Hit a 114 mph serve the other day, How do I make that consistent?

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by skyzoo, Nov 24, 2009.

  1. skyzoo

    skyzoo Banned

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    So the other day the radar gun was brought out. I topped out at 114 mph once and 107, 108 a couple times. How can I get this serve in play 3-4 times a game? I usually slice or kick my first serve because of their effectivness but I wouldn't mind throwing a couple of bombs in per game. Any serve experts want to comment?
     
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  2. Jaewonnie

    Jaewonnie Professional

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    woops misunderstood question....
     
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  3. 10s talk

    10s talk Semi-Pro

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    pray.....................................................
     
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  4. Nellie

    Nellie Hall of Fame

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    Practice?

    Just kidding - I think that if you need to hit an occasional hard, flat serve that you have trouble getting in the court, aim over the low point of the net so that you have more margin for error. You will, pretty much, be hitting down the middle of the service box, so don't do it too much, or the opponent will start teeing off once they get used to the timing. I find it particularly helpful when people start creeping up to take the kick serve on the raise.

    Just remember to stay loose on that serve because if you start trying to muscle the ball (to rip the serve harder) your serve speed with significantly decrease. I find it particularly important to remember to keep your tossing arm up because I see too many people overly focused on driving forward, dropping the arm, and serving into the bottom of the net. Even a flat serve drops a lot so you need to hit up and over the net.
     
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  5. darthpwner

    darthpwner Banned

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    Try to increase your spin rate on your "flat" serve to try to make it more consistent.
     
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  6. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Practice 100 firstflat serves twice a day, 5 days a week. After 4 years of this, you will have a 50% first flat serve during an important point at a real match.
    Most pros practice more first flats more often, and for twice the # of years. On most important points, they barely get 50% in.
     
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  7. WildVolley

    WildVolley Legend

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    I'm going to disagree with LeeD's advice unless you have a bullet-proof shoulder.

    The key thing is to stay healthy. Always warm-up before serving big and do rotator-cuff exercises a couple times a week. I've seen far too many players with shoulder injuries because they serve too often and try too hard.
     
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  8. fuzz nation

    fuzz nation Legend

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    That serve will plainly be less consistent than a spinner, even if you practice both of them a lot. My simple answer for more consistency on that heater is to throttle down to the 95-100 mph range if you really have to land it, but we also need to consider the game within the game.

    If you insist on smoking lots those first serves into the donation box instead of the service box, most opponents will silently thank you for it and then do their darndest to rip a return off your second serve. I've always been a rather strong server myself, but I only want my opponent to know that I might crank on a first ball, so I only remind him/her (I sometimes play with ladies who played in college, etc.) on occasion. That means that I only need to really thump one maybe once every game or two just to keep them honest.

    I actually had to change my approach to serving when a few of my pals told me how my spin serves with their unpredictable bounces were more consistent than my heaters and also tougher to return with much aggression. Once an opponent gets grooved on your flat serve, they can often put you in trouble with no more than a blocked return, but a funky spin serve that you can land with accuracy can really allow you to dictate the outset of your service points. They can actually force more mis-hits from the receiver, too. These are just my findings, but I think that it's worth keeping track of when you're playing points.

    Remember that in a match, your opponent isn't toting a radar gun and he doesn't care what number you're posting on the heat-o-meter. He only cares if it lands and if he can return it. If your first serve faults are breaking the sound barrier... hey, they're still faults, right? Keep practicing and find a pace on that heater that's got enough consistency for it to be useful. Along with some spin serves, you'll have more variety to throw at 'em.
     
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  9. Azzurri

    Azzurri Legend

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    by any chance was the gun just "off" for that one serve? 107-109 is very good speed. work on your placement. trust me, 105-110 and placement kills your opponent.
     
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  10. BMC9670

    BMC9670 Hall of Fame

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    Serving is like pitching in baseball. The idea is to keep them guessing and off balance to produce a weak return. If a pitcher throws tons of fastballs, he's going to get hit.

    I take chances throughout a match with hard, flat serves, but think of them as just that, taking a chance to keep the returner off balance.

    To get it more consistent, I agree with Nellie - keep loose and don't drop the shoulders/head. Use a good wrist snap to help get the extra pop, not muscling the ball.
     
