Finding my serve after 20 years.

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by Greg G, Jul 7, 2012.

  1. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    I did notice that the serves were better when playing doubles- when I had the intent to go in.
     
    #51
  2. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    Haven't been paying much attention to my serve lately. Here's today's slow motion video. Toss is ever so slightly more forward than before. Still hitting on the way down- hard to change the timing of the legs!

    From the side:
    http://youtu.be/ZXjLmQKkaSE

    Stills:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    From the back:
    http://youtu.be/JVE6T54uYgs

    Stills:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
    #52
  3. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Your body is dead upright as you hit the ball.
    I think you should be leaning into the court slightly, so your body is leaning into the court.
    I reiterate because on every shot, your body is dead upright.
     
    #53
  4. Cheetah

    Cheetah Hall of Fame

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    #54
  5. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    @ Lee: Thanks! I moved the toss forward a little, but with my leg action now going further into the court, I ended up having the same straight angle at contact.

    @ Cheetah: LOL. No fair, you exaggerated the bends! But the top angle yet again shows the need to toss even further out in front! When I'm serving, it actually feels like it's as far in front as it can go, and any further I'd fall over. Time to take a leap of faith and just really toss it way out there!

    Is my hip too open at contact?

    Any issues with my trophy pose? From the back view?
     
    #55
  6. Cheetah

    Cheetah Hall of Fame

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    it's not just the toss. it's the whole alignment of the body. go to essentialtennis.com and watch the 'free serve course'. you have to give your email to register but its free.

    ... and yes i took a little creative liberty with the bends hahaha
     
    #56
  7. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Your mechanics at contact are goofed.
    Look at where your feet are, well inside the baseline, all good.
    Why not hit the ball while it's another 12" farther inside the court, rather than reaching BACK to hit the ball, when you're forwards and inside your baseline?
    The reason you can't is because your swing is not moving upwards at contact, but has already swung thru the horizontal plane. Those 3 pics, player's leaning into the court? They probably went IN. Notice the angles. Racket facing down, but the ball goes over the net because their swing is upwards. Your racketface is upwards, as you hit the ball. Means it should go higher at contact, right (OK there)? But you need to almost reach backward to contact the ball, losing power and angle.
     
    #57
  8. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    OK I really really need to pay attention to this now. I am super frustrated already at starting the point on the defensive because of this damn serve. Brings the whole game down and affects my confidence no end.

    Something is short circuiting the kinetic chain. I'm not sure it's not mental, at this point. Right now I am not pleased when it's my serve, which is totally the wrong outlook, I know.

    I do attempt to apply the tips here, but it doesn't seem to work consistently. I have to spend time deconstructing it and rebuilding it, like I did with the forehand...I wish it were as simple as tossing the ball in front a bazillion times.

    http://youtu.be/VraB-DjBVLg

    Sorry the audio went out of sync.
     
    #58
  9. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    Really like this and will download it to keep. Nice, especially if he is looking to go
    big on the serve, but at his height and if he is looking more at a second serve,
    he probably is pretty close to where he needs to be....
    I agree a little more in front though..just think those items are factors as well.
     
    #59
  10. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    OK worked on the serve today. Particularly the toss. Started out serving from the service line, since to get the ball into the opposite service box, I was forced to toss forward. The moved slowly back to the baseline.

    Seems to have some good results. The swing seems to be much looser with contact out in front, and the kinetic chain seems be be better...well at least not short circuited. My shoulder was much happier as well! No twinges after serving so many baskets of balls. Hopefully the trend continues.

    http://youtu.be/bgMHi2PF_MA

    Slow Motion:
    http://youtu.be/9XnRSFPMlSQ

    Still hitting the ball with the body on the way down...
     
    #60
  11. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Let's not obsess quite so much about pure mechanics.
    Try to fall towards the target, not out to your left, and you'll gain another 10% more ball speed, plus you'll end up in better court position. Toss more right.
    You jump fine, you swing fine, but at your height, maybe the idea of a perfect form serve like the pros is not needed.
    The angle doesn't show how far you are leaning at your contact point...which is not so important, unless you really need to get to another level...higher.
     
    #61
  12. 3fees

    3fees Hall of Fame

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    Practice, Practice, Practice

    :)
     
    #62
  13. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Do you really think he should keep practicing serves with an upright body at contact and falling to the left?
    Do we still need more sideshots to see if he's raising his toss shoulder and lowering his hitting hand?
    Doesn't more practice just makes his style more grooved, when he should maybe make some changes to correct the flaws?
    I don't know.
    I'm an old fart who is not getting any better, so I'll allow my technique to go to pot...... low toss hand, great archer's bow, but straight toss arm at contact.
     
