Is it possible to serve almost like a pro?

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by Ghosting, Oct 11, 2007.

  1. Ghosting

    Ghosting New User

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    I'm 26 and I would like to know what you think about changing and improvement my serve. Is it possible to practice my serve step by step (according to revolutionary tennis) and then get very good serve?
     
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  2. VaBeachTennis

    VaBeachTennis Semi-Pro

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    Of course! You are still young. Just find good sources and practice the basics and proper mechanics and you can serve like a pro too. It make take some time depending on your athleticism and your ability to apply what you learn properly. Good luck!
     
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  3. Tennismastery

    Tennismastery Professional

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    The serve, perhaps more than any other shot, offers all players the opportunity to serve 'like the pros.'

    Because you have full control of the ball in terms of when you will hit it, where it will be when you hit it, and are able to completely prepare before hitting it, there is really no reason why you can't serve like the best. Likewise, you can practice your serve by yourself without the need of a partner or ball machine. You can practice it on a hitting wall or a court.

    Today, there are numerous tennis teaching sites that provide a ton of video and teaching lessons that you can, at the very least, make sure you have a clear understanding of proper serve mechanics; from grips, stances and swing patterns--as well as understanding spins--there is so much out there nowadays that no one should be ignorant of how the serve should be hit.

    And, at 26, unless you have some physical or mental handicap, you should be able to master an advanced serve in less than 6 months...if you learn it correctly and practice such proper methods diligently.

    Good luck!
     
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  4. Ghosting

    Ghosting New User

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  5. Tennismastery

    Tennismastery Professional

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    As you can see from Tim Henmen's serve, it is effeicent, has a simple swing path, and not muscled. His serve is a decent model to build your serve on, (and there are many others too!), and certainly one that can be emulated with reasonable success.

    Good luck!
     
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  6. cukoo

    cukoo Semi-Pro

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    I've been trying to emulate Gasquet's motion recently, it is quite simple however I do have trouble with the ball toss sometimes because I have to raise the racquet at the same time.

    Might interest you to look into his motion...
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FWsTZ5QFkMI
     
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  7. Mike Cottrill

    Mike Cottrill Hall of Fame

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    Yes You Can

    Just as TM said, it is the one stroke that you have complete control over. Even in your 40's you can still serve like a current "Pro". Just watch out for back injuries and don't try serving like Edberg in your 40's :oops:
     
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  8. VaBeachTennis

    VaBeachTennis Semi-Pro

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    I hear that! It feels good doing it and playing hard....my speed and stamina are still here...........but the next day sometimes feels like I've been rolled around in a dryer and my knees dread the stairs in the morning. I think I need to stretch more and stay on my toes more as well.
     
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  9. VaBeachTennis

    VaBeachTennis Semi-Pro

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    Gasquet has a nice advanced motion and he's explosive. Look for him to give Federer/Nadal a run in the next 2 years. I think Henman's serve would be an easier model to start from.
     
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  10. Mad iX

    Mad iX Semi-Pro

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    Some pros have really weak serves, so I have no doubt it's possible for amateurs to hit some pretty big flat or kicking serves.
    The difference is hitting these day in day out, through a 5-set match over an entire tournament. Most importantly, to come up with the big serve when the tension is high.
    Pros don't always have the best shots, but they always find a way to win.
     
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  11. Uthree

    Uthree Rookie

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    I would be careful when modelling Henman's serve. Some PRO's say his knee bend might be a little excessive and this may not suite you.
     
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  12. Silent

    Silent Semi-Pro

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    At least half of them do !

    But I agree that the mental part plays the major role in tense situations.
     
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  13. NamRanger

    NamRanger G.O.A.T.

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    If that's excessive knee bend then take a look at guys like Sampras, Roddick, Taylor Dent, and Davydenko.
     
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  14. Tennis_Monk

    Tennis_Monk Hall of Fame

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    Is it possible to serve almost like pro?..Actually i know people who can serve better than some of the current Pro's. ready for the list? Sampras , Agassi, Ivanisevic.

    On a serious note, theoretically it is possible. Practically i am not so sure that one would put in same amount of time , effort and coaching that a pro would put. If they do, no reason why they cant serve like a pro if not better.
     
