My coach wants me to hit my first serve like my smash

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by wanda, Feb 10, 2013.

  1. wanda

    wanda New User

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    I think my second serve is better than my first serve. I hit it with more spin and get it in 9 out of 10 times. My first serve is not that fast it's just a bit faster than my second serve. I'm about a 5.0 and can hold relatively comfortably. The issue I have is my coach is trying to get me to hit harder by telling me to hit it like my smash. I have a decent smash but whenever I try I can only get the ball in 1/4 times. I need to hit up not down like the smash right?
     
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  2. treblings

    treblings Hall of Fame

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    there may be some detail that you use with your smash that your coach wants you to bring to your first serve.
    has he told you, what he thinks prohibits you from hitting a better first serve?
     
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  3. wanda

    wanda New User

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    That's just it, he says he always tries to keep things simple in terms of explaining (and technique). When we talk about this he says you just gotta hit it. Hit it harder....it's not like I'm not trying. I'm thinking its more technique than anything else. I can hit a big smash so no reason why I can't just as big a serve right? Or not?
     
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  4. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Hall of Fame

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    The serve and, I believe, most powerful overheads develop racket head speed mostly from the anatomical motion of internal shoulder rotation (axial rotation of the upper arm). Search- internal shoulder rotation

    To see ISR watch the elbow bones rapidly rotate in this serve (and in the other videos there with the camera view from behind).
    https://vimeo.com/27528701

    This ISR motion on the serve is very fast - about 0.03 second - so that nobody can see it by eye. Normal video will probably just show a blur but some smartphones have very fast shutters in direct sunlight.

    Can you take some videos of your serves and overheads? High speed video is much better than the 30 fps on most video cameras and smartphones. You would probably have to shoot several 30 fps videos of each stroke in order to catch the faster parts of your serve. Maybe you can catch the important angle between the straight arm and the racket at impact in some videos taken from behind (like the above video).

    This arm-racket angle-
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2013
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  5. wanda

    wanda New User

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    Thanks, yeah that is a good idea. I will try to film something the next time I practice (next weekend).
    I have done this before but the serve has changed and improved a lot since last year.
     
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  6. treblings

    treblings Hall of Fame

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    the fact that you hit up on a serve makes a difference.
    try a little experiment if you like. hit a serve as hard as you can against a fence. that way you don´t have to be concerned about placement.
    does it feel like you can hit harder against the fence than normal?

    keeping things simple is good, but explaining things clearly and logically to your player is even better.
     
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  7. rkelley

    rkelley Hall of Fame

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    One thought - the standard coaching advice is to hit up on your serve. The basic reasoning behind this is sound because the advice is trying to focus on whipping the racquet. It also helps get some topspin even on first serve balls.

    But for me, personally, the mental picture of hitting up just doesn't work for me. It just neuters my serve. I loose all the speed and power - the opposite of the intended result. What does work, for me, is that I think about keeping my arm loose, bending my legs, and just freely letting the racquet whip into the ball. Works way better for me.

    If you have a great OH and a good second serve then the motion is in there. One exercise I do sometimes just to loosen up my arm is to forget about the form and just toss ball and whack them as hard as I can. I'll do that for about 10 balls until I feel like I'm hitting hard. Then I'll start bringing a bit of form back in while trying to retain that arm looseness. Eventually I'm hitting real serves again with a looser arm. I find it helps.
     
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  8. CoachingMastery

    CoachingMastery Professional

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    While skilled overhead mechanics are similar to what you will do on a skilled serve there are distinct differences in intent that you will want to understand. Your coach may be making reference to your smash (overhead), to get you to feel some aspect on the serve that you may be missing or limiting.

    Yet, the overhead is hit mainly as flat as possible when hitting from around the service line and in. Because there isn't the need to arch the ball down into the service box as is necessary on the serve, the overhead is hit for speed and direction, (angles or depth or at opponent's feet in some cases in doubles!), and thus hit with a flatter intent.

    Yet, the racquet head speed generated in an overhead, is going to be similar to a first or second serve. The big difference is not the speed of the racquet but the application of that speed in the intent of spin.

    The thing is, most top players serve equally hard on first and second serves. The difference is not the speed of the racquet,...it is the angle of deflection the racquet face is applying to the ball creating both a desired amount of spin as well as the desired angle of axis for that spin.

    For your overhead, you are focused more on pronating so as the racquet swings flatter, (there are some exceptions to this comment), and converts the majority of racquet head speed to velocity, not spin.

    As a 5.0 player, you should possess a potent overhead and serves already. Your coach, as I've mentioned, may notice you are generating more speed on your overhead than your serve and simply wants to get you to feel this same aspect to your serve.
     
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  9. dominikk1985

    dominikk1985 Legend

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    So your coach wants you to serve flat with the first?

