Extent of racket drop

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by gzhpcu, Mar 7, 2009.

  1. gzhpcu

    gzhpcu Professional

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    I have been discussing with our local tennis pro the extent of the racket drop on the serve. I have been trying to get my racket down lower on the backswing for some time now.

    My pro said that there were some pros in the past who did not have as great a racket drop as, say Roddick. Apart from biomechanical aspects, such as bone structure, flexibility, etc., the question is how much the additional racket drop actually contributes to serve speed.

    An example my pro cited was Andre Gomez, who won Roland Garros in 1990 against Agassi.
    If you watch this link carefully, you will see the extent of the racket drop he does not bend his elbow so much, so that the racket drop is not that pronounced: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vyWLtpYsen8

    It seems to me, that perhaps, the question might be similar to the various backswing options on, say the forehand. On the forehand, there is the big loopy backswing, and the abbreviated straight back backswing. Similarly, on the serve you have the abbreviated take back versus the big circular backswing.

    Irrespective of which backswing is chosen on the forehand, a point of consideration is the resulting backdrop position. In men's professional tennis, the take back is in general less than those of the women. Just compare Federer's backpoint to that of Sharapova. And the men certainly hit harder than the women (yes, I know they are stronger...). This seems to be related to the entire forehand swing in modern tennis have more of a linear trajectory and less of a circular trajectory (seen from above).

    Now, what I wonder is if the same applies to the serve? How much does an extra 6 to 12 inches of racket drop impact the speed of the serve? Gomez was a big server, who did not get a racket drop anywhere close to Roddick. Also, another difference I seem to detect, is that Roddick's ultimate backdrop position is closer to his body, than Gomez's is. Gomez seems to compensate the lesser backdrop extent, by a larger distance of his backdrop from his body.

    Any opinons?
     
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  2. J011yroger

    J011yroger G.O.A.T.

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    Interesting topic. Of course I don't have any sort of concrete answer for you, but I will stick around for the discussion.

    J
     
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  3. Lotto

    Lotto Professional

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    Compared to Sampras and Roddick, Federer also doesn't have the biggest racquet drop......

    I don't have an answer either but I presume that the deeper the racquet drop, the more time there is for the racquet to gain speed?

    I have no idea though to be hoenst. Maybe one of the teaching pros could answer this.
     
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  4. larry10s

    larry10s Hall of Fame

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    without the ability to slo mo and stop frame a video it is impossible to asses racquet drop adequately imho. if you think about it this way at the racquet drop the butt cap is pointing at the ball. the distance the racquet travels allows it to gain speed and momentum . think of it as the length of the dragstrip you can race on. the longer the distance the more speed you can acquire. also the racquet drop is also obtained by the proper sequence of the kinetic chain . the leg thrust up timing of all the parts when done correctly help to "push the shouder down and maximize racquet drop . so if you have a great racquet drop you probably have the timing of the other parts of the serve in sync. last but not least even if you can find 1 or 2 player with good serve ( i dont ever recall hearing andes gommez as a great server) and poor racquet drop, all the GREAT servers had a GREAT racquet drop position. that is why it is so important. IMHO
     
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  5. J011yroger

    J011yroger G.O.A.T.

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    ^^^ Agreed, and even on normal video frame by frame, it is hard to find the deepest point of racquet drop.

    Here are 4 frames extracted from 2 serves at the end of this video.

    http://vimeo.com/3514338

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Only the 2nd one is close to max drop.

    I will try to get some high speed footage when I start serving outside, and that should be tremendously better for seeing.

    J
     
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  6. Leoboomanu

    Leoboomanu Rookie

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    I don't even believe one should be conscious with the 'racquet drop'...
    just get to the trophy position (no matter how you start it, no matter what stance)...
    the 'racquet drop' will happen!!!
    as you push forward and up with your legs...
    as your body recoils powerfully towards the ball...
    the racket will 'lag' and drop "usefully" to create the needed head speed...
    if the racquet doesn't drop, you're doing something wrong...
    Gomez has a racquet drop sir...

