Can't understand how some players serve so big?

Discussion in 'General Pro Player Discussion' started by Nickzor, Jan 31, 2013.

  1. Nickzor

    Nickzor Semi-Pro

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    I just wanted to ask other tennis players and enthusiast a question about serving. I can understand when a player like Milos Raonic can bomb humongous serves all day long, 6'5' Big long arms, the guy isn't exactly skinny, his gotta weigh almost 100kg, with that much weight and force smacking the ball, then i can understand why he serves as big as he does.

    But when i see a player like Stanislas Wawrinka hit aces and serves consistently (if he really wants, like in that match recently against Djoker) of up 220kmh, (saw one ace at 224, and a fault at 228), it doesn't make much sense to me, his not particularly tall, possibly a weak 6'0, and whats more confusing is his service motion, hardly a leg bend, not much racquet head acceleration, looks like his racquet goes straight up and down LOL

    Another possible example is Almagro, same height as Wawrinka, very simple serve motion, hardly a leg bend, and i've seen him serve 226 once, saw him ace ferrer at 222

    Anyone think this too?

    Anyone had such experiences playing someone who looked skinny, not particularly tall, yet had a huge serve?
     
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  2. jwbarrientos

    jwbarrientos Hall of Fame

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    I watched many times Almagro, when he is on... his serve looks natural, his toss is soft and low, I think his dynamic and fluidity is great.

    In my club I like to watch kids/teens very skinny with great serves, I think is coordination, talent and training; finally, what is more amazing is they aparently don't do any great effort to serve.
     
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  3. TheCheese

    TheCheese Professional

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    A lot of it is technique and explosiveness. You don't necessarily need height for a great serve, although it helps.
     
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  4. heninfan99

    heninfan99 Legend

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    Yeah, I've seen this. Most pros have great technique, of course, so I think some just have a "live arm".

    Even skinny tennis players have very strong legs so you can't judge by that at all. Look at Dolgo. His arm is so loose and he jumps like two feet off the ground. HA!
     
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  5. Power Player

    Power Player G.O.A.T.

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    The secret is really what happens from the racquet drop to contact. Most rec players arm the ball here. Pros let the racquet drop due naturally by using a loose grip. This allows the buttcap to point straight up at the ball. At this point it is just a matter of pulling up to contact.

    there are many other factors, but this is the one thing to zero in on if you are arming the ball. takes some time to get it consistent. you will know when you are doing it because the racquet feedback will be a lot louder than normal, the ball will have a lot of power, and it will feel effortless.
     
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  6. Andres

    Andres G.O.A.T.

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    It all comes down to racquet head speed. Having a live arm will help, of course.
    The faster you can move that hoop, the higher velocity you'll transfer to the ball.
    Having a low toss will also help. Not the low toss per se, but not letting the ball drop too much.

    Transfering your bodyweight forward is another big factor. Kinetic chain, you know? It's not just for groundstrokes.

    That's why shorter guys like Ben Becker or Daniele Bracciali, who aren't even 6 feet tall can smack those serves at 138-140 mph without much effort.
     
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  7. boramiNYC

    boramiNYC Hall of Fame

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    It's all in the technique...

    Both Waw and Almagro have great balance in their serve which allows efficient transfer of energy into the ball. And their core flexibility and strength are top notch and they use their core very effectively in their technique. Watch closely how their hips snap in the air. Push from the legs are slow compared to how fast the hip can snap.
     
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  8. uncooling

    uncooling Semi-Pro

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    ok,

    Wawrinka and Almagro aren't skinny at all!

    they're one of the chubbier players on tour (I don't wanna say they're fat).

    I assume they have a strong arm/shoulder so when they pronate, they pronate much faster/stronger than other players.
     
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  9. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    I think it is a myth that powerful strokes are all about technique. If that was the case, pros would not be doing so much upper body conditioning. I believe JMac said that had to do a lot of strength training to be able to hit the kind of serves he is hitting on the senior tour.
     