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  15. Uthree

    Uthree Rookie

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    They've done OK but the players with less physical training, conditioning and less access to physios and massuers may find too much strain on knees and back with a such large knee bend. I think Dent is already feeling the strain. Rusedski, Ivanisovic and Arthurs may be easier to model for some players.
     
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  16. scotus

    scotus Legend

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    I can serve better than Dementieva.
     
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  17. SoBad

    SoBad Legend

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    ^^ I serve like a pro, but still working on my form - trying to transition from Coria technique to Karlovic techinque.
     
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  18. Ghosting

    Ghosting New User

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    I think Henman's serve is a good example. Of course his bending knees are hard to imitate but it's not so important. It's more about transfer of weight, toss and tossing arm and coiling the body to get trophy position first. Second avoid the waiter's tray (go with the edge of racket). Swiss Army Knife and pronation then should occur more naturally. These steps are crucial from my point of view. I have to master these first and then fine tune another.
     
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  19. Ghosting

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    So ladies and gentlemen, today I have started improvement my serve. I focused on 4 points: transfer of gravity, toss, coiling the body and going with edge of the racket. First I just simulated it without a ball then I served about 15 minutes only to fence. After a short break I started serve into the service box. Still keeping in mind 4 basic sequencing I produced better and better flat serves. Great speed, worse accuracy. Then I tried to keep my tossing extended arm longer in the air and lift the ball a bit higher and forward. The result was evident: better balance and accuracy. I was really amazed with some serves. Satisfied with my practice I finished after an hour. There is no reason to rush anything. Hopefully I'm on the distinguished way.
     
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  20. raiden031

    raiden031 Legend

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    I think its interesting that the serve is definitely the easiest stroke to develop because the player is in complete control of it, but at the same time I have never seen worse strokes out there than the serves of some of the people I've watched or played against around my area. Some people have such a wacky motion I am amazed that the ball even lands in the service box on a regular basis. The serve is probably the stroke that would require the most help from a teaching pro in knowing what your body is doing, but if you know what your body should be doing, then it shouldn't be that hard to learn. Within 6 months I went from a flying pan serve to a big serve that was reliable.
     
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  21. Tennismastery

    Tennismastery Professional

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    I believe that most players who did not participate in overhand motions sports, (ie: throwing a football, baseball, serving in volleyball, etc.), have very limited--if any--esperience in producing effective overhand movements. Not to be a sexist comment, the vast majority of young girls and most adult women have the greatest difficulty in serving well. I attribute this to the fact the great majority of woment seldom throw balls growing up. Those who played softball, or had brothers who they did throw balls with them tend to have more natural serving motions and are able to pick up the serve with much less difficulty.

    Just my thoughts. But, I agree, that for many players it is indeed the serve that tends to look most bizare among a great percentage of recreational players.
     
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  22. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Hey, I played softball for a few years as a kid and I learned how to throw a football in high school, but this was all pre-Title Nine. So I can't throw very well at all.

    I can serve well compared to people of my level, but it never feels like I'm throwing a ball. I think there is probably great room for improvement in my service motion, but I think I've pretty much peaked unless I spend a lot more time on it.

    The serve isn't where I lose points, so I tend to put my efforts into other things that will yield more benefit for the practice/lesson time spent.

    Cindy -- who could not throw a tennis ball from one baseline to the other no matter how much money was riding on it
     
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  23. NamRanger

    NamRanger G.O.A.T.

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    If anyone wants to serve like a pro then they have to realize that they have to be in shape and conditioned like a pro.
     
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  24. Tennismastery

    Tennismastery Professional

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    While being in shape certainly helps anyone in any sport, serving is about the least conditioned-dependent stroke in tennis. I mean, I'm 49, in good shape, serve at 120 plus MPH, can hit slice, kick or flat, and I'm far from being in the kind of shape the pros are in. Likewise, I have 14 year old girls and 12 year old boys who are not in the kind of shape as the pros...yet, they can serve well over 110 mph.

    I don't discount the concept of conditioning. Yet, for the serve, it is more dependent on technique, rhythm, and swingspeed than it is based on being in "professional condition."
     
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  25. BeHappy

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    that's very impressive, how tall are you?Have you always had a big serve or have you refined your technique?
     
