Help me to improve my serve!

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by pvaudio, Mar 29, 2010.

  1. pvaudio

    pvaudio Legend

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  2. tricky

    tricky Hall of Fame

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    Holy cow. It looked like you were doing a Michael Jackson step there. I'll go back and review the video, but dang that was rather impressive!
     
  3. NLBwell

    NLBwell Legend

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    How does it feel? Does it still feel awkward and hurting your shoulder or does it feel natural. Anything not feel right? What is your percentage in getting the serve in?
     
  4. kiteboard

    kiteboard Hall of Fame

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    I kind of like it. Still not bowing the left hip out, toss arm back. SWivel the butt around towards the net, and stick the left hip out, and bend the toss arm backwards after the j toss, to get more bow into the shot. Good stick accel.
     
  5. tricky

    tricky Hall of Fame

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    Yeah, you're trying to jut your left hip into the court. A lot of pinpoint servers do this, which is wrong technique, but are able to recover from their back foot moving in and recovering their momentum. Thus, their upper legs don't turn like that.

    The hips moving into the court shouldn't be done literally, because it is a byproduct of the motion. It should never be forced. If the service motion itself is correct, you will see this. If it is out of balance, you may not see this.

    When you initiate your serve, try using your right hip to bring your right upper leg farther away from the left (i.e. like doing a semi-split with your right leg.) If you're not doing this right (i.e. using the right knee, rather than right hip, to bring the right upper leg away), you'll notice a bow-legged. If you're doing this right, the weight should shift onto the balls of your right foot and your hips will start moving into the court.
     
  6. pvaudio

    pvaudio Legend

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    It feels good if I can get the toss in just the right spot. Not great, but certainly leagues better than before. Percentage is about 30%.
     
  7. SirSweetSpot

    SirSweetSpot Banned

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    I'm liking the explosion into the ball and subsequent explosion into the court. You seem to have good balance upon landing. This is essential. If you don't, good returners will capitalize on this and catch you off guard...even if you hit a great serve.

    Good stuff PV...now get those percentages up. :)

    Not everybody has an archers bow either...if your body is telling you it doesn't want to do it...don't. You make up for that slight loss in power for that in other areas of your serve. But definitely try.
     
  8. kiteboard

    kiteboard Hall of Fame

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    It's more than a slight loss, without the bow. The shoulder angle is not there either, for a lot less shoulder/hip rotation. Leg drive=20% shoulder/hip=40% pronation=40% power. So he is throwing away 10-20%, and that's the diff. between beating a good returner or him beating you.
     
  9. SirSweetSpot

    SirSweetSpot Banned

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    PV how tall are you? I sometimes speak as if everybody was my height 6'4" lol. Sometimes concentrating too much on the bow is a detriment...I didn't mean to imply that it isn't vital because it most certainly is...especially if you're under 6' and need every resource possible so you don't cheat yourself out of power.


    Legendary 'bows' you might wanna check out: Mac, Courier, Soderling

    Yes, much more shoulder tilt is needed. In a year (or possibly less) this is gonna be a devastating serve. Toss height seems consistent which is clutch, even if location is still an issue.

    Also, are you a natural s&v'er? If so that's great because your momentum is taking you well towards the court...if you're a baseliner this could be a serious problem.
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2010
  10. charliefedererer

    charliefedererer Legend

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    Definite progress.

    Tricky is right that you don't want to force the front hip movement at the expence of everything else, but it still is good to see you getting the left hip at least out over the baseline as you go into the trophy pose.

    You may want to work on your service toss next as Lsmkenpo posted last week. That tossing arm goes up so extremely behind your head that it leaves you out of position to quickly get back into a more agressive trophy pose with the L hip out and the rear shoulder down in the bow position.

    Keep it up!
     
  11. cesarmo03

    cesarmo03 Rookie

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    now why dont you show us a video of you playing a match so we can really see the improve on your serve (and mental serve)
     
  12. Djokovicfan4life

    Djokovicfan4life Legend

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    IMO, when you first learn a new technique it's best NOT to play matches because you're liable to slip back into your comfort zone, which usually means abandoning the new technique altogether.
     