    That is in my own words OP...sorry:)

    Nice, powerful stance jR... very intimidating...hehehe
     
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  7. gzhpcu

    gzhpcu Professional

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    Yes, sure Gomez has a racket drop, but by far not as much as Roddick has. I have often heard that the racket drop just happens if you are loose and you get to the trophy position, but IMHO, it is not that all easy for all persons. I am not saying the racket drop won't happen, I am just asking about the extent of the racket drop. Gomez's seems to go down to about a foot less than Roddick does. So, my question is if that extra 6 inches to a foot makes that much of a difference....
     
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  8. gzhpcu

    gzhpcu Professional

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    Yes, but drawing a parallel to the modern forehand, which is linear, the racket take back is not that extreme as it used to be.
     
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  9. larry10s

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    YES YES YES YES. DID I SAY YES?
     
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  10. larry10s

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  11. larry10s

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  12. larry10s

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  13. gzhpcu

    gzhpcu Professional

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    The first link is of Roddick's forehand, not his serve. The other two links don't work.
     
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  14. gzhpcu

    gzhpcu Professional

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    Just to be clear: am not questioning the necessity of the racket drop, just, whether or not getting a bit more drop really makes such a big difference...
     
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  15. larry10s

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    ^^^^^^^ see answer above. sorry about the links will look again and post them. the racquet drop and time in and out of it along with propoer mechanics (timing of the kinetic chain) is very important.the biggest difference between club players , good servers and great servers is how well they do the aforementioned things
     
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  16. larry10s

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  17. larry10s

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  18. larry10s

    larry10s Hall of Fame

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    the position where the upper arm is parrallel to the ground or even better the elbow is higher and the racquet is along the right side if your body perpendicular to the ground the top of the hoop gets down to around the upper thigh and parralel to your body makes for a great racquet drop position. if only i could do it!!!!!
     
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  19. J011yroger

    J011yroger G.O.A.T.

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    ^^^ If you watch this vid of pete recently, his racquet drop isn't nearly as deep.

    I don't think it is any deeper than mine.

    Will try to film some of my own serves in high speed for a comparison.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-fHO7dnt2eY&NR=1

    J
     
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  20. Djokovicfan4life

    Djokovicfan4life Legend

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  21. basil J

    basil J Hall of Fame

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    I actually had some video analysis done on my serve last year and found that My serve had a very minimal raquet drop and was mostly wrist and followthrough. I was quite shockd because I could get some decent pace even with a flawed motion. My pro had me practice my ideal service motion with no ball over & over again, then had me toss the ball high enough to finish my motion & swing under the ball before the ball came down in the strike zone.
    He then had me practice serves starting in the racquet drop position , my fist by my ear, butt of the racquet facing up, focusing on a relaxed arm, constant eye on the ball through contact and relaxed breathing, using my knee bend and momentum into the court as my basis for power.
    It took about 3 months of working on this and now I have a nice natural racquet drop and relaxed serve with more pop, spin and variety than I had before. When I warm up my serve, I always start serving from the drop position and then work up to a full motion. It really worked wonders for me and helped out my shoulder as well.
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2009
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  22. Nellie

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    I have read in articles about Sampras's serve that with the backscratch, each extra inch was an extra mph on the serve. I do not know the basis for that number or the physics behind it.
     
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  23. larry10s

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    see next post
     
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  24. larry10s

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    in both videos he gets his upper arm parralel to the court etc. if you look at the second time he serves in the first video his drop is down around the thigh.. another difference between the 2 videos is samoras is around 35 in the first one and looks like in his 20's in the second one. as your flexibility deceases its tougher to get as deep,a drop
     
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  25. treo

    treo Rookie

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    Both Roddick and Hingis have deep racquet drops. One has a great serve, the other doesn't.
     
