PDA

View Full Version : Pro-Level Power-- where does it come from?


Amone
08-26-2006, 06:50 PM
I began to wonder something a week or two ago, watching Querrey against Nadal: Where does Querrey get his serve's power? He doesn't seem to even swing his racquet especially fast, but somehow he was serving up bombs consistently. It can't be that he's just using an 18 oz racquet or something.

The question was repeated watching Henin v. Davenport today, that Davenport was really unloading on the ball and you could tell-- but it wasn't going that fast when all was said and done. Henin-Hardenne, though, would just coolly coil, uncoil, and the ball would fly across the court.

How is it that the pros can hit the ball with such a small amount of effort-- for some of them, at least-- and have the speed be so high? The physics of it can't be different from amateurs, and I know Henin's not just plain built, so what gives?

35ft6
08-26-2006, 07:18 PM
I know what you're saying but they're probably swinging harder than you think, something you have to see in person to realize, but...

They can hit harder because their technique is way way way way better than the average person's. They use their whole body, their stroke is the culmination of every part of their body cooperating perfectly in order to generate a great tennis stroke, otherwise known as the kinetic chain.

The "physics" is totally different. A 230 pound man just arming the ball isn't going to get as much power as a 135 pound woman who uses her whole body. To put it another way, Tiger Woods can drive a golf ball farther than a 300 pound power lifter, and Ken Griffey is going to hit a baseball farther than Ronnie Coleman. It's physics, not magic. Try this, something we I've been told to do in martial arts classes: without moving your feet, push a friend with one arm. Now, push him again, using the same amount of arm action, but this time in conjunction with stepping into him. Huge difference.

travlerajm
08-26-2006, 07:18 PM
It's high swingweight. Even Henin-Hardenne has a swingweight of about 350. Her racquet is about 11.0 oz. strung with a balance point of 14.5" - you won't find any 11.0 oz. stock racquets that are that HH and powerful.

As I have pointed out in other threads, the average top-100 ATP pro has a racquet that is about 1/2" more HH than than a typical stock players racquet that has the same static weight. Furthermore, the best pros have a balance point that is a whole inch more HH than a typical stock players racquet of the same weight. One whole inch! That's a lot of lead in the hoop. The average top-100 ATP pro plays with a swingweight in the 350s, but most of the best top players are in the 360s or beyond.

Bagumbawalla
08-26-2006, 07:18 PM
Co-ordination, fitness, timing, balance and movement, practice, practice, practice.

magilligan
08-26-2006, 07:19 PM
your observation about henin-hardenne pretty much summed it up. Pros, besides being athletically gifted, use just about every power source available in their bodies to generate racquet speed. (I'm not trying to be biased here) but the men are much better than doing this than the women, not neccesarily with the major muscle groups, but actually with their wrists. They have them soooo loose as tehy start their forward swings that they can just whip them through contact, generating INSANE amounts of racquethead speed, which translates to spin and power. henin-hardenne actually uses the wrist motion that most of the top men, including safin, federer, roddick, (and pretty much everyone) use. someone had posted a link to youtube of an ultra slowmo capture of federer's strokes, and you can really see what I'm talking about there. As he starts swinging forward, you'll notice that the tip of his racquet is pointing behind him(back fence) and a little bit after contact, you'll see that the tip of his racquet is pointing forwards. It's this mostion that enables him to generate the spin and pace that has made his fh arguably the best in the world.

andyroddick's mojo
08-26-2006, 08:58 PM
they basically always hit it in the sweetspot and that maximizes their power, so they don't even have to swing AS hard. also, they're a lot stronger then you think, and so that always helps.

MTChong
08-26-2006, 09:47 PM
What everyone said here is wrong... and I'm not going to lie; pros cheat.

ZPTennis
08-26-2006, 10:48 PM
It mainly comes from technique and natural strength. There are a lot of players who can hit as hard as the pros without even being a pro themselves. There are even 4.5 players that can hit as hard on a given shot. They just don't have the aim or consistency that the pros have.

