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View Full Version : how to gauge serve potential?


luvforty
01-03-2013, 03:53 PM
don't we recs all wish to have a bomb of serve, but on the other hand we all know there is a limit and we'll never serve 120.... but where is the limit?

age, gender, body type, flexibility, too many variables...

but is there a way to estimate, (with perfect technique) where the limit is?

something like, if I can throw a baseball 50 yards, I should be able to serve 95mph.

user92626
01-03-2013, 04:34 PM
I think the first and foremost limitation is technique. This is easy to verify since most of us have seen the aged, the out of shaped and women serving bombs.

So forget all those "variables". Focus on technique. However, this area alone is quite murky and tricky enough in that you can't clearly see the line between technique and your potential. I mean, for example, I think I have a relatively sound technique but the serve is still slow. I dunno it's my technique or my strength.

dlesser13
01-03-2013, 04:58 PM
A live arm will take you a long way, all technique aside. I feel bad for people who just can't seem to generate any RHS. You can have the best technique/load in the world, but it doesn't mean a whole lot if you can't generate some RHS to boot.

luvforty
01-03-2013, 05:08 PM
yeah, I am afraid that I am one of those dead arm people......

it's like a patient who really wants to know from his doctor, how bad it is lol

CoachingMastery
01-03-2013, 05:47 PM
A live arm will take you a long way, all technique aside. I feel bad for people who just can't seem to generate any RHS. You can have the best technique/load in the world, but it doesn't mean a whole lot if you can't generate some RHS to boot.

Yes, but you can have great RHS but if you have poor technique, you won't be able to take advantage of that great RHS because you won't get too many serves in.

The best bet for anyone to reach their serve potential is to learn the right grip, swing path, body position, footwork positions, etc., learn these so they are familiar and mastered...then if they have--or can develop--RHS, they will have a great serve.

the hack
01-03-2013, 06:33 PM
Welby van Horn, one of the best coaches of all time said, ''Developing ball control, before adding power, should be your formost goal when learning the game." I think this applies to the serve as well as all other tennis shots. When you can put your serve where you want it consistantly then it is time to work on power.My humble opinion anyway.

slowfox
01-03-2013, 06:59 PM
Welby van Horn, one of the best coaches of all time said, ''Developing ball control, before adding power, should be your formost goal when learning the game." I think this applies to the serve as well as all other tennis shots. When you can put your serve where you want it consistantly then it is time to work on power.My humble opinion anyway.

I've been thinking the same thing. Take a little pace and power off (all strokes), and just work on placement. The power can come later. I don't want to be those guys that swing hard on everything but hardly ever get the ball into the court.

ShoeShiner
01-03-2013, 08:14 PM
You should define more specific, gauge measuring power only.
If not, we should also include accuracy, reliability, consistency, to consider.
I think many of us can serve more than 100mph. But how is its placement, how many shots we can do with high percentages.

VeeSe
01-04-2013, 03:47 PM
I think that pretty much anybody (men and women) can serve 80mph+ with perfect technique, and the vast majority of men can probably achieve 100mph+ with perfect technique, barring major surgeries that yield physical limitations. Technique is almost everything on serve.

LeeD
01-07-2013, 03:49 PM
Throwing a baseball 50 yards will get you a 30 mph first serve, or maybe 35 mph.
For a 95 mph serve, try 200 feet, throwing a baseball.
A football, maybe 45 yards.
When I was in junior high, 7th grade, at less than 65 lbs and second shortest in a class of 300, I threw a softball 180 feet for that presidencial fitness test thing they did in 1961.

user92626
01-07-2013, 04:23 PM
Does anyone here favor the measuring method of serve whereby a good serve hits the back fence (21 foot from baseline) without any bounce? That always seems like a good indicator for me whether the ball hits high on the fence or not.

If you could serve like that with dead balls from a hopper, how much better, mph, would it be with new balls? Guesstimate?