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  26. Tennis_Monk

    Tennis_Monk Hall of Fame

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    I agree. However deep into 3 or 5 sets, conditioning matters. However the reason why they got so tired is not soley because of serving but all the ground strokes that went on to get the match into decider.
     
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  27. Mick

    Mick Legend

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    "Is it possible to serve almost like a pro?"

    Probably not, because a tennis pro would practice the serve many hours a day and most tennis players would practice the serve one hour a week.
     
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  28. Tennismastery

    Tennismastery Professional

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    I'm 5'10" and weigh about 170 now; I have always had a good serve even when I was very slender. (When I was number one at Cal State Fullerton in 1979 I weighed 132 lbs... I had a 118 mph serve recorded at a tournament with my old Yonex T-8500 aluminum frame!) Was clocked five years ago at 125 mph. But, I have had many junior players serve around 120 and a number of adult women reach 100mph. (Not a lot, mind you!) I have only hit the 120 mark in the past few years as my high.

    My motion has been the same for 35 years. I did play nationally competitive badminton as a youngster and that helped me develop good racquet head speed. But, I use a lot of spin too, using that speed to create different actions, slice, hybrid, topspin and kick serves.

    The big point has little to do with my serve...it is that most players who are not handicapped can serve with speed and effectiveness with proper instruction and proper application of that instruction. (That's the hard part for most players!)

    Ironically, I demonstrate in various clinics or lectures myself serving from my knees only, and still hitting 100 mph. And, I trained a couple wheelchair players in CA many years ago who easily hit 100+ mph serves. Thus, height, has only a marginal contribution to serving at these speeds.

    Of course, there are many players who can easily hit 100+ mph serves...but never get them in. The real test is the application of proper spin with the contributing elements of angular momentum, thrust, swing speed and full range of swing motion, all predicated on proper grips, swing position, and dozens of other key swing elements.

    Players older than 55 years old lose a great deal of flexibility and range of motion, as well as loss of physical strength. Thus, there are not a lot of senior players that can get over 110 mph (but, I know there are still many that can).

    The OP certainly has the time to develop a high-level serve, one that is similar to that of the pros.

    As one person mentioned, pros obviously serve thousands of serves, work on it daily, and use optimal motion. I believe the motion can be achieved; but the player's ability to gain full control, variance of spin, and intentional swing elements like that which most pros can do, is dependent on these practice elements.

    Of course, a pro's serve like Dementiava is not much better than some above average club players! (Although, she has improved it over the last couple years!)

    Anyway, hope that answers your questions!
     
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  29. Ghosting

    Ghosting New User

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    Today it was a second day of my service improvement. I was serving worse than yesterday but I think it's nothing strange. Before my serve practice I returned and volleyed about 45 minutes. During my serves I felt my body was strained. My muscles haven't got used to new motions. Without a doubt some off court workout is worthwhile. Tomorrow I will continue.
     
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  30. tbini87

    tbini87 Hall of Fame

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    i guess you could try to serve like them, as far as using the same mechanics. but i would not expect the same results. but i think that if you put enough time in and worked on having sound mechanics that are modeled after a pro's serve, you should improve big time. but remember that pros are generally incredible athletes that can do things that average joes can't do.
     
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  31. Ghosting

    Ghosting New User

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    Yes, I know very well that I will never play tennis and get results like Henman or other pros. I just want to be satisfied with my tennis. Play it properly. Play with on fear. Be happy with my strokes. And in tennis It's really a great feeling to produce a dazzling serve. There is nothing better.
     
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  32. tbini87

    tbini87 Hall of Fame

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    yeah i agree. i take the same approach with tennis and golf. find a pro i want to copy as far as their swings, and go for it. i am a lefty with a 2hbh so i try to follow nadal's form on most his strokes. i do the same with golf with tiger, trying to copy his swing, but not his results. but really being able to tag a drive or blast a serve is a great feeling!
     
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  33. Rickson

    Rickson G.O.A.T.

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    Sure it's possible. Many male club players can serve with the pace and power of female pros.
     
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  34. junbumkim

    junbumkim Professional

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    you can probably develop effective flat, slice, kick serves.