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  26. gzhpcu

    gzhpcu Professional

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    Right. The question is, if for us mortal players, striving for, say an extra 6 inches of racket drop, will we achieve an appreciable increase in speed/spin by doing so?

    Another question is, how much of a difference is there between a very deep racket drop, with the racket parallel to the right side of the body, as opposed to a less deep drop (say 6 inches), with the racket farther away from the body?
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2009
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  27. GPB

    GPB Professional

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    I practiced today with a heavier racket than I've gotten used to, and I had to FORCE myself to have a nice, deep racket drop in order to keep any serves in. It reminded me of this thread so I figured I'd chime in.
     
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  28. gzhpcu

    gzhpcu Professional

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  29. blue12

    blue12 Rookie

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    How are the lights in that facility? Looks like all florescent bulbs. I've never seen that before.
     
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  30. gzhpcu

    gzhpcu Professional

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    Here is a video of her serve:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qvQQydsd3tg

    Despite the very good drop, her serve was not particularly strong on the WTA tour...
     
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  31. J011yroger

    J011yroger G.O.A.T.

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    Terrific. I love direct lighting. I play so much better under it.

    J
     
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  32. larry10s

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    although martina was not known as a great serve she could still hit a 100mph serve.to be a great server you have to have placement, disguise ,nerves etc. that is not the op question. when you do not get a great drop the racquet comes up more across your back on the way up so you are appraoching the contact differently than when coming into the hit from the slot. some of us (me) due to flexibility issues may never get to sampras's position. also the drop is not a position you can force yourself into to do it correctly. it happens partly from the leg drive and upward thrust causing the shoulder to drop when the timing is correct. can a player have a decent serve without a great drop .yes. but if the drop is talked about so much dont you guess it is important . last but not least do you know a great server that does not have a great drop.
     
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  33. larry10s

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    still great serving is more than just racquet drop .if you look at feds serve he does not get as deep a drop as sampras or roddick for example (still upper arm fairly parrallel racquet along right side of body) but does so many other parts so well diguise, placement, wicked kicker etc that what makes him such an effective server. i am sure if his racquet drop were deeper he would add afew more mph to his serve.
     
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  34. Puma

    Puma Rookie

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    I agree 100% here.....Same stuff about racket drop is true in golf as well. What I am referring to in golf is called, "Lag". If during the downswing of the golf club you stop the camera when the players hands are near his right pocket, notice how high up the club head is. This is called "lag" in a golf swing. There are several pro players who have unbelievable lag. Couples, that spainish kid, even Hogan has trememdous lag in his swing.

    Notice that everyone who swings a golf club will have lag, or some. At least someone with a somewhat orthodox swing. Just like Tennis, someone with a somewhat orthodox serve will have some racket drop.

    As Larrys says above, the drop is caused by several factors including flexibility and needs great timing as well. He also asks the question, do you know a great server who doesn't have a great drop? Well, the same question can be asked in golf as well. Do you know a great ball striker (and powerfull) who doesn't have great lag?

    You guys may not know or care much about the golf swing and thats ok. But there are some comparisons between the mechanis of a tennis stroke and a golf swing that are quite intriguing to me.

    So, I think for tennis in regards to the drop, the best thing to do is focus on perfecting the mechanics of the stroke. Athletic ability, flexibility and how far you proceed with the process will be the limiting factor for racket drop. My .02
     
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  35. blue12

    blue12 Rookie

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    Yeah I've never played in an indoor facility that had good lighting. Where is that club at?
     
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  36. gzhpcu

    gzhpcu Professional

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    I agree that great serving is more than the racket drop. I just wanted to isolate this one element, and try and figure out what an improvement of, say 6 inches, contributes to serve speed/spin.

    I pulled the Gomez video I posted onto my PC so that I could look at it frame-by-frame. Even though the quality is not very good, I can still tell that his drop seems to be almost a foot less than that of Sampras, but that the distance of the racket head from his body seems to be appreciably greater. Can this greater distance from the body, compensate the lesser racket drop?
     