  13. Lsmkenpo

    Lsmkenpo Hall of Fame

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    The tossing motion has not improved, you are still bringing the ball back too far and tossing up from behind your head.

    This is preventing you from coiling, your shoulder has to move up and back to coil not forward. Physically It is impossible to coil if your shoulder is moving forward, your spine can not bend in two opposites directions at the same time very far.

    If the tossing motion is incorrect the rest of the service motion will suffer, you have to fix the tossing motion first, before you can work on any other part of your service motion.

    If you want to reach a coiled position you have to make this change, there is no way around it.

    You can still use the backwards j tossing motion you use now, just move it further out in front and bring your tossing arm up in front of your head, which will automatically bring your shoulder up and back at the same time, this will allow the hip extension into the court naturally. Fix the toss it will make the coil so much easier, trust me.
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2010
  14. pvaudio

    pvaudio Legend

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    Thanks, continued progress is required! I should be playing in a tournament next weekend if I can get some practice time in, but all indoor courts are booked and its gonna rain for the next few days :?
    I'm 5'10 and the height of the carpet lol. And yes, I'm a natural S&Ver, but my forehand is my best stroke when returning. I don't rush the net on opponents' service games unless it's a weak second serve. DTL 1HBH is my most frequent passing shot somehow because I can't make the angle necessary off that wing to go short and cross court.


    I will be doing a lot of tossing practice, don't worry!

    Why would I show a video of match play when I'm trying to fix a stroke to get prepared for match play? I'd just revert back to what I've been doing for years and you wouldn't see anything new. :?
     
  15. pvaudio

    pvaudio Legend

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    I will try this and see if it works :shock:
     
  16. cesarmo03

    cesarmo03 Rookie

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    OK so you are fixing a stroke why all that we see is a first serve? is you are fixing the serve need more your second serve to stay in the point.

    what i mean is when you are having a problem timing a stroke the first thing you need to do is feel what you are doing wrong and at full speed that is not easy.

    When i having a lot of trouble on the serve i tend to slice it more for gaining confidence and don't get frustrated in practice and especially on a match.
     
  17. pvaudio

    pvaudio Legend

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    With regard to the second serve, whenever I adopt a change, the second stays the same. All that I do differently is change the backscratch position and shift my racquet grip to more eastern BH. I hit a topspin second serve with the same stick acceleration. Looking from the side, you wouldn't be able to tell the difference.

    And on your last point, how is that helpful to me, let alone yourself with regards to fixing your stroke?
     
  18. NLBwell

    NLBwell Legend

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    Where is your toss on your second serve? I would think it would be less in front (less into the court) than your first. Try hitting some serves between your new first serve and your second serve and see how that feels.
     
  19. Ptrac

    Ptrac Rookie

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    What happen to your feet/stance? I like your service motion in the first two videos...it looked more natural and comfortable. Your serve is very nice btw.

    When your start your knee bend, it looks rushed. You bend your knees really fast, and then explode out of the trophy pose really fast. My only suggestion would be to bend your knees slower and gradually get into the trophy pose. I would then try to pause in that position to build energy and then explode up into the serve similar to Federer's. I honestly would just try to emulate Feds service motion.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HW4-7uhUjdI&feature=related

    I apologize if this suggestion has already been made, I haven't read any of the posts
     
  20. cesarmo03

    cesarmo03 Rookie

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    Is more like a tip because you said you are fixing the stroke.

    thats why you had or have all those shoulder problems, trying to learn to master new stuff at full speed.
     
