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View Full Version : Please critique my serve, video inside :)


bkpr
12-18-2012, 03:45 PM
Hello. I've watched many 'critique my serve' videos to date and learned a lot from people's comments. Now I'm asking for help on my own serve.

Video is here (but password protected): http://vimeo.com/55898777 (https://vimeo.com/55898777)
Password: serve

Five serves each from the side view, 3/4 back, and from behind. Apologies for 'tallscreen' format.

===

Right now I'm mostly concerned with:

1. Consistency — while I feel I'm doing the same motion over and over, the balls often hits the net, or sails long. I'd say ~50% of the time. The other 50% I *generally* get it in the area I'm aiming for (corner/T/body serve). I used to have a more consistent serve and placement, but since I've been trying to go for more heat and tune my technique from watching videos online, I'm losing consistency.

2. Heat on the serve. Despite feeling like I'm swinging hard, I can see my motion and racquet head speed aren't very quick. Sometimes I'm really surprised that the ball takes so long to bounce on the other side of the net after I feel it was struck well. I'm not sure if this is from not hitting the sweet spot, slow racquet head speed, or little topspin to pull it down quicker. Possibly all of these.

===

I can see my toss is inconsistent, so maybe this is my main problem. What are the other glaring issues you guys see? I'm wanting to have a one or two lessons specifically on the serve in the new year, but I wanted to get your advice forst and try to work on it myself if I can before I do this.

I currently have spare time to practise serves during the week (Xmas break not included) and I'm really keen to improve as quickly as possible. At the moment I play 4 to 6 sessions of doubles, and 2 or 3 singles sessions a month, both 3.0-3.5 level. I get out at least once a week to serve 200-300 balls.

Thanks in advance for any advice!

bkpr
12-18-2012, 03:46 PM
Also, I need a haircut.

luvforty
12-18-2012, 04:37 PM
for a self rated 3.25.... that serve is not that bad... you look balanced and fairly relaxed and well coordinated.

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

this is a good one on a 'power producing concept'.

my explanation is this -

1) if you think throwing, you need to focus on throwing the RACKET HEAD, not the entire racket (your current motion)

2) if you think hammering, you can imaging right at the contact point, there is a nail and you want to drive that nail into a 2x4.

either of the 2 mental picture may help you time the acceleration better, to achieve the maximum HEAD speed at impact, which also result in a high elbow finish.

bkpr
12-19-2012, 05:08 AM
Thanks for tips and compliment :) The video you linked to is good, and I do feel I'm hitting 'forward' as the video explains. From the side view it looks as though I've got a giant ferris wheel swing going on, much of it way out in front of me. Occasionally I'll concentrate on throwing upwards and often feels like I'm hitting the ball higher than usual, resulting in a strong serve hitting 'straight down' into the court. Other times it goes long or hits the net. I'll give the hammer the nail theory a try this morning to see if I can get some consistency in this area.

My serves look a little relaxed 'cos I was practising serves for around 45 minutes before I got frustrated enough to decided to record myself to get some help.

sunof tennis
12-19-2012, 09:49 AM
[QUOTE=bkpr;7069533]Hello. I've watched many 'critique my serve' videos to date and learned a lot from people's comments. Now I'm asking for help on my own serve.

Video is here (but password protected): http://vimeo.com/55898777 (https://vimeo.com/55898777)
Password: serve

Five serves each from the side view, 3/4 back, and from behind. Apologies for 'tallscreen' format.

Serve is not bad and typical for recreational player. It is smooth-lack of power comes from need for more shoulder turn and (shoulder over shoulder motion-YouTube any of the pros serve-especially Sampras and watch the motion of his shoulders) and finally lack of knee bend/leg drive.
===

.

Chas Tennis
12-19-2012, 10:44 AM
A 30 or 60 fps camera is too slow to analyze the serve.

At 1:37 sec there is a frame that shows ball contact. I can't be certain of the racket-forearm angle but it looks too straight and the wrist angle looks stressful (exactly like my serve is usually performed). (The best behind viewing angle to show this is viewing along the trajectory of the ball.)

This video shows internal shoulder rotation and the racket-forearm angle that is used in high level serves.

https://vimeo.com/27528701

To view on Vimeo press the play-pause button as fast as possible. Look carefully at the bones of the elbow and how rapidly they are rotating at impact.

1) How much forward body motion do you see at impact?
2) How much body rotation do you see at impact?
3) How much forward hand motion do you see at impact?
4) Do you see the elbow rotation at impact?
5) Compare your wrist angle at 1:37 sec to the wrist angle in the video thumbnail, the frame at impact.

