Ideal Amount of Body Rotation in Serve?

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by Ballinbob, Dec 28, 2013.

  1. Ballinbob

    Ballinbob Hall of Fame

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    Hey all

    I was wondering what are the pros and cons of body rotation in the serve? In other words, how much body rotation is too much and how much is too little?

    As an example, look at J Macs serve versus Soderling's serve. J Mac rotates his body a lot more than Soderling. Is there any advantage to this? Soldering uses a more "up and down" style of serving and has a much bigger serve than J Mac.

    I myself use a lot of body rotation when I serve and I'm wondering if this is robbing me of easy power? I'm not a coach but to my untrained eye it seems Soderling's serve is the way to go but I have no idea. J Mac has a great serve but I guess I can't see the advantage of having so much body rotation. I don't know :confused:

    What are the pros and cons of each type of serve?

    Would be nice to hear from you guys on this

    JMac serve: http://youtu.be/Cz51ZowmDig
    Soderling Serve: http://youtu.be/NaAhBME6jtA
     
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2013
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  2. Say Chi Sin Lo

    Say Chi Sin Lo Legend

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    John McEnroe is a serve and volleyer, everything about his service motion was designed to throw himself into the court for the volley, and to hide his ball toss.

    If you look at a lot of the old school serve and volleyers, they have their backs facing the returner and that rotation of the body thrusts them into the court.
     
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  3. dominikk1985

    dominikk1985 Legend

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    it also depends on the stance. what actually matters is much much more the hips are turned than the legs and knees and how much more the shoulders are turned than the hips.

    you will have "separation" in the hip socket (pelvis turn vs leg) and waist (pelvis vs shoulder turn).

    a player with the same amount of hip socket and waist separation but a more closed stance (feet pointing sideways) will turn his back more toward the field than a player who has the same turn but his foot pointing forward diagonally more.

    mac does have some waist and hip socket separation but most of his extreme body turn comes from his feet which are almost pointed to the back fence.

    http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-javYxLt56...nTennis1July1992,McEnroeServesToGuyForget.jpg
     
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  4. Ballinbob

    Ballinbob Hall of Fame

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    So having more body rotation allows one to hide the toss better and explode into the court more at the expense of power? Is that a correct assessment?

    Gotcha, that makes sense. What are the pros and cons of both types of serves though? Is my above assessment correct? Also, having your back to the opponent is what disguises the toss correct?

    If you were to teach a junior, would you teach them the J Mac serve or Soderling serve? This is assuming they will be mainly baseline players
     
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  5. Topspin Shot

    Topspin Shot Legend

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    My general rule of thumb: line up with net post for first serves and intersection between service line and sideline for second serves.
     
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  6. Ballinbob

    Ballinbob Hall of Fame

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    Thank you Topspin, I am trying to teach my sister how to serve and that tip will help.

    Sorry if it's a stupid question- But why change the alignment of the feet between serves? What's the benefit of it? Does pointing your feet towards the service line and sideline help when hitting a kick second serve?
     
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  7. Topspin Shot

    Topspin Shot Legend

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    You're welcome. The adjustment gets you more sideways, which helps you put more topspin on the ball. Good luck teaching your sister! :)
     
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  8. Bobby Jr

    Bobby Jr Legend

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    I'm assuming you're talking about your whole body coming around like McEnroe does as opposed to the torso coiling above the hips?

    Say Chi Sin Lo's answer wont clarify it out unless you're clear which you meant. If you meant the former the way McEnroe stood wasn't about disguising the toss or to throwing himself into the court even if those things did happen. He did them because of how he learned to serve and what he aimed for - to have lots of torque by hitting across the ball - his serve was amazing at pulling people off the court which suited his playing style. Soderling is more of a bomb server - big leg drive and a more bomb-style serve (Berdych etc).

    Neither is better, it depends what works for you. Players like Sampras and Federer were the best of both worlds in this respect.