    #63
  14. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    Well I am under no illusions that at the end of this I'll be serving bombs. But I do know there's a lot of improvement to be had in this stroke. The improved toss and easier swing (and resultant increased pace) has given me a glimpse of what could be, so I will keep plugging away.

    The experience with my retooling the forehand was much the same way. It's a series of small "eureka" moments which add up. Then eventually a big breakthrough occurs, and you're over the hump. Hopefully it'll be the same with the serve. Anyway, as I said in that thread, I rather enjoy the learning process ;)
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2012
    #64
  15. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    Found some improvement in rhythm and consistency this past week. Was tossing a bit more in front, and getting some more pace off it. I actually hit a couple of aces even!

    I also worked on keeping the start slow, and also concentrated on unweighting my front foot as I rocked back. Seemed to work wonders with the weight transfer/rhythm.

    Real time video:

    http://youtu.be/g8DTLOmDW0c

    http://youtu.be/62_eav5IC2U

    Here are slow motion videos for your comments:

    http://youtu.be/JxeL2hCJX2g

    http://youtu.be/t76ZNNJwYlo

    http://youtu.be/0iUssfG9_cM

    Service points:
    http://youtu.be/m53LbvnTmBo
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2013
    #65
  16. dak95_00

    dak95_00 Professional

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    I didn't read the entire posts but looked at your videos out of curiosity. I took many years off of playing tennis; I'd guess up to 10. Then I started playing infrequently and now more frequently the last few years. I'm amazed at the number of things I've learned in my maturity.

    1) I'm better mentally most of the time.
    2) I realize that fundamental strokes are much more important than just repetitive strokes.
    3) I'm still remembering little things here and there that I'd forgotten.

    On #3:
    Just the other day I realized I used to be a toe dragger on my serves. I think I must've stopped years ago due to the fact I couldn't afford shoes like I can now. The last two times out, I've begun toe dragging again and I'm amazed at the consistency I'm getting. My serve has been holding me back and has been very frustrating because it used to be the best part of my game 20+ years ago. It wasn't like it was a monster or it kicked up greatly or anything like that. It was placed where I wanted it and I could serve and volley behind it. Now, it's been just YUCK. However, I feel it is getting better and now I just need to continue to practice and work on my volleys (I still haven't figured out what the hack is going on here. I used to be very comfortable at the net!).

    Good luck! I understand the fun, excitement, and frustration of starting over and rediscovering.
     
    #66
  17. watungga

    watungga Semi-Pro

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    Just want to provide tip here re:Reviving Serves.

    Its winter time here. Stuck in my house with no money to play indoors. I want my serves back. I do a lot of shadowing strokes including serves (we have a high ceiling family room). After 2 months, it gave me muscle memory on how to execute them properly.

    How the hell i got muscle memory? Simple. I covered the string bed with cut-out plastic, tape it back to back. It has drag which enabled my arm muscles to exert efforts at the ball impact zone of my strokes.

    Its really addictive doing it.

    I happened to drag my toe a lot. Now, its automatically jumping, just the way like Federer. I found that my legs' the culprit. The left leg must get all the body weight during the toss action. I'm a righty.
     
    #67
  18. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    Like I needed a new (to me) high speed camera to tell me the need to toss further in front, but hey, at least I can see contact clearly...

    http://youtu.be/KKyoDKtnEJE

    I did notice I have a better contact when warming up. So I 'outjump' my toss...?

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2013
    #68
  19. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    Thought I'd post up today's footage from a doubles match. Serve was working pretty well, with me just concentrating on tossing out in front. Still needs more "out in front", but it's a hell of a lot more consistent now than a few months ago, and not a sitter :D

    http://youtu.be/TIOUU2J953Y
     
    #69
  20. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    OK service seems to be getting better, the shoulder is getting much more relaxed. I feel I was unconsciously tensing up after trophy at max external rotation because of an old shoulder injury (pain at max range of motion). Stretching and shoulder exercises have reduced it to almost nil. Plus approaching the service line totally relaxed and not rushing the toss/backswing seems to have helped me explode into the ball better.

