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RyKnocks
10-26-2011, 02:22 PM
Hello all, as some of you may know, I started playing tennis back in May 2011 but really started getting serious and pushing the practice/drills the past couple of months. I finally decided on a racquet (Youtek Radical MP), so all of my focus from here on out will be towards practice and not equipment.

Here's my serve so far (note, video has been cut to reduce lag between serves): http://youtu.be/InCVhXVafNs?hd=1


I apologize for the horrible viewing angle as you can't see my toss/racquet impact. I need to purchase a tripod mount for my iPhone 4S so I can properly adjust the viewing angle.

This is my first time really watching myself serve and here are some conclusions that I came up with:

- I really need to exaggerate my movements. When I'm serving I feel like I'm stretching long and bending my knees, but it clearly isn't the case.
- I need more knee bend for more explosiveness
- I need to bring my elbow higher and snap/throw through the ball more.
- I need to extend my toss hand further up
- I need to stretch my chest more and point it more upwards.
- I need to lead with my racquet edge more to get more racquet speed.

Obviously not all the balls are going in and my toss is all over the place. I promise I'm not muscling through the ball, otherwise I wouldn't last through 10 of those serves. I feel like this is a really big improvement over what I had a few months ago where I was trying to muscle through for speed. Practice sessions have been few and far between as of late due to weather and schedule but I hope to do more of these.

Any critique or tips that you can offer me would be awesome :) Thanks everyone!

RyKnocks
10-27-2011, 12:46 AM
Anyone?????

Chyeaah
10-27-2011, 03:57 AM
My advice. I can serve harder than you and ive been playing for 1 and a half months, im 15.... Put some effort into it your just casually jump hit jump hit. Have a pause between your serves, Go around 80-90% power and get it consistent then you work on the kicks and slices. Your knee bend is fine you dont need to work on it alot, if you bend your knees more you will have more errors, from my experience. Aim your camera higher up or make it portrait. Leading with your racquet edge makes more spin.

Oh and a good serve exercise is to try and always hit one spot, so aim out wide or down the tee, really good excercise to control your serves

bad_call
10-27-2011, 05:58 AM
control that toss and get it higher. can't see the strike point (out of vid view) but looks to be too low. keep at it and you'll be hammering.

samarai
10-27-2011, 07:16 AM
5 months playing, that looks to be a good serve.

Nellie
10-27-2011, 07:57 AM
I think that you are trying to do to much up on your list. You are going to have to keep it simple - a small number of changes at a time.

To me, the biggest changes I would make with your serve are:

1) you are using a forehand grip - you can clearly see it when you are bouncing the ball

2) you have not back scratch/racquet drop.

3) your toss is low/ far left/ back.

So forget about knee bend, loop, etc.

A) Start with the racquet in the back scratch position while holding a continental grip.

b) staying sideways, toss high and slightly in front, between you and the left net post - not too far in front because your legs are not moving at this point

c) after you toss, swing for contact at full extension.

Without getting too complex, you are currently messing up the timing of steps b and c, and it will be hard for you to fix things without getting the separation. As you get more comfortable, you can add things like:

looping to get the back scratch before step a;
reaching backwards and down more as part of step b; or
bending the knees after step b, and adding a knee extension as part of step c.

By isolating the motions, you can get a better feel for doing them right.

RyKnocks
10-27-2011, 08:49 AM
My advice. I can serve harder than you and ive been playing for 1 and a half months, im 15.... Put some effort into it your just casually jump hit jump hit. Have a pause between your serves, Go around 80-90% power and get it consistent then you work on the kicks and slices. Your knee bend is fine you dont need to work on it alot, if you bend your knees more you will have more errors, from my experience. Aim your camera higher up or make it portrait. Leading with your racquet edge makes more spin.

Oh and a good serve exercise is to try and always hit one spot, so aim out wide or down the tee, really good excercise to control your serves

Only a month and a half? Would you happen to have a video of your serve? My main focus right now is good contact and fluidity. The pace that I'm going in my video is about 70%-80% because if I try to go any higher then my timing gets messed up.

RyKnocks
10-27-2011, 09:02 AM
I think that you are trying to do to much up on your list. You are going to have to keep it simple - a small number of changes at a time.

To me, the biggest changes I would make with your serve are:

1) you are using a forehand grip - you can clearly see it when you are bouncing the ball

2) you have not back scratch/racquet drop.