    But the chances are you won't be able to serve like pros with the accuracy, consistency, spin and power that they have. It's the same reason as why Nadal is not going to have serve of Pete Sampras or Roddick. You are a little too old to develop natural serve motion.

    But it shouldn't discourage you...Most of dream of hitting and playing like pro players. But they are gifted athletes to begin with, and have been practice since they were very little. So concentrate on developing effective serve...
     
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  35. BeHappy

    BeHappy Hall of Fame

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    118mph in '78 is incredible, borg or tanner would have been pleased with that, that's the modern day equivilant of about 135-140mph taking into account service speeds of the respective era's top servers.

    Obviously you know this, I'm just telling everyone else.

    Have you tried physical conditioning at any point in your life?If so did it make any difference to your serve?
     
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  36. NamRanger

    NamRanger G.O.A.T.

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    I'm going to have to disagree with you here. Sure, conditioning may not matter for less stressing motions (i.e. those without too much knee bend / body bending foward into the court). However, when you really want to generate great amounts of spin or pace, you have to use the more extreme motions, which puts alot of stress on muscles such as the lower back, shoulder, and legs. If these three key muscles are not well developed, your serve (and more then likely your health) will suffer greatly.
     
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  37. junbumkim

    junbumkim Professional

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    It would be pretty surprising if anyone could get it above 120mph in their late 40s.

    I remember P Mac talking about serve and Cliff asking him if he could get it upto 120 or something. Patrick Mac immediately said no and told him he would be lucky to get 118..
    And this was in 2001 when Roddick just came out. I don't think he was in late 40s then.

    I don't think serve requires as much conditioing, but you really have to be flexible and maintain shoulder strength.
     
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  38. Ross K

    Ross K Legend

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    A few ppl in this thread have commented on 'going with the edge of the racquet'... could somone please clarify the meaning of this. Cheers...
     
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  39. Ghosting

    Ghosting New User

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    I just want to say that I've played tennis for 18 years. I'm not a beginner. I'm able to play 4 hours a day so my fitness is really no problem. All my strokes (except my serve) are pretty solid. I'm able to hit a winner from any part of court. Problem with my serve was that I had bad habits (bad weight transition, no archer's bow, waiter's tray,...). Even with this habits I was able to hit a big serve but rarely. I just need to get right technique, rhythm. Swing is not a problem as I'm pretty good at throwing balls or something like that. But you can easily imagine how I was frustrated with my serve. I was able to beat worse players or average at my best on tournaments but couldn't go further. My serve ruined me against better players. Struggling with my serve, the rest of my game tended to follow suit. I don't want to play matches with bad serve anymore. I will rather hit a serve out with right technique than hit a poor one in!
     
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  40. Ghosting

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    Going with edge is what gives you a pace. From trophy position (you are prepared for swing) you drop your racket behind your back with the edge to make faster swing. Strings are not facing ground. This link is great: http://www.revolutionarytennis.com/step12-4stroke.html

    If you avoid the waiter's tray, your serve will be 10x faster!
     
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  41. Tennismastery

    Tennismastery Professional

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    Ghosting,

    I have seen this alot, where a player will have a great game, only to be somewhat stymied by a limiting, or not-as-good-as serve. I don't know why this is. Except that the serve is really a very different stroke from all the others. (Except for the overhead, of course.)

    Yet, the serve for me and for most of my students, has always been a strength. I remember a really ignorant coach telling me when I was 13 that I had an "old man's serve." (I always served with a ton of spin.) Yet, it was this very serve, a spin serve, that allowed me to develop the most important serve...the second serve. And the ability to brush the ball with a very high rate of racquet head speed helped me hit the big bombs that I used later.

    I always tell my students who are having trouble serving using proper techniques in competition, "Since you double fault using a dink serve, why not double fault using something that will make you a better player."

    Of course, I'm not advocating trying to hit a 120 mph second serve. My point is to hit a big spin serve with good racquet head speed.

    The problem with so many players it the 'deceleration' factor: That is, they slow their swing down on their second serve instead of swinging with full acceleration. If you are hitting a spin serve, remember that more ball rotations you generate, (of proper spin), the more the ball will create a higher margin of error as well as usually be more offensive towards opponents. Slowing the swing down results in slower spin rates and less arc over the net.