    I think you should continue using the kicker as a first if you are successfull but I do think that you should hit 1 or 2 flat bombs per serve game (even if you miss them) just to change the opponents timing. if you just kick it he could go more into the field and try hitting it on the rise before it kicks up.

    if you mix in some bombs he has to stay back and you open up better angles for your kick serve.

    so those occasional bombs function like a change up does in baseball. I do it myself too. I'm a lefty with a good slice and OK slice/top serve which I use most of the time but I will use the hard serve as a change up occasionally.
     
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  10. TheCheese

    TheCheese Professional

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    Bad analogy. Smashes are hit downwards into the court, on serves you want to hit up. "Flat" serves still have topspin, they're just hit with forward direction AND upward for spin and control.
     
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  11. dominikk1985

    dominikk1985 Legend

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    I think that "Like a smash" was just a cue used by the coach to get him flatten his serve out a little. I'm sure he doesn't actually want him to hit like a smash but just a little flatter.
     
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  12. TheCheese

    TheCheese Professional

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    Right, which is why it's probably not the best analogy...
     
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  13. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Consider....
    Sampras can hit 135 on his heavy spin first serves. IF he flattened it out, it would hit 145 for sure, maybe more.
    YOU, OTOH, will gain at least as much ball speed if you flatten out your first serves.
    A good player can hit flat fast overheads AND serves, or slice both to play conservative tennis.
    You need BOTH.
     
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  14. wanda

    wanda New User

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    Thanks everyone for your input. I think that my coach does want me to hit flatter - I do too for first serves. I guess I need to find the right balance between spin and speed. 1/4 isn't a good stat for first serves so guess more work required there.
    Cheers again for everyone's advice.
     
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  15. CoachingMastery

    CoachingMastery Professional

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    Consider instead of simply hitting flat, try tossing more forward into the court and attack the ball staying sideways a bit longer. If you are already coming across the ball with the right spin axis, then this toss will make you naturally come more "at" the ball but still with an emphasis on coming across the ball as well. (All the top players 1st serves have a tremendous amount of spin...from 1200 to 2500 rpms with serves moving at 130+ mph.)

    I'd hate to see you simply change your swing to accomadate the idea of hitting flat serves and then see not only your 1st serve percentage tank, but the change in motion may carry into your second serve a bit.

    That said, there is nothing wrong with experimenting with hitting a flat serve in practice and maybe discovering something that works well for you, too. However, in my experience, when a player adjusts the toss, it correctly allows the player to hit a desired stroke without making a swing path change.

    Just some hopefully helpful ideas to consider.

    Good luck!
     
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  16. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    There is one coach with a free Youtube video who advocates hitting "out" on the serve. He does not use the term hitting up.
     
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  17. boramiNYC

    boramiNYC Hall of Fame

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    not a bad analogy really. think of a smash from the baseline. flat serve feels very similar but at a more steep angle. if ur second serve is better probably ur core rotation is not very effective. in that case open up the stance more toward the net to hit flat but it would be best to practice core rotation and slowly adopt more sideway stance.
     
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  18. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Hall of Fame

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    Safety - Shoulder Orientation for the Serve- One Up & One Down

    Experimenting with serves or overheads - take special care with shoulder safety-

    This is a Todd Ellenbecker video on shoulder anatomy and function. At about minute 8 or so he discusses the orientation of the shoulders used by pro servers that minimizes the risk of shoulder impingement injury. Study the shoulder orientation that he describes for serves. Overheads are similar. Check it yourself by watching a pro match and using your DVR to do stop action on the serve. (Some DVR remotes will single frame when the pause button is pressed again.) From behind the shoulder orientation is clear.
    http://www.tennisresources.com/index.cfm?area=video_detail&vidid=3712&ATT=&reso=hi

    This one up & one down shoulder orientation -
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2013
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  19. wanda

    wanda New User

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    Yep I think I will try to place the toss a bit further out in front and see how that goes.

    Sureshs - I think I saw that video. Wasn't it up and out?

    Cheers
     
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  20. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    No, it was out (as far as I remember). It was the one in which he asks the server to imagine a goal post in front of them and hit above it. But he doesn't say hit up on the ball, and is fuzzy about how high the post should be.
     
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  21. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Hall of Fame

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    Can you point out on this video or any of the similar ones what "hitting out" and "hitting up" are referring to? Are these feelings or observations by eye? Can these words be related to high speed video?

    https://vimeo.com/27528701

    (To do stop action on Vimeo press the play-pause as fast as possible.)

    When the racket is at about 90° to the arm and internal shoulder rotation gets under way as shown, the racket goes up very rapidly as it is also rapidly turning. From the video I'd call it turning or hitting in and incidentally up before contact. I think the up - 90° to the angle at impact - is mostly automatic continuing after rapid elbow extension and mostly driven by ISR but I'm not certain about the automatic......

    Do undefined words help or muddle understanding the serve?
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2013
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  22. Topspin Shot

    Topspin Shot Legend

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    Look at the player's elbow position at about 0:06. His racket is pointing down toward the court, but his elbow is above his head, and his upper body is tilted to the left. That is what hitting up and out means. You don't have to aim to the sky, but you have to keep that elbow up, or you will get an overly flat serve.
     
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