35ft6
08-27-2006, 03:22 AM
^ Yeah, a 4.5 who at 100% can hit as hard as a pro's 85% shot.

Punisha
08-27-2006, 03:39 AM
i hit as hard as a pro and im NTRP 0.7

nickybol
08-27-2006, 03:54 AM
It`s doping.

naturalgut
08-27-2006, 04:33 AM
Lead Tape, just ask Pancho Gonzalez

slice bh compliment
08-27-2006, 04:46 AM
:o 18 ounce johnson. Ask anyone. Including Pancho's former wives.

slice bh compliment
08-27-2006, 04:46 AM
Co-ordination, fitness, timing, balance and movement, practice, practice, practice.

Yeah, absolutely.....but you forgot one thing: an 18 ounce johnson.

[kidding around, in bad taste, I know] Anyway, I think 35ft6 said it best in his post above.

Amone
08-27-2006, 05:45 AM
The "physics" is totally different. A 230 pound man just arming the ball isn't going to get as much power as a 135 pound woman who uses her whole body. To put it another way, Tiger Woods can drive a golf ball farther than a 300 pound power lifter, and Ken Griffey is going to hit a baseball farther than Ronnie Coleman. It's physics, not magic. Try this, something we I've been told to do in martial arts classes: without moving your feet, push a friend with one arm. Now, push him again, using the same amount of arm action, but this time in conjunction with stepping into him. Huge difference.

No, no. You misunderstood me. Someone who has a technically perfect stroke should, by right, have the same results (ball speed, spin, etc) as anyone else-- even if one of them is a pro, and one of them is a 5.0 with little (by comparison) other than that perfect form. Obviously, being in or not's a factor of aim, but the pace should be identical. However, I've seen some folks with great form, and I've never seen Henin's backhand from anyone I live near.

ceejay
08-27-2006, 06:04 AM
No, no. You misunderstood me. Someone who has a technically perfect stroke should, by right, have the same results (ball speed, spin, etc) as anyone else-- even if one of them is a pro, and one of them is a 5.0 with little (by comparison) other than that perfect form. Obviously, being in or not's a factor of aim, but the pace should be identical. However, I've seen some folks with great form, and I've never seen Henin's backhand from anyone I live near.

But do you live near anyone who has as good a technique as Henin?

Obviously strength has something to do with it. If Henin uses her whole body to hit a shot she is never going to be able to put more into the ball than, say, Roddick if they both use exactly the same technique. Roddick has more power in his body. The technique determines how effectively you channel that power into the ball.

pushing_wins
08-27-2006, 08:40 AM
cause the pro is hitting with another pro

when u hit with a pro, u hit the ball harder automatically

and vice versa with a pusher

ZPTennis
08-27-2006, 08:42 AM
^ Yeah, a 4.5 who at 100% can hit as hard as a pro's 85% shot.

try telling me a big hitting 4.5 player doesn't hit as hard as Fabrice Santoro. :rolleyes:

Sure, he wouldn't have a chance against him. But I guarantee you he can hit as hard as him.

Kevo
08-27-2006, 11:17 AM
Yeah, I am by no means a pro, but I bet I could hit as hard as any of them. Sometimes when hitting with my friend who is also on my 4.0 team, and is the only other person that hits as hard as me, we will hit all out just for kicks. The ball keeps going faster and faster until it is finally impossible for one of us to hit it back. I wouldn't be surprised if we hit upwards of 100mph when we do this. Of course pros don't hit that hard all the time. The trick is to up the speed during the rally so that you're the player who finally gets the right ball for a massive put away. Even watching Federer, you'll see that he doesn't try to rip winners all the time. He typically will get a few strokes into a point before going for something really big.