    Note: Shoulder turn on serve (the shoulder-over-shoulder 'throwing' motion) is not the same as coiling your torso (above your hips). You'd do better looking at shoulder turn than being too specific about rotating your whole body which does have a downside in that it could add another level of complexity (and inconsistency). Ample shoulder turn is one of the common traits of pretty much every good serve of any persuasion.

    Also - as dominikk1985 pointed about above. McEnroe's stance was a key reason his serve looked like it did.
     
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2013
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  9. Ballinbob

    Ballinbob Hall of Fame

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    Thank you. Yes, I was referring to the former where the whole body is coming around. It seems like it's just a matter of preference then.

    I stand with my feet parallel to the baseline and a friend of mine told me I would be better off not doing that. Thought I would ask about that on here since it's my stance that causes the body rotation in my serve

    You make some great points about the shoulder turn as well.
     
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  10. TennisCJC

    TennisCJC Legend

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    You want to show your opponent the back of your front shoulder at a minimum at the peak of your rotation. I read an article that McEnroe lost speed on his serve after his peak year 1984. He worked with coach who compared filmed that showed he was not rotating quite as much as he did in his prime. He added a few MPHs when he regained the rotation.

    Nadal does not use a closed stance and he slides his back foot up but even he shows his back to his opponent when serving. See this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I1-HrpUaY9U

    Almost all pros with good serves show their back to their opponent.

    But, I would call this an intermediate to advanced level technique and is not necessarily required for a beginner. For a beginner, I would just try to get her to rotate her chest to be fully facing the side fence. You may also try having her throw a baseball with an over hand motion. Almost all major league pitchers show their back to home plate before starting forward just like a server does.
     
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  11. Ballinbob

    Ballinbob Hall of Fame

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    Thanks for the reply. To be honest this thread is both for me and her haha. I myself was also curious about this issue. I'm not going to be changing my serve but wanted to inquire about it.

    As for my sister, right now I have her throwing an old Wal Mart racket. I'm telling her to try and throw it into the box. She looked at me like I was an idiot when I told her to do that but I just want to make sure she has a good throwing motion before we progress further. She's 14 and just wants to get good enough to play on her high school team.
     
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  12. TennisCJC

    TennisCJC Legend

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    Try this drill from the Serve Doctor where he uses throwing tennis balls:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6EFWB18kPWY

    The concept of throwing the racket head upward into the contact zone is a good concept to use when visualizing the serve motion. Also, it helps to take few shadow strokes without a ball where you visualize throwing the racket head up into contact. I have been playing 35 years and I'll still take a few shadow swings even in matches to loosen the shoulder and get the feel.
     
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  13. Say Chi Sin Lo

    Say Chi Sin Lo Legend

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    It's all about perspectives

    Hmm, I'll try to explain the ball toss thing:

    So with (most of or entire) your back facing your opponent, you can still toss your ball in front for flats/slices, or behind for topspin/kick serves. From your (server's) perspective, you're still tossing the ball differently for each serve.

    But from the returner's perspective (remember, they're looking at your toss diagonally), they all may look the same. I know I'm doing a horrible job explaining it, but server and the returner's perspectives are in different planes.

    I'm the server, and I'm changing my ball tosses in front and behind me. But you the returner (observer of my toss) is looking at the ball in more or less the same position, because your plane of view different than mine.

    Haha, think of it this way: I'm changing my ball tosses, but with my back turned against you, I'm changing the ball tosses in the X coordinate (graphically speaking). But you, the observer, is looking at me from the Y axis. Assuming my tosses have similar heights, they'll look like they're all in the same spot from your perspective.

    Hopefully this graph makes sense? The server in this case is right handed.

    [​IMG]

    I've asked my buddies if they can read my tosses. They all say no and they go by my serving pattern instead. I don't have my entire back facing the opponent, but most of it is. And it's apparently enough to allow me to toss my ball in a different plane of view than the returner's that, I'm able to "hide" my tosses even though I use different tosses for different serves.