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  11. Azzurri

    Azzurri Legend

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    good post...but is not a wrist snap..its the forearm pronating. :)
     
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  12. goran_ace

    goran_ace Hall of Fame

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    If you want to use that 3-4 times a game (basically making it your primary serve) I would suggest working on your second serve. You can win with a 50% first serve percentage as long as (1) the serves that do go in result in an ace/service winner or set you up to put away the return, and (2) you have a reliable second serve that your opponent cannot attack. If those two things aren't happening then you have to carefully choose when to use that serve (30-0, 40-15, Ad In) to try to get a free point.

    I would also suggest working on your strength and stamina in your legs. When the legs start to wear down the mph drop quickly and you will find it harder to find that serve when you most need it. A big serve in a tiebreak is a huge advantage.
     
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  13. Ripper014

    Ripper014 Hall of Fame

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    Depends on how you got to 114mph... I was manning a speed gun for a friend of mine at a tournament... and a lot of people just wanted to see how hard they could hit.

    A friend of mine happened by... and was interested... so I said to him... hit it with good form. It is not about how fast you can propel a ball it is about how hard you can serve a ball into the court. He topped out at about 125mph, me about 115mph... but this was over 15 years ago.... he was using a PS 6.0 85 and I was using a 200g... my second serve was consistantly between 78 - 80mph.

    Don't worry about the number (115mph) so much... just vary your spins, speed, placement and you will be effective. I have always tried to keep my first service percentage around 70%, meaning if I was hitting my flat serve well I would hit more of them... if not, I would take a little pace off my flat serve and hit more kickers and slice serves until my percentages went back up.

    I guess my point is. don't worry about something you don't own... yet...
     
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  14. DavaiMarat

    DavaiMarat Professional

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    I do agree with most of the posters saying placement and spin is more important then flat KpH/MpH. However if you do insist on hitting a fast serve if nothing but for show, I will give you tidbits of advice.

    The serve like all motions in tennis start from the feet and legs. If you watch how Roddick serves, while he is in the 'trophy position', look at his toes and feet. You'll see that his feet and legs look like they are pressing against the ground. This is key in gaining the spring and forward momentum necessary for a strong serve. (Think of it as you trying to push the ground down with your legs by applying pressure at the balls of your feet.) Notice how is legs are bent around 45 degree angle looking to push off the ground. This is where over 50% of your power if generated.

    Now the next thing is torso, what I see often is the coil and shoulder rotation with the toss but if unravels too quickly before the ball is struck. Like someone said this is the importance of keeping the left shoulder up and right shoulder down and away from the hitting zone. Too often the shoulders uncoil before the arm and thus the kinetic chain is broken. You must hold the right shoulder back until racquet is travelling up from the backscratcher (or whatever back position you use) to the ball striking zone.

    Lastly, you must keep the wrist loose, by doing this you will relax the arm and shoulder. This will be important for you generate acceleration from your shoulder. Remember a tennis ball is very light. It's not a baseball. It's necessary to get the racquet head to move quickly but not with a lot of inherent force. The more muscle you try to incorporate the tighter your arm will be and the slower your serve. Remember, loose arm, it's like wet spaghetti!

    Considering, you probably already know how to serve so I won't bore you with the nuances like wrist snap and toss placement. Those you inherently can learn. However understanding where the power is generated is what you need to grasp. The loading of the legs and shoulders is what separates a pro's serve and a amateurs serve. The arm is simply an extension.

    When you grasp this, you will hit serves that travel fast and heavy thru the air yet you will not feel like your shoulder and arm did the mainstay of the work. In fact in will feel very odd at 1st because it won't seem like you've hit it harder at all however listen to the sound of the impact off your racquet and off the back wall. That will be a tell-true indication.

    Remember:
    Legs - push the ground down with the balls of your feet.
    Shoulders - Coil but do not open your shoulders until your racquet is traveling upwards.
    Arm - Very loose. The body is doing the work.

    I hope this helps.

    Mike
     
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  15. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    WildVolley....
    You are free to disagree with any of my posts, as you have as much a right to say anything as the next guy...
    But to get a real ATP level first serve, placement within 12" of your target and deep, you HAVE to hit couple hun serves a day, 5 days a week. And I"m talking first flat serves. Difference is, in practice, you work on loosening up your stroke and mental lock, but still hit it as fast as a loose motion will allow.
    You won't hurt yourself if you hit 110 flat with little effort.
    You will hurt yourself if you insist on adding the final 10 with muscle and unharnessed energy.
    You have to practice, in order to get a ATP serve. Blasting 50 a day just allows you to THINK you can get one in, someday, during a match, during an important point. You won't, not enough practice.
     