  21. pvaudio

    pvaudio Legend

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    I'm trying to emulate his motion and can't :(
     
  22. kiteboard

    kiteboard Hall of Fame

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    Half of these comments are useless if not more. Listen to your self first. You have a shoulder tilt block/bow block. Every good server has a good bow and shoulder tilt near 180 degrees, while yours is almost 90 degrees. Can't do it without arching your back. Look at Hewitt, 5'10", or agassi, or sampras, or any relatively short guy with a big serve. SAmpras was only 6'0". listed as 6'1". Fed is 6'1". At least you have the guts to try video, and make the changes most can only dream about. Takes guts to do it, but impossible without video. See how sampras' shoulders line up 180? He tosses forward to 11 oclock and rocks his wt. into and over the baseline. Toss arm is straight up, fingers /hand pointing forward? The toss location allows him to easily attain the 180 angle with the shoulders, and allows for severe pronation. See how his chest is facing the back fence, yet he is still looking forward over the toss arm? Try just placing yourself in this pos. without moving, and see how or if you can do it. Got to arch your back and bend over sideways to attain the 180! See how the back arch continues all the way through the entire shot? Shoulders are shoved into a parking meter slot, yet never open up fully to the net until the ball is long gone. The back arch also allows for a lower elbow and further reach back. Even Fed's chest is facing the back fence. He emulated Sampras's motion, and simplified it.

    Your whole elbow hitting structure needs to rotate another 90 degrees before you drive up. It never goes past the elbow pointing at the back fence, rather than the elbow pointing to the right side fence, like sampras and fed do. That's a lot of power to throw away.

    [​IMG] sampras serve oh
    [​IMG] sampras serve sideways
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2010
  23. TearSNFX

    TearSNFX Rookie

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    Just my opinion, you have too much weight on your left leg on the prep. Usually that makes it a bit harder to really launch into the ball. Just my .02
     
  24. Ptrac

    Ptrac Rookie

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    Maybe to emulate Fed was bad advice. There really is no perfect service motion, all I can suggest is to do what is most natural for YOU. Your first service motion seemed the most natural, and then each time you tweaked your motion it became more mechanical. You're athletic so use the athletic ability and form your natural motion. When you find that comfort zone keep practicing other aspects of serving such as placement and consistency.
     
  25. NLBwell

    NLBwell Legend

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    Check out Beckers serve. Looks more like yours than Feds (though the final leg motion is for serve and volley. See how he opens his chest up.
     
  26. Kailua

    Kailua New User

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    I have found helpful advice here from tricky, bb, and others and thought i would put in my two cents to try to help. When teaching or working on something on my own game, I try to find the most root error and in fixing that many other things usually fall into place. The photos in post 74 are great. Your upper body looks good, I would focus on just two things to start. Stay on the ball of your left foot until you start your motion up to the ball,keep the heel relatively close to the ground, you are on your toes way too soon, so you can't put as much weight on that foot as needed. Then look at your hips compared to Feds, yours are level and his are angled up. Imagine pointing your left hip bone at the ball in the trophy position ( it doesn't actually point at it, just try) Don't try to serve in the box, old habits come back, just hit at the fence or the other baseline.
     
  27. Big_Dangerous

    Big_Dangerous Legend

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    Yeah i noticed the foot faulting all the time. Wow man why not just back up like a foot or two? Seems like it'd be an easy fix. Personally I've never foot faulted but if you have bigger feet and you love to turn your left foot perpendicular to the baseline just before you leave your feet I'd say just buck up a little and then serve.
     
  28. charliefedererer

    charliefedererer Legend

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    That "easy fix" means you are ignoring the reason for the foot fault. That reason always lies with an instability (lack of balance) going from the toss into the trophy position. Far better to fix the underlying problem than just to step back. (In pvaudio's case, Lsmkenpo has correctly identified his posterior toss as leaving him in an unstable position he then has to fight through to get to his trophy position, foot faulting in the process.)
     
  29. charliefedererer

    charliefedererer Legend

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    PV,
    I thought of you when I saw this video that shows the similar way 8 of the current top pros toss: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lIF-UaRUd6k.

    I think if you just "shadow" your serve before even going out to the courts that be extending your arm up in a more forward location you'll see that you can easily "bow" your upper body backwards.

    On the other hand, bringing the ball up so far posterially as you have been doing forces you to bow your upper body forward in a "reverse bow".


