Private Coaches missed flaw in my service motion

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by Raul_SJ, Feb 8, 2013.

  1. Raul_SJ

    Raul_SJ Professional

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    I had taken private lessons with two coaches, both USPTA Level 1 Certified and former Div I players.

    They both helped me improve my serve but yet they did not catch a major flaw in my service motion.

    After a year I took lessons with a third coach who caught the flaw and he says it will take time, up to a year, to fully correct it.

    I am disappointed that the other well qualified, and well paid, coaches did not catch this problem. ..And I had specifically asked them if there was any flaw in my service form because I did not want to develop any improper habits at the outset.
     
    #1
  2. Moz

    Moz Hall of Fame

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    What was the flaw they missed?
     
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  3. Raul_SJ

    Raul_SJ Professional

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    Shifting grip during the service motion -- Moving from a strong continental to a weak continental. I think the grip shift problem was also causing me to loose smoothness and racquet head speed.

    When I do it correctly now, I notice much more power and spin on the serve.

    The latest coach seems to see everything better than the previous coaches, even though all had the same background and USPTA Level 1 certifications.

    Coach Dave Smith also mentions cases where experienced coaches miss this type of problem:

    http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/archive/index.php/t-398765.html

    I had a top ranked junior move to Florida to train...only to come back to me a year later and he was doing exactly what the OP was describing..which none of the pros in FL caught. And this was a top 400 ranked player! (He came back and said while his serve speed of 120 was fine, it was his second serve that was just giving him fits and many double faults.)

    The first time I saw him serve, I said, "A.J...you are shifting your grip in mid swing, effectively moving towards an eastern forehand grip! You can't get the kind of spin to have a huge second serve."
     
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  4. Moz

    Moz Hall of Fame

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    I suspected as much - the exact same thing has happened to me!
     
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  5. fuzz nation

    fuzz nation Legend

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    Gotta ask... what did those coaches actually do for your game? Hard for me to believe that all they did was miss that grip change, right?

    Did either of them try to encourage a different swing path to contact with your serve? If they did, then they were doing something right. I point this out because I've never been confronted with a mid-swing grip changer such as yourself in my teaching experience... yet!

    By altering your grip in the middle of swinging at the ball, you were unconsciously sabotaging your own serve with something that would be virtually impossible to spot without knowing the "circumstantial evidence" that would diagnose it. Dave Smith has huge teaching experience and probably numbers among the relative few who would be able to isolate that serving gremlin in short order - we're truly fortunate to have him pitching in around here on a semi-regular basis.

    I sympathize with your frustrations, but I think it's reasonable to offer that the "hitch" in your serve was among the trickiest things to figure out. Fortunately for the rest of us, Dave's "been-there-done-that".
     
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  6. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    Different coaches see different things. I never bothered to get my certification but I will often pick up flaws in stroke mechanics that some highly-certified coaches do not pick up on. OTOH, some of them will pick up on things that I do not notice. Oft times different coaches will have different approaches to correcting a given flaw.

    If a flaw is missed by one coach, then it is often best to seek out another pair of eyes. Not sure that any coach will be able to pick up on all flaws but, hopefully, by correcting one aspect of a problem, the other flaws might also be corrected. It is a shame, however, that it took a 3rd coach to spot your grip issue. I have seen it in a few of my own students. In one case, it took me a while to spot the grip change.
     
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  7. WildVolley

    WildVolley Legend

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    This gives more evidence for using high speed video. It is almost impossible to see small changes at full speed. But when you can repeatedly watch a small clip of video at hundreds of frames a second, things become clearer.
     
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  8. boramiNYC

    boramiNYC Hall of Fame

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    I believe in building any stroke esp serve starting at the contact point and gradually around it to full swing. if you started out hitting serve using just the forearm and hand you can't shift around. the better the coach understand the biomechanics the better he can do this sort of thing.
     
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  9. Bedrock

    Bedrock Semi-Pro

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    It means only one thing: Such flaw is included in the package called "USPTA Level 1 Certified".
    Good news that you do not have to spend a year to fix this minor problem. Since you know what to do it may take a couple of month.

    Bad news since you developed wrong grip it is likely that it is not the only issue you need to review.
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2013
    #9
  10. julian

    julian Hall of Fame

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    Did you see videos in the PTD thread?

    Did you see videos in the PTD thread?
     
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  11. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Hall of Fame

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    What are strong continental and weak continental grips?

    Do you have a link describing what strong continental and weak continental grips are?

    Two hand parts, such as index knuckle and heel pad, etc. must be specified to define a grip as in this clear FYB descriptions. For continental grip see 3:10 of the video.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hr2f8dmiwpU&list=PL13DD177907786851&index=1

    I'm not sure what FYB has to say about any possible grips where the index knuckle and heel pad would be placed on different bevels of the racket.

    Karlovic relaxing his grip during the service motion starting at 27 sec. Click YT start-pause as fast as possible to do stop action single frame.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=BV6t_KyzMxI#!