Trinity TC
08-27-2006, 11:59 AM
No, no. You misunderstood me. Someone who has a technically perfect stroke should, by right, have the same results (ball speed, spin, etc) as anyone else-- even if one of them is a pro, and one of them is a 5.0 with little (by comparison) other than that perfect form. Obviously, being in or not's a factor of aim, but the pace should be identical. However, I've seen some folks with great form, and I've never seen Henin's backhand from anyone I live near.
It goes beyond technique. Henin and Gasquet's backhands are so good because they are athletic geniuses. Kinda like an average person learning a Hendrix guitar solo...you may be copying it note for note but chances are you aren't going to sound as good.:cool:

fx101
08-27-2006, 03:39 PM
It comes from hitting the sweetspot perfectly every shot they can, and using their legs, back, arms, torso, and shoulders to explode into the ball.

And yes, some players 5.0+ can hit at pro level speeds, but very inconsistently, and only as "winners". Keeping up a pace that fast for an extended period of time without messing up is very difficult.

papa
08-27-2006, 04:21 PM
Timing is the major factor.

Mikael
08-27-2006, 04:34 PM
Timing, technique, lead tape are all good answers!! Plus, you always hit harder/better when hitting with a guy who also hits hard; you automatically use some of the guy's pace when hitting it back, like it or not. You'd probably be far less impressed by a pro's shots if he were hitting with a beginner on a public court. It works the other way too: if you've ever hit with a really good player you notice that he brings your level up a notch and makes your game look better.

erik-the-red
08-27-2006, 05:07 PM
try telling me a big hitting 4.5 player doesn't hit as hard as Fabrice Santoro. :rolleyes:

Sure, he wouldn't have a chance against him. But I guarantee you he can hit as hard as him.

He's small and plays a touch / feel / annoy the hell out of you game, but there is no doubt in my mind that if he hit flat, that big-hitting 4.5 player would be overpowered.

erik-the-red
08-27-2006, 05:08 PM
Timing is the major factor.

I believe this is indeed the major factor.

ZPTennis
08-27-2006, 05:20 PM
He's small and plays a touch / feel / annoy the hell out of you game, but there is no doubt in my mind that if he hit flat, that big-hitting 4.5 player would be overpowered.


Of course he would be. Because his placement would be perfect and would overwhelm the 4.5 player. But it still doesn't mean the big hitting 4.5 player can't hit the ball as hard as Santoro.

The only point I was trying to make is that some people can hit as hard(meaning the speed of the ball is the same). It doesn't mean it is hit as near as well. You can hit a forehand very hard but if it lands on the service line and goes right to the guy its easy to handle. Where as Santoro could hit the ball with the same speed but it lands near the baseline and in the corner. And yes, that would in effect overpower the 4.5er easily.

tennisboy87
08-27-2006, 06:09 PM
Technique and timing.

mj01
08-27-2006, 08:51 PM
Timing, mostly. And there is a deceptive element to watching it on TV.

You get the same effect with Major League baseball pitchers. You watch them on TV, and many of them seem to be throwing 95+ mph with an incredibly easy motion that seemingly shouldn't be able to generate that type of velocity. But there's a visual deception going on. Those guys have such great mechanics that everything looks smooth, and you miss the incredible effort that's going into doing it. When they do real speed closeups (of a MLB pitcher, or a tennis pro serving), you get a much better idea of the tremendous racquet/arm velocity that's being generated.

35ft6
08-28-2006, 06:17 AM
try telling me a big hitting 4.5 player doesn't hit as hard as Fabrice Santoro. :rolleyes: All I know is I've never seen a 4.5 hit as hard as Fabrice Santoro. Is there one out there that can occasionally hit a ball FASTER than Santoro's typical rally shot? Probably. But guarantee Santoro's shot is wayyyyyyyyy heavier. Basically, take this "big hitting 4.5 player" of yours and take Santoro, and feed them both balls and tell them to hit as hard as they can, and Santoro will hit harder and won't miss. Huge difference. I'm guessing by your comments that you're a 3.5 or lower player.

