practicing serve

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by spectastic, Oct 1, 2012.

  1. spectastic

    spectastic New User

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    how long did it take your serve to mature to the level of your groundies? I play on weekends only, and my serve is always my weak point. Sometimes, my flat serves and topspin serves are just "on"; I get aces left and right. Other times, I get 1 serve in, and all the other ones are double faults. It is really bad when the first serve goes into the net or long 90% of the time and the second serve is almost slower than my groundstrokes. Nevermind serving to the backhand/forehand, or slice/topspin. I'm more worried about simply getting the ball in. I've thought about just practing my serve for a couple of hours to improve my consistency until something clicks, and I start serving consistently. In the mean time, I'm just wondering how other people have developed their serves over time.
     
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  2. gmatheis

    gmatheis Hall of Fame

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    Nothing gets better without practice, and playing on weekends only is hardly enough practice for your groundies let alone your serve.

    Try to get out once a week and hit serves for like an hour or so. You'll be happy you did.
     
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  3. zapvor

    zapvor Legend

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    its critical that when you practice you are doing it right. i see way too many people repeating terrible service motions
     
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  4. spectastic

    spectastic New User

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    I don't have a coach, and I'm not going to film myself. However, I have seen just about every serving video on youtube. I'm also unsure whether I should change my serving motion to slide my dragging foot in. I can see how that will help me in the long run to get more kick in my serve; but that motion is more inconsistent for me, especially in high wind situations because I have less control over my balance.
     
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  5. zapvor

    zapvor Legend

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    hmm......well you said no video, so good luck!

    by the way, balance? do you mean your toss?
     
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  6. donnygg

    donnygg Rookie

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    Why won't you film yourself? It's a great way to evaluate yourself. You'd be surprised how different you serve from what you THINK you look like. You don't have to upload it but do yourself a favour and film yourself. For me, it's a huge reality check and helped me improve A LOT.
     
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  7. spectastic

    spectastic New User

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    I don't want to film myself because that would require me to spend $100 to purchase a camera. I don't even have a point/shoot. All have is a crappy 0.1 MP webcam on my laptop. But I think my form is good, really.

    when I change my footing in the middle of a toss, it might throw me off a little. It's really a timing issue. Without the step, I get more control on when to jump. With the step, you really have to get the timing right.
     
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  8. Wilander Fan

    Wilander Fan Hall of Fame

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    Its all about practice with the serve since there are a number of things you need to have locked in like toss, timing, swing, etc. Also unlike groundstrokes and timing which come back quickly, serve takes awhile to reacquire and will go away if neglected.

    At one point I was practicing just the serve twice a week and i went from a double fault machine to both serves being reliable weapons in about 2 months. Unfortunately, I stopped and the feeling and timing slowly deteriorated even though i still played a couple sets a week. A year later, I am back at double fault machine.
     
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  9. slowfox

    slowfox Professional

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    Once a week I go out and serve like 50-100 balls to both deuce and ad courts. Practice practice. My serve used to suck big time (double faults, arm hurting etc). When I decided to seriously fix it, I started by reading everything I could find on *proper* serve technique, and studied videos too. No coaching, just playing around and figuring things out on my own. It may not be perfect, but it's definitely a lot better. The process is ongoing.
     
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  10. syc23

    syc23 Professional

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    I go out to hit 100 balls at least once or twice a week to keep my timing on serves and motion in check.

    For me, I had no serve when I started playing from scratch in Aug 2011, it took me 2/3 months before I had a serve but my toss was still very unreliable. It improved more once round about March when I fixed my toss and then from May-July, I drilled in the racquet drop and pronation after contact.

    Then during the course of Aug - Sep, I've been out practicing 1,2 or even 3 times a week hitting at least a couple of baskets even when I had 30mins to spare (luckily there's public courts 5 mins from where I live). Working on my kick, slices and flats.

    Just be mindful that you warm up properly before you practice serves - I use resistance bands to warm up and also keep your grip loose.
     
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  11. samarai

    samarai Rookie

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    if you cant hire a coach, you have to have a video. DO you have a smart phone, im pretty sure you have some way of making some short videos, otherwise how are you gonna know what your serving motions are. I was just cranking out crappy serves for 2 years thinking I had everything straight until I decided with the help of a friend who plays a lot better to get a short clip. Boy was I amazed at all the glitches that was hindering my serve. I tried to isolate each component in about 2 months time my serve is probably about 100 percent better.
     
