Do you aim "upwards" on the serve?

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by morten, Oct 20, 2007.

  1. morten

    morten Hall of Fame

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    I sort of aim down, my serve is not too good..... and i cant get a kick either...I mean as you hit the ball.
     
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  2. Mahboob Khan

    Mahboob Khan Hall of Fame

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    In the third component of the swing (the backscratch) the racket is lifted from your back to above your head. Because the racket head is moving upward, this will put some topspin on the ball even on the first serve.

    Yes, for the second kick serve almost all the Pros hit up on the ball. Let's say that the face of the ball is a clock. For the kick serve, you defuzz the ball from 7 to 1 o'clock positions. This upward and out movement of the strings, will put enough forward rotation on the ball to cause it dip inside the box and then jump up.
     
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  3. morten

    morten Hall of Fame

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    anyone else?
     
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  4. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    I aim down on the ball, trying to get on top of it.

    I don't have a kick or topspin serve, though.
     
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  5. Oleg

    Oleg New User

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    Every type of serve requires swinging upward on the ball to a different degree. Unless you are 7 ft tall or if you do not mind having only a 3 inch window above the net to hit through.

    Top spin on the ball provides consistency, conrol, makes it more difficult to track for the receiving player, more pace and action after the bounce.
     
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  6. RoddickistheMan

    RoddickistheMan Professional

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    Totally agree. If you look at a pitchers motion a serve is basically the same motion but instead of throwing forward you are throwing directly upward. It took me forever to grasp that concept, and it is definitely the most important concept to understand.
    ________
    YAMAHA ARTIST HISTORY
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2011
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  7. Bagumbawalla

    Bagumbawalla Hall of Fame

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    Imagine hittiing a topspin drive. Are you hittiing upwardward or forward?

    Don't try to answer, because it is a poorly worded question that assumes a one-or-the-other type answer.

    Same thing in the original question to this thread.

    Just as in a topspin drive where your main force is directed forward and some of the force is angled upward, as follow-through, to create spin-- something similar happens in most serves. Most of the momentum is directed "forward" while the follow-through angles off at an "upward" angle to impart some kind of spin (depending on the exact angle).

    To imagine all of the force directed "up" would be an over-simplification.
     
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  8. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

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    In the serve, your target is the ball, not the service box. Your racquet should be aimed up at the ball, not forward.

    A good drill to get this is as follows. (no racquet needed). Get two tennis balls, one to toss like you regularly do, and the other to throw at the tossed ball.

    Go thru your service motion and try to hit the ball that you just tossed with the other ball. This is what your swing should look like. (Throwing the racquet up at the tossed ball).

    What actually happens when you serve though is that the racquet when swung up, naturally snaps down causing the ball to go into the service box.

    (HOpe I explained this in a manner you understand. )

    Good luck.
     
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  9. ubel

    ubel Professional

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    I gotta disagree with that.. I think the topspin serve is two-parts:
    (a) the forward motion of the racquet through the ball pushes it towards the service box (velocity).
    (b) the upward/diagonal brushing motion of the racquet imparts topspin+sidespin on the ball, which increases ball's angle of arc [think vertically stretched sin graph] (increases likelihood of ball landing in).

    Doesn't that make sense?

    And to the OP: on my first serve my aim is ever so slightly downward, but I'm still swinging upward and forward through the ball to impart topspin.. My second serve I aim slightly upward so as to create an arc. I'm still working on understanding it fully, but at least it works :D
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2007
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  10. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

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    ^^^ Well, if we are talking about the topspin serve the trajectory of the racquet is altogether different. The racquet is going upwards but also traveling from left to right.


    Bolleteri (spelling), has a real good video (Sonic Serve) that shows the drill I'm talking about.
     
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  11. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    I know the theory, but I have to go with Cindy on this one. For flat serves and even slice serves, I think I hit down on the ball. To increase depth, I aim more forward instead of down. But I don't think I am hitting up. For topspin serve, I do have a slight upward motion at the end.
     
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  12. nousername

    nousername Rookie

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    i think what you said here is right, even the last point, but where i don't agree is the original posters was not concerned about forward vs upward... he was essentially taking for granted the "forward" part and was wondering what to do about the vertical component? ... should you focus on down or up?

    the answer being, UP.

    see point 3 (and the whole thing too) in this fairly extensive post i wrote:
    http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showpost.php?p=1820210&postcount=10
     
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  13. Trinity TC

    Trinity TC Semi-Pro

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    I used to try to pound the first serve parallel to the ground...with the knowledge that it has a bit of top and side spin which along with gravity give it the necessary downward trajectory to carry it to the service line. Mechanical keys were to not pull my head down too soon nor too much.
     