    Real time:
    http://youtu.be/bAsjSGImk5E

    Slow motion:
    http://youtu.be/2fryB9Bd2ig

    The sharp eyed may have noticed the stickers on me...playing with Kinovea software and seeing of the tracking markers on certain body parts will help with the tracking. Success! So fun hehe:
    http://youtu.be/UeO1irM0ujw

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2013
    #70
  21. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    #71
  22. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    Looks like your serve is improving Greg. That patient persistence is paying off.

    I would guess that it seems to us like the power to weight ratio is more when we're warming up because what we're doing in warm up is actually most of the shot. The full motion does increase the power, but in smaller proportion to the effort expended.
     
    #72
  23. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    Thanks Tom! I think the take home message is that I should relax more during the motion. Whatever I'm adding to the warmup in the full motion is tensed up somewhere...
     
    #73
  24. charliefedererer

    charliefedererer Legend

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    Great minds think alike - in this case your's and Jim McLennan's:
    Rehearsing the Serve http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cUeCEfUwyq4
     
    #74
  25. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    Served really really well today in a doubles match. Bombs. And the spin was kicking up to the high backhand.

    The 3 main points I worked on:
    1. Consistent ritual prior to serving. Nothing unusual, just a 4 bounce rhythm.
    2. Complete relaxation. The feeling of being super loose while starting the motion.
    3. Toss way out in front. If the toss goes back, everything is screwed, and I can't do a relaxed swing.

    Of course I had the camera turned off, so it becomes a 'cool story bro' kinda thing. Anyway, I hope I can make service days like this a regular thing. Absolutely no shoulder or arm pain, just amazing. Sorry for the fluffy post, I just got a good glimpse of the future :)
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2013
    #75
  26. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    #76
  27. Lukhas

    Lukhas Legend

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    #77
  28. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    Yup. It's more a relaxation issue I think. It tends to be a bit too far left/not in front when I'm tense, or try to rush the initial part of the service motion.
     
    #78
  29. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    Last edited: May 4, 2013
    #79
  30. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    I thought, a few posts above, you said you served pretty well with a consistent ritual.
    This vid, you walk up and hit the ball.
    Shouldn't you adopt a consistent ritual before each and every serve?
    What's the point of rapid fire serving, when the opponent is just standing there watching your serves?
    And yes, your serve is very good even at 4.5 for someone your size, if you can keep from falling 5' to your left.
    And do you have more than just the same old top/slice serve?
     
    #80
  31. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    Yup, I need to really set aside time for serve practice. This was just tacked on after an hour of groundstroke work, so I was a bit lax with it, including the ritual. I notice on video I rush the toss. I'll dedicate a good chunk of time to it next time out.

    I think that was the day I was watching a top junior serve, and he was a bit like harrison, just walking up to the line and swinging like it was no big deal. I think I was trying to see if that would work....

    Mostly top-slice due to all the Rafter talk. I do have a flat serve which is highly temperamental.
     
    #81
  32. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    I finally spent some quality time practicing the serve. Playing around with my serve stance- which has been platform since I started playing tennis- I discovered the pinpoint solved 80% of my issues! I found that with a pinpoint stance, bringing up the rear leg forces me to transfer weight forward, whereas with the platform, I could sometimes keep the weight back, especially under pressure. The forward momentum also made the toss go a bit more forward naturally.

    Comments guys?

    Realtime:
    Side:
    http://youtu.be/lCdEPejEN9w

    Rear:
    http://youtu.be/HuWgA7eJRd4

    You can see the difference quite clearly on the slow motion videos:
    Platform:
    http://youtu.be/zOTub4nPFrs

    Pinpoint:
    http://youtu.be/PDfSRW5RwNA

    Side by side:
    http://youtu.be/4HeAJHUtjEQ

    I was surprised the change wasn't too difficult. Tried it in a practice set, was hitting it pretty well. I just forgot to bring the back leg up once ;)
    http://youtu.be/avIVF4inYPI
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2013
    #82
  33. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    Processed some still sequences.

    Platform:
    I just noticed it now...look at my left knee at 9 & 10. Bowed inwards in platform, unlike in pinpoint below. Wonder if that has any significance?
    [​IMG]

    Pinpoint:
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2013
    #83
  34. Lukhas

    Lukhas Legend

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    Little I think. Raonic does the same thing, he has a fine serve. :)
     
    #84
  35. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    Going through the side by side video, I do notice that the pinpoint gives me ever so slightly more height, but more importantly I hit the ball at the apex of my jump, compared to platform where I was always a bit on the way down. More thrust from 2 legs?
     