    Of course, swinging faster does create more specific timing demands...but, that is my point; how are you going to develop the timing, especially in the heat of competition, if you don't employ it when you compete?

    Good luck in 'completing' your game and developing your serve to the best of your ability.
     
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  42. Tennismastery

    Tennismastery Professional

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    Don't get me wrong...I don't disagree with you at all. Conditioning will play a big part in a player developing the 'Whole' serve, like that of top pros. However, to create the technique, swing path, and general serve patterns of the pros is not dependent on specifically being in great shape. Creating the serve SPEED is dependent on flexibility and, to a certain degree, strength.

    Although, in clinics I will sometimes demonstrate to a class the serve holding only the racquet in two fingers and my thumb to specifically show them that rhythm is far more important than strength. (I will usually get a 90 mph serve in this way.) Since I can't use a lot of strength holding the racquet so loosely, (otherwise the racquet would fly out of my hand), then the swing I am creating is done through technique as opposed to strength.

    But, you make a very valid point and I agree with it.
     
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  43. Tennismastery

    Tennismastery Professional

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    In 1976, (I believe), Tanner had the world record tied with Craig Harter, at one point, at 128 mph. This number stayed for a long time. I was taking lessons at the time with Craig, (whose sister, Kathy, was playing tennis for the L.A. Strings in WTT at the time), and we all felt that was incredible.

    I don't know what my serve speed then was as there were hardly any radar guns available to the general public back then. It wasn't until 78 that I played in a tournament that had a serve contest and I was clocked at that time with 114 (in) and 118 that didn't go in. I remember finishing second to what I think was 116.

    Borg would have been pleased with anything over 100 mph, I believe! Of course, serve speeds were seldom recorded back then during regular tournaments. But, I don't remember ever hearing about Borg serving faster than that. (I'll bet today, he serves harder than he did in his prime...just a guess.) And McEnroe didn't have much of a serve in terms of pace either. He had a great ability to place his lefty spin and mix it up too. But, I don't remember his serve being that big in terms of speed.

    I terms of my conditioning, I'm probably in the best shape I've ever been in. Back in the 70's when I played high school and most of my college tennis, weight training and specific conditioning was hardly ever done. (At least with my teams and coaches.) Since I gratuated college weighing only 138 lbs or so, today I'm far more solid at 170, and work out five days a week or so now. Yet, I serve about the same today as I did ten or fifteen years ago when I wasn't in great shape. Actually, I'm probably now only serving 115 to 120 at the very best today...when, ten years ago, I was easily hitting the 120 and above marks.

    I have to mention that I'm not sure about the quality of the radar guns used in any of these examples. I'm hoping that all are close, but you never know. The last ten years, I've been using the one that you set at the net and serve towards it. I can't remember what kind was used back in the 1970's except that it was held behind you like a real 'gun' so, not sure how accurate those were.
     
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  44. Ghosting

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    As a youngster here in the Czech Republic, we were training forehands, backhands, volleys, smashes. But serve it was almost a myth. Just toss the ball higher and forward. I can say that our trainers didn't know and couldn't produce modern serve. Archer's bow, waiter's tray, swiss army knife, pronation? Never heared about it as a child. For ages my serve was the worst stroke. Now in democracy and as a student I can easily get these information. Now I can see why I wasn't able to hit big serve while I could throw the ball farthest in our tennis club.
     
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  45. Ross K

    Ross K Legend

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    Oh!... okay... gotcha...

    I have to say, I didn't think anyone, from backscratcher, would serve with strings facing the ground (although I suppose a key missing word here would be 'consciously'.) Furthermore, I'm pretty certain I do indeed 'go with the edge' - I studied and worked on your very link a couple of years ago. Unfortunately, however, my serve, though consistant and varied, is still too low-powered and I'm virtually never producing aces.
     
