A few serves

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by Avles, Oct 31, 2013.

  1. Avles

    Avles Hall of Fame

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    I went out and taped a few serves today:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uFmKpUtZM04

    It looks to me like the tossing arm needs to stay up longer, and I could be moving more into the court (the last serve was an attempt to do this but it resulted in an awkward lunge at the ball).

    Any other observations and suggestions would be very welcome-- the serve is one of my biggest struggles.

    (Note that YouTube now allows slow-mo viewing under "settings"... using this will also offer you an extended glimpse of my manly muffin tops...)
     
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  2. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    More sideways, stand 4" closer to the baseline, bend ze knees at trophy position, lower your racket hand and BEND your elbow at 90 degrees at trophy, swing FAST up and out is a starting point.
     
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  3. dknotty

    dknotty Semi-Pro

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    A few points:

    1. You have a waiters tray serve - your racket face opens to the sky and as you sweep the racket to the ball you're "pushing the air". Watch videos of the pros side on and you see the whole racket face. As they are swinging to contact the racket is cutting thru the air on end and they pronate just before contact.

    2. Your right elbow position is too high when you are in the trophy position - it should be lower.

    3. Your left hand comes down too early, it should stay pointing to the ball until you begin to swing to contact.

    4. No knee bend - your body needs to be going upwards while you make contact and you should land inside the baseline after contact.

    5. Contact point looks over the baseline, it should be inside the court.

    6. There's no explosiveness in the serve.

    I'm sure other folks will have more comments.
     
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  4. Topspin Shot

    Topspin Shot Legend

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    First off, lower the toss. You don't load up much in the trophy position, which is okay, but if you want to serve that way, you need a continuous motion for power. That means a toss a good foot lower than what you have now. You also don't have a proper swing to contact, which is what dknotty is saying in his first point. This article explains the swing better than any I have seen. http://www.feeltennis.net/topspin-tennis-serve-pronation/
     
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  5. Avles

    Avles Hall of Fame

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    Thanks for the comments!

    --Waiter's tray is something I've been struggling with for a long time.. Unfortunately when I consciously try to lead with the frame of the racquet until just before contact, the results tend to be awkward (and occasionally painful). So I think there may be something fundamentally problematic with my body position, swing trajectory, timing or contact point that's causing it.

    Any suggestions on fixing it would be great. Maybe what I need to do is just go out in a field and whack a lot of serves with the edge of the frame to get a feeling for the edge-on motion.

    --Lack of knee bend is really a problem with all of my shots...

    --Elbow position/bend in trophy position is not something I've paid attention to-- so that's something I'll try to adjust right away.

    --I will try lowering the toss. This may help make my toss a little less wayward as well.

    Any comments on my footwork? The "step out with back foot, then point front foot forward" thing that I do is totally unconscious-- I've tried changing my footwork to a more conventional pinpoint but I seem to revert to the status quo as soon as my mind is elsewhere. Is this something I should work on changing?

    Thanks again.
     
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  6. Topspin Shot

    Topspin Shot Legend

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    I think the footwork is a result of the toss. Because your toss is so high, you have to pause in your motion, which throws you off balance. Lowering the toss should make the footwork problem go away. You can do this immediately and receive quick results.

    You have trouble breaking the waiter's tray habit because you are serving flat and trying to hit the ball down into the box. Unfortunately, changing your habit is not as simple as trying to lead with the edge more because, as you have found out, doing so will result in embarrassment or worse. If you want to make this wholesale change in your motion (which is not strictly necessary if you plan to play at intermediate levels indefinitely), first get used to hitting up and spinning the ball with topspin and slice. Stand ten feet or so from a fence, and practice spinning the ball up and over the fence. Alternatively, get down on your knees and spin the ball up so that it lands in the service box.

    Once you've got this down, you will progress to serving real serves while standing. The key to getting these real serves to look like real serves and not lobs is to follow through on the right side of your body (once the racket has gotten down to your waist at the end of the follow through, you can bring it around to your left). Some coaches advocate following through parallel to the baseline, which is essentially the same thing. But only your follow through goes parallel to the baseline, not the swing to contact. The swing to contact is the same one as in the fence and serving from the knees drills.
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2013
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  7. arche3

    arche3 Banned

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    There is a very easy way to feel the on edge motion better. Its just hard to explain. How I taught my kid was to keep the racket to the outside of the body during the whole stroke. Like a throw. Your serving from behind your head (your hand position at trophy) so your pan caking it. If I was on court with you I can make you feel the proper motion in 30 seconds. I also cant see your grip but you might be too eastern?
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2013
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  8. Avles

    Avles Hall of Fame

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    My grip is definitely continental but maybe I should try moving a little further toward EBH....
     
