3 o'clock position slice serve question

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by myalterego, Feb 18, 2010.

  1. myalterego

    myalterego Rookie

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    When people say to chop off the ball at the 3 o'clock position of the ball on a slice serve, do they mean 3:00 when you body is facing the net and 3:00 is directly to the right of your body, or when the body is in the serve position, and as you look at the ball when you toss it, to try and hit the 3:00 position then? Sorry if this is hard to explain, but is the 3:00 position for when your body is facing the net and 3:00 is directly to your right, or when you're in the serving stance, and 3:00 actually faces towards your back?
     
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  2. fuzz nation

    fuzz nation Legend

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    I don't like the sound of "3 o'clock" in general for addressing the slice serve.

    If you use your flat serve toss and swing path as a reference, the slice serve often benefits from a toss that's slightly more off to the side. If the toss for your flat serve is at around 12 o'clock, a righty's toss for a slice serve can be shaded over toward 1 o'clock to help compensate for the more angular contact you get with that serve.

    Any toss over toward 3 o'clock would probably be way too angular and result in too much spin with almost no pace on the ball. Even if 3 o'clock is referring to the contact point on the ball, it still sounds too "sideways". You can swing through a slice serve just fine as long as you have a somewhat angled racquet face and shift your point of aim to the right (for a righty slice) to compensate for the angled racquet face.
     
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  3. azbabolat

    azbabolat New User

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    I think they meen hit the ball with your racket at contact point at 3 o clock
     
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  4. myalterego

    myalterego Rookie

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    Yeah, I meant 3 o'clock as the spot on the ball with which you want to make contact, not the direction of the ball toss in relation to a flat serve.

    I mean, what is the frame of reference when someone says to hit the ball at 3 o'clock?
     
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  5. zettabyte

    zettabyte New User

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    3:00 to the direction of ball travel after you hit it with your racket.

    But you're overthinking it. Just go with counter-clockwise spin (if you're a righty) when viewed from directly above the ball.

    If that doesn't work for you, take the ball in your hand and spin it on the ground like a top (give it counter-clockwise spin).

    That's the spin you want on the ball.
     
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  6. fuzz nation

    fuzz nation Legend

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    That might be a helpful cue for someone who insists on hitting the ball too flat while trying to hit a slice, but I don't use it for my teaching. The first impression I get from the idea of trying to make 3 o'clock contact is that I'd probably knock the ball over toward the side fence, you know what I mean?

    The other big potential problem with encouraging contact that's extremely angular on a serve is that it can make the shot way too wristy. Sometimes I'll see players go for way too much spin on a slice serve and they merely "crack the whip" and zip the racquet across the back of the ball with a nasty wrist bend. This kills what I think is still the essential component of swinging through the ball to control it and generate at least some velocity.
     
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  7. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Personally, I stay away from the pure slice serve 98% of the time.
    Reason? It stays within the strike zone of your opponent while not giving you as much angle and margin for error as a topspin/slice serve, which has the top component to arc the ball downwards.
    I don't think any current men's pro uses a pure slice serve or any reason. I do, I'm not a good player, and some of my opponent's like to hit chin high bouncers rather than mid thigh low skidders. So I use it about 2% of my serves, mostly firsts.
     
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  8. zettabyte

    zettabyte New User

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    I was only trying to make clear what is meant by a 3:00 position. I wasn't advocating any kind of technique.
     
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  9. fuzz nation

    fuzz nation Legend

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    Yeah, I hear you.

    I didn't get the impression that you were advocating any strange technique or anything. It just occurred to me that sometimes a pro will address a certain problem with a student by suggesting an idea that will change their individual perspective. The 3 o'clock idea might be good for one player, but have no relevance for many others. No biggie.

    Good call, btw, with the advice for avoiding over-thinking things. I hate it when I get lost in the weeds with my own technique and that usually happens when I get thinking way too hard... D'oh!
     
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  10. dannykl

    dannykl Rookie

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    What's your opinion on Becker's or Goran's serve?
    They seem to use slice serve quite a lot and are commonly regarded as good server.
     
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  11. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Goran hits a heavy top/slice, striking around the 10:30 position, NOT anywhere near the 9:00 position on the ball.
    Becker I don't remember as well, but I'm sure they both hit with topspin, then vary either top/slice, pure top, or top/twists.
    NOBODY hits 9 o'clock or 3 o'clock, unless they are below 4.0's.
    The top component gives you the arc and the margin for error.
     
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  12. dannykl

    dannykl Rookie

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    What's the difference between a top/slice and a top/twists?
    Does a top/slice bounces low as slice serve or high as top serve or in between?
    Do you recommend that top/slice serve?
     
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  13. tennisdad65

    tennisdad65 Hall of Fame

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    I think the last male pro who hit this serve well was Mac in his early wooden racquet days. Yes, you have to be more face on to the net at contact, in order to 'clip the ear' off the ball. The toss is ~1 O'clock and contact ~ 3 O'clock on the ball.

    Cons:
    1) very little topspin, so you have to master the serve to get any consistency
    2) low pace

    pros:
    1) Surprisingly can be fairly consistent (60-70%) if mastered because of the slower speed.
    2) stays real low.. great weapon against tall guys
    3) swerve's a lot compared to what guys are used to. Especially if served into the body, you will see lots of service returns into the adjacent court.
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2010
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  14. Ripper014

    Ripper014 Hall of Fame

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    I still use this serve effectively against some people... it will break out hard, you can still hit it with some pace... and as tennisdad65 said hitting it without top you can keep it low and skidding.

    I can hit mine about halfway up the service box breaking well into the next court. It is a serve that augments well with a flat serve up the T... It also opens up the court well as a surprise tactic, it is not something you want to use all the time.

