Pronation on serve

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by Jim Clark, Dec 8, 2010.

  1. Jim Clark

    Jim Clark New User

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    Is it natural or something you MUST create. Any advice appreciated. How important is it?
     
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  2. Jonny S&V

    Jonny S&V Hall of Fame

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    I would argue that it is semi-natural, you just have to taught how to get there, and then it's natural, if that makes sense...
     
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  3. BobFL

    BobFL Hall of Fame

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    It is more than important. It is a 'conditio sine qua non'. How natural it is? Well, you don't do that move that much in your life so it must be practiced over and over again. You can do it! :)
     
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  4. WildVolley

    WildVolley Legend

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    In my opinion it is somewhat racket path and grip dependent. If you hold a semi-western forehand grip when you serve, you'll likely not have much of what is called pronation. If you hold a continental or eastern backhand type grip, then it is more natural.
     
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  5. fuzz nation

    fuzz nation Legend

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    I'm more in the camp with some folks who recognize pronation in the serve as a result of other things like grip, setup position, and swing path that are more essential to a good serve. It's not an individual action to be deliberately executed in itself.

    As I see it, if we didn't naturally pronate our arms when swinging at a serve, we'd probably elbow ourselves in the stomach right after taking the racquet over the top through the contact point. There would be none of that "inward rotation" of the forearm that allows the racquet to pass the gripping hand. Trying to force this inward turning action of the arm seems to be a terrible idea. I believe that this pronating action in the arm occurs most effectively when the arm is loose and limber for better speed without a wrenching of the smaller muscles involved.

    People are talking about pronation in the serve these days, in some cases as though they've discovered the single keystone that determines whether a serve is good or not-so-good. Before this discussion though, everyone's been doing it on tennis courts for decades and serving quite well.
     
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  6. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    It's like a golf swing. If you have good relaxed mechanics, your wrist release will be automatic. You shouldn't try to manipulate your hands or wrists in a golf swing. Likewise, in a tennis serve, if you are relaxed, use the proper grip, and you otherwise have proper service mechanics, pronation is natural. It's also essential if you want to have a good serve. Further, I don't think it's necessary or desirable to purposely try to execute pronation by manipulating the forearm. That will do more to inhibit pronation than promote it. Stay tension free, and LET the forearm pronate. JMHO, of course.
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2010
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  7. charliefedererer

    charliefedererer Legend

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    To have a first rate serve, pronation is essential.
    (But it's not essential to have a first rate serve to still get enjoyment from tennis.)

    Any new movement is ... well ...new. There is some struggle with achieving the "muscle memory" to make any new movement an engrained part of that movement ... so engrained you don't conscientiously think about it.

    You learned to walk when you were nine months old. Do you doubt you can learn to pronate if you put your mind to it and practice?
     
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  8. BobFL

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    Yes but walking is still more natural for h0mo-sapiens than pronation and kick-serve, imho...
     
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  9. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Yes I do doubt it. I don't see any creature in my evolutionary line which played tennis and pronated on serves.
     
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  10. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    Survival of the fittest!
     
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  11. dlk

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    Nice work around the censors:). I'm a novice, but noticed if holding grip like hammer, my wrist forms 90 degree angle with forearm at end of serve. The more I move my grip clockwise, the greater this angle becomes, in a natural state. Just an observation by someone who is still not quite sure where my hand goes to create a specific 'named' grip.
     
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  12. CoachingMastery

    CoachingMastery Professional

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    Pronation is generally an automatic motion when the student has the other components of the serve established. (Proper grip, stance, swing pattern, etc.)

    Like anything, some students may need to be pushed to explore it...however, that said, I've seen in my 35 years teaching that many pros who expressively teach "pronation" as if it should be done consciously, generally produce students who don't pronate naturally nor properally.

    In fact, in my 35 years of professional teaching, I've seldom had to even mention pronation. I have 8 year olds and 80 year olds serve with natural pronation without it ever being taught or even addressed.