    And "shadowing" or practicing this motion before stepping up to the service line is a good idea to start to develop some "muscle memory". That is the point of this video from Pat Doherty ("the Serve Doctor") http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Um5q7Lx107k&feature=related starting at 1:18 into the video. It struck me that standing next to a fence and running the ball up along the fence might be a good guide to the path your hand needs to take, rather than pulling it in and tossing it from a posterior position.

    Or even better, that you're already past this stage and readying your next video.

    Good luck in your tournament this weekend!
     
  30. cesarmo03

    cesarmo03 Rookie

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    you can look on the video charliefederer post that the pros uses their left thigh as a guide for tossing the ball.
     
  31. cesarmo03

    cesarmo03 Rookie

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    you can look on the video charliefederer post that the pros uses their left thigh as a guide for tossing the ball.

    Sorry for the double post.
     
  32. pvaudio

    pvaudio Legend

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    OOOOOOOH it's so close, SOOOOO close. I think another day will be good, and as luck has it, I just happen to have another day to work on it. Unfortunately, my camera has the worst battery life I have ever seen in MY life, so the camera went dead 20 minutes into my 2.5hr serving session. Here's the things I changed:

    1. Removed ALL unnecessary movement. The rocking back and forth motion is a remnant from my racquet drop service motion from the summer that I never fully got down. As such, it was causing more harm than good when it comes to my feet. Now, I just stand up, then go immediately into the knee bend and toss ala Roddick/Federer hybrid (still a platform stance).

    2. Toss, as was suggested, has been changed so that the tossing arm and the racquet are outside of my body, and the tossing arm stays outside of my body. No more "J" motion since it's not necessary and just causes inconsistency in serving.

    3. Tossing hand starts on the top of the throat now, instead of underneath. I realized that if I start with the hand underneath the racquet, no matter what I do, I have to bring it out from underneath it, THEN toss. If the ball is already out in the open, there's no extra movement necessary.

    4. This is the critical one: eyes. Looking in the videos, I do not keep my eye on the ball long enough. I found via experiment tonight that doing so causes my head to drop, which causes my shoulder to drop, which causes the racquet to drop, which causes inconsistency.

    I will get a video tomorrow and show the changes I've made. Hopefully it'll be spot on by the end of the day since I'm playing a tournament on Saturday :?
     
  33. charliefedererer

    charliefedererer Legend

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    Congrats!!!

    Can't wait to see your new video. But if the camera malfuctions, or just not enough time, good luck in the tourney.
     
  34. drfredc

    drfredc New User

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    Service speed AND strength exercise

    Service speed is generally related to the racket head speed at ball contact, NOT THE SPEED OF YOUR ARM/Wrist AT CONTACT. It's the whip of the racket thru the ball that provided the speed for a good serve, not the speed of your arm and racket when the ball is hit.

    Perhaps the most critical feature of the service is the 4 dimensional position of your wrist/grip axis point in relationship to the ball when the ball is stuck. The XYZ position of your axis point is the typical right/left, high/low, forward/back relationship to the ball. The 4th dimension is the dynamic trajectory of your wrist/grip axis point at impact.

    Service speed is generally related to how fast (and controlled) you accelerate your arm and racket at the beginning of your service move (this gets the racket moving) and then how fast you decelerate your arm and wrist just prior to contact so the racket head is whipped thru the ball. Having a relaxed axis of rotation (wrist) for the racket to whip full speed thru the ball while your wrist/arm position is relatively stationary to the speed of racket movement is critical to a quality power serve.

    The generally stationary axis point of your wrist at contact in relationship to the ball is critical to developing a consistent serve. It's a relatively easily repeated relationship with limited dynamics.

    Whipping the racket with a strong wrist and fast arm movement thru the ball is generally not helpful to a strong serve. There are too many dynamics that need to happen at just the right time when there is a lot of arm movement at contact. Plus, you miss the speed provided by the racket head when it is whipped thru the ball. The racket's whipping action only happens when you slow your axis point at contact.

    ----------------

    A simple training exercise to improve racket speed.

    Materials (disclaimer -- I've not particular attachment of any sort with this gear. It's just what I settled on buying and works).