This is what I mean about needing to "exaggerate" everything I do. I know that I need to use a continental grip, and I thought I was. So maybe I need to exaggerate that. Also, before I video taped myself I thought I was scratching my back, but apparently I'm not LOL.

I'll take your advice today when I go out in a few mins and break everything down into simpler steps. Thanks for the advice :)

Chyeaah
10-27-2011, 05:11 PM
I play 4 hoursish a week, i can def serve harder since all the weight training, but my consistency is crap. My coach told me to get a hard consistent flat serve. You shouldn't be worrying too much about your serve. Try not to do the knee bend and just and get your standing ball toss hit serve in. Adding the knee bend makes it harder for you to get a consistent ball toss since you might bend too much or too little.

How many hours do you play a week? And is your ball toss, toss and hit right before it falls down or toss higher and wait for it to fall abit and then hit.

Fuji
10-27-2011, 05:41 PM
I play 4 hoursish a week, i can def serve harder since all the weight training, but my consistency is crap. My coach told me to get a hard consistent flat serve. You shouldn't be worrying too much about your serve. Try not to do the knee bend and just and get your standing ball toss hit serve in. Adding the knee bend makes it harder for you to get a consistent ball toss since you might bend too much or too little.

How many hours do you play a week? And is your ball toss, toss and hit right before it falls down or toss higher and wait for it to fall abit and then hit.

I'm confused... Your coach said to get a hard consistent flat serve? I don't think I've heard of such a thing. Spin brings consistency! :)

As to OP! Your serve is actually coming along nicely for you only playing for a few months! Much better then my first YEAR of tennis! Also, you have the bonus of being a lefty. Work on your slice serve! Being a lefty, your serve on the ad side is a great advantage!

The first thing I can see off the bat, (Or rather can't see) is your toss. It seems like it is a bit too low. You are getting a bit rushed off the start! Adding a bit of height to your toss gives you a LOT more time to go through your motion, especially to get into the "back scratch" position, then to unload into your serve. I think this is why you dumped the first few into the net. (It's also a problem I have, if my toss starts to go whacky. I'll dump a few right into the base of the net. This is also an issue with timing the serve.)

That's what I would work on off the start, and then slowly build from there. Also don't forget, it's consistency over power. If you can hit a consistent 2nd serve, you can be golden and really start to improve.

-Fuji

Torres
10-27-2011, 05:47 PM
I can't even see the ball in the top part of the frame, but I can almost guarantee that your toss is too low. Slow the start of the motion and take your time - you're like you're having race to serve. You're also concentrating on trying to improve too many things at once. Get a good pro and begin working on one thing at a time - take back, trophy, racquet drop etc

Limpinhitter
10-27-2011, 06:51 PM
Hello all, as some of you may know, I started playing tennis back in May 2011 but really started getting serious and pushing the practice/drills the past couple of months. I finally decided on a racquet (Youtek Radical MP), so all of my focus from here on out will be towards practice and not equipment.

Here's my serve so far (note, video has been cut to reduce lag between serves): http://youtu.be/InCVhXVafNs?hd=1


I apologize for the horrible viewing angle as you can't see my toss/racquet impact. I need to purchase a tripod mount for my iPhone 4S so I can properly adjust the viewing angle.

This is my first time really watching myself serve and here are some conclusions that I came up with:

- I really need to exaggerate my movements. When I'm serving I feel like I'm stretching long and bending my knees, but it clearly isn't the case.
- I need more knee bend for more explosiveness
- I need to bring my elbow higher and snap/throw through the ball more.
- I need to extend my toss hand further up
- I need to stretch my chest more and point it more upwards.
- I need to lead with my racquet edge more to get more racquet speed.

Obviously not all the balls are going in and my toss is all over the place. I promise I'm not muscling through the ball, otherwise I wouldn't last through 10 of those serves. I feel like this is a really big improvement over what I had a few months ago where I was trying to muscle through for speed. Practice sessions have been few and far between as of late due to weather and schedule but I hope to do more of these.

Any critique or tips that you can offer me would be awesome :) Thanks everyone!

Not bad! You've got a good base to work from. You've recognized the most important underlying cause of your inconsistency - your toss. The toss is the single most important aspect of the serve. The other issues you need to work on are your shoulder tilt, and your swing path, it's too cramped. Your knee bend is fine. I wouldn't worry about that.