35ft6
08-28-2006, 06:23 AM
And yes, some players 5.0+ can hit at pro level speeds, but very inconsistently, and only as "winners". Keeping up a pace that fast for an extended period of time without messing up is very difficult. Like you said, a 5.0 can occasionally hit with top 100 level pace, but they're hardest shot is like a big pro hitter's rally shot or slightly more. When the big hitting pros unload, there aren't many even 6.0 players out there that can match their biggest shot.

Pro power is deceptive too. Even when you see it in person you probably don't realize how HARD they're hitting. You see a 5.0 hitting "hard" you can see the effort in the way their shot suddenly looks different. With a pro, their 100% shot and 75% shot is the same motion, just slightly different, so there's very little giving away that they're hitting hard. I think that's why a lot of guys assume Serena and Venus and Sharapova must hit as hard as some male pros, because the yells and violent swings makes you think that. A male pro smoothly generates more power.

Plus, male pros can cover a lot of ground, anticipate well, so that TOO makes the power seem deceptively less, because another way we tend to judge power is by how easily a person can get their racket on the ball and return the shot.

FH2FH
08-28-2006, 06:39 AM
The reason it looks so easy is b/c their mechanics are extremely efficient. Remember they have been trained to do this since they were children and the instructions/equipment has evolved over time. Fitness, strength, and flexibility have also become very important. Pancho Gonzalez, a smoker, wouldn't have the same success today b/c the standards are much higher. Raw talent was more important in the past, where today it is more manufactured.

ZPTennis
08-28-2006, 08:39 AM
All I know is I've never seen a 4.5 hit as hard as Fabrice Santoro. Is there one out there that can occasionally hit a ball FASTER than Santoro's typical rally shot? Probably. But guarantee Santoro's shot is wayyyyyyyyy heavier. Basically, take this "big hitting 4.5 player" of yours and take Santoro, and feed them both balls and tell them to hit as hard as they can, and Santoro will hit harder and won't miss. Huge difference. I'm guessing by your comments that you're a 3.5 or lower player.


lol :D Whatever you say man. And for the last time, yes Santoro would decimate him even playing this style. Im talking pure speed here. not placement or consistency.

And no, im not a 3.5. I'm probably a borderline 5.0.
In the league I was in, Im getting moved up to the 6.0- division because of how well I did in the season which is the 2nd highest in Tampa bay who has 11 divisions of active players.
Heres the link so you know im not making up stuff. If it appears small click the box button on bottom right to magnify.
http://i58.photobucket.com/albums/g247/Thor1942/Standings.jpg

Kevo
08-28-2006, 09:05 AM
I think some of you guys have an inflated perception of how hard pros hit. I have seen Roddick and Dent play and I was surprised at how little they actually hit their heavier ground strokes. I went to a challenger here in Dallas and the guys there were simply hitting rally balls for the most part. Admittedly they are not near top 10, but some of them were top 300. I think there is an important part of the game that entails knowing when to hit hard and when to hit spots. The other thing I've noticed watching on tv is how often the ball lands within a couple of feet of the service line. I don't think there are a whole lot of pros that consistently hit deep near the baseline. I think they try to work into a point and gain control over several strokes rather than trying to hit everything deep and really hard.

ZPTennis
08-28-2006, 01:37 PM
Agreed. I've noticed this is a common mistake from some lesser developed players. They seem to feel that if they can't hit the ball as hard as the pro's, then the only people who can are the pro's themselves.

35ft6
08-28-2006, 01:47 PM
lol :D Whatever you say man.The lol and smiley face really got me.And for the last time, yes Santoro would decimate him even playing this style. Im talking pure speed here. not placement or consistency. I think what's confusing you is that you're assuming that how Santoro plays a match gives an accurate reading of how hard he can hit. He said himself that he tried playing a more conventional hard hitting game years ago but the results were terrible, and his results are better when he plays this way.

People on my college team once remarked that I hit the cover off the ball in practice, but don't hit as hard in matches. There's a difference between playing tennis and hitting a ball. Santoro can do both better and harder than any 4.5 player.