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  10. President

    President Legend

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    I agree, almost every big server you see on tour either has exceptionally long levers or is very strong in either the lower or upper body.
     
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  11. Power Player

    Power Player G.O.A.T.

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    Its a combo.

    Get the technique first as a rec player.

    Trust me, I have always been one of the stronger guys out on a tennis court, and it helps, but not as much as technique.
     
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  12. Narcissist

    Narcissist Semi-Pro

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    A very clean loose swing always looks like that, a lot of power comes from the 'whip' action.
     
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  13. mental midget

    mental midget Professional

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    thank you for debunking the 'leg bend' big serve myth. you absolutely don't need much leg bend at all to bomb a serve, and i see so many players with crazily exaggerated knee bends because somebody told them that's how to serve big. all it does is screw up their balance and timing, which, ironically, is one of the actual tricks to a big serve.
     
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  14. dominikk1985

    dominikk1985 Legend

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    the most important thing is having a good arm.

    technique and strength helps but the serve is basically a throwing Motion. if you can throw a Baseball 80+ (or about 250+ feet) your serve will be hard. if you throw like a Girl your serve will be soft. the best way to become a good Server is to throw a lot of things as a Kids which will build a good and strong arm strike.

    yes bending your knees, arch the back, throphy Position do help but this will be all mechanical and unathletic if you don't have a natural, fluid throwing Motion.

    I'm sure guys like raonic or roddick can at least hit mid to upper 80s, if not more.
     
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  15. BeHappy

    BeHappy Hall of Fame

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    It's just a live arm. Same as some people are just fast around the court, well some people can just swing the racquet really fast. As you note in your post, it isn't really technique as many players hardly bend there knees and just throw it to the right and smack it.


    Being tall means you can hit it flat so you can hit out more. People who trained with Sampras (6 foot 1 inch tall) say in training for fun sometimes he'd flatten it out and could hit it 150mph but he couldn't keep it in the box.
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2013
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  16. The Bawss

    The Bawss Banned

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    I agree with this actually, the leg bend is totally overhyped and Wawrinka proves this.
     
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  17. always_crosscourt

    always_crosscourt Banned

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    Serve is almost all leg and core. So is every groundstroke. If you're not getting the vast majority of your power from any shot from your legs and core, you're merely 'arming' your strokes.

    Why do you think pro's are almost always totally airbourne when they contact the ball on any shot, including serve?

    Yeah, Wawrinka may have little leg involvement, but his shoulder is going to wear out very fast, and he could be serving far faster if he used legs and core more.
     
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  18. RogerRacket111

    RogerRacket111 Semi-Pro

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    Its not about height although it might help. Looking at Maria I'm doubting that :)

    I'm short but I have one of the better serves at my club. Pure speed comes with good technique and being loose. You have to start early. Its hard to add speed later in life.

    Serve is about the whole body loading and unloading in the most efficient manner to deliver most energy. Serve is more than just speed its also how you can place it where you want it when you want it.
     
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  19. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    What are you doubting?
     
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  20. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Maria Sharapova serves big not only because her legs are long, and she's like 6'2" tall, but her ARMS are also long, for lots of leverage.
    Maria Kirilenko don't serve big because she's average pro tennis height and tries to act like a girl.
     
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  21. checkmilu

    checkmilu Rookie

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    The key is TIMING: your racket head max speed should be at contact, racket face should be squared at contact. Some people try to use legs, shoulder...all good but useless without the above mentioned! Try serve without worry about hitting the box.
     
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  22. Nickzor

    Nickzor Semi-Pro

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    Some good answers here, the whole LIVE ARM thing makes alot of sense, some people can simply just hammer the ball harder then others, regardless of their height/weight etc.

    Wawrinka for me is the perfect example of this topic, his service motion is very simple, not too abbreviated, no obnoxious leg bend or follow through, yet he serves huge.