    -- 5' long resistant tube training with handles and door attachment. Medium to strong tubing. Amazon $9 -- http://www.amazon.com/SPRI-ES503R-Resistance-Attachment-Exercise/dp/B0000AJ05D
    -- door

    Method -- Tie one end of the tubing to the door attachment so you have most of the 5' to use with the other handle. Attach the door attachment at the bottom hinge of the door and close the door.

    Grip the handle of the free end as a tennis racket and put the handle just behind your head like the back part of your service motion. Move forward until there is a bit of tension on the tubing. Then do your service motion, coming to stop at the point of contact.

    Ideally, your service movement also includes getting up on your toes and reaching as high up as possible. As a 6 footer, this means I'm finishing my full stroke on my toes, touching a particular and consistent point on the ceiling, and rotating my wrist at impact. Hold this position for just a moment, then relax and repeat. Cycle 25 times several times a day.

    This will create not only stronger service muscles, but, if done properly, create all important muscle memory of how to execute a power serve.

    Of course, something similar can be used to power up ground strokes, moving the door attachment up or down as appropriate for top spin, flat, or cut shots.
     
  35. drfredc

    drfredc New User

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    Video analysis

    If you look at the Green court stop action of Sampras's service motion (Post 122), it needs to be carefully pointed out how little Pete's wrist/axis point moves in the first three frames, especially in relationship to his racket head. In these three frames, his wrist is perhaps moving little more than 18", possibly less. Meanwhile, the racket head is moving several feet. After impact, the follow-thru arm speed picks up, moving perhaps several feet per frame.

    The critical feature of the service that is more overlooked or confused is getting the moving axis point (wrist) at the proper position in relationship to the ball at impact with a fast moving racket head. This 4 dimensional relationship determines where the ball is going and how it spins. This exact relationship of ball to a moving axis point must be fine tuned to execute the various service spins. This repeatable position is most easily accomplished by slowing the arm movement to almost a standstill at impact. This assumes the arm speed has accelerated properly during the first part of your serve, (till it passes your ear). This slowing in turn causes the racket head to accelerate (whip) through the ball at contact.

    Don't forget to include additional secondary movements such as powering up on your toes, un-arching your back as you extend upwards, turning your shoulders and hips as you reach for full extension at impact.

    All of these 'secondary' movements count, both in adding power and consistency. They all need to be done in a fluid fashion results in a consistent and repeatable position at impact. It's difficult to just add one or another willy nilly and expect a consistent service to result any more than you can drive a car with one of four wheels off.

    When one or more of these service motions is removed for the second serve, (or added for the first serve), you are asking for new troubles of one sort or another. It's better for a second serve to focus on adding top or side spin and perhaps just taking off a bit of everything rather than removing various parts of the service motion. Removing part of your first service motion for a second serve really means you are attempting to learn and use two separate service motions. This can be done, but requires additional practice on both first and second service motions to be consistent.
     
  36. pvaudio

    pvaudio Legend

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    Hopefully I'll get out and get a video of the motion tomorrow. It's really quite simplified, and I mean a lot. Just needs practice to make it consistent.
     
  37. pvaudio

    pvaudio Legend

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    I appreciate your contribution, but none of this actually helps fix specific flaws in my motion. If you were teaching someone how to serve for the first time, then your information would be of great benefit, but it doesn't really help me in any way, but still thank you.
     
  38. pvaudio

    pvaudio Legend

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    Hey all, finally back and with the video I promised! It's uploading and processing on youtube now, so when it's good to go I'll post the link, but until then, here's the screenshot progress with my latest one at the bottom of the next post:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  39. pvaudio

    pvaudio Legend

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  40. pvaudio

    pvaudio Legend

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  41. Davis937

    Davis937 Professional

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    Hey PV ... your service motion looks really good ... I like your rhythm and tempo ... you hold your tossing up nicely and get a good "archer's bow" ... I also like your fast swing (... obviously attacking the ball which is good) ... I haven't read all the posts so these suggestions might be redundant ... my apologies ... first, you look like you are of average height and weight ... you may want to consider using a pin point stance to add just a bit more pace to your ball ... also, your service motion is very vertical ... up and down ... I know you can add greater pace to your serve if you "lean" into your hit (... almost falling into the court) ... in other words, the ball toss should be a little more into the court ... btw ... what's your average serving speed now ... must be about 100 - 105 MPH ... otherwise looks very good ... keep up the good work and thanks for sharing!
     