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  14. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Everyone says they are aiming up. But are they? (for non-kick serves).

    What about the infamous "wrist snap"? Would that still be considered aiming up?

    If the serve is similar to an overhead, do you aim upwards in overhead smashes?

    I can understand a volleyball floater serve being aimed upwards. Somehow I could never visualize it in tennis. I need to study this more.
     
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  15. nousername

    nousername Rookie

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    i second the other guy that didn't agree... this i definitely not true. the "snap" or more precisely pronation, imparts a purely forward and upward motion to the racquet. never think down on a serve.

    if that sounds confusing or not intuitive, and are wondering how the heck the ball gets down into the courts... PLEASE HOLD ON... there's a very good explanation. here is what should bring the ball down on a good serve:

    1) the upward motion of the swing which is accelerated by pronation imparts topspin on the ball. topspin brings the ball into the court.
    2) the angle of the racquet face is forward and slightly down, which is a result of the toss being into the court AND the motion of the server as he strikes the ball. that angle EVEN if the racquet is moving upward and forward will impart a downward force on the ball.

    point to note and NEVER forget: at contact on a serve, the racquet should have purely horizontal motions (i.e. upward/sideways) and forward motion. that covers them all: flat, slice, kick, whatever

    if you think DOWN and you try to hit the ball down, all you will do is impart back spin on the ball b/c you'll tend to pull down on your arm.... that's never good on a serve, and will likely cause it to go long.
     
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  16. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

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    ^^^ Yes. You are aiming up at the ball. Remember, your contact point with the racquet is the ball, not the ground. So, you aim up to make contact with the ball, which is above your head, rather than down at the ground.
     
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  17. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

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    Yes it is true. As for the rest of your post, you don't need to put any topspin to get the ball into the court. And no, you don't have to be 9 feet tall either. A 5'5'' person could put a flat serve (no spin) into the court, so get your facts straight. And weher do I state to "think down"? I have said to swing up.

    Here is a serve that went into the service box at over 100+. Please show me where the racquet face is facing down?


    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2007
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  18. nousername

    nousername Rookie

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    yes, to all. =) literally...

    the only exception is for some overhead smashes, but that's b/c it is a very different situation. one, you are likely close to the net; two, sometimes you can get away with letting the ball drop a little lower than on a serve, and three, your smash doesn't need to land inside the service line. but on all others, i still aim up on my overheads.
     
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  19. nousername

    nousername Rookie

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    your right a 5'5" person can get a flat serve in the court without any of my advice, but i guarantee he could get a bigger faster one in the court if he aims up and gets the right spin on it. if you get a chance, watch the pros from court level. you will quickly see even their huge "flat" server have a LOT of topspin.

    i'm not trying to offend anyone, i just repeating stuff i learned that greatly helped my game, and i just want to pass it on to others... take it or leave it.
     
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  20. nousername

    nousername Rookie

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    a few things (nice pic by the way)...

    - i mentioned 2 points, you quoted one. i had them ordered 1-2 for a reason.
    - in the point you quoted, i said "slightly" down
    - your pic is just before contact. "move" forward a millisec... won't the racquet then be "slightly" down?
    - it's a snapshot, no velocity can be seen. i'm sure the racquet has no downward component of velocity.

    i can completely agree that this serve was 100+.
     
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  21. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

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    I have seen pros up close and taken pictures of them up close. Here is a thread where I attended the United States Clay Court Championships for 45's. I took over 600 pictures. In every picture where I captured the contact point, not one person has the racquet face facing down at contact. Not one.

    http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=161872

    And again, I have repeatedly stated to swing up. Please read what I have posted. By the way, the more spin put on the ball, the slower it will go, so you are wrong when you state one could "get a bigger faster one in the court if he aims up and gets the right spin on it".
     
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  22. Frank Silbermann

    Frank Silbermann Professional

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    I could not get the feel of a topspin serve until I got the idea of trying to hit a very short topspin lob from a ball that is above my head.

    I did not get the feel of a heavily sliced serve until I thought about hitting a short lob with side-spin from a point over my head.

    I guess the idea is that the point of contact is NOT the highest point in the ball's trajectory. Thinking of it as a lob was a way of overcompensating for my tendency to hit down into the net.
     
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  23. Trinity TC

    Trinity TC Semi-Pro

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    I'm with you, sureshs...I actually visualize the tennis first serve as being similar to the spike serve in volleyball. I don't think about hitting up, down or sideways because my arm swing was pretty much established from years of throwing a baseball, softball etc. I think more about accelerating the racquet in a trajectory that is parallel to the ground just before the point of contact.