    As players swing with more emphasis, pronation naturally occurs--as long as the other swing components are in place. (As mentioned.)
     
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  13. bad_call

    bad_call Legend

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    dang for not being explicitly taught, there is a lot of pronation illustration/coaching on youtube.
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2010
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  14. bad_call

    bad_call Legend

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  15. toly

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    Almost all of the modern instructions advise us to drop the racket in a backscratch position and swing up on edge like we are trying to use the side of the tennis racket to cut the ball in half. If we follow this instruction, we will be forced to produce pronation.
     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2010
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  16. CoachingMastery

    CoachingMastery Professional

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    Exactly. Great point!
     
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  17. charliefedererer

    charliefedererer Legend

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    So the word "pronation" never has to be uttered in a tennis lesson.

    But there would be no point of swinging the racquet up sideways if the intention wasn't to get the student to pronate.

    Some students aged 8 to 80 will naturally start to swing with the side of the racquet pointed at the ball.

    Some will have to be instucted to do it.

    Those that have to be instructed to do it will at first feel this is "unnatural" to them.

    With practice, it will feel quite natural, flow smoothly and produce that extra pop.
     
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  18. charliefedererer

    charliefedererer Legend

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    Some students will still not fully pronate.

    They will overtilt their upper body to the left, fail to use a proper shoulder over shoulder cartwheel, and slice the ball without pronating.

    If you force them to do the upper body movements properly, they then should pronate.

    But giving them a clue about achieving pronation might speed things along.
     
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  19. Power Player

    Power Player G.O.A.T.

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    Agree. I recently adjusted my conti grip and I am pronating so much easier now. It made the whole process a lot simpler for me. Also getting the shoulder cartwheel and wrist snap that is required to a proper finish without really thinking too much about it.
     
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  20. CoachingMastery

    CoachingMastery Professional

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    I agree 100%...which is why I said, "Some students will need to be pushed to explore it..." And I also agree that any unnatural motion WILL Indeed become natural with repetion and practice. (As stated many times in my books and in threads here.)

    I can attest that I've seldom mentioned the word "Pronation" specifically to tell students to pronate. I will often describe the word within the context of teaching what happens...but, having taught over 3500 students, almost without exception, each one developed pronation without any specific address of the word or the action. (And almost all of them developed a very skilled serve.)

    My point on this concept is that I've seen pros specifically teach pronation as an intention or conscious movement. When I've seen this, the students often over pronate, (because they are trying to pronate), and don't develop the right spin or they hit the wrong side of the ball, or they change their stance to accomadate the early pronation.

    I'm sure there are pros who teach it correctly and have plenty of success. I'm just saying that I've seen failure in students who have been taught this way.
     
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  21. toly

    toly Hall of Fame

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    Yes, you are right. We can produce slice serve without pronation. What can you say about this instruction?
    Drop the racket in a backscratch position, provide appropriate supination, and swing up on edge like you are trying to use the side of the tennis racquet to cut the ball in half. At the last second before impact, you have to pronate (around 90°) very quickly. Is it very complicated?:)
     
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  22. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    I say, unless you throw everything in your life, use a whip all the time, and watch pro tennis like a eagle, pronation is taught, along with conti grip and high elbow finishes.
     
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  23. toly

    toly Hall of Fame

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    The serve should be one of the easiest shot. It can be done from standard position. There are no hurry, no running involved etc. On the other hand, the serve is one the most difficult shot in tennis to learn. Because, there is no clear explanation on how to build the proper serving routine. Why nobody in the world is able to give us appropriate instructions for tennis serve?
     