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  46. Ghosting

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    The key is to produce more forward energy. A great drill is to practice your serves two yards behind the base line. This is such a fantastic drill because it forces you to get outside the box and break self imposed limitations for a number of reasons. First, because you know you have to hit the ball farther you will instinctively generate more racquet head speed. Second, because you know you have to hit the ball farther you will naturally create more forward energy. Third, by trying to generate more racquet head speed and create more forward energy it will cause you to make adjustments in your mechanics such as more use of the legs, more powerful shoulder rotation, greater range of motion, and demanding more of certain muscle groups. Sure you will hit some balls into the net but once you understand and make the necessary adjustments, you will start hitting serves like you never hit before.
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2007
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  47. Ross K

    Ross K Legend

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    Thanks Ghosting - I'll definitely try this.... yep, look forward to it, and whilst we're at it, any other tips or suggestions just let me know if you feel so inclined.

    BTW, I think Mardy Fish advocates something similar on a TT video aid which is presently on this very 'tennis tips' forum - unfortunately these vids don't load/play properly for me.
     
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  48. sharpy

    sharpy Banned

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    Sounds like your serve was naturally good, the way you're talking about it now.

    What about those people that don't have that natural racket head speed/spin on their serves?

    Any suggestions to increase topspin on the serve?
     
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  49. Tennismastery

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    Certainly, my badminton background made the serve seem more natural. But, among my students, especially my 8-year old daughter, (who is far from a natural athlete), the technique and progression I use to teach all my players including her, is the difference in their (and her) ability to hit a very good serve.

    Those who don't have any so-called natural racquet head speed can learn to generate it through learning progressions.

    However, the first and foremost development is the proper swing path with the proper grip. No different than learning to play the piano, (which is almost NEVER a natural event for anyone when learning to play correctly), you first learn the method, then add style, speed, and accents.

    The problem I see with a lot of players is they learn to swing fast first, with little understanding of the proper swing path. (Perhaps because they are told they can change this element later...WRONG! Very difficult to change an ingrained swing pattern!) Thus, they almost always have to decelerate to control the serve. However, those who learn a proper swing pattern do the opposite; for control they swing harder. (Generating more spin, of course.)

    For your question about topspin, the big key is again the swing path. For many players they corrupt the swing path by their body position. If a player rotates (faces the net) too early, they will never be able to hit with topspin. (Slice at best, flat for most.) You must stay sideways to accomplish significant topspin through contact.

    Imagine on the ad court you are serving; pretend there is a glass wall coming out of the baseline all the way up in front of you. If you swing forward (usually rotating as I just mentioned) your racquet will approach the glass wall and shatter it. Instead, imagine you are sideways after the toss and you hit the ball while your racquet is running parallel with the glass wall. This way, you don't break the glass. This action, best learned on the ad court as I mentioned, will help you understand the feel of hitting with more topspin.

    I have a phrase in my book: At the ball (for a flatter serve), Across the ball (for the spin serves). Of course, there are many types of spin and you must hit with the right axis of spin to create the appropriate spin for optimal serve effect and consistency.

    Hope this little tip helps you. In the meantime, remember racquet head speed comes from distance the racquet travels coupled with the amount of acceleration. If you take too short of a swing, you can't create enough time to accelerate the racquet. In my book I talk about the three elements that can add additional speed: Upward Thrust, Rotational Thrust, and Forward Thrust. These three elements of the body added to an excelent racquet path will give you maximum speed on the serve.

    Good luck!
     
    #49
  50. RoddickAce

    RoddickAce Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2007
    Messages:
    2,468
    From the beginning when I learned how to serve, I had been trying to mimick roddick for obvious reasons(it obviously didn't work for me, but I was willing to try cuz I thought he was cool). I could generate the service pace of an average pro, but I was unable to do it for more 2-3 consecutive shots cuz the next bunch of serves would be netted or hit long. Then I developed a serve like Federer's and I think it made me more relaxed when I serve.

    Over the years, I have been developping a a more consistent serve and different spins and stuff but the pace has been going away. I used to be able to hit 100mph kick second serves, at like 60% or less accuracy though, now I I have much more consistent second serve, but pace? Let's not talk about it.

    My first serve is no longer a plain flat serve, I can hit all areas of the box with considerable spin, but I can't crank it up to the 120's consistently in a match anymore. Is it a mental thing? Am I just losing the confidence in smacking the ball hard? Or am I losing speed in a match because I grow weary? I know placement is better than pace, but I really want to get my weapon back.
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2007
    #50

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