The largest contributor to the racket head's forward motion is the axial rotation of the arm, seen by the rotation of the elbow bones, driven mostly by the stretched internal shoulder rotator muscles. The leg thrust helps stretch these ISR muscles, the pec and lat.

Trying to practice this motion forcefully but not using the proper technique could be risky for injury. See Ellenbecker shoulder video in other threads. See reply #9.
http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=437991&highlight=ellenbecker+video+chas+tennis

(I was astonished to learn this stuff last year!)

Cheetah
12-19-2012, 11:17 AM
Some good elements in there.

Use your legs more.
Contact point should be higher.
Your left arm is not being utilized properly but it's not that far off from what it should be.
You should hit up at the ball. Currently you are driving the ball towards the net. Hit the ball while you are going up and hit up on the ball. Currently you are hitting while your body is on the way down.
A little more torque in your hips would be good. Turn your shoulders more than your hips for a coil/uncoil effect.

Try to incorporate this action: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xjXJGsRtm08&t=3m11s

LeeD
12-19-2012, 11:45 AM
Nice fluid swing.
But, now adopt a more continental grip, even going slightly to eBACKhand, slighty.
So your body and your arm is one solid straight line at contact. Slightly leaning into the court.
Possibly right now, your toss is too far into court for your body and hand position.
One solid straight line, from the tip of your racket to your feet, at the moment of contact.

toly
12-19-2012, 02:46 PM
The set of pictures below shows that before upward swing your racquet is always behind your back. This is very big mistake that doesn’t allow you to use properly Internal Shoulder Rotation (ISR). The angular path of the ISR is just about 45°, but it should be 90°. Because of that you lose a lot of RHS.

http://i48.tinypic.com/sm34zo.jpg

There are some pros pictures.

http://i45.tinypic.com/1z1e5vp.jpg

Pay attention on position and orientation of the racquet face.

The racquet face parallel to the right side of the body in the racquet drop is a hallmark of professional serves.

In order to provide the most efficient ISR you have to
1. Apply External Shoulder Rotation as much as possible.
2. Use proper amount of forearm supination to bring the racquet face to the right side of the body

You also use too much wrist ulnar deviation, so at contact point (image #7 of your serve) the angle between racquet’s longitude axis and arm/forearm axis is near to zero, but it should be around 45°. Otherwise ISR contribute practically nothing to RHS. See thread http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=361610 about β angle.

Cheetah
12-19-2012, 03:16 PM
2. Use proper amount of forearm supination to bring the racquet face to the right side of the body

Not correct. You don't 'use' forearm supination here at all. What you do is line up the arm in the trophy position on the right side of the body or to the right of the right shoulder or in line with it whatever and if everything is relaxed when you go up and rotate- the forearm and racquet will turn around and naturally line up properly like in the pictures of the pros you provided instead of behind his back. They are not actively using any supination. If you intentionally try to supinate you will look like a stiff robot.

bkpr
12-19-2012, 04:55 PM
Wow, thanks for all the tips! I've read most of these before and seen many of the linked videos, however when we're talking about me they are ever so more poignant, so thanks for taking the time to help.

From all the responses, I will focus on the right body movements rather than going specifically for MOAR RHS. I'll tackle things one at a time. What do you think of this for starters?

1a. Practise generally jumping/moving upward and hitting the ball on the way up. (Today I tried it a few times in my doubles play and had some minor success — it felt good sometimes — but I didn't get a real chance to focus on the exercise).

1b. Practise more rotation concentrating on the legs/hips/torso chain (together with 1a?)

2. Practise the 45 degree angle which toly suggests, as does the hammer the serve video link.

Or maybe I should switch 1a-1b and 2 to get the right mechanics first before I start lunging more strongly? There are so many things in your replies to think about! I'd like to break it down one step at a time although I acknowledge some of these things might be best worked on together, or rather NOT apart. For instance, hitting/jumping upwards + rotating — can these even be practised as separate steps, building on one another? If you have any thoughts on what steps are the most logical/ best to prevent injury/ best to speed up my learning please let me know.

Man, I'm looking forward to focusing on my serve! It's just a bummer Xmas break is coming and my usual tennis patterns will be interrupted. Maybe I'll find a court while in Florida and convince my wife she needs to practise her returns :)

Thanks again for your help. Much appreciated!