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  12. spectastic

    spectastic New User

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    ok maybe I will try to find a way to film myself serving.

    any suggestions for affordable yet reliable recorders? lol
     
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  13. zapvor

    zapvor Legend

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    your camera phone? if you dont have one, i am sure someone within 100ft will have an iphone you can borrow for 5min
     
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  14. fuzz nation

    fuzz nation Legend

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    Without even seeing a video, it sounds like the fickle condition of your serve right now can be addressed, at least to a certain degree. I very much agree with our pals that everyone is smart to practice their serve, even players who get out a few times a week. Unless we hit a bucket or two a week (a bucket being maybe 65-70 balls), serves are rarely as grooved as they could be with a little attention outside of a competitive setting. Careful though; logging hours of serve practice at a time is overkill.

    That first serve being only the occasional "ace-fest" while your second serve can get slower than your strokes is NOT a rare scenario for lots of players. My first thought here is to encourage you to consider getting your first and second serves more similar to each other. Eventually your service motion should be about the same tempo for any serve you hit. While you'll want some decent racquet speed to hit a flatter heater, you'll also want to make a full move on the ball to make enough spin on your other serves. Look at the pros on TV and you'll see not-too-much contrast between the delivery of their first and second serves.

    If dragging your foot forward as you wind into your serve feels natural or "right" for you, use it. We're all a little different in terms of serving stance. Your balance, etc. will depend mostly on getting your toss into the right spot up in the air so that you can make a consistent move on it. In building a dependable serve, a good toss is a must. Work that out now if it needs some attention.
     
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  15. texacali

    texacali Rookie

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    I say getting a consistent second serve is more important than a power serve first. If you are double faulting because you don't have either a reliable first or second serve, then I believe it is better to have two similar second serves, with kick and slice variety than a flat 1-ace-in-200 first serves power stroke.

    If you can be down 0-30 or even 0-40 on serve and know your serves can still carry you through to possibly winning the game, then you know you have a pretty decent stroke.

    I think my second serve is harder to return than my first...I have learned to place it, sometimes give it some pace, and spin it a couple of different ways. When your opponent challenges you to serve it at their strength and you can consistently go to the weaker side, you are at so much more of an advantage, even if you are not serving a heater.

    I practice serve more than any other, because I can take a bucket and hit for an hour any time. I have said it before also, serve starts with the proper grip (I believe
    Continental)...uncomfortable in the beginning but worth practicing.
     
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  16. NJ1

    NJ1 Professional

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    If you're able to hit aces left and right then it doesn't sound like you need work on much, maybe just 40 mins practice twice a week for a month. For reference, as a 5.0 I hit maybe one ace per match. It may be your opponents movement or lack thereof, but either way aces are a good and rare thing at amateur levels.
     
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  17. TheCheese

    TheCheese Professional

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    You should first develop a spin second serve that you can get in 80% of the time, at least. THEN work on developing a first serve.

    It's no good hitting 1 in 5 service winners if you're doubling faulting 2 or 3 of those.
     
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  18. Surecatch

    Surecatch Semi-Pro

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    My serve did not mature until I started to actively work on it, and that involved almost every serve video on tTube too. I tried many different things until I settled on what worked for me. I saw Dogopolov's compact motion and tried to emulate it.......didn't work for me. I settled on the fact that I don't have to take a huge leap into the pronation. My feet don't really leave the ground much. It's not necessary. Getting a consistent toss is crucial and that just takes practice practice practice. My toss is about one oclock and a bit out front of the baseline.

    Keep working at it. And when it matures, keeping working more. Good luck!
     
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  19. Surecatch

    Surecatch Semi-Pro

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    That's another thing...the foot drag totally screwed up my balance. So I canned it. There are plenty of pros that don't use it. And I agree about the toss. It's probably the most crucial part of the serve. When I toss correctly, it almost always goes in like I want it too and feels good and natural. If it is off, all bets are off. Think about how deliberate the pros are with their service motions, how much time and concentration they put into each one. There is a reason for that.
     
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  20. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Shadow swing your service motion, at dawn or late in the evening before sunset.
    Use availible mirrors also.
    Don't think your toss is such a epiphany. For pro tennis players, with almost perfect tosses, they only get their fastest serves in maybe 50
    %, seldom better. As you start to swing faster, use your kinetic chain, you start lowering your chances of getting the ball in FAST and with good placement.
     
