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View Full Version : Serve help for a 12 year old


Mick3391
11-14-2012, 07:51 PM
I am no trainer. I have taught my son for about 8 months now. He's made great progress, he started on the tennis team, made it to varsity doubles, then at the end singles, which is cool, BUT HE CAN'T SERVE and I don't know how to teach him.

He can hit forehand flat, top, slice, same with BH, he runs beautifully around his backhand and shoots to his opponents BH, but HE CAN'T SERVE.

I entered him into a USTA Tourny, first one, and well one guy just killed him, but the other, and I saw at the USTA website the other kid had played at a higher level, but he lost 6-3, but it was because of his SERVE, or lack of it. I told him "Listen to your coach", and the coach had him doing a western grip, throw the ball up a couple feet and just pop it over, the other kid killed him on that.

So how do I do it? He understands the mechanics of moving the feet, the hips, the shoulders, then arm in quasi bicep pose slice the ball, but he just can't get it, it's unbelievably frustrating as he's pretty good in every other department. I have him every day throwing the ball up to practice a good throw.

Any help is appreciated, I'm not going to let him get massacered in a USTA tourney again until he can serve. Serve is one of my best assets, I mean you know we are supposed to win serve, it's a liability with him, I just don't know how to teach it.

LeeD
11-14-2012, 07:57 PM
Have him look at vids of LeytonHewitt/JuanCarlosFerrero serves.
Make sure he stands the same, closed stance, feet just wider than shoulder width.
You should have him hit conti grip, pronating to hit flat, slicing for second serves to begin with.

monomer
11-14-2012, 08:04 PM
I am in favor of keeping the mechanics as simple as possible for someone learning. Here's what helped my daughter go from a frying pan serve with no pronation to a respectable serve.

The first thing was to simplify and go to a non-loop takeback. Basically a Roddick like motion where you take the racquet straight up rather than a big loopy backswing. The girl in this "serve doctor" video has nice simple takeback also. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ixx-MCC7D88

The next big help was to get her to hit a slice serve. Hitting a flat serve she was always "palm up" at the top which kills your ability to pronate. Learning a slice and having to carve around the right side of the ball forced her to be in the proper position at the top.

It only took a couple of months and she developed a very reliable slice serve. From there it was relatively easy for her to learn to pronate and flatten it out. She has the proper motion now and is working on developing more power (leg bend, push up, shoulder rotation, etc.).

Mick3391
11-14-2012, 08:30 PM
I am in favor of keeping the mechanics as simple as possible for someone learning. Here's what helped my daughter go from a frying pan serve with no pronation to a respectable serve.

The first thing was to simplify and go to a non-loop takeback. Basically a Roddick like motion where you take the racquet straight up rather than a big loopy backswing. The girl in this "serve doctor" video has nice simple takeback also. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ixx-MCC7D88

The next big help was to get her to hit a slice serve. Hitting a flat serve she was always "palm up" at the top which kills your ability to pronate. Learning a slice and having to carve around the right side of the ball forced her to be in the proper position at the top.

It only took a couple of months and she developed a very reliable slice serve. From there it was relatively easy for her to learn to pronate and flatten it out. She has the proper motion now and is working on developing more power (leg bend, push up, shoulder rotation, etc.).

Thanks, going to save that video, I kind of teach him that way, just not the stretching the chest muscles, that's smart because he can feel it.

You know it's weird, I could always just serve, but stopping and thinking "How DO I serve"? You know explain every little thing is weird.

Thanks!

charliefedererer
11-14-2012, 09:14 PM
Show him this video.
Sarah practicing serve.She is 8 years old. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-L7q-bFA3vY&feature=related

No way he'll let Sarah out serve him.




Separate out the pronation aspect of the serve by doing the following pronation exercise.
McCraw explaining a serve pronation exercise http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iONY6fcqZGg

Starting on the service line, instead of the baseline, as Coach McCraw describes, takes the pressure out of trying to get the ball in, and instead allows him to concentrate on the motion.

