Question on serves

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by dknotty, Jun 13, 2013.

  1. dknotty

    dknotty Semi-Pro

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    I'm starting to play tennis again after a 20 year break. Most of my ground strokes are coming back reasonably well, though my serve seems to be very inconsistent (I used to have a pretty decent one way back when, but not any more).

    Trying to job my memory, I watched the series on fuzzyyellowballs.com on the serve. I was quite surprised about a few things. Firstly I was taught that your racket was lowest in its swing at the same time that your knees were most bent - it seems this is not the case according to the series where your racket is still swinging down as you are coming up, but starts to recoil into the shot as you take off. When did this change or was I a wayward tennis teenager?

    Also, when you watch the footwork, some people do the knee bend, then move their back foot forward, just behind the front foot before the jump - why? What's the difference between this and keeping both foot in pretty much the same place?

    Finally, when did the arm pro-nation come about?
     
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  2. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Arm pronation since the '50's, when most servers converted to continental grip for all serves.
    Pinpoint or platform is personal preference. Pin might give more forward momentum, while platform gives more control and balance.
    Most good servers bend their knees as they start the toss motion.
     
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  3. dknotty

    dknotty Semi-Pro

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    My question was more about the relationship between the racket take back and the knee bend - I remember the max take back and max knee bend coinciding. Is this not the optimal way to serve?

    Thinking about it maybe I was taught pronation but it was pronation ultra light as we weren't taught to swing with your racket sideways to the net. It was pretty subtle, whereas now it seems to be something that's really emphasised - and with devastating effect.
     
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  4. Lukhas

    Lukhas Legend

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    Forget about pronation, just toss some balls to get the feeling of it.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WlPVdppfYGs ; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6EFWB18kPWY

    Then, bringing the back foot forward is called a "pinpoint stance". A lot of pros use it, such as almost all the WTA tour now that Henin and Mauresmo retired; and in the top 10, Murray, Ferrer, Nadal, Del Potro, Tsonga, Berdych, and Wawrinka use it. As opposed to the platform stance, used by Djokovic, Federer, and Gasquet. A rarer brand of "narrow platform" displayed by the now retired Roddick and Monfils also exists, that basically combine all the advantages of both stances, but also all the disadvantages... :lol:

    http://www.top-tennis-training.net/#/different-stances/4562164657 (the videos no longer work)
     
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  5. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    when you start your toss, your racket hand moves down and back, don't it....
     
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  6. dknotty

    dknotty Semi-Pro

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    Yes it does, but when do you start raising your racket to hit the ball - as you straighten your legs or as you take off?

    It is the latter according to Fuzzyyellowballs.
     
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  7. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Do you raise your racket as you push off with the thighs, or do you lower your racket when you start to swing at the ball?
    I try to spring upwards with my legs while the rackethand starts upwards, but the racket HEAD is moving downwards.
     
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  8. dknotty

    dknotty Semi-Pro

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    Aha that clarifies. There is a distinction between the racket and the racket head!
     
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  9. Lukhas

    Lukhas Legend

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    Bend your knees after you tossed the ball so you don't influence the toss height.
     
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  10. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    I have tried it several times and it makes me lose the rhythm.
     
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  11. Lukhas

    Lukhas Legend

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    Then I wonder how you do it. I'm not talking about a high delay between bending and tossing, but to toss before you are in the lowest point of your knee bend.

    Federer doing it, deep knee bend after having tossed, still stretching, but obvious knee bend after the toss.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=InYd8IrFnkU; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X0ucTh2QG3M

    Roddick. No comment.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=91IxRV4RDt8

    Nadal. No comment either, pretty obvious.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gc4LLBmd8XM

    Djokovic. Real time video this time.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tONSIAXMI7k
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2013
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  12. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Hall of Fame

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    The leg thrust is timed to stretch the internal shoulder rotators.

    It is said that the purpose of the leg thrust is to 'add power' to the serve by using the "kinetic chain". But what is leg thrust doing and how does it add to final racket head speed at impact?

    Biomechanical research on the tennis serve by Elliott and others in the 1990s established that internal shoulder rotation contributed more than other joint motions to the final racket head speed on the serve. This research followed similar research for badminton serving and baseball pitching (1980s) that also established that internal shoulder rotation is a large contributor or the largest contributor (?) to badminton racket head speed and baseball pitch speed.

    When the forearm and racket are in line and at about a right angle to the upper arm and before the backscratch position and the legs thrust upward, the entire body, including the shoulder joint, rises rapidly. If the forearm and racket are bent back a little from vertical when this thrust begins the upper arm is forced to externally rotate and that stretches the shoulder joint's internal rotator muscles, mainly the lat and pec.