LeeD
01-07-2013, 04:44 PM
Dead balls, maybe 90, live new balls, warm weather, high altitudes, maybe 110.
Height of bounce only matters from height of strikepoint. Taller players can bounce it higher.
A flat first serve can be hit by guys under 5'10" quite consistently if they can control their bodies during the serve, as a 5'8" Laver can attest.

psv255
01-07-2013, 04:48 PM
If you could serve like that with dead balls from a hopper, how much better, mph, would it be with new balls? Guesstimate?

From personal experience, I'd think it makes a max. difference of 10-12 mph.

OP: While a farther throw usually does correlate to higher serve speeds, the two motions are different enough to perform very differently on each.

To gauge serve potential, I'd start trying to get as close to a purely flat serve as possible, and taking off 10-15 mph for a slice serve and 30 mph for a generic 50/50 pace/spin kicker.

LeeD
01-07-2013, 04:55 PM
That bounce height...
Totally depends on temps and strikepoint height.
If you bounce a ball chest high in Florida in 90 degrees, it won't reach hip heights in California where I live, in 52 degree airs and fog rolling in.
And if you can bounce that first flat serve waist high in 52 degree airs with cold balls, you will easily get that serve to bounce upper chest high if you raised your strikepoint and hit the same in 90 degree weather.
Dunlops bounce lowest, Penns second, Wilsons are astronauts.

sureshs
01-07-2013, 04:56 PM
The LeeD is back!

LeeD
01-07-2013, 05:05 PM
Eh, just heading for the airport tomorrow morning, for a layover of 7 hours in Atlanta airport, then home.
Funny thing about that baseball throw. Almost anyone can throw over 100', including girls who don't throw anything except fits and tantrums.
Most guys throw well over 175', even if they don't play ball for high school.
But very few can get airtime up to around 330', including pro players and of course, LeeD. I never came close.
RobertoClemente is known for having the longest in the air throws in baseball, from around 370 to pitcher's mound in the air. But that is NOT his farthest throws, because his farthest throws would be much higher up in angle, and no coach would allow the ball to spend that much down time floating thru airspace, when a lower throw goes faster and can be to a cutoff man, who can add even more speed to the overall travel.
Outfielder's are taught to throw only about 25 degree upwards for distance, while long distance thrower often heave it up around 45 degrees for greater hangtime, but much slower travel speeds.

sureshs
01-07-2013, 05:10 PM
Look for general athletic build - not fat kids. And for coordinated body movement. The way a guy looks and walks is a good indication of his athletic caliber.

user92626
01-07-2013, 07:10 PM
Dead balls, maybe 90, live new balls, warm weather, high altitudes, maybe 110.
Height of bounce only matters from height of strikepoint. Taller players can bounce it higher.
A flat first serve can be hit by guys under 5'10" quite consistently if they can control their bodies during the serve, as a 5'8" Laver can attest.

Hey, thanks, LeeD

I didn't know that. That's interesting and makes sense. If you're 5,7 or 5,8 I can't imagine how you can strike the ball to bounce up and hit the fence before it drops.

Today I took out a hopper and tried to discover the serve stroke. I'm starting to see where I can get more power in this stroke. Flat serve, no matter how hard I struck it, wouldn't bounce up and perceivably out of opponent's hitting zone though. But hopefully it got enough pace to zip them by. Interestingly, one time in the midst of trying for more topspin, I hit a really crazy topspin that bounced clearly above the opponent's head if he was standing on the baseline, but sadly I wasn't conscious of the grip and the swingpath I was using. I couldn't replicate it afterward :(

Who's got better serve, Djokovic or Federer?

arche3
01-07-2013, 07:18 PM
Hey, thanks, LeeD

I didn't know that. That's interesting and makes sense. If you're 5,7 or 5,8 I can't imagine how you can strike the ball to bounce up and hit the fence before it drops.

Today I took out a hopper and tried to discover the serve stroke. I'm starting to see where I can get more power in this stroke. Flat serve, no matter how hard I struck it, wouldn't bounce up and perceivably out of opponent's hitting zone though. But hopefully it got enough pace to zip them by. Interestingly, one time in the midst of trying for more topspin, I hit a really crazy topspin that bounced clearly above the opponent's head if he was standing on the baseline, but sadly I wasn't conscious of the grip and the swingpath I was using. I couldn't replicate it afterward :(

Who's got better serve, Djokovic or Federer?