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  37. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    probably 10-15% if you are doing the other fundamentals correctly.

    I am convinced it, along with delayed elbow extension are the critical aspects that separate the top MPH PRO servers from the upper, but more avg MPH PRO servers.

    Most all pros have nearly all the other fundamentals in place, but drop and delay are nearly always weaker in the servers who don't break the 130 mark regularly.
    To contrast, i have never observed a PRO server that regularly hit over 130, that didn't have excellent drop and delay.
     
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  38. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    what is his serve speed on that serve??
    that would be critical for the vid to be of use in your study.
     
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  39. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    slow swing and slightly early elbow extension, destroy most on what he excellent racket drop would give her.

    I can get racket drop and not swing fast and of course the serve will be slow.

    But can anyone not get the drop and delay, but serve fast? that is where the truth lies.
     
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  40. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    Sweet! nice work.
     
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  41. gzhpcu

    gzhpcu Professional

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    Hard to say. He did reach a number 4 ranking in the world, and beat Agassi in the French open final of 1990.
     
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  42. gzhpcu

    gzhpcu Professional

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    Agree. The delay results in a faster whipping action...

    What I still wonder, though, if you draw a parallel with the forehand (am assuming one can, but I could be wrong...), is that a less extreme maximum backswing point, results in a bigger forehand. If you face Federer or Nadal when they hit their forehands, the racket head stays at the right side of the body (for the observer: appears to the left), whereas, in the case of women, the racket head can be seen, going beyond the back, to the left side of the body (appears to the right). So, even though the acceleration path is longer, the men don't do it. (OK, probably because the women's forehand seen from above, has a more circular trajectory, as opposed to Federer, who has a linear trajectory - except for the finish).
     
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  43. larry10s

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    its apples and oranges .serves and forehands . good luck on your quest i cant take the resistance anymore.
     
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  44. gzhpcu

    gzhpcu Professional

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    Guess you are right. Thanks...
     
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  45. larry10s

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    i should have more patience. i apologize. good luck
     
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  46. gzhpcu

    gzhpcu Professional

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    No problem...
     
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  47. J011yroger

    J011yroger G.O.A.T.

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    Long Island NY, There are a bunch lit like that here.

    J
     
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  48. J011yroger

    J011yroger G.O.A.T.

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    We think that (meaning I hit the serves and they tell me) it is a lack of lag that is keeping me out of the 130's.

    A couple of guys have different theorys, and in regular speed, even stepping through frame by frame it looks good to me, but as I showed above once I come out of the trophy pose, there is so much movement between frames that I can't see clearly.

    I am going to see if I can shoot some serves in high speed, and see if that helps, and have some of my coaches look at it. (Of course they are mostly focused on my spastic forehand, but I want the bigger steam). I would appreciate if you took a look aswell, because I generally agree with your lines of thinking. (Of course if you wanted and had time)

    There are some regular speed serves at the end of this video http://vimeo.com/3514338 pretty much all hard spin serves, I don't really break out the A1 flat ball until warmer weather comes.

    One session I really focused on the lag, and driving the shoulder up first and letting the arm/racquet lag behind, and I struggled a good deal, until I hit one serve, and the ball made a sound, that I have honestly never heard a tennis ball make before (at least when struck by someone who doesn't get paid to play), so I certainly believe I have plenty of room for improvement, which is an exciting prospect since my serve isn't exactly lame right now.

    J
     
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  49. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    I'd be glad to take a look at it. I'm loading the vid you have now. Is there a way to go frame by frame on that site?
     
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  50. J011yroger

    J011yroger G.O.A.T.

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    Unfortunately you have to download the file.

    I will try to get high speed vid tonite, but it is indoors with indirect lighting so I am afraid it might come out too dark.

    Time to break out the whites, and leave the 'Darth Jolly' at home. :)

    J
     
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