    You can trip yourself up trying to break down everything into it's smallest component and over analyzing the problem. The problem is overanalysis.

    Morten...take the racquet out of your hand and put in it's place a handball (are you European?) or small playground ball that you can grip comfortably with one hand. Practice throwing that for awhile until you develop a good throwing motion. It should take you about ten days to two weeks...or you can overthink the problem and never figure out the service swing.
     
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  24. nousername

    nousername Rookie

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    i really don't know what you are trying to prove. none of those pictures disproves anything i said... i said slightly downward. your pic in this thread, and "some" of the ones you link confirm that (most are inconclusive b/c of blur... post #77 is the best). go find some real pictures, like a good 1000 fps video of some touring pros and watch.

    as for the topspin issue, in a sense you are right... but not really... topspin always gives you the potential to hit harder. ball X traveling 100 mph with no spin, or ball Y traveling 100 mph with topspin, which is more likely to go in?
     
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  25. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

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    I didn't link that thread to show you pics of guys serving and making contact, I posted it so you are aware I have seen pros up close and taken photos of them as well. And the photo in this thread is at contact, not before.

    Sorry, but I am right. It is harder to get more pace on a ball with spin, than without.

    Furthermore, one has to impart way more energy, and have a much faster swing speed into a topsin serve going 100 mph, than a flat serve going 100mph.

    Lastly, like I said>>> throughout this thread I have been stating to swing up (same as you), so go back and read, before you state I am incorrect.
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2007
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  26. nousername

    nousername Rookie

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    you're right... we are kind of on the same page: swing up. guess we just disagree about the details.

    your right there is more energy in a 100mph+topspin than 100mph+flat, but the thing with the serve is that it is such a complex shot, and SO many recreational players do it incorrectly. with improper technique, it's VERY easy to waste energy in the service motion. if there's some dude serving 100mph flat with bad technique, he is ABSOLUTELY using MUCH more energy than a guy with good technique who can serve at 115mph with a nice flat-topspin serve.

    rec players are usually NO WHERE near their power potential. i'm just trying to help people tap that power-potential, so they can use it effectively on their serve... if they learn how to tap it, they can then put that power potential into spin or speed on their serve.
     
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  27. nousername

    nousername Rookie

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    surprised you are arguing this point... we all can see the photo.

    in addition, contact on any shot is not instantaneous, the ball rests in the strings for a finite amount of time. even in your referenced pic, what do you think the angle of the racquet looked like when the ball just left the string bed?

    also, keep in mind, the "slightly forward" was my 2nd point, AND i only said "slightly" for a reason.

    you might want to check the link here captioned as "Where do High Speed Tennis Serves come from?"
    http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showpost.php?p=299990&postcount=22

    for ease, i'm specifically talking about this (see towards the bottom):
    http://www.coachesinfo.com/category/tennis/202

    two of the better servers the game has seen, sampras and phillipoussis, both when serving 1st serves at 120mph+ had topspin in the range of 2000-2500rpm. a GOOD "flat"-first serve *will* have a good amount of topspin. if you cannot generate pace and spin on a flat 1st serve i think there is likely a problem with the technique. you make it sound impossible to generate spin and speed at the same time. it seems like you don't have much faith in what your bodies can actually do.

    topspin on a "flat" serve adds consistency, control, and higher serve percentages, and by trying to teach flat serves otherwise is doing a disservice to the players (i believe).
    -----------------
    EDIT: oh, yeah, one other benefit of topspin on a flat serve: adds more "action" after the bounce, thus making them more difficult for the returner to track and return.
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2007
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  28. nousername

    nousername Rookie

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    oops... this was suppose to be:
     
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  29. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Shhhhhhhhhhh . . . Don't let the secret out! :)

    Seriously, I had read on these boards that you should hit up up up on serves. It totally wasn't working for me. Lots of serves flying long or having nothing on them. Finally, I asked my pro during a lesson.

    He said you should get on top of the ball and hit down for flat and slice, with topspin being a different species altogether. My serve improved in consistency and pace just in the course of that one lesson, and the improvement has stuck. If my serve goes off in a match, the first thing I do is tell myself to slow down and be more careful with the toss. The second thing I tell myself is to hit down on the ball.
     