I'm 5'8" and a half. I can hit a serve into back fence 2 ft high pretty easily. And at times even up to 3 ft up. Down the middle T of course.

UCSF2012
01-07-2013, 08:02 PM
age, gender, body type, flexibility, too many variables...

.

If you have a pe-nis, then you should be able to serve 120+mph

sunof tennis
01-08-2013, 09:24 AM
Hey, thanks, LeeD

I didn't know that. That's interesting and makes sense. If you're 5,7 or 5,8 I can't imagine how you can strike the ball to bounce up and hit the fence before it drops.

Today I took out a hopper and tried to discover the serve stroke. I'm starting to see where I can get more power in this stroke. Flat serve, no matter how hard I struck it, wouldn't bounce up and perceivably out of opponent's hitting zone though. But hopefully it got enough pace to zip them by. Interestingly, one time in the midst of trying for more topspin, I hit a really crazy topspin that bounced clearly above the opponent's head if he was standing on the baseline, but sadly I wasn't conscious of the grip and the swingpath I was using. I couldn't replicate it afterward :(

Who's got better serve, Djokovic or Federer?

at 5'8"(on a good day), I can hit the fence on one bounce with a flat serve.
Federer has the better serve. More variety and placement.

Ash_Smith
01-08-2013, 10:17 AM
Interesting (maybe) point...we did some research on height of contact and serve speed for our programme (wheelies) and with a rough contact point of 2m high, the maximum speed, with no spin, to keep the ball in was 84mph. The best servers in our sport hit 100-110, so they have some serious spin on their "flat" serves.

My point is that most rec players think "flat" or first serve means no spin, which is entirely not true!

cheers

user92626
01-08-2013, 10:22 AM
I'm 5'8" and a half. I can hit a serve into back fence 2 ft high pretty easily. And at times even up to 3 ft up. Down the middle T of course.

Does the ball hit the fence on its way up or on its way down? If it's on its way down the power is already "dying". Power / pace is important when you can't get kick.

arche3
01-08-2013, 11:19 AM
Does the ball hit the fence on its way up or on its way down? If it's on its way down the power is already "dying". Power / pace is important when you can't get kick.

It depends what kind of serve. If its as flat as possible given my height its on the way up. if its a spinnier serve it jumps up more and hits fence on way down. But is slower.

LeeD
01-08-2013, 12:46 PM
I dunno...
I've faced some pretty hard servers, guys under 30 and 6'6" tall former Div1 players. Also, two years ago, a Div1 singles player.
None come close to hitting a rising ball that lands IN and also is going upwards at the backboard.
Neither have any of mine.
It's going up for sure at the baseline, but the backboard is another 21' back.
Talking sub 60 degree weather and cement courts.
MOP's big serves, some noted as the biggest of TW posters, was going downwards at the backboard.
Now ATP pros can be another story.

arche3
01-08-2013, 01:07 PM
I dunno...
I've faced some pretty hard servers, guys under 30 and 6'6" tall former Div1 players. Also, two years ago, a Div1 singles player.
None come close to hitting a rising ball that lands IN and also is going upwards at the backboard.
Neither have any of mine.
It's going up for sure at the baseline, but the backboard is another 21' back.
Talking sub 60 degree weather and cement courts.
MOP's big serves, some noted as the biggest of TW posters, was going downwards at the backboard.
Now ATP pros can be another story.

Maybe not as its hard to tell if its still rising or falling. I know it looks like its still cooking and moving up if its hard and flat and it hits 2 feet up back fence. thats around knee high.

Most likely falling. Even if I think its still rising or not going down yet ehen it hits fence.

user92626
01-08-2013, 02:33 PM
In all 5 years of playing, I have seen only 1 guy practicing serves in the adjacent court whose serves consistently hit the back fence on the rise, at 4ft, like you see with ATP pros.

An amazing thing was he was no taller than 5,8 or even chubby looking as Badaghtis.