    Tennis coaches and TV commentators are always talking about "consistent tosses", I think they meant to have the same toss for the same type of serve. Because for Sampras and Federer, they're often said as having the same toss for every serve. But from the TV angle, I don't know about you but I see a variety of tosses for their variety of serves. Hence, back to my idea of perspectives.

    Feel free to chime in, but this is the best I can do with the whole "turn my back at you to hide the toss" thing.

    And remember, as the returner, you're always observing the server diagonally, never straight on.
     
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2013
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  14. TennisCJC

    TennisCJC Legend

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    I don't think turning back hides toss at all. If you toss to the same spot and have the same body alignment in relation to the toss AND can hit a variety of spin and placement from the COMMON toss and alignment; you have good disguise. A serve is readable if the server moves the toss or changes the body alignment to hit a certain spot or type of spin.

    Sampras' coach would have him toss and when the ball left his hand the coach would call a number to hit a certain serve. This taught Pete to hit different spots and spins from the same toss location. This is disguise and you can achieve it from a very closed or more open rotation.

    To be honest, most world class players have at least 2 different toss/alignments. Even Federer sometimes moves his toss back and more to 12 o'c for heavy spin 2nd serves. But, Sampras pretty much had 1 toss.
     
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2013
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  15. Bobby Jr

    Bobby Jr Legend

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    You are right. Say Chi Sin Lo is wrong and all he's done with that comment is confuse the op.

    This ^. Sampras and guys like Federer with quite similar tosses for most serves are not the best examples for people learning ball toss nuances as a whole lot of other factors need to work to pull that off.
     
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  16. Ballinbob

    Ballinbob Hall of Fame

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    No harm done, no need to harp on Say. He had good intentions, although I must admit I didn't really understand his explanation haha

    Thanks for the replies all of you. I think disguising your serve is great but that's definitely an advanced technique. Surely not something I will teach my sister
     
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  17. Say Chi Sin Lo

    Say Chi Sin Lo Legend

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    Yeah I butchered it. By the time I posted the graph I was like: "screw it, I'm going to sleep". I'll end with this, you can use your body orientation to "hide" your ball toss.
     
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  18. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Possibly just an example of how different we all are.
    Some guys use lots of rotation, some much less, like Stich, Smith.
    Some guys turn a lot, Mac, Connors, but that is a personal physical thing, not something better or worst.
    You should try both Stich, Roddicks, and Mac's motions, and see what works best for YOU.
    I personally like Korda's motion, a simple Stich/Smith kind, but I can't serve hard that way, so I adopt more a Goran motion, which seems to speed up the serves and get them in much more often. But I have to rock 3 times, while bent over like I have a 64 year old back, like a warlock, in old age.
    You need to find the motion that gives you consistency, placement, speed, and is somewhat easy on your body.
    My best tennis bud, who was a No.1 for StateCollege of SanFrancisco, used a whirlwind windup, like a wild child, and it worked for him. Everyone else thought he would throw his arm and shoulders out in 5 serves. He won some A tourneys, 2 Chinese Nationals, and State D-3. Was much better than me, of course.
     
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  19. shindemac

    shindemac Hall of Fame

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    Serve is tricky to learn. There are so many different ways to do the same thing. It depends on what her strengths and weaknesses are. Some get their power from legs; Some from shoulder stretch and rotation. And others a little of everything.

    Definitely don't over-rotate. That's too much rotation. If you watch the the slo mo video, each part of his body stops moving so the next one can move. In simpler terms, legs move, then hips. Next torso, shoulder. Finally arm. If there's a hitch or delay like in the backscratch position, then power is lost. If multiple parts are moving, then some energy is not transferred to next stage. That's the downside of getting power from legs. It's very hard to coordinate it so the power flows smoothly from legs to arms.

    Despite this, you can still get lots of power from just torso rotation. Just don't over-rotate like I said. If you've mastered this part, then you need to look to add other sources of power.
     
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  20. corbind

    corbind Professional

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    That's insane the difference in those two pro serving.
     
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