35ft6
08-28-2006, 02:03 PM
I think some of you guys have an inflated perception of how hard pros hit. I have seen Roddick and Dent play and I was surprised at how little they actually hit their heavier ground strokes. Because they're playing a match. In baseball, a pitcher isn't going to throw nothing but fastballs. Get a line of pros and a line of 4.5 player and feed them forehands, tell them to hit as hard as possible. You'll see that Roddick and Dent will hit forehands in the 95 mph range if they're just teeing off. The 4.5 players won't even get close to those speeds.I don't think there are a whole lot of pros that consistently hit deep near the baseline. Huh? As opposed to who? The pros hit consistently deep near the baseline more than any other players on earth.I think they try to work into a point and gain control over several strokes rather than trying to hit everything deep and really hard.Exactly. There's a difference between hitting a ball and playing tennis. But what's also deceiving is how quickly these guys move. Put a 4.5 player against a pro and you'll see that they can end the point with two groundstrokes every time.

TENNIS_99
08-28-2006, 02:56 PM
Every pro CAN hit very hard. I came to this conclusion not by observing top pros but by observing pros ranking in the hundreds, qualifying tournaments, futures tournaments. Those guys hit so hard to be able to get into the big show. Top pros already figured out the best way to win. Not necessarily by hard hitting, but it is ready when called. Federer can always put extra 10-15 miles on his serves when he needs it.

My coach still plays maybe 2 futures a year. I remember the first few lessons I had with him, he pulled winner almost every time behind the baseline if I gave him a paceless ball and then he yelled at me - there is nothing on this, you are giving the point away.

ZPTennis
08-28-2006, 03:03 PM
The lol and smiley face really got me. I think what's confusing you is that you're assuming that how Santoro plays a match gives an accurate reading of how hard he can hit. He said himself that he tried playing a more conventional hard hitting game years ago but the results were terrible, and his results are better when he plays this way.

People on my college team once remarked that I hit the cover off the ball in practice, but don't hit as hard in matches. There's a difference between playing tennis and hitting a ball. Santoro can do both better and harder than any 4.5 player.


I figured that would really bother you. :rolleyes:

Your getting off topic. We were originally talking about how hard a pro hits. Now your talking about the difference between playing tennis and hitting a ball. Yes, how to play tennis is more important than how hard you can hit a ball, but that is not what this topic was about.

The topic was about pro level power. And I was simply pointing out that non professional players can hit as hard as some pro's which is why I used Santoro as an extreme example. Hes extreme because a lot of us actually can hit harder than him. But I was making a point. And yes i've seen him hit a flat backhand. The power didn't impress me. The placement did.

AngeloDS
08-28-2006, 03:28 PM
Television makes them appear to swing really slow and also make the balls appear really slow. But if you watch in real life they swing incredibly fast heh.

The power comes from technique + timing mostly. But most importantly just hours and hours of training heh.

Kevo
08-28-2006, 03:40 PM
Get a line of pros and a line of 4.5 player and feed them forehands, tell them to hit as hard as possible. You'll see that Roddick and Dent will hit forehands in the 95 mph range if they're just teeing off.

I doubt that unless the feed has some pace on it or is sitting up in their strike zone.

The 4.5 players won't even get close to those speeds.
Which 4.5 players? Can we pick some that are top 10 in the nation?

Huh? As opposed to who? The pros hit consistently deep near the baseline more than any other players on earth.

In the matches I've seen on TV recently I would say the majority of the shots are closer to the service line than the baseline. I think they hit deep when they need to, but don't pressure themselves to hit deep all the time.