TheCheese
01-08-2013, 03:02 PM
Hey, thanks, LeeD

I didn't know that. That's interesting and makes sense. If you're 5,7 or 5,8 I can't imagine how you can strike the ball to bounce up and hit the fence before it drops.
All it takes is ball speed.

luvforty
01-08-2013, 04:53 PM
this thread has turned into a dikk size contest... careful... you may get caught with pants down.

sureshs
01-08-2013, 05:06 PM
It is well known that all TT males serve at a minimum of 120 mph and their second serves hit the fence 6 feet high.

That is why it is a mystery why most of them are 4.5 and below.

WildVolley
01-08-2013, 06:09 PM
From just casual observation, I think most serves are falling as they hit the back fence on recreational courts (mostly have 19-22' from the back line to the fence). It would be an interesting empirical question to see how hard the ball would need to be hit to have it rising on just leveling out when it hits the back fence (I realize court surface will play a role in this).

Here's a video of Verdasco practicing his serve (mostly 2nd) and most of the balls seem to be dropping when they hit the fence. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FmHeDYQ89zY

Here's a video of Sam Groth (the current world record holder for serve speed - if we believe the radar). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iC6BvMSpeOM

Groth's serves seem to be rising, but he's really hitting the ball. So, I'm going to have to agree with Lee that it should be rare for a ball to be rising when it hits the fence off of one bounce.

As to the original question, throwing ability might be the best general gauge of serving ability.

Fuji
01-08-2013, 06:50 PM
From just casual observation, I think most serves are falling as they hit the back fence on recreational courts (mostly have 19-22' from the back line to the fence). It would be an interesting empirical question to see how hard the ball would need to be hit to have it rising on just leveling out when it hits the back fence (I realize court surface will play a role in this).

Here's a video of Verdasco practicing his serve (mostly 2nd) and most of the balls seem to be dropping when they hit the fence. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FmHeDYQ89zY

Here's a video of Sam Groth (the current world record holder for serve speed - if we believe the radar). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iC6BvMSpeOM

Groth's serves seem to be rising, but he's really hitting the ball. So, I'm going to have to agree with Lee that it should be rare for a ball to be rising when it hits the fence off of one bounce.

As to the original question, throwing ability might be the best general gauge of serving ability.

That Groth serving is freaking amazing. Thanks a ton for the video!

As for the bounce thing. I honestly think it has little merit. I hit the back wall on 90% of my serves off the first bounce. If I'm wailing on a first serve it hits the wall about 3 feet up. The highest I've had it read at was 110MPH. But who really serves like that in a match? Rarely am I going for just huge bombs haha! My second serves kick to around head height and drop quite a bit before hitting the wall. Needless to say I still have an effective serve for my level. (I'm only 6'0 tall by the way, so I'm not a giant by any means haha!)

That being said, I've faced truly scary first serves from Div 1 guys and Futures players. It's amazing to face a 125MPH+ serve, and I'm usually lucky to get a half decent chop at it. If not I usually see a lightning fast green blur go by me! :lol:

-Fuji

WildVolley
01-08-2013, 08:08 PM
That Groth serving is freaking amazing. Thanks a ton for the video!
...

That being said, I've faced truly scary first serves from Div 1 guys and Futures players. It's amazing to face a 125MPH+ serve, and I'm usually lucky to get a half decent chop at it. If not I usually see a lightning fast green blur go by me! :lol:

-Fuji

It's fun to watch Groth. That guy destroys the ball with his brutal looking serve. His record serve was measured at 263kph (163.4mph).:shock:

Even more than Roddick, he's a big guy, 6'4" and weighing more than 200lbs, with unorthodox looking technique. It is interesting to note he gets extreme hip rotation into the serve (in my estimation - more than Roddick), launches his weight far into the court, and has a quick motion (no standing around in trophy pose).

We can say that being taller helps with hitting the serve hard and especially finding angles. Having good jumping ability also makes a difference. But in my personal observation on some of the rec courts of Southern California, the biggest issue is poor form.

Fuji
01-08-2013, 08:14 PM
It's fun to watch Groth. That guy destroys the ball with his brutal looking serve. His record serve was measured at 263kph (163.4mph).:shock:

Even more than Roddick, he's a big guy, 6'4" and weighing more than 200lbs, with unorthodox looking technique. It is interesting to note he gets extreme hip rotation into the serve (in my estimation - more than Roddick), launches his weight far into the court, and has a quick motion (no standing around in trophy pose).