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2010
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  24. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Fully agree, should be the easiest shot to learn, but....
    You don't practice serves nearly as often as groundie forehands.
    Practice alone is no fun.
    So you get a partner, he wants to "hit", not work on serves and returns. Everyone needs practice on serving and returning. Hardly anyone practices those.
    Hard to set a limit or ceiling on how fast and how much spin you really need. At your whatever level, your serve might be superb. However, go up a notch and you have an average serve. Goes all the way up to 7.0's.
    Great serves illicit lots of non returnables, but some lucky returns. How can you separate the lucky from the learned returns?
    Only the top players seem to show high elbow, slowed racketHAND, speeded rackethead followhtrus. The rest of us can do it at times, but when forced to NEED a fast serve during a point, tend to lag the rackethead behind, or speed up the hand, so the serve goes LONG.
    Pounding it repeatedly at the net cord is not good, either. Almost every day I play old farts doubles, I can hit 3 netcord serves each service game, as many as 7. Not good. Talking first flats or first hard spins with placement in the equation.
     
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  25. Kevo

    Kevo Hall of Fame

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    Well, whether it's natural or not is a game of semantics and degree. I think you could say that some level is natural, but if you want to serve like a pro and hit flat serves well over 100mph, it's probably something you need to put some emphasis on.
     
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  26. Power Player

    Power Player G.O.A.T.

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    LeeD is right. I find that I have to focus on not rushing the toss so the racquethead is not behind. It is one of the key bulletpoints I always think of when I serve. And people do not practice serve and return enough, I love to practice that stuff...same with overheads, which I would be much better at if I simply worked on them more.
     
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  27. tennis_eel

    tennis_eel Rookie

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    Pronation is simply getting your palm in, palm out and palm down through the tennis ball on a serve. If you do not pronate while using a continental grip on a serve, you simply cannot get your racquet face to turn around and face the tennis court. This is the reason most people will slice the ball when learning to serve with a continental grip, as they don't naturally turn their hand around yet on contact.

    It's something that may not be natural to most players but essential to players who want to serve with a continental grip.
     
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  28. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Most of us here on the forum can hold a conti grip and hit a flat serve.
    VERY FEW of us can hit that serve over 110 mph, IN 60% of the time, IN on important points, and IN when pressured and stressed.
    You can pronate to hit flat, but can you pronate the CORRECT amount for your arm swing when you need it?
    Maintaining the high elbow just after contact until the racket points straight down to the ground is one indicationl
     
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  29. tennis_eel

    tennis_eel Rookie

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    Hmm, Idk about you but when I'm serving at 30-40, down 4-5 in the 3rd set, pronation is the last thing I'm thinking of.
     
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  30. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    er.... When you're down, pronation is the one huge thing you should be DOING, not thinking about. Correct pronation for your swing speed.
    If you don't get the serve in, the POINT HAS NOT STARTED!
     
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  31. tennis_eel

    tennis_eel Rookie

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    That's exactly what I'm saying. When I'm about to hit a serve on a big point I just make sure I go through my motions and hit my serve where I want it. I have honestly never thought about pronating whilst playing a match. If I wasn't doing it already I'd be hitting balls into the side fence.
     
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  32. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    You don't understand...
    Pronation by itself is required to hit the flat serve straight ahead.
    BUT, on an important point, after thinking about strategy, ball placement, your physical reserves, his, you almost always swing FASTER or Slower than normal, so you have to be aware of your intended swingspeed, your actual body movement into the court, and account for some nervous energy or lack of....
    Your actual AMOUNT of pronation needs to change with your changing swingspeeds, which is hard to control on important points...ie, you want to win the point, you don't want him to hit a winner, you're trying extra hard, so you force the issue and NOT control your swingspeed!
    Believe me, you might hit 50% first flats for fun and games, but on an important point, guaranteed your percentage will wander down to 20's or less! All because you didn't control your amount of pronation!
     
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  33. tennis_eel

    tennis_eel Rookie

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    I'm pretty sure I do understand. Your saying you need to control the amount you pronate and the like when you serve. But honestly, how can you possibly be thinking of all of this when your playing a match. If you are thinking of this your over complicating the game of tennis. Yes your pronation needs to change and the like but if you have to think to do it, you must seriously struggle.