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  16. BMC9670

    BMC9670 Hall of Fame

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    Yep, thanks for the clarification.
     
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  17. Ripper014

    Ripper014 Hall of Fame

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    Ok then I will be that next guy...

    Hitting hundreds of hard serves I do not believe increase your ability to get them in. What you need to do is to find that service rhythm you can replicate in a match situation. As your service motion smooths out... and you make better contact you will naturally hit the ball harder and more consistant.

    When I warmup my service I am not even trying to get the ball in the court... I am just finding my rhythm and making good contact. Stephen Edberg was a prime example of this.. he could be a foot inside the service line when warming up.

    But as your service motion gets better technically your serve will improve... so it is not doing it often as much as it is doing it right.
     
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  18. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Certainly true if you don't have a correct service motion.
    I had a correct service motion in 1975, so more practice makes better.
    Less practice means the serves won't go in.
    If you want Sampras's, Feds, DJ's, dePorto serves, you have to practice MORE OFTEN than they did. You're not as gifted, or as athletic. Nor I of course, so I practiced MORE.

    Read my first post again !!! LOOSEN UP the motion and LOOSEN up the mental block!
     
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  19. CallOfBooty

    CallOfBooty Rookie

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    i always hit at least 500 serves a week. despite what everyone is saying, you mentally can not learn how to hit a serve without practicing it. you can watch as many videos as you want and study very intricate serving details, but if you don't hit some serves yourself you will never get the muscle memory.

    when you are just practicing your serve, you should be aiming to practice with about 90% of your maximum serve speed. some people might disagree but this is my take on it: if you want to hit your fast first serve consistently, you have to actually hit it fast, not work on consistency. as long as you continue serving with a fluid motion then go ahead and fire away. just do not try to change your normal motion or muscle the ball in. if you get it in, great. try to repeat what you just did. if you didn't get it in, figure out why you didn't get it in, and change that for your next serve. say you have a maximum service speed of 120 mph. you want to hit 115 consistently, but you only practice serving at 100 to stay consistent. if your motion is already fluid and devoid of kinks, then why would you bother hitting at such a slow pace? serving at 115 mph would not only help you get your bombs in, but it would also help you to get your average 100 first serve in because you are practicing serving at a higher pace. if you can hit a 115 serve in even 40% of the time, chances are you can definitely hit in a 100 serve 60-70% of the time

    trust me if you just keep practicing it and always working out the kinks in your serve you will improve. the first time i got my serve clocked, the highest i got was 84. my serve wasn't that great, but i started working on it and practiced every weekend. whenever i couldn't find a hitting partner, i would practice serves instead. after about half a year (indoor and summer season) i got my serve clocked at legg mason again. at that time i got 107 with an old racket, so i serve maybe 110 max. i don't know if my serve speed has increased, but i can definitely hit 90-95 mph first serves 60% of the time in my matches.
     
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  20. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Excellent post, and I fully agree.
     
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  21. skyzoo

    skyzoo Banned

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    I really don't want to give credit to just one person because all of thisread is really solid information.
    Hopefully by the end of the winter I can get my % up big time using all of these tips except "10s talk" pray method. My toss is a bit low, how much would a higher toss help in the power and consistency department?
     
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  22. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Low toss is best in theory. Less errors in toss location, and errors are less in actual distance. Timing is easier. Serve is harder for the opponent to read, especially indoors. Sun bothers you less. Wind bother's you less.
    You just have to toss high enough to get your normal full extension on impact.
    Some say to try to hit the ball at the zenith of your toss, if you can. I can, but only about one day in 3, so I toss higher mostly except when I need the ball to clear the net lower.
     
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  23. papa

    papa Hall of Fame

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    Well, there is a lot written here about "flat" serves and I'm not a big fan of them. I like spin used even on the first serve to provide control to some extent anyway.
     
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  24. cl76

    cl76 Rookie

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    How do you make any shot consistent?

    Now figure out what things contribute to getting the result you wanted. What did you do differently to produce the 114mph serve?
     