There's a difference between hitting a ball and playing tennis. But what's also deceiving is how quickly these guys move. Put a 4.5 player against a pro and you'll see that they can end the point with two groundstrokes every time. Well I agree that a pro will beat a 4.5 player when actually playing the game, but that isn't what the point of the thread was.

onehandbh
08-28-2006, 04:20 PM
I think that it is difficult for the average recreational player to
accurately judge just how heavy and hard a shot really is until you've
tried to return the balls or at least are right at the courtside.
I've only hit with *low* bottom of the ladder pro's (outside top 500) and
I'd have to say that it's probably a fair assumption to say that they hit
much harder than the top 4.5's. I played a few sets of double with one of
the guys and his smooth/consistent return of serves -- not power shots -- were
harder than the 4.0/4.5's 85-95% power shots. Way more efficiency.
Now when it comes to volleys... let's just say that the level of anticipation
and speed with which the pro's close in on volleys is *WAY* better.

btw, ZPTennis, is the league you play in a USTA league? I wasn't aware that
there were 6.0 USTA leagues. In socal I think it goes up to 5.0 and there
is also an open sectionals but there was only like two teams.

SydneyJim
08-28-2006, 04:52 PM
here's the key, it's all about being smooth and relaxed

ZPTennis
08-28-2006, 05:32 PM
btw, ZPTennis, is the league you play in a USTA league? I wasn't aware that
there were 6.0 USTA leagues. In socal I think it goes up to 5.0 and there
is also an open sectionals but there was only like two teams.

It isn't a USTA league. Its done by Ultimate Tennis which was previously the KSWISS Tennis League. I believe it only really exists in Florida and Georgia(Atlanta area). There are a lot of USTA players who play in it for the singles competition so its not team based like the USTA leagues are.
There are 13 divisions in Ultimate tennis which really helps keep the competition much tighter so theres not such a huge gap between divisions as opposed to USTA where its bigger. The 6.0 players are around 5.0+ to 5.5 USTA level and it scales down from there.

6.0
6.0-
5.5
5.0
4.5
4.5-
4.0
4.0-
3.5
3.5-
3.0
3.0-
2.5

framer
08-28-2006, 07:18 PM
here's the key, it's all about being smooth and relaxed

I agree. This year at the golf US Open, I planted myself next to one of the tees and watched about 20 pro golfers drive on a par 5. They were all of 10 feet away from me. I was amazed how easy and smooth their swings were - it was as if they weren't even trying. There was no difference between their easy practice swings and when they actually hit the ball. By comparison, some of my buddies who have about a 10 or 12 handicap, who have beautiful golf swings, swing the driver much more ruthlessly, violently and with more considerable effort than the pros. I imagine the same is true with tennis pros. Deceptive easy power off their racquets.

35ft6
08-29-2006, 03:41 AM
I figured that would really bother you. :rolleyes:
It didn't bother me, I just wanted to point out how lame it was.

You guys are missing the point of me making a distinction between playing tennis and hitting a ball, that point being that you guys are assuming that because when Santoro plays tennis he doesn't hit that hard (compared to other ATP pros) that that means he CAN'T hit that hard. He's another example, Andre Agassi hits a LOT harder in practice than he does when he plays. I watched him practice once and it's unbelievable how hard he hits in practice. In a match, not nearly as hard.

adlis
06-27-2007, 02:18 PM
Donald young is a great example of how technique is FAR superior than muscling the ball like most 3.5-college players players on here do.

he is 5'9 150lbs and 17 years old not a great formula for power you think?
Wrong at the US Open 2006 he hit 135mph serve.

GuyClinch
06-27-2007, 05:34 PM
Santoro hits harder then you think - have you guys seen him up close? His backspin shots aren't THAT fast but he does have some topspin shots and he can crank them pretty well.

As for the pros power - it comes from superior mechanics along with the timing to use those superior mechanics. I think if you get your strokes on video and get them professionally analyzed you could learn alot of things that will increase your power. I find alot of things in tennis are easier said then done though. It's hard to implement those tricks..