    Many grip descriptions specify just one hand part. With only one hand part on a specific bevel the hand could still completely rotate 360° in relation to the racket handle.
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2013
    #11
  12. Ash_Smith

    Ash_Smith Hall of Fame

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    It happens! Not all coaches are going to be looking for the same things, not all coaches will make the same corrections with different players - especially around the conti grip for serves (where a rec player may not want to go through the change process) and not all coaches will see everything that could be considered a flaw. Sometimes you cant see the wood for all the trees!

    cheers
     
    #12
  13. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Can this be detected with slow-motion high-speed video?
     
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  14. WildVolley

    WildVolley Legend

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    Sure. You can watch the grip change in slow motion. Did you notice that slow motion video of Karlovic serving?
     
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  15. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    I watched it now, but unless someone pointed it out, I would not have known what to look for :)

    It does seem to require a skilled coach.

    The only problem I caught on my own was in the serve of a 70 year old guy. I told him he starts with the conti but ends with the E FH at contact. He said several coaches had tried to correct this (including I believe during one of his Vic Braden camps), but could not. He insists it has something to do with his discus throwing as a young man.
     
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  16. julian

    julian Hall of Fame

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    Dreamliner

    You have the same problem with DreamLiner.
    I apologize to Ash Smith for bringing local American topics.
     
    #16
  17. julian

    julian Hall of Fame

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    Apologies for you

    Greetings,
    Apologies for you in post #16 above
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2013
    #17
  18. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Are you referring to the battery fire issue?

    It was reported from a Japanese airline I think. It does affect Ash Smith, because he is going to be flying either an Airbus or a Boeing for long trips.
     
    #18
  19. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Below in number, above on the page
     
    #19
  20. Ash_Smith

    Ash_Smith Hall of Fame

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    ^^^sorry - you've both lost me there! :D
     
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  21. julian

    julian Hall of Fame

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    You always indicate that I do NOT speak about Europe

    You "always" "indicate" that I do NOT speak about Europe
    Very minor point though at the light end of the stick
    Let me ask you a personal question,if I may
    Why don't you bite the PAT the DOG problem for backhand?
    See a separate thread or find my latest posts.
    Pretty interesting-we analyze recent improvements of backhand
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2013
    #21
  22. julian

    julian Hall of Fame

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    For Ash Smith

    Do you know a licensed coach at tennisplayer?
    PS I put a thread about PAT the DOG at tennisplayer as well
    My login name is almost the same as here
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2013
    #22
  23. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    I think Julian is referring to the battery fire issue in the Boeing 787 in which investigators are not able to pinpoint the cause (like the flaw in service grip). Since Boeing is a US company, he was apologizing for the non-European reference. And I complicated the matter by pointing out that his "below" post reference was actually "above" if you read down the page.

    Never mind ...............
     
    #23
  24. Ash_Smith

    Ash_Smith Hall of Fame

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    Ah okay! no worries!

    I've not really had a chance the read through the "pat thread" will have a look later.
     
    #24
  25. Ash_Smith

    Ash_Smith Hall of Fame

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    yep - "licensed coach" on tennis player is a generic login which any coach holding an LTA license in the UK can use to access tennisplayer - as such it could be any number of different people's opinions! I have posted on there a couple of times under that username!

    Cheers
     
    #25
  26. julian

    julian Hall of Fame

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    PAT the MONSTER

    http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=453860&page=3
    post #42 is the best place to START and SAVE your time
     
    #26
  27. julian

    julian Hall of Fame

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    I was hoping

    I was hoping that you will drop by THERE
    A very decent article about a forehand of Stosur
    (click the icon "Recent issue" I think-the left upper corner of the HOME page)
    Some good articles about the flip in older issues.

    I am julian1
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2013
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  28. corbind

    corbind Professional

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    Holy smokes! What the heck is he doing with his grip? Starting Continental then switching to what? I did not know people switch grips using just one hand. That's quite a quirk.
     
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  29. JW10S

    JW10S Hall of Fame

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    It could be you had other more egregious flaws in your serve that the pros felt were more important to deal with. As you said they helped you. A good pro won't usually say 'here are the 5 things wrong with your serve (or whatever stroke) and we're going to work on them all at once'.

    And there's no way it should take 'up to a year' to correct the problem you describe. Sounds like your new pro wants to string you along for a lot of lessons.
     
    #29
  30. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Hall of Fame

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    I'm not sure that Karlovic's loose grip is not the "weak continental" that the Raul_SJ mentioned "shifting grip during the service motion" (Reply #3). This was the whole point of the OP I thought - that two coaches missed this shifting. ?

    I found only one definition Googling the internet for "weak continental" .....??

    There used to be a great video of Karlovic winding up for his serve and it showed even better the fingers very lose. It must be easy to find others.
     
    #30
  31. dominikk1985

    dominikk1985 Legend

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    Well you cannot say a weak continental grip is a flaw.