My advice would be as follows:

- Work on your tossing technique. A toss is not a throw, it's a push with no spin on the ball. You want to be able to toss the ball in the exact same box in the air every time. To do that, you have to have be very deliberate about your tossing motion and do the exact same thing every time. From the service ready position, holding the ball in your finger tips, bring both hands down to your front leg and slowly, gradually, deliberately, accelerate your tossing arm upward with a straight elbow and stationary wrist and point your hand at the ball as long as you can after it leaves your hand. This will promote a sharp tilting of the shoulders. (You should also push your right hip toward the target when you are at the peak of the toss). Toss from the shoulder without any involvment from the elbow or wrist. The only role of the fingers is to release the ball at the right time. Practice your toss without hitting the ball. Do it over and over and over until you can toss it in the same spot every time.

- Make sure that your shoulders are turned and tilted at the peak of the toss (the trophy pose), as much as you comfortably can. Some people refer to the turn and tilt as the "coil," or coiling up. Your toss technique and hip extension toward the target will promote the spine and shoulder tilt. In addition to that, you must also turn your shoulders so that your back is turned toward the target sufficient for your opponent to see your name if it were printed on your back. In your video your shoulder turn is there. But, your tilt is not there yet because you are not fully executing your toss and it doesn't seem that you are extending your hip to the target at the peak of the toss.

- Make a bigger arch with your swing path. There are many great serves with many different swing paths. However, IMO, it's easier to get power and spin by taking the widest, longest swing path. Currently, your swing path is a bit cramped and too close to your body. When you bring your hands down to your leg and they separate in opposite directions, try to make the widest arch you can, down, around and up, with your racquet.

When you are at the peak of your toss, with your tossing hand pointing at the ball, your right hip pointing toward the target, your shoulders tilted and turned away from the target, and your racquet having taken the widest arch, you will be in the best position to generate the most racquet speed to use as you see fit for spin and/or power.

Hope that helps.

PS: I took another look at your serve grip. It's not bad, but, it's not optimal, IMO. I would recommend turning it slightly toward an Eastern backhand grip by putting the heel of your hand on the top of the handle (on the first bevel). That will promote more wrist release and, therefore, more power and spin.

Chyeaah
10-27-2011, 07:57 PM
I'm confused... Your coach said to get a hard consistent flat serve? I don't think I've heard of such a thing. Spin brings consistency! :)



You need a decent flat serve my 75-85% flat serves go in 7/10 times which is quite good im my opinion. YOu need a decent flat serve before you work on spin

Fuji
10-27-2011, 08:40 PM
You need a decent flat serve my 75-85% flat serves go in 7/10 times which is quite good im my opinion. YOu need a decent flat serve before you work on spin

I don't believe so actually! You don't even need a flat serve until you're in the upper levels. I know I probably don't need a flat bomb, even at my level to get by. I worked on it quite a bit, but it's really not that important. Flat serves are the EASIEST serves to return because you only need to get a racket on them, and their flight path is quite predictable. Sure they're fast, but if you are playing anyone who is a remotely good returner, then speed isn't the only thing you need to contend with. A solid slice or kick on the other hand is MUCH harder to return because their is more action on the serve, and it is a bit harder to predict where it is going.

Example: Kick Serve

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RA1wa5c6g3I

Obviously, a rec player won't have the same amount of kick as Federer, but it just goes to show that spin is crucial even at top levels. Otherwise every player would just blast flat serves all the time!

Also, spin builds confidence in new players/servers. When you see that you are able to get 2nd serves in over 90% with minimal effort, you for sure get a great confidence boost! I know I did when I first learned my slice serve. (First serve I learned how to hit). After all, when playing matches consistency means more then just sheer power. (My serves have clocked in at over 115MPH, but I often choose not to hit them frequently in a match because even though it's fast; once there is a read on it, it's fairly easy to return.)

IMHO, it's better to learn a spin serve first then work your way to a flat serve, but however your coach is teaching you, he obviously knows best for your game! :)

-Fuji

gmatheis
10-27-2011, 10:17 PM
The first thing I notice is that you are pulling your head down too soon in an attempt to see where the ball goes , the result is that alot of your serves are going into the net.

Keep that eyesight locked on the ball through impact ... really focus on it.