  42. pvaudio

    pvaudio Legend

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    Thank you for the suggestions. I do toss the ball further in front when playing. My camera only had 10 minutes of video left so what you see there is right in the middle of my 2 hour practice. Either way, you're completely correct!

    And I have no idea as to what my serve speed is anymore. I stopped caring about numbers and started caring more about placement since I hit with some topspin on my first serve which makes it heavier and kicks off of the ground instead of just losing its speed like a flat serve. :)
     
  43. ProgressoR

    ProgressoR Hall of Fame

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    great thread, and nice action. One point, i know the left hip leaning into court was raised before in this thread...

    personally (not as good as you) i found this single tip to have been the trigger for my serve moving from below average to something that can be very above average. I now do not think about it, but it has been the trigger for so many other good things i now do (or try to do)- (knee bend, holding toss arm higher and longer, loosening the arm in the swing etc)....

    in the pics I can see of yours I notice you have good leg bend and get good power, but the hip thing is not obvious to me. Thus the archers bow is not as pronounced as it could be?

    Do you think about this, do you already do it but maybe its not clear in the picture, or do you think its not that relevant?

    cheers
     
  44. pvaudio

    pvaudio Legend

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    The hip thing is not obvious because it's not there! I've been trying to get the damn thing to work for ages now. I probably should have set the camera in the same side angle view, but if you can't see in the videos, I use the ball cart as a tripod which requires that the court next to me be open (the net being pulled open) so that I can get my entire body into the frame. People were playing on the courts on either side of me, so I couldn't shoot from the side unless you wanted to see a decapitated tennis player :lol:

    And yes, the hip thing is the main goal of this thread. The hip out, the shoulder drop, and etc. are all part of the same flaw which when it's fixed, all of the above will fall into place. Unfortunately, I have not found what that flaw is yet to fix it :(
     
  45. Davis937

    Davis937 Professional

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    Hey PV ... yeah, I was suspecting as much (... that you do "lean" in on your serve and ball toss more into the court when you play matches) ... also, an excellent point regarding serving speed ... I find it easier to "block" back a flat fast serve than trying to return a HEAVY top spin serve (... which requires me to hit through and follow through completely on the return ... a more difficult shot for the returner) ... anyway, a really outstanding serve ... I know you've been working hard on it, and it shows ... good hitting to you!
     
  46. pvaudio

    pvaudio Legend

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    Precisely. If you can get your racquet on a 120mph flat serve and just block it back, it's taking that same pace right back at your feet. If you can get your racquet on a 110mph serve with some topspin, then you really have to work to change the direction of that ball.
     
  47. charliefedererer

    charliefedererer Legend

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    Congrats!

    You've "fixed" the biggest impediment in your serve - that toss that was bringing your arm so far back.

    Now try using your new toss as the lead in for a steeper shoulder tilt and greater core coiling.

    Finish your toss by bringing your arm up a little higher - and do this by raising your front shoulder (the back shoulder will automatically have to go down).

    As Progressor notes above, the only way to maintain your balance as you tilt your shoulders more is to counterbalance your weight by pushing the front hip out. (For some, it is easier to concentrate on pushing this front hip out, and noticing that the shoulders have to tilt more to maintain their balance http://www.fuzzyyellowballs.com/vid...technique/leading-with-your-hip-when-serving/.)
     
  48. charliefedererer

    charliefedererer Legend

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  49. pvaudio

    pvaudio Legend

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    I'll give that a try :D
     
  50. pvaudio

    pvaudio Legend

    Joined:
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    I went out again tonight to see if I couldn't improve on the shoulder tilt. I think I went backwards, what do you think? :(

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Video incoming :)
     

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