your right shoulder should be lower than your left in your trophy pose. Right now they are almost the same height. It looks like your first serves are all slice serves. I suspect that's because your shoulder rotation isn't bringing your right shoulder up toward the ball, but rather carrying your right shoulder across the horizontal plane of the ball.

Tossing the ball higher and further forward into the court, as well as pulling your right shoulder down toward the ground in the trophy pose will let you "see-saw' your shoulders UP to the ball rather than across it. All great servers have their chest pointing up to the ball in their racquet drop.

EDIT: I'm watching the two videos again and what I'm seeing is a stunted racquet drop. Your right elbow is never completely bent and your right wrist never fully supinates:

http://img207.imageshack.us/img207/4171/example2.png

should be

http://adhd-tennis.org/images/serve%203.jpg

See how far back his wrist is supinated, and how deep his elbow bend is? Your racquet's range of motion behind your body and therefore the distance over which your racquet head can then accelerate is stunted. Incomplete racquet drop leads to the 'waiter's tray':

http://img204.imageshack.us/img204/9616/example1u.png

Moments before impact, your butt-cap is pointed forward into the court(GOOD), but your racquet-face is almost parallel to the ground(BAD). What you're aiming to achieve is a racquet-face perpendicular to the ground in the moments before contact.

http://0.tqn.com/d/tennis/1/0/5/E/roddick-serve-07.jpg
[IMG]

Think less about forcing the racquet face into the ball and more about complete supination and letting the pronation come about as a natural result of a loose arm and deep racquet drop. See just how long you can wait before you release the energy in your arm.

Hope this helps!

Fuji
10-26-2011, 08:45 PM
I actually really like your serve, your motion is a lot cleaner then mine, and I'm even competing at a higher level then you, so for you to get a truly solid serve shouldn't take much more effort since your fundamentals are superb!

There have been lots of very solid tips so far! I'll just add my few tips...

1) A bit of knee bend goes a long way. I added a bit more knee bend to my serve and I got a few more MPH with a bit more net clearance because of the spring motion which knee bend creates.

2) Open up your shoulders! I know that a few players on here have had some shoulder injuries which prevent them from opening up, but if you can open up just a bit more, you can really get some biting pace on your serve.

3) As others have mentioned; Kinetic Chain. Try to add your whole body from the feet up to your serve. The way I like to think of it, is that if my feet aren't starting my serve, I can't start the rest of the motion.

If you combine all of these in an effective manor with your current service motion, you could have one heck of a serve! It just comes with a bit of confidence to really smack the ball with authority!

-Fuji

red rook
10-27-2011, 05:38 AM
Your right shoulder should be lower than your left in your trophy pose. Right now they are almost the same height. It looks like your first serves are all slice serves. I suspect that's because your shoulder rotation isn't bringing your right shoulder up toward the ball, but rather carrying your right shoulder across the horizontal plane of the ball.

Tossing the ball higher and further forward into the court, as well as pulling your right shoulder down toward the ground in the trophy pose will let you "see-saw' your shoulders UP to the ball rather than across it. All great servers have their chest pointing up to the ball in their racquet drop.

EDIT: I'm watching the two videos again and what I'm seeing is a stunted racquet drop. Your right elbow is never completely bent and your right wrist never fully supinates:

See how far back his wrist is supinated, and how deep his elbow bend is? Your racquet's range of motion behind your body and therefore the distance over which your racquet head can then accelerate is stunted. Incomplete racquet drop leads to the 'waiter's tray':

Moments before impact, your butt-cap is pointed forward into the court(GOOD), but your racquet-face is almost parallel to the ground(BAD). What you're aiming to achieve is a racquet-face perpendicular to the ground in the moments before contact.

Think less about forcing the racquet face into the ball and more about complete supination and letting the pronation come about as a natural result of a loose arm and deep racquet drop. See just how long you can wait before you release the energy in your arm.

Hope this helps!

Thanks mordecai for taking the time to generate those photos. I'm a visual person so that helps. The lower right shoulder/bowed body should help the racket drop and elbow to the sky correct? I'm not sure I'm flexible enough to get it pointed up without a slight change in spine angle or something. As far as the racket's position coming into contact in the correct position/plane, will that be a factor of just a loose arm or would you suggest me to loop the racket a little more? Thanks for your help!

red rook
10-27-2011, 05:42 AM
I actually really like your serve, your motion is a lot cleaner then mine, and I'm even competing at a higher level then you, so for you to get a truly solid serve shouldn't take much more effort since your fundamentals are superb!

There have been lots of very solid tips so far! I'll just add my few tips...

1) A bit of knee bend goes a long way. I added a bit more knee bend to my serve and I got a few more MPH with a bit more net clearance because of the spring motion which knee bend creates.

2) Open up your shoulders! I know that a few players on here have had some shoulder injuries which prevent them from opening up, but if you can open up just a bit more, you can really get some biting pace on your serve.

3) As others have mentioned; Kinetic Chain. Try to add your whole body from the feet up to your serve. The way I like to think of it, is that if my feet aren't starting my serve, I can't start the rest of the motion.

If you combine all of these in an effective manor with your current service motion, you could have one heck of a serve! It just comes with a bit of confidence to really smack the ball with authority!

-Fuji

Thanks Fuji! Sometimes I've thought a bigger knee bend and push up into the ball will help with topspin. I don't really have shoulder issues so getting a bigger shoulder turn shouldn't be too much of a problem. The knee bend is going to be harder for me with the ankle sprain and a smaller range of motion with my ankle. I will definitely try it and thanks for the tips!

mordecai
10-27-2011, 02:07 PM
I think just getting a lower trophy pose and deeper supination in your racquet drop would be the immediate focus. The rest would probably correct itself naturally as you become accustomed to the bigger swing.

LeeD
10-27-2011, 02:41 PM
Most are talking about a more angular "archer's bow" during your trophy position.
What you are doing is just fine, and more tennis experience will lead you to the archer's bow and a faster swing with little effort.
Currently, your serve is fine, you just need more experience to maximise your current moderate speed swing.
Fortunately for you, your current swing is very good for a rising 4.0, so work on consistency and placement.