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  25. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Nothing better than missing the first flat the whole set and finally, with set point coming, you boom in 3 in a row to reverse the whole trend.
    First flats pretty much useless below 110, even with decent placement, so placement is the key.
    When I could hit it 125+, was great to see 5.5-7's back up 5' behind the baseline to receive first serves. Then I could top/slice it past the doubles alley...:shock:
    Too bad serving is only about 15% of the playing equation.
     
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  26. travlerajm

    travlerajm Hall of Fame

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    If you can serve like Karlovic, the % is quite a bit higher.
     
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  27. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    I'd think LESS.
    Ivo has a great winning and forcing serve, so his % won is more, and he gets to serve LESS OFTEN.
    OTOH, a AlbertoBarasetechi has to serve a million times to win his service game, and hit a million balls too. He gets to serve more often! :shock::shock:
     
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  28. skyzoo

    skyzoo Banned

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    My guess was probably more of a knee bend and racquet acceleration. It felt muscled to be honest though
     
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  29. cl76

    cl76 Rookie

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    Now that you have an idea what was different go out there and put it into practice. Feel the difference. If it is effective, keep practicing it so it becomes "normal", if not, try something else.
     
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  30. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    My fastest serves occur when my mental state allows my physical to swing maybe 80% speed, using the entire physical chain, relaxed, calm, and loose. Those were my fastest serves.
    Pressure points, nervous nellie that I am, ainna gonna happen.
    Just like throwing a football for distance, a baseball, a javelin, a frisbee, you have to relax and allow the kinetics to work for you.
    POP is achieved with a calm mental state.
     
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  31. Fedace

    Fedace Banned

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    What level are you in USTA ?
     
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  32. papa

    papa Hall of Fame

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    Well, perspective might be a problem/issue here. I'm looking at this stuff with a doubles mentality whereas many probably are singles players. In doubles, we want to get the majority of first serves in even if we have to slack up a bit on pace. Primary reason is that we're basically in an offensive mode on the first serve but defensive on the second.

    So many times, and at reasonably good level like 4.0, I see a doubles player try to just knock the cover off the ball on the first serve and it generally catches the net or flies way past the service line. Its then followed up with some weak duck that just floats over the net to the delight of the receiving team. If your partner does this, you know/realize quickly that the court just isn't big enough to find a safe hiding spot - your going to get pelted and you wish you had worn a helmet?
     
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  33. skyzoo

    skyzoo Banned

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    I'm not really sure. what would a 110+ serve put me at on the usta scale?
     
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  34. USERNAME

    USERNAME Professional

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    Make sure the toss is very consistent, makes a huge difference if the toss is out of place even just a little. Form also has to b good, if the way u hit the serve and follow through changes (unless ur changing the type of serve) then u will neve b consistent.
     
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  35. USERNAME

    USERNAME Professional

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    Between a 2.5 and a 7.0 lol... On the real though ur vids made me think u were around a 4.0-5.0.
     
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  36. papa

    papa Hall of Fame

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    About average for the men, maybe a spec low, and high on the female side although women are really picking up the pace now. Not at all unusual to see women in the high teens, twenties and reaching upward. If you checked, you might even find women that can serve in the one-thirties.
     
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  37. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Venus and Serena, the biggest serving tennis playing women, still serve like girls, which they are, thankfully. Their motions are askewed if you compare it to the better men's motions.
    Big hoops don't lend to first flat serves with speed. Try it.
    The women pros nowadaze constantly practice with 5.5 and better men to RETURN the first flat and spinny serves.
    The women's pros back in 1978 practice with mens players to return the first flats.
     
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  38. fruitytennis1

    fruitytennis1 Professional

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    Your putting way too much emphasis on speed.
     
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  39. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    No emphasis at all!
    The first flat serve accounts for maybe 7% of your total tennis game.
    So why throw that away?
    We talk about forehands all day, about high backhands foreever, and about grips like we never watched TV tennis.
    We talk about eyeglasses and rules, how to move from ready position to how to splitstep.
    Why not spend a few minutes on first serves?
     
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  40. skyzoo

    skyzoo Banned

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    thank you. I think it will really be a great shot to have in the bag during a close match.
     
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  41. Ripper014

    Ripper014 Hall of Fame

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    There has been a lot of talk on this subject so I am going to through my 2 cents in for what you think it is worth.