    Part of the reason I ask this is because (I don't want to seem cocky in anyway) but I'm on the short side, about 5'7 or 170cm, almost 5'9 with runners on LOL, and I'd like to think I have a pretty fast-ish serve, played once mate of mine, who's brothers a coach, they had radar guns at the courts, these happen to be the outdoor Australian open courts, anyways, just recently for the first time ever I got to have my serve speed measured, first I was serving with pretty flat and old balls, was getting serves at almost 200kmh, faulted at 202kmh, but for the most part I was serving fast as I could and was getting around 180 to about 195, only a few balls went in because I was going ballistic, trying to get the fastest serve I could.

    I was amazed that some faults that were almost in went up to 200kmh, however that all changed when we used new balls, being heavier and fluffier, I could only get them around 190 at most, But for someone my size, I rarely see anyone else serve fast as I do, of course all decent players 5'11 and over can serve faster then me, and just wanted to know if some other players served big for not relatively being too tall, btw I weigh 142lbs!
     
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  23. Sid_Vicious

    Sid_Vicious G.O.A.T.

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    I think technique and timing matter a lot more than height and upper body strength.

    I saw Davydenko serve up a 218 kmh first serve against Youzhny at the AO a few years ago. Davydenko is 5 ft 10, and unlike Benjamin Becker (who is also 5 ft 10 can serve over 220 kmh), Davy is a scrawny guy.

    Also, "The Dog" can frequently serve up bombs. He served up a 139 mph (225 kmh) serve at the USO last year against Jesse Levine. Interestingly, Jesse Levine is only 5 ft 9 and he struck a 136 mph (219 kph) serve in that match.
     
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  24. TheCheese

    TheCheese Professional

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    Yeah, another guy who's on the smaller side is Tipsarevic. He's got a lot of power on all his shots.
     
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  25. uncooling

    uncooling Semi-Pro

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    but he can't serve big like over 135mph

    I would still say being tall gives you more power on your serve as well as angles.

    The guys we're talking about here who are not tall but serve big (almagro, wawrinka, Becker, etc.), i'm sure if they were 10cm taller, they would have served with higher speed (over 140mph).

    look at Isner, Raonic, and Karlovic!
    they can not only serve fast but their kick serve is huge as well with high bouncing ball!
     
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  26. Sid_Vicious

    Sid_Vicious G.O.A.T.

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    Not necessarily. First of all, even hitting 140 mph first serves is incredible.If you can crush the ball that hard, you can't use height as an excuse for why you can't go even higher. Almagro, Wawrinka, and Becker have served as big or even bigger than some guys who are 5-6 inches taller then them. I don't recall seeing Tomic (6 ft 5), Cilic (6 ft 6) , Del Potro (6 ft 6), Anderson (6 ft 7) etc. clearing the 140 mph mark on a regular basis. Heck, I believe only one of them has actually served 140 mph and that is Del Potro.

    Also, many these huge guys can't serve serve bigger than guys who are 10 cm or more shorter than them. Roddick and Lopez, for example, are 6 ft 2 and have served faster than John Isner.
     
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  27. ATP100

    ATP100 Professional

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    Knee bend is based a lot on what type of serve you do.
     
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  28. DeShaun

    DeShaun Banned

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    I'm gonna have to side with you here. Timing seems to be that without which there can be none of serving bombs for your size. Take the example of Henin; how could she at 5'6" hit spots consistently with serves clocked at 105 or more MPH? -->TIMING <--
     
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  29. always_crosscourt

    always_crosscourt Banned

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    Being tall won't give you more power, will it? It will just give you more consistency because you're approaching the box from a much more obtuse angle. If you're 5ft 6in, you may be able to hit a 145mph serve, same as a 6ft 6in guy, but the 5ft 6in guy will get that serve in play about 0.01% of the time, and the 6ft 6in guy will get it in play 80% of the time - because of the relative angle they approach the net from.

    Being hugely tall can also give you insane angles. You can hit the ball so it bounces about 10cm from the net. Eventually a tennis player will come along who is so tall that every serve he plays will be a putaway smash, and will go well into the crowd after the first bounce. I.e. it will be almost impossible to return.
     