    I don't like it but Becker uses a FH grip and he can still serve as hard as djokovic at age 40:). you cannot judge single movements out of the context of the whole motion.

    A coach that does this (for example like the guys who say the palm must face a certain direction in the backswing) is IMO a quack.
     
    #31
  32. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Hall of Fame

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    Has anyone said that a weak continental is a flaw?

    What is a weak continental?
     
    #32
  33. dominikk1985

    dominikk1985 Legend

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    continental grip turned slightly towards eastern. weak grip is a golf term (weak means more "western" and strong more "continental" in tennis terms)
     
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  34. julian

    julian Hall of Fame

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    You are NOT off the hook yethttp://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/images/smilies/icon_smile.

    :)
    You are NOT off the hook yet :)
    "turned slightly" as noted above may have multiple meanings
     
    #34
  35. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Hall of Fame

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    #35
  36. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    My position....
    You hire a coach to help you improve your game, right?
    But it's a co-operative process, one were BOTH of you have to make contributions.
    You MUST have known your grip was slipping to moderate conti, but you chose not to say anything about it. Instead, you totally relied on your coach to feed you, clothe you, take you to the courts, bring you home, and tie your shoelaces.
    Take some responsibility for your absence of contribution.
    This coming from a guy who fed tennis balls to old farts but never ever took lessons.
     
    #36
  37. rufus_smith

    rufus_smith Professional

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    If it will take you a year(!) just to stop changing your grip on the serve, just quit tennis now. 3-4 weeks max
     
    #37
  38. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    use a new tacky grip to start.
    If that don't work, on a practice day, tape your hands to your preferred service grip and practice serves.
     
    #38
  39. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    I have seen a guy using a Prince ridged grip. I tried it. The ridges are pronounced and you can lock your fingers in the grooves.
     
    #39
  40. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Used to use them, but found no advantage.
    However, my grip doesn't slip during serves, it changes from groundstroke to groundstroke, even if they are all forehands.
     
    #40
  41. Raul_SJ

    Raul_SJ Professional

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    According to Dave Smith, grip shift is a common problem that usually happens either during the takeback/racquet collapse position or near the contact point.

    The new coach spotted the service flaw immediately -- within the first 5 minutes of lesson.

    Within a week I was getting 10mph+ more power and more spin on the serve.

    The other coaches did help me the service motion, toss, spin, swing path, etc. and my serve did improve.

    But I think they were amiss in not spotting a glaring service flaw that the new coach *immediately* picked up on and from which I got immediate noticeable improvement.

    I think this new coach will fully develop my service potential but I wish I had discovered him earlier as I have spent time practicing the wrong swing.

    The lesson here for me is that not all coaches (even with the equivalent college level playing and teaching experience and certifications) are equally skilled in spotting a problem.

    I even asked the new coach why my previous coach (now the club's tennis director) didn't notice the problem. He just shrugged and smiled. I guess he doesn't want to criticize his boss.
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2013
    #41
  42. Raul_SJ

    Raul_SJ Professional

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    One possible way to spot it is examining the grip at the beginning of the swing and then looking at it after the end of the swing.

    In my case, the Continental grip had shifted about a 1/4 inch towards the Forehand grip (not a full forehand, more like a weak Continental grip).

    I was still getting a good serve despite this flaw, but it was significantly better after correcting it.

    I talked to my old coach in passing and told him I have a grip shift problem and whether he thinks that's a major problem. He said he doesn't like that I do it and sees no reason that I should do it... But I didn't get a chance to discuss it in depth with him.
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2013
    #42
  43. Raul_SJ

    Raul_SJ Professional

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    Why do you think they missed spotting it? Were they experienced coaches?
     
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  44. Moz

    Moz Hall of Fame

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    Yes, experienced.

    I think it partly comes down to philosophy and that coach's personal experiences. I'm sure some coaches prioritise different things and like to approach the serve in different ways: some with kinetic chain specifics, others more holistically.

    I'm doing some coaching more seriously now and the first thing I concentrate on is good contact in that area - precisely because of the problems I had as a player.

    I also think that coaches can easily, and justifiably, get manoeuvred into giving guidance which feels 'substantial' and 'worthy' of their hourly rate. Not many students would want to spend 50% of their lesson doing fence drills and pronation drills even though it might be best for their game.
     
    #44
  45. Raul_SJ

    Raul_SJ Professional

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    Just my description.

    I started my swing with a "strong" Continental grip (which I think of as a bit more counter-clockwise than Continental, in between the Continental and Eastern backhand grip).

    After the swing my grip had shifted about a 1/4 inch or so clockwise towards a "weak" Continental (between the Continental and Eastern forehand), but not quite a full forehand grip.

    As such, I was getting some spin on the serve as I had not moved towards
    a full forehand grip (Other players with similar problems shift to a full forehand grip and lose spin.)

    It was important to resolve the grip shift issue as it's usually indicative of a serve that is not fully smooth, relaxed and fluid.

    I think it's important to finish the service motion with the exact same grip that started the service motion.
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2013
    #45

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