Start with no more than 25 serves of this exercise so as not to cause undue arm soreness.


http://i39.tinypic.com/308kv0j.jpg

Make sure that when he drops the racquet it is well out to his right side - the "back scratch" position is not in the middle of the back but well out to the right [assuming he is right handed].
If you don't start with the racquet well out the right in the racquet drop, you can't rotate it right to left in the pronation movement (pics 10-20).
Pronation is not apparent to those learning to serve, and you as his teacher will have to make sure he is setting it up and executing it correctly. Standing in back of him may give you the best perspective.


Good luck!

Mick3391
11-15-2012, 01:37 AM
Show him this video.
Sarah practicing serve.She is 8 years old. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-L7q-bFA3vY&feature=related

No way he'll let Sarah out serve him.




Separate out the pronation aspect of the serve by doing the following pronation exercise.
McCraw explaining a serve pronation exercise http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iONY6fcqZGg

Starting on the service line, instead of the baseline, as Coach McCraw describes, takes the pressure out of trying to get the ball in, and instead allows him to concentrate on the motion.

Start with no more than 25 serves of this exercise so as not to cause undue arm soreness.


http://i39.tinypic.com/308kv0j.jpg

Make sure that when he drops the racquet it is well out to his right side - the "back scratch" position is not in the middle of the back but well out to the right [assuming he is right handed].
If you don't start with the racquet well out the right in the racquet drop, you can't rotate it right to left in the pronation movement (pics 10-20).
Pronation is not apparent to those learning to serve, and you as his teacher will have to make sure he is setting it up and executing it correctly. Standing in back of him may give you the best perspective.


Good luck!


Ha! Yea I didn't want to say it, but yea he will think "If a girl can do it I can":)

TennisCoachIN
11-15-2012, 09:12 AM
Thanks for the kind words on other thread. Believe me she is still a work in progress :)

Definitely, get your son in the continential grip first. He probably won't like at first and will say it feels funny, but you have to make sure he sticks with it.

The above posts are excellent advice. Please remember it is going to take a lot of work, patience and repetition.

The reason we are focusing heavy on serve at a young age is because of its importance. I see some many times during USTA tournaments kids with great groundstrokes lose partly because of a weak poor mechanic serve. IMO I feel that there is such an advantage if you take the time to learn the serve properly and build on that with tactical serve placement.

Mick3391
11-15-2012, 12:36 PM
Thanks for the kind words on other thread. Believe me she is still a work in progress :)

Definitely, get your son in the continential grip first. He probably won't like at first and will say it feels funny, but you have to make sure he sticks with it.

The above posts are excellent advice. Please remember it is going to take a lot of work, patience and repetition.

The reason we are focusing heavy on serve at a young age is because of its importance. I see some many times during USTA tournaments kids with great groundstrokes lose partly because of a weak poor mechanic serve. IMO I feel that there is such an advantage if you take the time to learn the serve properly and build on that with tactical serve placement.

Yea he uses a Eastern Grip I taught him, it's kind of Continental, but yea we use that, I was just saying the school coach wanted consistancy so she made him do it Western.

Yea, he would pop it over the net, I felt so bad for him, I mean the serve was basically hitting a high slow shot to his opponents forehand, the other kids just killed it, so yea no point doing another tourney until he gets a good serve. I think it also will come naturally once he gets the idea so to speak in his head. For example once he got a slice, he was like "This is easy", so he practiced it and got better with it, at least I hope it will be that way with the serve!

SystemicAnomaly
11-15-2012, 05:36 PM
Run, don't walk, away from that Western grip for serving. I don't care what the school coach says. She is doing him a dis-service (pun shamelessly intended), by encouraging a Western grip or an Eastern grip serve. Have him adopt either an semi-continental or a full continental ASAP (or sooner).

.