    I would hardly ever think about technique when I play a match. If I'm thinking of technique then, it means I've seriously missed out on something when being brought up as a tennis player. On a big point I'm probably thinking 'good serve and good forehand here' rather than, I need to pronate so my racquet is facing 170 degrees from the back fence to get this slice serve in.
     
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  34. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Possibly you have one standard swing speed, you might hit your serves the same way to the same spot, I don't know.
    For me, once playing better than Div1 guys regularly, I needed a flat first serve to go fast, moderate, and placed into a small box. The small box is into the body. The moderate is for percentage. The flat fast one is for indimadation. That's THREE different swing speeds for a flat first serve, all needing THREE different placements.
    Pronation amount is different for all 3, so all 3 need to be practiced and learned until it's second nature, but I'm aware of what is needed for each...unfortunately mostly after I've faulted.
    That's for flat first serves.
     
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  35. tennis_eel

    tennis_eel Rookie

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    Mate I assure you I can hit any serve I like and to complicate things less I use different serves and different spins for every way I want to hit it. I just go flat down the middle, kick body, slice out wide and I trust myself to be able to hit these serves whenever I like. My favourite kick is down the middle though.
     
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  36. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Wow, I thought I was conceited.
    If you can hit every serve, you must be a pretty good player.
    I can hit all the serves I mentioned, but I'm still a falling down to 3 range player.
    Your rankings don't get rated by your serves alone.
     
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  37. tennis_eel

    tennis_eel Rookie

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    You do have to serve every 2nd game so it is one of the most important things. However, whenever I have ever served in my tennis life I have never thought of how much pronation I require... it just happens.
     
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  38. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Me, I pronate too early, ball hits net.
    Pronate too late, ball sails long.
    So when I vary my swingspeeds, I have to be aware of the timing and the amount of the pronating.
    Worst thing is to be amped into swinging too fast, but forgetting to pronate early enough...serve goes long with some backspin component.
    For me, to get that really chest high bouncing POP on first flats, a really loose wrist, jello elbows, and correct TIMING on the pronation. So I gotta think about it.
     
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  39. tennis_eel

    tennis_eel Rookie

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    Epic double post, apologies.
    See i agree the timing has to change on your swingspeed. But before a big point, I don't want to be thinking... right I need to vary my swingspeed here and pronate a lot earlier and keep my wrist loose and drive.
    I just want to think, I've done this before, I've hit this serve a thousand times, I can make this serve any day of the week and hit it.
    I agree with what your saying, but if you do enough work while training, you'll be able to time your pronation correctly in your sleep.
     
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2010
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  40. OrangeOne

    OrangeOne Legend

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    a. You're entirely correct.

    b. I could not agree more.

    c. When I am under pressure, break-point down in a tournament, and I step up to serve, all I'm thinking is "should i pronate 23 degrees or 24 degrees".

    d. I have frequently thought "damn, that serve wasn't the outcome I wanted. Stuffed the pronation.

    e. I may have - indeed I did - forget the word NOT in, or at the end of all of a through d.

    For crying out loud. This forum is MORE obsessed with pronation than it is with lead, and that's saying something.

    Serving under pressure is all about rhythm and repetition and controlling nerves. Control the nerves, the rhythm flows, and you do what you've done before so so so many times. You don't think about "controlling the amount of pronation".
     
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  41. tennis_eel

    tennis_eel Rookie

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    Thankyou Orange One. I fear people on this forum do not know what pronation is and are therefore over complicating the whole thing.

    Btw, notice here how at deuce I am twice able to consciously pronate my racquet so it is 179 degrees from the back fence at contact and control my swing speed. Due to this, I have hit 2 effective serves, getting me to advantage.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VVlq5ZydxBo
     
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2010
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  42. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    :)
    and maybe that's why you two guys are still playing at your highest level, while I've dropped at least one full, probably closer to 2 full?
    I'm defeated before my fight has begun.
    Positive thinking, positive visualisation.
     
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