    If you hit it with topspin I feel it takes away from the effectiveness of the serve... you cannot get it to break nearly as much and it sits up where your opponent can get a good look at the ball. You may be able to hit it a little harder with more consistancy... but it is nowhere as effective. It can also be a very affective serve against a lefty (or a righty) in either service box... a hard slice serve into the body.
     
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  15. GuyClinch

    GuyClinch Hall of Fame

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    I like the slice serve that's nearly a flat first serve. The topspin slice serve is an effective second serve. But for a first serve I like the high paced slice. You hit this one tossing the ball well onto the court like a first serve without much variation from your normal first serve 'clock' position. You then hit the back right side of the ball instead of square in the back.

    When stuck well you should hit it with 80% to 90% of your first serve speed but with additional slice. its fast enough though for outright aces and the slicing away action can throw people off. You can use it up the middle to the ad court to slice away (slightly) from someone leaning towards the alley - not just out wide on the deuce.
     
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  16. dannykl

    dannykl Rookie

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    How to hit a topspin slice serve? Is it so called twist serve?
    My understanding of a twist is a topspin serve with some slice.
    It requires a more similar techniques as a kick serve but has little difference in the angle of racket brushing up.
    But what is the techniques of hitting a topspin slice?
    I'm confused now.
     
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  17. spacediver

    spacediver Hall of Fame

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    I believe the answer is that the clock reference on the ball uses the court as a reference. So the line parallel to net/baseline goes through the ball at the 9 and 3 o'clock positions.

    I may be wrong, but this is what I have gathered.
     
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  18. GuyClinch

    GuyClinch Hall of Fame

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    In a nutshell..

    A generic spin serve (or a topspin slice serve) is when you swing up and across at the ball. This is a very natural motion and the default kind of ball you hit when you first hit a topspin serve IMHO. You contact the ball more on the right side of it.

    A kicker (or twist) is a more advanced serve. Instead of swinging up at the ball and contacting it on the right side your actually trying to hit up on the LEFT side of the ball. So the upward trajectory of your swing and making contact with the left side is what gives it that kick. This also is behind that arching of the back you sometimes see with kickers.

    A normal topspin serve is in between these two serves. Dave Smith demonstrates the difference between the two really well on tennis one, IMHO. One key to hit more a of a kicker is actually with the shoulders. Don't let your right rear shoulder come around as quick as normal.. I say more of a kicker because I think of these serves as on a continumn (?) rather then so extreme.

    This sounds confusing but even a "kick" serve has slice on it..

    Pete
     
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  19. dannykl

    dannykl Rookie

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    Thank you for the information. It helps clarify my confusion.

    Does Sampras usually serve flat at first serve and Kick at second serve?
    Or are both of his first and second serve normally a kick(twist)?
    His serve seems always with some topspin,sometimes slice with topspin to me.
    But it looks as fast as a flat serve.What's the secret of it?

    Maybe he combines topspin, slice, flat factors together well in his single service action?
     
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  20. GuyClinch

    GuyClinch Hall of Fame

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    Pete absolutely hit kickers for his second serve - like almost all pros do.

    For his first serve Pete would hit some slice winners from time to time but his "natural" serve motion on his flat serve had alot more top then the average players flat serve, IMHO. The key though is that any player who serves with a continental grip will get some spin on his serve. The only way to hit a REAL flat serve is to use a eastern grip and patty cake the ball.

    An amateur can emulate some of this with ball toss placement. If you toss a ball almost behind your head and try to hit a kicker you will likely hit a pretty slow serve with alot of top. However toss the ball more onto the court while still swinging up at the ball and you will generate alot more pace but still have some top.

    At least this is what I was taught and it seems to work for me. The different serves aren't like different punches - they are just varations of the same movement. I always think of serving much like pitching in baseball.

    Mariano Rivera and Roger Clemens both threw 'fastballs" but Mariano throws a cutter that has some sidepsin on it whereas Roger throws a ball with backspin. Thus if you notice his ball would seem to "rise" and Rivera's will "move". Its pretty subtle though. They both look like very hard pitches from afar.

    I think Pete's "secret" was that he had great mechanics and a great motion thus he had the kind of power needed to hit a hard serve that still had top. I have no doubt he could have tweaked his motion to hit with less top and more pace - and thus serve to close to Roddick speeds.


    Pete
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2010
    #20
  21. dannykl

    dannykl Rookie

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    Thank you very much.
     
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  22. Raul_SJ

    Raul_SJ Professional

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    I am having a bit of trouble with the clock analogy on sidespin and topspin serve.

    For the flat serve, I think of the ball as having 3 clock faces:

    1) A Center Clock
    2) A "Center-Left Clock" (just slightly left of Center Clock)
    3) A "Center-Right Clock" (just slightly right of Center Clock)

    So from the deuce court, if I hit the Center Left Clock essentially straight on, the flat serve will go down the T. If I hit the Center Right Clock straight on, the flat serve will go wide. And if I hit the Center Clock flat on, the flat serve will go in between the T and the Alley.

    Now, if I wish to hit a slice serve, am I still referencing those 3 clock
    positions? i.e., if I want to slice wide, I would need to hit the "Center-Right Clock" and brush across from 9 to 3?

    And if I want to kick wide to the deuce, I would need to hit the "Center-Right Clock" and brush across from 7 to 1?
     
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  23. okaythen

    okaythen New User

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    So you make contact at the side of the ball, 3 o'clock. now if you rotate the imaginary clock counterclockwise (from the top of the clock). Should you hit the ball from 9 to 3 o'clock or like 10: 30 to 4 30 o'clock?
     
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  24. double barrels

    double barrels Rookie

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    anybody got a picture

    --visual learner jumping in--
     
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  25. TennisCJC

    TennisCJC Legend

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    It all depends on the current time. What time is it anyhow?
     
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