Pete

jasoncho92
06-27-2007, 06:15 PM
they basically always hit it in the sweetspot and that maximizes their power, so they don't even have to swing AS hard. also, they're a lot stronger then you think, and so that always helps.
Pros try and hit above the sweetspot to get maximum swing speed

Borat
06-27-2007, 06:29 PM
racquet head speed from using their whole body. Most people just use their arms. Also, they work out and hit a lot of balls. They do countless excercises to improve raccquet head speed. As for sam querry, being 6 five or whatever he is helps. Also, why can a mlb pitcher throw 95 mph as to a high school or college player throwing 82? Two reasons. A) Maturity. If you are at peak condition at 25 to 28 years old your muscles are much denser than that of a teenager such as myself or possibly you (I dont know your age). Their bodies are at their peak physical form for their lives. B) Genetics. Everyone isnt meant to serve 125+ mph. You have to have the god-given body for it. That is why their are x amount of pros, and many many more amatuers, some people can only go so far as their body will let them.

Borat
06-27-2007, 06:31 PM
Also they are swinging extremely fast, and extremely hard compared to us mere mortals. You have to see them live, or watch close up videos. The camera takes off a LOT of speed and pace.

Off The Wall
06-27-2007, 11:06 PM
According to the books I've read, your service power is mostly generated by your legs.

Tennismastery
06-28-2007, 12:41 AM
According to the books I've read, your service power is mostly generated by your legs.

This is a common misconception and can be proven completely wrong by watching wheel-chair players who serve well.

While the legs start what is called the "kinetic chain" they are far from the source of power.

In workshops I teach, I often demonstrate serving on my knees...which I can get a 90 mph serve in the service box in from this position, using no legs at all. (And, from such a position, I am less than 4.5 feet tall!)

Since I serve over 115 mph using my legs, one can do the math and figure that my legs and added leverage of height is about 15 percent of a big serve.

Tennismastery
06-28-2007, 12:43 AM
Pros try and hit above the sweetspot to get maximum swing speed

Another misconception.

In virtually any picture of a pro hitting any shot, be it a serve, overhead or groundie, the ball is usually in the sweet spot...not above it.

Tennismastery
06-28-2007, 12:53 AM
Folks, racquet head speed is all about technique...and very little to do with some genetic attribute. While certainly people with unfortunate handicaps...be it genetic or other, won't be able to coordinate their body to achieve relative racquet head speed--related to professional-level players, it simply boils down to technique. I have had girls in their early teens serve over 110 mph; boys as young as 10 serve this fast. (And get the serve in!) None of these players are 'gifted' athletes; they simply were taught to serve with the proper mechanics.

Once you have proper mechanics, then it boils down to rhythm and timing.

I have been on the court with Safin and Santoro, (when I was working with one of my students who is on the ATP tour and was warming up Kim Clijsters), and while you won't find too many players hitting much harder than Safin, Santoro could hit just as hard in specific drill patterns the two worked on.

The rhythm of using the proper mechanics correctly makes it appear to be almost effortless. But, I assure you there is great effort even by the pros. Take any picture of any pro hitting big shots at or near contact, and you will see the huge contraction--and resultant musculature expression--in each player's body.

Best place to view this is at Indian Wells where the temperature during the Pacific Life is usually very warm and the pros remove most articles of clothing during practice hits.

GuyClinch
06-28-2007, 04:46 AM
Yeah I look at videos of Henin Hardene practicing and she doesn't seem to be swinging that hard - but the ball comes of her racquet pretty good. It can be special genetics because I am twice as big as her and don't hit with as much pace..

Pete

Mountain Ghost
06-28-2007, 09:05 AM
In workshops I teach, I often demonstrate serving on my knees...which I can get a 90 mph serve in the service box in from this position, using no legs at all. (And, from such a position, I am less than 4.5 feet tall!)

Since I serve over 115 mph using my legs, one can do the math and figure that my legs and added leverage of height is about 15 percent of a big serve.

Where did that 4.5 foot tall person learn his arithmetic?

115 mph - 90 mph = 25 mph
25 / 115 = 21.7 percent of a big serve is using the legs

MG

Tennismastery
06-28-2007, 09:45 AM
Where did that 4.5 foot tall person learn his arithmetic?

115 mph - 90 mph = 25 mph
25 / 115 = 21.7 percent of a big serve is using the legs

MG

I was rounding it off in my head...Hey, I wrote that at 3am... (couldn't sleep!)