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  21. spectastic

    spectastic New User

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    I did try to shadow my serving motion, and I honestly don't think anything is wrong. One thing I'll try is to toss the ball higher. I think most good players toss the ball around a whole body length above their head. I'm not sure how high my ball toss is, but tossing it not high enough might be the reason why my first serves usually don't go over.
     
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  22. TheCheese

    TheCheese Professional

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    ^ Use a mirror or film yourself practicing serves and then compare it to a pro you want to emulate, or to an instructional videos like FYB.
     
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  23. Wilander Fan

    Wilander Fan Hall of Fame

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    I would argue against the advice of developing one serve and hitting one a little faster. First and second serves are really different mechanically like a slice backhand and a topspin backhand.
     
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  24. zapvor

    zapvor Legend

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    I concur. Again, you shadowing and feeling like you're motion its good is completely different than seeing yourself on film
     
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  25. TheCheese

    TheCheese Professional

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    Well, I guess. It's more like a second serve is usually either a topspin or kick serve, whereas a first serve can be a slice, flat, topspin, or kick.
     
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  26. sundaypunch

    sundaypunch Hall of Fame

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    Yes, people almost always look way worse on video than they expect to.
     
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  27. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    I do believe the actual mechanics for a second serve is different that that for a first serve, of the same kind.
    Say we'll talk about the general top/slice.
    First serves, toss is more into the court, swing is much flatter, and the point of the serve is to solicit a weak return, or an ace. The toss being more into the court, your swing mechanics change, and you end up farther into the court.
    Second serves, hit with more spin, less ball speed, swing about the same speed, the target is much higher, the swing more controlled, the toss more atop the baseline (for staying back) and more into the court (for S/V), so your toss is adjusted to where you want to go. But the ball height over the net is higher, the swing is adjusted to finish upwards more than a first top/sliced serve.
    They are different.
     
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  28. Dharmaboy

    Dharmaboy Rookie

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    LeeD can attest to my service motion which is very smooth. My dad always taught me that the serve has to be a dance, nice, slow and smooth motion till your accelerate to the point of contact.

    It also helps me catch bad tosses from either being lazy or windy conditions.

    Posting a video is the only way to help you.

    I see a ton of people who have good serves (get them in a fair amount of the time) but ugly technique will eventually get you no where and when you are in a jam and down break point, will get you in trouble.

    Smooth and consistent motion will give you that (Street Fighter term called Hit Confirm) which gives your mind the okay of

    1. consistent toss
    2. correct trophy pose
    3. proper timing for acceleration
    Otherwise its bad serves over and over, inconsistent play, puts too much pressure for you to hold and break. etc.
     
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  29. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    It's not that complicated. Hitting a serve is based on throwing mechanics, except, your spine is tilted back and you release upward, not forward. However, the single most important factor in acheiving a consistent, reliable serve that you can locate where you want is a reliable repeatable toss. You have to be able to place the ball in the same box in the air the same way every time. Anyway, below are some excellent online service lessons. They focus on the throwing mechanics not the toss. But, they should be very enlightening.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WlPVdppfYGs
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ajoZ0f7hw-A
     
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  30. moopie

    moopie Rookie

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    Hahaha I'm pretty sure that's going to fly over everyone's heads!
     
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  31. Dharmaboy

    Dharmaboy Rookie

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    LOL i know i couldn't think of any other way to express. it basically letting your mind identify that your motion was smooth and routine and that your toss will be in the same place all the time.
     
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  32. spectastic

    spectastic New User

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    I made a slight change in my serving motion today, and it was a really good serving day for me. All I did was have the racket closer to my chest as I made the toss. The guy I was playing was 2.5 or 3.0 at best, and he returned maybe 4 of my serves throughout two sets. Hopefully I can play sometime soon before it starts to snow.
     
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  33. zapvor

    zapvor Legend

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    yep. justlook at me lol
     
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  34. Wilander Fan

    Wilander Fan Hall of Fame

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    One really difficult problem I have found is that I almost never serve well from both the deuce and ad sides. I think this is because I have developed serves with a toss that is slightly different for each. I think this is the result of practicing a lot of serves to the ad side and then switching. It's not a big problem if you can keep a lot of practice but otherwise if I groove one side, I am having a problem on the other.
     
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