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  30. nousername

    nousername Rookie

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    i actually sounds like you might be doing the same as what we all mean by "hit up". it's just that some of our minds operate differently, and maybe you (and others) are ones that just take slightly different mental cues to get your body to do the right thing... make sense? ... maybe??? =)

    hitting "down" can kind of be good, as long as you are truly trying to reach up and over the ball to get on top of it so you can hit down. since the toss is far above the head, then only way to get "down" on it is to... go up first. if you are actually trying to hit down on the very top of the ball, then you are probably properly going "up" to it.

    since it's actually impossible to hit the top of the ball, in *trying* to do so, one will "inadvertently" brush up the back of the ball which imparts topspin. that's a good thing.

    imagine looking at a right-hand server from his back and imagine the ball is a clock, from this view contact should start at 3 o'clock and the racquet face should rotate up and over the ball towards 12 o'clock (never actually reaching 12 o'clock though). this can be accomplished by "reaching up", OR in your case by really reaching for the 12 o'clock spot to hit down.

    what you said about a kick being a whole different beast, i don't really agree with. the only difference (in my view) is a slightly different toss, and a slightly different swing motion and possibly a different grip. but all the "upward" (or "down") stuff and the rotate/brush up from 3 to 12 o'clock is all the same.... or at least that's the way i'd tell people (other's like drakulie may not agree).
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2007
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  31. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    I think you may be right.

    When I tried to hit up on the ball, I was probably hitting more toward the bottom of the ball, causing serves to fly long.

    And as a matter of physics, I imagine that if one hits down on a tennis ball, the ball will land on one's big toe.

    So it is all about mental imagery on some level. I'm sure glad my pro straightened me out, because I was seriously getting frustrated!

    Regarding kick serves and suchlike, I will defer to others. I know my pro spent a few minutes just showing me what it should look like, and we agreed my practice time would be better spent learning to do the things that might actually help me win a point in a match (groundstrokes and volleys).
     
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  32. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    But if you hit up on the ball, it should go towards the sky.

    Let us take slice and topspin serves out of the picture for now and look at flat serves only. Question is: at the moment of contact, what is the direction of the normal (perpendicular line) to the string plane? I would say it is down and forward, approximately joining the ball to the bounce point on the ground. I cannot see this as hitting up in any manner.

    Now, what about the trajectory of the normal prior to getting there? It is indeed an upward motion, followed by a downward snap at the end, like an arc of a circle.

    In a floater volleyball serve, an upward hit on the side of the ball has enough horizontal velocity component to get it across, but there is no need to keep the ball within a service box. For a spike serve, the hit has a downward component in addition to the forward component, but not an upward component.

    I cannot see the upward motion in tennis automatically resulting in a downward snap because the racquet face is closed. The racquet is a rigid, linear entity. One part cannot be going down while the other part is going up, whatever is the angle of the face.

    For the slice, I think the downward motion is still needed. For the kick, I agree the ball can be struck up and topspin will bring it down.
     
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  33. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    That is what I said and I did not even charge for it.
     
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  34. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    I once attended a Vic Braden clinic and he said serves should be pitched as in baseball. I did not take it seriously, and thought that is a last-minute attempt to salvage a botched toss. Then, I saw Federer hit some serves as if he was pitching them, with a bend at the elbow. This reminded me of the infamous and illegal "throw ball" in cricket: the arm is supposed to swing like the hand of a clock, with no bend at the elbow, but every now and then, a player would "pitch" it, and the sports board would look at videos to issue a ruling.
     
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  35. Rafa freak

    Rafa freak Semi-Pro

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    how tall are you.
     
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  36. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    On the very first page, the White, Yellow and Sleeveless guys all appear to be hitting down on the serve. Now, could be after contact, but that is all I can make out in the photos.
     
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  37. Slazenger

    Slazenger Professional

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    I think there's a whole issue of semantics going on here with people describing the same thing but with different sensations.

    I will say that you don't hit down on your serve. You will net the serve everytime or end up brushing slightly downwards on your serve giving it some backspin.

    You definitely swing up to hit over the net. The swing is not a straight drive down into the court.
    YOu are swinging up, but the ball goes into the opposing service box and not the sky because you don't leave the arm extended out straight towards the opponents service box. You do extend the arm up into contact but the forearm and wrist pronate as a consequence of the service motion and grip.

    [​IMG]

    Pros have such major pronation, that is why they can get such big serves in.

    When teaching students I definitely have them swinging upwards on the serve.
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2007
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  38. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    What is "you"? In my definition, it is the closest part of my body to the racquet, i.e., my palm and wrist. If it pronates, that means that "I" am hitting down, not up (for non-kick serves). What my upper arm is doing, or my legs are doing, etc are very important, but what matters to the ball is the perpendicular direction to the string plane at impact. The ball does not know the history of what my arm was doing before.
     
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  39. morten

    morten Hall of Fame

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    Quote: "The problem is overanalysis."