RyKnocks
10-27-2011, 11:47 PM
Thanks everyone for the awesome advice. I've jotted all of these points down in my notes and will take them with me when I go out and practice my serve. I think the main keys that I will focus on before I release my next serve video are:

- Ball Toss
- Back Scratch and swing path
- Shoulder Tilt/Trophy Pose

@Chyeaah
I've learned that a booming flat serve isn't everything as the path on a flat serve is very predictable. One of my friends who is teaching me tennis has a really fast flat serve but after seeing it once or twice I really don't have a problem putting my racquet in front of it and guiding it in. Kick and twist serves on the other hand are a different story. Also, I've seen 15yr old skinny girls who can put enough pace on the ball to hit the back fence off one bounce, so weight training really isn't all there is too it. If it is for you then you may be muscling the ball. I appreciate your contribution to my thread but for right now I will work on spinning the ball in so that I have a "go to" serve that I know will always drop into the box.

Chyeaah
10-28-2011, 02:21 AM
I don't believe so actually! You don't even need a flat serve until you're in the upper levels. I know I probably don't need a flat bomb, even at my level to get by. I worked on it quite a bit, but it's really not that important. Flat serves are the EASIEST serves to return because you only need to get a racket on them, and their flight path is quite predictable. Sure they're fast, but if you are playing anyone who is a remotely good returner, then speed isn't the only thing you need to contend with. A solid slice or kick on the other hand is MUCH harder to return because their is more action on the serve, and it is a bit harder to predict where it is going.

Example: Kick Serve

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RA1wa5c6g3I

Obviously, a rec player won't have the same amount of kick as Federer, but it just goes to show that spin is crucial even at top levels. Otherwise every player would just blast flat serves all the time!

Also, spin builds confidence in new players/servers. When you see that you are able to get 2nd serves in over 90% with minimal effort, you for sure get a great confidence boost! I know I did when I first learned my slice serve. (First serve I learned how to hit). After all, when playing matches consistency means more then just sheer power. (My serves have clocked in at over 115MPH, but I often choose not to hit them frequently in a match because even though it's fast; once there is a read on it, it's fairly easy to return.)

IMHO, it's better to learn a spin serve first then work your way to a flat serve, but however your coach is teaching you, he obviously knows best for your game! :)

-Fuji

The problem is with kicks for beginners is that it will still be easy to return, Beginners with kicks, there always a choice, spin or power unless you master both which will take longer. If you spin it alot it wont go very fast and you can just whack it back over. if you hit it hard there will be less spin and will just be a soft flat serve with abit of spin, which wont make much difference. My coach told me to get a flat serve since its easier than kicks and kicks wont make much difference at beginner levels, unless you just rock your serves, since my best shot is my forehand.

If you want to kick or slice serve get your ball toss correct, theres a difference in ball toss between kicks slices and flats. The ball toss is the number 1 main thing you need to get perfect. If you only practice one thing it should be ball toss. consistent ball toss is the best part, i dont know if you can toss twice in a game since ive never done it and havent seen a pro do it so i think your not allowed. If your ball toss is not consistant you might toss it too much to the left or right screwing up your serve.

And the "go to" serve, i know what you mean, my second serve is terrible if i dont get my flat serve in im screwed, Im vsing D grade low 2.5 - low 3.0 people so i think my coach means that an angled flat serve will probably ace them since im playing on grass. On my second serve i just tap it in... Although, i have 2 spin racquets, pro open and 100s so i should be working on spin more than you haha.

And ive aced a few people with my flat serves. Although the path is predictable their return isnt going to be that hard is it? so they cant control the ball and will probable hit it cross court or to the middle. then you can take a shot down the line.

Fuji
10-28-2011, 09:57 PM
The problem is with kicks for beginners is that it will still be easy to return, Beginners with kicks, there always a choice, spin or power unless you master both which will take longer. If you spin it alot it wont go very fast and you can just whack it back over. if you hit it hard there will be less spin and will just be a soft flat serve with abit of spin, which wont make much difference. My coach told me to get a flat serve since its easier than kicks and kicks wont make much difference at beginner levels, unless you just rock your serves, since my best shot is my forehand.

If you want to kick or slice serve get your ball toss correct, theres a difference in ball toss between kicks slices and flats. The ball toss is the number 1 main thing you need to get perfect. If you only practice one thing it should be ball toss. consistent ball toss is the best part, i dont know if you can toss twice in a game since ive never done it and havent seen a pro do it so i think your not allowed. If your ball toss is not consistant you might toss it too much to the left or right screwing up your serve.