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  30. Ross K

    Ross K Legend

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    Nicely put, PP. I'll focus on this when I play later today. :)

    Funny, I initially misread this as "the best way to become a good server is to throw a lot of things at kids"! :lol:
     
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  31. dominikk1985

    dominikk1985 Legend

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    yes. If you are tall you can serve flat and still relatively short. that gives you a much higher percentage with flat serves. with a smaller guy the flat serve will automatically land around the serve line (and sometimes beyond).
     
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  32. Andres

    Andres G.O.A.T.

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    Anderson does. Out of those 4, he's the one with the biggest serve. Del Potro does clock some high 130s, low 140s on ocasions, but he often tops around the 132-134 mark.

    Anderson serves 135 very, very often.
     
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  33. RogerRacket111

    RogerRacket111 Semi-Pro

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    Fact that her serve is so fragile inspite of being so tall. See recent Aus Open vs Li Na. Fact that she doesnt have a dependable serve
     
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  34. BeHappy

    BeHappy Hall of Fame

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    She did before her shoulder injury.
     
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  35. RogerRacket111

    RogerRacket111 Semi-Pro

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    If you have a shoulder injury you learn to serve a more accurate dependable serve not a flat uncontrollable. I've seen her before the injury she had the same issues then of blowing her serve.
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2013
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  36. ivan_the_terrible

    ivan_the_terrible Hall of Fame

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    delete post
     
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  37. ivan_the_terrible

    ivan_the_terrible Hall of Fame

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    Don't forget - it can be as simple as a 'grip change' :twisted:
     
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  38. Buford T Justice

    Buford T Justice Semi-Pro

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    I saw this guy up close in a WTT match in Sacramento last summer. I dont know what the radar gun would have said, but all I can say is BOOM. Then, more BOOM on the side. For dessert, more BOOM! The only way to return those type of serves would have to be some sort of guessing and/or luck (which perhaps are somewhat related, or maybe the same thing!)

    And honestly, the 2nd serves kicked up so high, they almost would seem harder to deal with than the big flat ropes. I dont know how they even get sent back, but many of them do. In fact, Anderson actually lost his WTT match to a very crafty John Patrick Smith (obviously ranked much lower than himself).
     
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  39. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Tall gives you that higher strikepoint, over 10', where the strikepoint can see the target (service line). Shorter doesn't.
    Tall gives you the leverage of long arms to impart swing speed.
    Tall gives you the CONFIDENCE to go for more big serves, knowing the angles are in favor.
    Short gives you generally better court coverage, if you can make it to pro level.
    Short gives you better changes of direction, and more endurance, maybe more willingness to run, if you reach pro levels.
    Short teaches you to return serves that bounce a foot higher than your head, something you need to get there.
    Short gives you tenacity, determination, and grit needed to get there.
     
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  40. Sid_Vicious

    Sid_Vicious G.O.A.T.

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    Ivan, Do you ever post a comment that doesn't imply that Nadal is a doper/cheater? :???: Seriously, its like an obession. Reminds me of Jackson_Vile's crusade to persuade people that Federer was in his prime still.
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2013
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  41. Buford T Justice

    Buford T Justice Semi-Pro

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    Another guy, who was not a basketball player (i.e. 6'-5"+) who could serve like nobodys business, was Taylor Dent. I saw him serve up close (as in netpost close while he was warming up) and holy smokes...that ball was crushed. I dont think Id even want to stand on the other side of the net without, at the least, a cup and supporter!
     
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  42. Sid_Vicious

    Sid_Vicious G.O.A.T.

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    Dent smashing a 148 mph ace against Djokovic .

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XVv6jvD1W-0


    149 mph ace against Nadal at Cincy a few months later at cincy.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=URKYWJwVsMg#t=362s
     
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  43. ivan_the_terrible

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    Nadal & his team said it was a grip change. I deem that relevant to this thread.
     
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  44. Sid_Vicious

    Sid_Vicious G.O.A.T.

