How to serve fast if you are really short?

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by Username_, Dec 29, 2013.

  1. Username_

    Username_ New User

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    My friend is really short and she is struggling to serve it in with power. Of course I can't expect her to hit it as fast as a guy but she's only 16 and 150cm tall.

    When she serves, she naturally hits a topspin serve and does not know how to hit flat. Is this because of her height or poor technique? And what can be done to fix it?
    Thanks
     
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  2. Username_

    Username_ New User

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    Correction: How to serve flat if you are really short
     
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  3. Ash_Smith

    Ash_Smith Hall of Fame

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    If I remember the numbers correctly, she won't be able to serve "flat" from her contact point height at more than around 90mph and keep it in the box, so spin is her friend!
     
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  4. Timbo's hopeless slice

    Timbo's hopeless slice Hall of Fame

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    umm, what Ash says..

    topspin is much better than flat
     
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  5. dominikk1985

    dominikk1985 Legend

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    maybe tossing into the court and jumping could improve her angle. make sure the body leans forward a little at contact (whole body form a tilted line not waist bend).
     
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  6. Nostradamus

    Nostradamus G.O.A.T.

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    if you are below 5 feet it is hopeless. guys like johan Kreek and Nico Almagro had big serves. but they didn't hit Flat serves.
    They had big spin serves. you can hit a spin serve pretty big if you practice
     
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  7. Lukhas

    Lukhas Legend

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    Funny thing, I'm done watching the "Sonic Serve" video...

    If she has attained her maximal serve potential (meaning that she cannot improve her motion much more), then I'll agree with Ash: spin is her friend. Well placed flat or kick are often very more effective because not so many rec players can deal with the spin on it, especially when pushed out of the court. And it's often high percentage play, meaning that she won't have to play that many second serves. Or she can try to serve the T 90 times out of a 100: that's what Henin used to do because of her short size.
     
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  8. HughJars

    HughJars Banned

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    You high??
     
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  9. TennisCJC

    TennisCJC Legend

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    Ash is correct. 150cm is just under 5' tall. Will Hamilton did a study and at 5' 8" tall a server can clear the net by a hair and make it land exactly on the service line with a dead straight ball flight path. 6' 9" John Isner on the other hand can serve a straight line and land it 7' inside the service box.

    So, you have no chance of serving a straight ball from under 5' 8" or so. The answer is the ball must bend in the air and there are 2 ways to bend it in flight. One is gravity which only works if you hit it slowly and the other is spin. Use spin which allows you to swing fast and hit a faster ball that bends 1 to 2 feet in flight.

    Work on a top/slice serve as a 1st serve and add a little more top for the 2nd serve.
     
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  10. cjs

    cjs Semi-Pro

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    From my own experience I know this is incorrect.

    I'm 171cm (a touch under 5'8"). I'm not familiar with the study you referred to but it is possible to serve flat, but your percentages are smaller than a taller person as you have less margin for error between getting the ball over the net and landing before the service line.

    I can hit around 200km/h flat when serving well, and yes they sometimes go in, but my flat first serve percentage is generally lower than a taller person's.

    Its much harder to hit flat serves out wide when your short (net is higher towards the edges of the court).

    Even though a shorty such as myself can serve flat, every shorty will need to develop a good kick serve. Its essential for the second serve, and variety on the first.
     
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2013
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  11. Topspin Shot

    Topspin Shot Legend

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    He's right that you can't serve on a straight line if you're below a certain height, but flat serves don't travel on straight lines. Even without spin, gravity will make the ball travel on some kind of parabola. To the OP though, she's got to learn to serve the ball with spin. It may be physically possible for her to land a flat serve in, but she won't be able to do so with any sort of consistency in match play. BTW, I almost never serve flat in matches either, and I'm 5 feet 10 inches.
     
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  12. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    yeah man I have been saying for years that the triangular analysis is wrong. flat serves go in a parabola just like other serves. 5'4" guys can serve flat.
     
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  13. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    5', Rosie, Amanda, almost Dominica, all hit heavy topspin first serves, and few flats.
    Rosie did hit some flats, but around 90, as said.
    Low contact point just doesn't see the court.
     
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  14. Check out topspin shots hitting video and post your thoughts on his rating based on the level of play in the video. I would be interested to hear what you think!
     
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  15. Topspin Shot

    Topspin Shot Legend

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    Oh gosh, please no! I'll be called a 4.0 for sure.
     
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  16. shindemac

    shindemac Hall of Fame

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    If she wants to serve fast, she needs to put in a lot of work. She has to learn a few things at once. She has to learn to flatten her serve. Then she needs to develop racket head speed. Finally, she has to practice a lot until it becomes a part of her muscle memory.

    Flattening the serve shouldn't be too hard. Just have her experiment, and try to get the ball in with as little spin as possible while hitting mostly flat. She will obviously still need to use some spin, but the key is to use as little as possible.

    Racket head speed is another topic unto itself, so I will just be brief. There's so many drills you can do. Throwing a ball. Shadow swinging. For developing speed, I would have her serve 100% flat first and not worry about getting it in. Have her stand closer a few steps in so she doesn't have to worry about netting it. Even the short service line is ok, or against a wall. After drilling for a few minutes or whatever, have her try her flat topspin serve from before and she should notice an increase in pace and spin.

    Lastly, lots of practice. Practice is used to build the right technique and get it into muscle memory. Since she has such a low margin for error, she needs to practice even more.

    The reason I recommend her learning a flat serve is because for me, improving my flat automatically made my swing faster for my spin serves without doing anything more. Better than improving my spin serves by working on my spin serves if that makes any sense. At least when it comes to racket head speed.
     
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  17. TennisCJC

    TennisCJC Legend

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    Yes, I think some "flat" serves bend due to gravity and the swing path compresses the ball in such a way that there is downward movement in the air. Also, some "flat" serves actually have a small amount of spin and are not truly dead flat.

    But, I think to have a consistent serve with good pace, a player is better off striving to get a fair amount of ball rotation. Yandell's analysis of Sampras' serve showed Pete averaged roughly 2,000 rpm's on his 1st serve and 3,000 rpm's on his 2nd serve. Pete was tall with long arms and still spun the first serve.

    Henin served hard and her ball had rotation too. She also served about 80% down the middle over the low part of the net.
     
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  18. dunnfishing

    dunnfishing New User

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    Not true. I'm 5'6", former d1 player, and I hit a flat ace every game or two. Top speed clocked officially at 134 mph. Just saying... But I agree with what you are saying otherwise.
     
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