And the "go to" serve, i know what you mean, my second serve is terrible if i dont get my flat serve in im screwed, Im vsing D grade low 2.5 - low 3.0 people so i think my coach means that an angled flat serve will probably ace them since im playing on grass. On my second serve i just tap it in... Although, i have 2 spin racquets, pro open and 100s so i should be working on spin more than you haha.

And ive aced a few people with my flat serves. Although the path is predictable their return isnt going to be that hard is it? so they cant control the ball and will probable hit it cross court or to the middle. then you can take a shot down the line.

Good Good! :)

I actually have practiced using the same toss for ALL of my serves. I don't really believe you need a specific toss for any serve. Sure, it helps when you are first starting, but from my "kick serve toss" I can crank a heater. All it takes is a bit of practice.

As your your point, you can actually toss a serve as many times as you like! There is no rule as to how many times you can toss, as long as you aren't delaying the game. (Usually common courtesy is 2-3 serves before saying anything, especially if it is windy.)

As to acing: the best place for placement is into the body, especially on a flat serve; For me at least. Any serve into the body is a good one as it's the hardest to return. I learned to serve when height was a bit of an issue for me, (I was 5'7 for the few years I was learning my serve), so placement meant MUCH more then power. I was competing at 4.0 when I was a bit shorter, (I'm now 6'0), so serving with a bit more authority is a great thing, but not necessarily needed.

A thing I practiced was just getting a second serve, and using it as my first. I still do this today quite a bit during matches. As OP stated, it makes my "first" serve seem a lot faster then it actually is during a match. It's a strong strategy if you can develop a good second serve!

Anywho, sorry for the slight derailment OP! Chyeaah, feel free to message me if you have any serving questions, I'm always free to help! :)

-Fuji

RyKnocks
10-29-2011, 12:09 AM
@Fuji

A bit off topic, I'm naming my racquet "Echizen" ;)

Chyeaah
10-29-2011, 04:56 AM
Don't get too attached to your racquet because in a year i guarantee thar you will change from prestige depending on how much you improve. People in my school changed from prestige around high 3.0 to 3.5 level. They changed to the BLX Pro Open usually, or the harder to find, Volkl Power Bridge 10 or Yonex 100S. So many people on the 100S bandwagon because its basically a pure drive but better.

Fuji
10-29-2011, 09:59 AM
@Fuji

A bit off topic, I'm naming my racquet "Echizen" ;)

NICE! :D

-Fuji

NJ1
10-29-2011, 10:10 AM
Kudos for putting up video. Lot of big talk on this site in general without backup.

For a fairly new player, you look to be on the right path. If you can afford a few individual lessons with a good teacher that would be the best way to help yourself. In the meantime, taking balls to a court and practicing is admirable. Get that toss more consistent and it will allow you to eventually add more power and remember to snap your wrist at contact. Good luck.

Chyeaah
10-29-2011, 01:46 PM
... I got my coach to compare serves, he said my flat serves is faster faster, but my kicks and slices are absolutely horrible, maybe because ive never practiced a kick before.

GuyClinch
10-29-2011, 04:04 PM
Almost everyone starts with that kind of serve - and I always think its a mistake. I think that people should hit a topspin slice serve as their very first serve.

The reason really is simple - its very easy to hit this kind of serve with the correct grip. What you do is instead of swinging straight at the ball (and invariably smacking the ball into the net). You swing across and up the back of the ball.

With this kind of serve - you can have a fairly reliable serve right off the bat without much practice. And because you are swing up and across the back of the ball the 'strange' grip makes sense. You don't feel the need to turn your wrist to make sure the ball hits square on - this grip seems to 'naturally' accomodate such a swing.

This is different then a real kick serve - where you are swinging more straight up the back off the ball (for more topspin). And its easier to learn..

And FWIW you need to get the motion down before you worry about any of the finer points like knee bend or the archer's bow and all that. Your motion is not correct.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=woH8uZlDjUg

Lots of people don't like this guy - but honestly this little mini progression is the best on the web for serves. I really wish every pro taught their students to serve this way from the start. There would be so many better tennis players..

I am not kidding.

The flat 70mph dump the ball in the net serve followed by the 40mph dink the ball into the net second serve is the plight of many below tennis players near as I can tell.

And women OMG - why can't any pro teach women to hit a spin serve like this. Why would you ever teach a 5'1" 50 year old women to hit a friggin POS eastern grip flat serve..