    1. Try and develope your technique... hit the ball with effortless power... as you develope your service motion you can slowly ramp up your power... but think effortless

    2. Your ball toss... low is a relative term... low means at the apex of where you need your toss. Not everyone can do this... but the theory is that the ball at its peak will stay there longer than while in motion, hence it should be easier to hit. So you want to toss the ball only as high as you need to hit it.

    3. Hitting flat serves to close out a match when you have not been able get a flat serve in all match... is not something I would do... play the percentages... you still need to hit the occasional flat serve so your opponent respects that you will do it, but you cannot give up your first serve that recklessly so that they can attack your second serve, especially on key points (IMHO). You can be just as effective with spin and placement (ask Edberg/McEnroe), as noted you still need to hit your flat serve but you don't need to rely on it exclusively to win.

    4. Venus and Serena... both of who use 104 inch rackets (I consider them fairly large hoops sizes), with bad service form hit their serves in the high 120's and are among the hardest servers in the current womens game.

    But if you are asking for my opinion... I would say work on technique... balance... good contact... and think effortless power. As you feel the rhythm of your serve you can slowly ramp up the speed... till you max out. But stay smooth and think effortless....
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2009
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  42. fuzz nation

    fuzz nation Legend

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    Something to keep in mind for practice when you're looking for the right ball toss. If you think your toss is too low, remember that it only needs to be high enough to let you hit your serve at a comfortable extension over the top. I think that the toss should realistically be just slightly above your contact point.

    The big problem that a lot of players have (I spot the pros doing this, too) is putting their toss up in the air before they're good 'n set up to use their best smooth and comfortable motion. If you feel like you're rushing to get your racquet to the ball for your serve, you might not be completely loaded up and ready to swing before you toss the ball. That will make you rush the motion to catch up to the ball and that's when your serve's potential gets diminished. I do some teaching and coaching and I'm convinced that this timing issue with the toss is a very common gremlin for servers.

    Take some practice motions without hitting a ball to get the feel for your smoothest tempo, then reproduce that same tempo when you're hitting practice serves. Aside from your toss needing to be high enough for a good mechanical swing, it ought to come late enough that your smooth tempo remains intact.
     
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  43. Ripper014

    Ripper014 Hall of Fame

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    Good point... I was going to mention something about this... you may need to delay your toss in your service motion so everything aligns were you need it. Loading up... (as it were) may take longer than getting your toss in place.
     
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  44. CallOfBooty

    CallOfBooty Rookie

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    there is no such thing as too much emphasis on pace. you just need to hit serves as fast as you possibly can, but when you play a match start at like 75% first serve speed. if you can get that in 80% of the time, use 85% of your serve speed. if that's when you drop to 60-70% serve speed, stick with it. throw in the occasional 60% speed to mix it up, or a nice second serve or slice out wide. you have to mix it up, but most of the time on the first serve, you WILL be hitting the first serve flat and with as much pace as possible while maintaining at least a 60% serve percentage.
     
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  45. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    I think 60% is pretty unrealistic to achieve during a close match.
    Me, if'n I get 30% real first serves in, I'll hold even a full level above mine.
    I can't get 60% in during practice!
    Sorta depends where you aim, don't it?
     
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  46. CallOfBooty

    CallOfBooty Rookie

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    i think it's easier to get it in down the line. its pretty low there compared to the wide serve and it doesn't go out that much if you control it
     
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  47. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    For me, almost....
    Up the middle is low net, but short court.
    Out wide firsts, you throw it over your head some to get better angle with such a high net but LONGER court. About the same for this 5'11" lefty.
     
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  48. skyzoo

    skyzoo Banned

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    You lose a great deal of power going out wide though. Maybe that's just me
     
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  49. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    East side of San Francisco Bay
    Wide serves don't need to be as quick moving to the target, because they travel FARTHER, and the opponent also has to move FARTHER to get to it, then they have to move FARTHER to cover their court after your shot.
    Up the middle, low net and short court, returner at the center, doesn't have as far to move, so the serve CAN be faster, but often is not.
    Remember, most people get aced with 110 mph serves with good placement. We try to get our serves FASTER so we have reserve and choices in the bank.
    And 145mph serves up the middle every time aces no one.
     
    #49
  50. skyzoo

    skyzoo Banned

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2009
    Messages:
    1,461
    Your right on point with that actually. A 90 mph slice out wide is lethal if you mix in a few bombs down the T.
     
    #50

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