    Too late, i can throw very far, very athletic guy, tall too, but a major flaw thought to me as a 13 yo messed up my serve, making me consentrate too much on the pronation, not letting it happen. Also visualizing my idol Edberg did`nt help either. I am top 60 in my country with a weak serve, pushing the ball....
     
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  40. hjminard

    hjminard Rookie

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    This thread is confusing ...

    It seems to me that you DO swing up at the ball ... initially ... but at contact (on a flat serve) the racquet face would have to be either vertical or angled very slight downward.

    Most flat serves I've seen (including mine) have some spin, but certainly not enough to keep the ball in the box if it doesn't have the correct trajectory. I don't see how it could possibly achieve that trajectory if the racquet face was pointing upward.

    I'm no expert ... but I see it as an upward swing path initially, but by contact with the ball the path has reached it's vertical peak and has (just barely) started to travel downward.
     
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  41. Slazenger

    Slazenger Professional

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    It may feel like you are hitting down on your serve, but I can assure you, you aren't (If you are serving with a continental grip or eastern bh with good form.)
     
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  42. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Agreed. Even with slice added to a flat serve (which comes naturally with a continental grip, not so much with an eastern grip), there is not enough differential downward air pressure to bring down the serve. The slice also mainly contributes to a sideways shift in any case (and a little downward one too). The serve has to be hit down (and forward).
     
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  43. nousername

    nousername Rookie

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    for those wondering about the trajectory of the serve to the service box, note that the best "angle" to the service box is from the doubles alley over the center of the net INTO the far corner of the service box. when serving from this point, to get a straight shot to the court you must hit the ball at over 8 ft above the ground. all other places on the court, require contact points even higher than that. sooo... unless you are over 6ft tall and always serving from the doubles alley to the far corner of the service box it is not likely that you can rely only on gravity.... you need spin, unless you serve really slow then gravity will do the job.

    if you really, have doubt about the benefit of spin on a flat serve, i again reference the link a few of my posts back. it gives stats on the spin from sampras and phillipoussis's 120mph+ serves. they both have 2000-25000 rpm of spin.
     
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  44. nousername

    nousername Rookie

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    if you are standing flat, and you hold up your hand and pronate... yes, the racquet goes down. but when you serve, you are far below the ball, knees bent, and you go up to the ball. there is so much upward motion at the point of contact, the pronation combines with the extention of your forearm all results in a net upward velocity of the racquet head.

    but you are correct the plane of the racquet is still slightly downward, but don't let that mislead you in thinking the racquet must be moving down. it's not.... or more correctly, is shouldn't be moving downward. the angle will, as you correctly point out, give you the proper trajectory: down towards the service box. the upward motion gives the spin to bring it in the court.... note my previous post about the trajectory, not many players have a clear shot into the box... and even if you do, adding spin give you many benefits which i pointed out many times in this thread.
     
    #44
  45. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Most people seem to serve from close to the center line in singles, and a few feet away from it in doubles. They seem to do it with all kinds of serves - flat, slice and kick.

    There are some who serve as you said - and they do happen to be tall.
     
    #45
  46. nousername

    nousername Rookie

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    so true... i'm looking for some good pics and videos, so this issue can be put to rest. please post if you find something conclusive...
     
    #46
  47. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    The only way I can see that happen (again, for non-kick serves) is if the racquet was kept at a closed face, then launched like a cannon at an acute angle to the ground, and hits the ball tangentially. Then the ball will go forward and down. This is in fact the case with a "topspin" serve in table tennis - the paddle surface is pulled from low to high, catching the tossed ball tangentially.

    Since the tennis serve is usually overhand and involves a rotation of the arm, this kind of motion does not seem possible.
     
    #47
  48. nousername

    nousername Rookie

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    don't know if you are agreeing or disagreeing ... my point was that most people that do not have clear straight-line shot to the box. in such a case, a *truly* flat hard shot (100+) is very hard to go in for people of average stature without some help. gravity helps, but spin can help to a much greater extent.
     
    #48
  49. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Agreeing.

    Disagreement was with something else - whether the ball is hit up or down in flat and slice serves. If topspin is added, upward motion is needed, as we all seem to agree.
     
    #49
  50. nousername

    nousername Rookie

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    ok, i see....

    i think we'd also agree that on any serve the net force is down... otherwise how does it get to the court? right... =)

    the question is how to get that downward force. i tend to believe that "good" serves of all varieties (flat, slice, kick, etc) require that the velocity vector of the racquet head will always have a non-zero upward component during contact... that combined with the proper head angle will produce a net downward force.
     
    #50

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