    #85
  36. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    I liked them all at YouTube. Left some comments also. I like the pinpoint. Great that you have the different camera perspectives and slowmo as well. I think I would have some problems returning your serve. :) Also, it's going to get even better via some tweaking, and the fact that you're so concientious about your practice. Nice job Greg!
     
    #86
  37. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    Thanks Tom! Was quite surprised at how easily I switched to pinpoint, having never used it before. Will work on it more, since more than any stroke, the serve is a confidence thing. Gotta rebuild my trust in this stroke.
     
    #87
  38. Lukhas

    Lukhas Legend

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    Your contact point is better on pinpoint than on platform IMO. Your toss is more towards the court too with that stance.
     
    #88
  39. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    Thanks Lukhas! The contact and better toss just came with the pinpoint, I didn't actually try to toss further in front. A welcome surprise. Totally honeymooning on the pinpoint now, haha :)
     
    #89
  40. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    Serve practice today, trying to get the timing of the feet right, and get more comfortable with the new pinpoint stance.

    Rear view:
    http://youtu.be/ytxzpnD9wEE

    Side view:
    http://youtu.be/kxLF2viGo6Y

    Not sure if I was hitting it better today, or last time... Please let me know what I can work on :)

    Looking at the footage, I think I need to hit even further out front, and have more upward movement of the shoulder, rather than forward.
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2013
    #90
  41. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Well, you seem to have gotten rid of the straight upright body position during the ball strike, so it's progress.
    Now, you need to learn to hit only flat serves when messing with your motion. You hitting spin serves, there's no way to know if you have any real improvement in HITTING the ball, which is the whole key to serving.
    The motion is secondary. The actual RESULT of the ball is the whole point of working on your motion.
    Your one serve, back few, shows a pathetic 3.5 looking top/slice that bounces about 4' before the backwall......on an INDOOR court. Most indoor courts have abrasive surfaces, the ball bounces HIGHER indoors than outdoors.
    And, no need for any technique change if you swing slow.
    Swing fast, hit FLAT, and see what the ball does.
     
    #91
  42. Lukhas

    Lukhas Legend

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    Last edited: Jun 22, 2013
    #92
  43. Chas Tennis

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    #93
  44. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    Last edited: Jun 22, 2013
    #94
  45. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Hall of Fame

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    Been looking for one with a frame showing a ball on the strings to see how your shoulders, arm and racket are aligned.

    See the ones with the camera behind the server and viewing along the ball's trajectory. Thumbnails show this frame, impact. In bright sunlight you should be able to get similar videos with your FC150.

    https://vimeo.com/user6237669
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2013
    #95
  46. charliefedererer

    charliefedererer Legend

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    Looking at your most recent rear view, as well as a slow motion rear view from earlier, it seems that at ball strike your racquet is in a straight line with your hand and wrist.

    While this is fine on a slice serve, on both a flat and top spin serve, having an angle at the wrist allows for more efficient pronation.

    [​IMG]

    In pic 7 above you can see that the racquet and arm form about a 30 degree angle.


    You can see that same racquet/ angle in pic 7 in the following sequence:

    [​IMG]
     
    #96
  47. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    Thanks charliefederer! You're right, I think that's an area to improve on. Thanks! Here's stills from today, for comparison.
    [​IMG]

    OK Leed here you go. I made sure to hit the wall this time :)

    http://youtu.be/fTj_3oLOYaE

    OK Chas Tennis here you go. Hope I got the angle you wanted:
    http://youtu.be/pmgvXDDx6bQ
     
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2013
    #97
  48. Lukhas

    Lukhas Legend

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    #98
  49. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    Thanks Lukhas, I'll experiment with that. The reason it's there is I was trying to mimic the foot position here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ixx-MCC7D88

    I do agree that sometimes the balance is off, not sure if it's the feet or the toss. But I'll keep that in mind :)
     
    #99
  50. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    Reposting toly's post in the forehand thread...

    IMO the main problem is a toss.

    [​IMG]

    At contact the racquet long axis is vertical and can produce sidespin only. There is no way to create topspin. You can hit flat or slice serves without any topspin. Thus reliability of the serves could be very low. The toss like that can afford people like Karlovic.

    Sam Stosur shows two extremely different tosses. Racquet long axis is never vertical, but tilted to the left due to she has never tossed the ball on right side of her body.

    [​IMG]
     

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