Nellie
12-19-2012, 08:24 PM
I think, with your current motion, your toss is too far forward, so you are way rotated and extended when you hit. Tossing forwarding is a good thing, but you need to get your hips out and over the baseline (archers bow) so that your service motion is ***up*** at and through the ball. Your current serve is more foreward and down at the ball.

Cheetah
12-19-2012, 10:18 PM
imo i think you should get the mechanics down first starting with the legs and getting the kinetic chain going and the right contact point and all that first. get those new movements programmed into muscle memory first and THEN work on rhs and power. going for rhs first will temp you into arming it and doing other things just to swing fast. The RHS will come naturally if all the other parts are right. I would recommend a disciplined practice even tho it will be difficult and the progress won't be as quick as you want but with a little patience it will all come together and you will have solid mechanics where you can bust out the speed whenever you want without having to change anything in your motion. that's my opinion. it's hard though to not just 'work on power' and hitting aces down the T.

You should check out essential tennis free serve course online. you have to register w/ your email address but it's free. good lessons. And FYB progressions are good too.

UCSF2012
12-19-2012, 10:37 PM
Not really sure what this ISR talk is all about. Those pro pictures (esp considering the racket face) look a lot like pictures 5 and 6 to me. It happens naturally as a result of using the continental grip. Nothing to consciously worry about.

NLBwell
12-19-2012, 10:40 PM
Think of sinking your front hip into the court and then following it falling into the court.

pvaudio
12-20-2012, 08:05 AM
Not really sure what this ISR talk is all about. Those pro pictures (esp considering the racket face) look a lot like pictures 5 and 6 to me. It happens naturally as a result of using the continental grip. Nothing to consciously worry about.We rarely agree, but this is why i don't understand the scientific approach some take in serve critique threads. It doesn't help the OP fix their serve by telling them biomechanics terms that the pros don't even realize are going on.

Muppet
12-22-2012, 03:03 PM
Something simple that you can fix for starters is to stop going down/up for your toss and then down/up again for your stroke. I'm afraid this will necessitate changing your timing on everything in the serve. But by going down/up once, you will greatly clean up your motion. And you will feel like you have so much more time and you will be more relaxed. I sink down during my toss and come up after the ball as everything else is going on.

Maybe you should get a pro to help you, especially if you want faster results. Working with a good pro will decrease the amount of thinking you will need to do in unlearning your present motion and learning better technique.

bkpr
12-22-2012, 07:24 PM
Thanks again for the advice. I will consider getting someone to work with again at some point. I just want to give it a crack on my own first.

bkpr
01-10-2013, 08:27 PM
Hey everyone. I'm heading out to the courts tomorrow a little ahead of my doubles session to practise some serves armed with your suggestions for the first time. Looking forward to it!

Here are the things I've boiled down to practise. Obviously won't be trying everything in one session but I'll work on them in this order over the next few weeks:



Stop going down/up for my toss and then down/up again for your stroke I didn't know I was doing this until it was pointed out. I shadowed a bunch of service motions tonight bending the knees AS I toss my imaginary ball and while it felt weird, it felt good* :) While doing this I might try…
Sinking my front hip into the court and then following it falling into the court. If I get comfortable I will add this to no.1
Hit the ball while you are going up and hit up on the ball. Currently you are hitting while your body is on the way down. After studying my motion I can see a few serves where I don't toss the ball as far forward and I need to fire UP out of necessity. It looks like these are the serves which make it over the net more often. So, throw UP THE MOUNTAIN!
Throw the racquet head, and roll the elbow out. As per the serve doctor. I will also try it against the fence first, then add a ball, then step up to the baseline. I can easily see myself falling back into current muscle memory if I don't try break away as much as possible.
Toss the ball more over my head vs out in front. If I think about it honestly, I toss the ball to where I think it should be hit, which is out in front. Your advice has me now believing I must toss the ball higher and with less of an arc (more straight up and down than my current toss). I hope in time this will help with consistency. (Maybe this should be higher up on the list, but I guess I can focus on this as part of no.1)
Keep front foot planted. I have noticed I take a small step into the court which I didn't know was happening. I must've foot faulted a lot in the past because I step right up to the line before I start my motion. This bugs me a great deal.


Anyways, thanks again for your advice. I will report back in time with a follow up video once I feel I'm getting the hang of it, or if it's going nowhere.

*I didn't mean for it to sound that way… :P

bkpr
03-29-2013, 05:30 AM
A quick update…

Shortly after receiving all your advice, we went away for Christmas where I played no tennis. A week or so after we returned I injured my knee and was off the court until recently. I slowly came back to tennis by practising serves and trying many of your suggestions, which made a variable difference depending on the day and how my knee was feeling.