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    I know. A tennis player dropping his 1st serve percentage from mid 70s all the way down to mid 60s led to an increase in average serve speed.The wonders never cease. I mean, there is no way that the drop in 1st serve percentage indicates that he was going for more on his serves. The only reasonable explanation is that he was using PEDS and that is why he was able to unfairly top his previous max serve speed by 2-3 mph and bring his avg 1st serve speed from a modest 116 mph at Wimbledon to a whooping 120 mph by the time the USO rolled around.
     
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  45. Buford T Justice

    Buford T Justice Semi-Pro

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    #45
  46. BruceD

    BruceD Rookie

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    Andy Roddick isn't a giant and look at his history of huge serves!
    Itall to do with a few biomechanics, really and flexibily of the arm and shoulder.
    All fast servs come from pronating the wrist on contact, instead of slicing or hitting a kick serve using that same motion, yet tossing the ball over your head. But we can see that in the super slow motion shots we get now, on HDTV.
    Before the contact does come a wind-up..but is a bigger one better?
    Again, looks at Roddick's serve. NO windup, just get the racquets back..very far back, for Andy's serve, and give it a WHACK!
    There are some Youtube videos on this subject, that are easy to find. They show how flexible Andy's arm is and how far back his elbow can bend, while lying on his back. If I tried to bend as far as his, it would rip my old tendons apart!It's much more than the 45 degrees most people can do, at an incredible 90 degrees or more!
    Add strong legs to propel you up and into the serve, with a bit of trunk twist all towards getting that shoulder to SNAP your arm, like whipe, ending wioth the racquet hitting the ball.
    Relax, and toss the ball a little higher than usual, at first, to give you a little more time and it will soon feel natural. Then you can start to CRANK IT UP!
    Just like the Pro's do!
     
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  47. BruceD

    BruceD Rookie

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    Also, aces don't always come from powerful shots.
    Many are from extremely spinney shots, that are either hit at such and angle to a sideline, that they are un-playable.
    Others spin away from the opponent, up the middle and after bouncing, keep spinning away, as he disparately runs to try to hit it!
    Right now, big tall guys seem to dominate the big Ace hitting game.
    Nobody experiments with a service motion. All players learn to hit overhead serves, assuming this is the best way to hit a big serve.
    Spin & Speed is ALL that's needed, really.
    What if someone developed a SIDE ARM service motion. From the first few weeks of hitting, maybe? Imagine Nadal's snapping cross-court forehands..but from a ball he tosses from his own hand, as a serve?
    How about someone that can play Volleyball, who hits a RUNNING JUMP SERVE, that they learned in grade school, picking up a racquet and trying that technique on a tennis ball?
    I coach some kids the basics of the game, using the walls of their apt.'s to hit on.
    Some WANT to hit a sidearm serve, all want to jump on a serve. I also invented Wall Tennis.
    Watch for changes in the future of the game, is all I will say.

    Nothing that stays the same, survives!
     
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  48. IgnatusP

    IgnatusP Banned

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    Technique is far more important than strength, but strength also plays a role. As do factors like racket weight and string tension.

    The physics of serve are not mysterious. The kinetic energy imparted on the ball on impact will be maximized by increasing the tangential velocity of the point of contact on the racket, the racket weight, and the tension on the strings.

    Upper body strength is important, especially on the wrist and forearm. And also important are antropometric constants like the length of the serving arm.

    All this can be quantified. There are many factors to be sure, but the process is not mysterious by any stretch of the imagination. It is simple physics.
     
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  49. IgnatusP

    IgnatusP Banned

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    I forgot to mention that the closest the ball strikes the racket to the racket's center of mass, the more efficient will be the transfer of energy. And, lastly, a very important overlooked factor would be the physical characteristics of the tennis balls themselves (mass and elasticity). I can only assume the mass of tennis balls used by the ATP is rigidly regulated, but obviously a lower mass would result in faster serves all factors being equal. Similarly, a more rigid (less elastic) ball would result in a marginally faster serve.
     
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  50. [d]ragon

    [d]ragon Hall of Fame

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    Olivier Rochus hit a 135er. He's 5'5
     
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