We can say that being taller helps with hitting the serve hard and especially finding angles. Having good jumping ability also makes a difference. But in my personal observation on some of the rec courts of Southern California, the biggest issue is poor form.

So crazy! I agree, he gets insane rotation though. Just stupid amounts of free power.

The height thing is a factor, but not so much at the rec level IMO. Technique definitely plays a huge role in how much power you get.

-Fuji

Bubbagumptennis
01-09-2013, 05:33 AM
I'm 5'10 and I can serve 3 feet into the fence pretty consistently. At the 2011 Winston salem open my serve was clocked at 87 and I believe I was 5'7 then. I can serve much faster now. I guess height is a big factor

goober
01-09-2013, 06:06 AM
I think the first and foremost limitation is technique. This is easy to verify since most of us have seen the aged, the out of shaped and women serving bombs.

.

Well I haven't seen an out of shape, middle age woman bombing serves:)

Power Player
01-09-2013, 07:52 AM
at 5'8"(on a good day), I can hit the fence on one bounce with a flat serve.
Federer has the better serve. More variety and placement.

When I crack one, I can get 4-5 feet up on the first bounce and Im your height, so im about the same here.

My best ones will stick there, which is why I even notice this stuff in the 1st place.

When I was a junior my technique was all over the map, but I served even bigger.

Now that I am serving more and more relaxed, and finally getting a higher toss and rhythm, I am seeing easier power than before. a lot of it boils down to getting off the ground and on top of the ball. Easier for tall guys who don't have to jump.

LeeD
01-09-2013, 09:25 AM
Yeah, 4-5' up the backboard is a good fast serve, at least 110 in flats, easily 90 with topspin, just a solid 4.5 level serve.
But temperatures do play a factor. In 80 degree heat, that serve is very good.
But in 55 degree cool, that kind of serve is superlative.
I seldom get that 5' bounce anymore on flats, but then again, I seldom play in temps over 70.
Today is 46 and I'm headed out to play.
Back when I was playing at GoldenGatePark, in 65 degree weather, my first flats usually bounced over the back railing at courts 1-4. That rail is 5' high, but then again, I was 30 years younger.

arche3
01-09-2013, 09:56 AM
Yeah, 4-5' up the backboard is a good fast serve, at least 110 in flats, easily 90 with topspin, just a solid 4.5 level serve.
But temperatures do play a factor. In 80 degree heat, that serve is very good.
But in 55 degree cool, that kind of serve is superlative.
I seldom get that 5' bounce anymore on flats, but then again, I seldom play in temps over 70.
Today is 46 and I'm headed out to play.
Back when I was playing at GoldenGatePark, in 65 degree weather, my first flats usually bounced over the back railing at courts 1-4. That rail is 5' high, but then again, I was 30 years younger.

All i know is if I bomb one down the t the other guy can only look at it and it hits 3 ft up.

LeeD
01-09-2013, 01:58 PM
Well sure, an ace hit that bounces 3' high at the backboard behind the aced player will go anywhere from 90 mph all the way up to 135 or so, as bounce height is affected by strikepoint height, distance inside the baseline, kind of tennis balls, condition of, air temps, ball temps, court surface, humidity, and probably a host of other factors.
A 3' bounce height might show you are only around my height, around 5'11", and have a strikepoint height of around 9'6".

LeeD
01-09-2013, 02:03 PM
Oh just played today, air temps around 51, no wind, painted cement courts.
Hadn't touched a racket for 3 weeks due to PuertoRico vacation.
Hit 40 serves with 8 month old DunlopHDHardcourts, bouncing them around mid thigh on the good ones, barely ankle high on bad ones, at the backboard.
Guy opened a new can of ProPenns. EVERY single first flat serve bounced around bellybutton heights, some higher when pronation was nailed, and even a few safe second serves would have hit the backboard 21' behind the baseline at that height. Most second serves were going around shoulder heights to a 6' tall opponent. Couldn't hit a twist to save my life.
Arche3 can verify that today was around 50 degrees.