Mick3391
11-15-2012, 06:23 PM
Run, don't walk, away from that Western grip for serving. I don't care what the school coach says. She is doing him a dis-service (pun shamelessly intended), by encouraging a Western grip or an Eastern grip serve. Have him adopt either an semi-continental or a full continental ASAP (or sooner).

.

Well yea school Tennis is over. It's a matter of can't win for losing, if I insist he do it my way I'm a bad domineering dad, if I say do it her way its bad, coach was not very good.

Yea he uses basically Continental on everything, I started him with Eastern but it's devolved or evolved into Continental, he can rally like no bodies business, but serve? No. He'll get it, thanks.

Also I'm going to have him serve with this Wilson 9.6 oz Blitz or whatever it is, I had him serving with a K-Factor 95, about 12.3 oz strung, shouldn't make that big a deal, I started with a heavy 75 inch wood racquet, but oh well, just want him to GET the mechanics.

Coach Chad
11-15-2012, 07:23 PM
It angers me that a coach would instruct anyone at any level to use a western grip when serving...and I understand what you mean about being a "domineering dad"...but your son should use a Continental grip when he serves. You obviously love and care for him a great deal...a father's opinion means a great deal to a son, and if you are kind and let him know that you really feel that the Conti is best for him, I don't think he will view you as domineering. Enjoy your son's tennis...these memories will last!

5263
11-15-2012, 08:13 PM
Well yea school Tennis is over. It's a matter of can't win for losing, if I insist he do it my way I'm a bad domineering dad, if I say do it her way its bad, coach was not very good.

I went thru this a bit too and know what you mean.

Just told my son that he had to get to the conti sooner or later....and sooner
would help everything. Plus I mentioned that any serious Jrs would be smirking
behind his back if he used that hackers grip for serving around them :)
Nobody wants to look bad, right?

Mick3391
11-15-2012, 10:02 PM
It angers me that a coach would instruct anyone at any level to use a western grip when serving...and I understand what you mean about being a "domineering dad"...but your son should use a Continental grip when he serves. You obviously love and care for him a great deal...a father's opinion means a great deal to a son, and if you are kind and let him know that you really feel that the Conti is best for him, I don't think he will view you as domineering. Enjoy your son's tennis...these memories will last!

Yea it's amazing how strangers think, not you but people up here. If you don't teach they say you don't care, you do teach they assume you are a drill sargeant:(

Oh well, we have a BLAST, every day "Daddy can we play tennis". He isn't the greatest natural talent (I think it will come), but he's COURAGEOUS, I mean more than me when I was his age. I was at the center, and Justin Bower was there, he has the second highest winning streak next to Fed, went to 2nd round Wimbledon, beat Mardy Fish, just a monster, so I wanted to play against him, you know so I could talk about it. He was very nice and let me hit with him. I was very nervous, after I was exhausted he asked Mick who was watching, and Mick hit with him, just no fear, so I guess that's a great trait he has:)

Sorry I find myself talking to strangers about my son since he was born!

chico9166
11-16-2012, 02:14 AM
Well yea school Tennis is over. It's a matter of can't win for losing, if I insist he do it my way I'm a bad domineering dad, if I say do it her way its bad, coach was not very good.

Yea he uses basically Continental on everything, I started him with Eastern but it's devolved or evolved into Continental, he can rally like no bodies business, but serve? No. He'll get it, thanks.

Also I'm going to have him serve with this Wilson 9.6 oz Blitz or whatever it is, I had him serving with a K-Factor 95, about 12.3 oz strung, shouldn't make that big a deal, I started with a heavy 75 inch wood racquet, but oh well, just want him to GET the mechanics.

Yeah, don't worry about the labels. The only thing that matters is that your son developes a serve. And on this issue, you are 100 percent correct. He must make the switch. Developing proper mechanics such as, external/internal rotation of the shoulder, supination/pronation, racquet head speed, spin production etc etc. are all centered on having the correct grip. It is an absoulute fundamental.