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  9. dknotty

    dknotty Semi-Pro

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    Changing the mechanics of a serve will take a long time - many thousands of practice serves, don't expect good (or consistent) results immediately.
     
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  10. bblue777

    bblue777 Banned

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    Hi arche3, how about a 30 second video of your own serve?
     
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  11. Tight Lines

    Tight Lines Semi-Pro

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    I thought the grip looked more eastern myself.

    In any case, the reason why you have a waiter's tray serve is because of your toss. Because it is so high, you tend to bring the racket down too early.

    Ideally, your toss should be at a height that allows you to have a smooth backswing without stopping. If lowering your toss height is too much work, you can just try to pause at trophy and then accelerate into your back swing. Many people will say you can lose racket head speed by pausing. But in my opinion, the loss is negligible.

    Harry
     
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  12. arche3

    arche3 Banned

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    Sure. Not. Lol. I practice a lot of serves so I can def film it. How about 2015 first weekend of the summer season. 85 degrees using penn marathon all court balls. Sea level.
     
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  13. Avles

    Avles Hall of Fame

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    Hmm, index knuckle is definitely on bevel 1 (took me a while to get it there too, I used to be EFH all the way). But I will try moving more towards the EBH side of the bevel and see if that helps.

    Sounds like a lower toss is a bit of a consensus suggestion, so I'll definitely give that a try. That's actually something I never would have identified as a possible problem, so I'm glad I asked!
     
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  14. psv255

    psv255 Professional

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    Every solid serve starts from the ground up. If you are stable and move your feet as little as possible during the motion, it restricts how much the rest of your body can move. This is key to maximizing consistency and RHS into the ball. You've got a case of happy feet, and it almost seems like you'd rather hover above the ground than stand on it when serving...Macci explains the concept of being "locked in" pretty well imo: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W_npG6oUZEI&feature=player_detailpage#t=35

    It looks like you prefer platform stance. If so, set a comfortable stance for yourself and do not move your feet until you're ready to swing up at the ball.

    Once you have your stance down, you can begin to worry about toss, upper body, swing, etc. One thing about your swing though: if you speed that swing up, it might cause injury. Definitely try to get tossing arm vertical, even past vertical, adding an "archer's bow," and really cartwheeling the shoulders rather than rotating around. The "sonic serve" video does a great job of showing, over and over, a motion that you should aim for.
    The archer's bow in particular will allow you to move into the court naturally. What you tried in the video is just to move your toss out, while your body is way too much behind and not enough under the ball.
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2013
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  15. Avles

    Avles Hall of Fame

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    Heheh, the laundry list grows ever-longer...

    psv255, good point about being stable. Sometimes before I serve I tell myself "legs still, arm loose" (or some variant of that) and it seems to help a bit. But clearly it's not something I've internalized.

    Lots of food for thought here.. I'll try to check back in a few months with another video to see if any progress has been made.
     
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  16. dknotty

    dknotty Semi-Pro

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    Perhaps think about a few lessons on the serve?
     
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  17. rufus_smith

    rufus_smith Professional

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    Have to adjust the serve for his strange court that slants downhill rightward towards the receiver !?
     
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  18. Avles

    Avles Hall of Fame

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    Have gone out a couple more times to hit serves, trying to focus on some of the low-hanging fruit mentioned here (toss height, tossing arm, elbow bend, happy feet).

    Here's my most recent effort-- this time from the back w/slow motion (sorry about all the bouncing): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IdZl32Qfga0

    I was trying to incorporate more of a "palm down" element to the takeback here, and point the tip of the racquet a little bit into the court at the trophy position, since it seems like many good serves have those elements. I think it helped a little-- still tend to regress to bad old habits though.

    dknotty, lessons would be great but are definitely not a realistic possibility right now... and if I ever do get some lessons, I may focus more on things I really can't practice alone (ROS, net game).
     
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  19. dknotty

    dknotty Semi-Pro

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    You are totally flat footed. This means there is zero explosiveness in your serve.
     
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  20. Attila_the_gorilla

    Attila_the_gorilla Professional

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    Yeah, you need to bend your knees at least a little, and then extending them can start a chain reaction going all the way to your hand.

    I've seen pretty heavy servers without any knee bend at all, just hitting the ball but they had shoulders like Hulk.
     
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  21. Avles

    Avles Hall of Fame

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    So, bend knees, more upward momentum in the swing, be more on balls of feet? That all sounds reasonable. At 5'8'' I definitely need to be swinging up and contacting the ball as high as possible.
     
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  22. shindemac

    shindemac Hall of Fame

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    You lack explosion. You look like you walk into your serve. Unless your camera has a high shutter speed, your arm should be a blur when you're swinging.

    Practice throwing a ball. You need to learn how to use your body to generate speed.
     
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