Yesterday I played my first 3.5 league game and it was my first real chance to put some changes into my serve in an attempt to reduce netted double faults. I decided on one point to try and execute every single serve: Look up at the ball and see the racquet make contact (as opposed to bring my head down).

It made a huge difference! Over the course of three full sets (5-7, 7-5, 0-6*), 2.5hrs of tennis, I made three double faults. Three! I netted maybe 6 balls in total. I'd estimate ~75% of my first serves went deep in the box! Fantastic! And I felt as though I was 'arming' the ball much less than I used to. I'll now be incorporating the looking up at the ball technique as a standard of my serve.

I also noticed I've simplified my knee bend, and it now happens in conjunction with my toss: the toss goes up at the same time as my knees bend, as per Muppet's suggestion:
Something simple that you can fix for starters is to stop going down/up for your toss and then down/up again for your stroke. I'm afraid this will necessitate changing your timing on everything in the serve. But by going down/up once, you will greatly clean up your motion. And you will feel like you have so much more time and you will be more relaxed.

So thanks everyone :) I'll keep working on it an post a follow-up video in the near-ish future.

* This was closer than it seemed, three of these six games went to deuce, or multiple deuce. I simply got tired after the first two sets and was making lazy mistakes. The first two sets also had many deuce games, one with nine of them!

Muppet
03-29-2013, 06:45 PM
I'm glad you found my suggestion helpful. Good luck with your knee. I'm waiting for my wrist to come back from a volley strain. I hate the waiting! I'll give it two more weeks.

bkpr
03-29-2013, 09:13 PM
Waiting is the worst! Especially during the Aussie Open when all I want to do is get out on a court.

Chas Tennis
03-30-2013, 08:24 AM
....................................Look up at the ball and see the racquet make contact (as opposed to bring my head down).
..........................................

Until a few months ago I believed that the pros kept their eye on the ball through contact. When serves are by taken with high speed video and are taken from the side, however, their heads are about straight ahead can not see the impact of ball impact. I believe that the service motion forces the head to look downward in the last few hundredths of a second.

I have also experienced improvements is striking the ball by looking at the ball through impact. However, I don't believe that the highest level servers use that technique.

https://vimeo.com/53440915

http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=442804

bkpr
03-30-2013, 01:09 PM
Probably true. I'm not too fussed as to what actually happening. To be honest I can't recall watching the ball being hit, but 'trying' to watch it obviously does something to my technique/biomechanics to allow for a higher strike zone to get it over the net. Maybe I'm now simply hitting up instead of forward which makes all the difference?

Whatever it is, I'll keep doing it :)

Once I record myself again I may be able to pinpoint it.

Chas Tennis
03-30-2013, 03:10 PM
When a high speed video camera is used to view the racket face at impact considerable angular changes are seen relative to the vertical face orientation.

At 240 fps the time between frames is 4.2 milliseconds. A shutter speed much faster than this can used, such as 1/10,000 sec. Since the ball is in contact with the strings for maybe 3-5 milliseconds duration this explains why impact is almost always observed on one frame of the video at 240 fps. For the 3 frames before, during and after impact I see the following - not sure if this first observation applies just to flat or all serves.

1) Frame before impact racket is maybe, estimating, 5 d. approaching vertical.

2) Frame around impact mostly close to vertical within a few degrees.

3) Frame after impact about 5 d. past vertical.

You can probably see these angles doing stop action single frame on the Ranoic video. I would have to measure videos to get a more accurate estimate than the 5 d. estimate. (To do single frame on Vimeo click the play-pause button as fast as possible.)

The face of the racket and its angle to vertical is probably very important for getting the serve in.

I believe that this timing is most important for getting the ball to drop in. The angular rate is roughly 1 d. per millisecond.

NLBwell
03-30-2013, 11:29 PM
The court surface seems quite level. I can't identify what type of tree those leaves are from, though.

LeeD
03-31-2013, 01:24 PM
You don't get the pop because you're not allowing your rackethead to come thru at the moment of impact. After you hit the ball, the racket is still trying to accelerate..it's can't of course, because the impact slowed the head somewhat.
Your swing is too late, going forwards and down.
You need to lower your hitting hand, adopt a high elbow, high hand finish AFTER you hit the ball, sothe racket is pointing at the ground, while your elbow and hand is still above you head.
Start earlier, swing thru earlier, drive up and forwards, not just forwards.....although Tanner does seem to drive forwards, his outstretched toes are off the ground.