Also, I meant to say that some of that percentage included not the specific leg action but the leverage that comes from the extension of having the legs!

But, your right, the percentage of having the use of legs...and using them correctly, is closer to 20 percent difference.

I remember at a USPTA convention Luis Mederos once said that the legs generage over 70 percent of the serve's power... I had to laugh at that one!

Of course, many players DON'T use their legs correctly and end up only gaining a marginal percentage of power...if any at all!

Trinity TC
06-28-2007, 10:39 AM
Folks, racquet head speed is all about technique...and very little to do with some genetic attribute. While certainly people with unfortunate handicaps...be it genetic or other, won't be able to coordinate their body to achieve relative racquet head speed--related to professional-level players, it simply boils down to technique. I have had girls in their early teens serve over 110 mph; boys as young as 10 serve this fast. (And get the serve in!) None of these players are 'gifted' athletes; they simply were taught to serve with the proper mechanics.
Hi Dave,

I was watching an NBC program on the Science of Golf a few of weeks ago and a couple of studies are concluding that the golfers with the most "shoulder torque" are generating the most club head speed. They used Tiger Woods and Fred Couples as two examples players with the really good club head speed (along with great shoulder torque) with what looks to be relatively little hip turn or leg action.

I guess (hey...I'm not a scientist!) that would apply to the tennis serve as well.

Tennismastery
06-28-2007, 12:59 PM
Hi Dave,

I was watching an NBC program on the Science of Golf a few of weeks ago and a couple of studies are concluding that the golfers with the most "shoulder torque" are generating the most club head speed. They used Tiger Woods and Fred Couples as two examples players with the really good club head speed (along with great shoulder torque) with what looks to be relatively little hip turn or leg action.

I guess (hey...I'm not a scientist!) that would apply to the tennis serve as well.

Absolutely. The concept of generating racquet head speed does not come from just the arms swinging the impliment. The large muscle groups contribute to the kinetic chain of moving parts. While the shoulders only can move so fast, the combination of the uncoiling of the core of the upper body, (which includes the shoulder plane), followed by the prestretch of the arms and forearms, generate an incredible potential for the end of the kinetic chain. (The racquet.)

Think of the kid's game, "crack the whip"...the first kid who starts the whip and then stops his motion moves not only very slow, but very short distance. The kid at the end of the chain, gets whipped incredibly fast and moves a great distance, relatively speaking.

This is a simple way to understand why the pros indeed generate the power we see: they simply have mastered the game of 'crack the whip' in such a way that they can replicate the action on command in a variety of situations.

NLBwell
07-01-2007, 09:13 PM
Tennismastery - I agree with your crack the whip analogy. You don't need huge size or strength, you need some amount of flexibility and timing. It brings up some of my pet peeves on this board, people who recommend building up big arm muscles, people who say big serves come because of bending the knees (essentially squatting) and people who say they need a lighter racket because their arm gets tiired. Every part of the body is used in the serve, but you can't have a big serve without using the hips and torso. Squatting down, thinking that jumping up is going to help, just breakes up the kinetic chain for most people. As Ted Williams said, "The key to hitting is in the hips." This is true of all serves and also groundstrokes. Also people whose arm gets tired after holding a 12oz object for an hour or two obviously are not using their body correctly and are using their arms.

I would say that the 70% of power is from the legs could be true if you are considering the hips and lower torso as part of the legs (weird, but maybe they mean just non-arm).

I actually have a torn tendon in my elbow and can still hit a serve around 100 mph without significantly bending my elbow (of course it is completely flat). which brings up a reason pro's don't often hit with much more speed than a lot of us. A lot of the extra energy they impart into the ball is not in pure speed, but is put into spin, for extra margin of error. I've played against college players who can hit a mostly flat serve 130 mph, and if I am quick I can get the racket in front of it and put back a decent return. When I hit with a former pro noted for his serve, the serves were coming in at maybe 130 but bouncing crazily away from me over my head. I had a shot at the second serve, but no hope on the first serve.