    Related reply see #4 for discussion and videos.
    http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?p=7478234&highlight=chas+tennis+jay+berger#post7478234

    The timing sequence of this is
    1) Upper arm straight out from shoulder, forearm and racket in line and bent back past vertical.

    Demo only, not part of serve -- stand holding a racket with the upper arm straight out from the shoulder (90° abduction). The elbow bent at about 90° and the racket and forearm in line straight up. Tip it back a little from the vertical. If you legs were to thrust now the forearm & racket will go backward stretching the internal rotator muscles - that's how leg thrust affects the final racket head speed.


    2) As the legs thrust the racket and forearm will lag behind stretching the internal shoulder rotators. As soon as the feet leave the ground this phase stops.

    3) Followed by a wrist angle change that allows the forearm and racket to no longer remain in line and to form the 'back scratch' position. This allows the handle butt to roughly point at the ball.

    The first parts of this stretching can be seen in the videos, although the leg thrust itself is out of the frame. Raonic sometimes does not seem to let his wrist go into the angle for the full 'back scratch', butt of the handle point roughly at the ball, etc. ? But you can get an idea of the 1,2,3 that is described.

    The shoulder is actually elevated for the serve as discussed in the Todd Ellenbecker video on the shoulder and impingement injury risk for the serve. Posted many times.
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2013
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  13. charliefedererer

    charliefedererer Legend

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    Here's a good "pronation exercise" from Coach McCraw:
    McCraw explaining a serve pronation exercise http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iONY6fcqZGg




    [Some have trouble with pronation because they are dropping the raquet into the middle of their back - the back scratch position.

    But in this video Coach McCraw show how to bring the racquet back away from the body in order to let the racquet drop occur to right side of the body - not the middle of the back:
    McCraw Serve Fundamentals http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WuIgTyh4aDs ]
     
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  14. TennisCJC

    TennisCJC Legend

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    Chas, here's my way of explaining the serve. You should be coiling your hip/shoulder and loading you weight into your legs with a slight knee bend during the 1st phase of the serve which is the beginning of your motion until "trophy pose". Form the "trophy pose", you are release the leg load and uncoiling the hips/shoulder to pull the arm into the back scratch loop and into contact.

    From the trophy pose, the release of energy and body parts is from the ground up 1. legs pushing up and in, 2, core hips and shoulders rotating into contact, and 3. the push up/in and hip/shoulder rotation whip/pull the arm into contact.

    Now, keys:
    1. the trophy pose is not a pose instead it is just a transitional position
    2. the motion to unload the legs and rotate the core hips/shoulders must be smooth and hitch free.

    Drills:

    Assuming you are right handed, put a tennis ball in your right hand. Go thru your service wind up and point at the your service contact point with your left hand and throw the tennis ball THROUGH you contact point. Basically throw it like you would a baseball or a football but you are throwing it upward through the contact point. To throw it upward, your front shoulder will be higher than your back shoulder just like in a good service motion. Do this with a smooth, continuous motion with a smoothly accelerating motion. Do this throw about a dozen times. Now, put your racket in your hand and shadow a few service swings with a smooth continuous motion just like your throwing motion. Think of throwing the racket head up through the contact point just like you threw the ball. Now, hit real serves with this smooth, continuous throwing motion.

    Try some using a moderately slow windup and slowly accelerate as you push up and uncoil but just as the racket head goes up accelerate to full speed. You want to time optimal speed to be in the few inches just before, during and after contact. You can keep in smooth and relaxed on the way up.
     
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  15. RetroSpin

    RetroSpin Hall of Fame

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    Very good explanation. Use of biomechnical terms like external rotation, etc lends precision. Too often in tennis and golf instruction, students struggle to produce a motion described by their coach in "feel" terms.

    BTW, I believe much of Andy Roddick's serve power comes from an incredible amount of external rotation. I know I cannot come close to getting that much ER.
     
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  16. dknotty

    dknotty Semi-Pro

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    That is a very good explanation indeed. Going to try this next time I practice.
     
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  17. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Hall of Fame

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    Thread on trunk & other motions

    I would not try that part of the service motion without learning a lot more about the complete motion. As many people point out one phase leads to the next in a rythmic motion. That description is my interpretation of a limited part of the service motion, the timing of the leg thrust and stretching of the internal shoulder rotator muscles.

    There are also some trunk & other motions before, during and after the leg thrust that I don't understand. 2012 thread on trunk motion of the serve.

     
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