Serve - Grooving the swing to contact

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by Power Player, Oct 23, 2012.

  1. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    I have been spending a lot of time just grooving my serve and the power and spin has gone up by a lot. The main fix was focusing on getting into the trophy pose with a high toss and my knees bent. I dont really think too much about the racquet takeback as much now, I just get into the trophy pose. I see some players who lag behind with the racquet so the tip is actually pointing at the ground still when they start their toss. I can do that with some success, but basically I am having days where I am crushing my serve and others where it almost feels like I "lost it". When that happens I just think of getting the toss high and in the court, and bending my knees..

    The one bad habit I really need to fix is sometimes losing control of my wrist on the swing to contact. This results in balls that shoot too far right because the racquet face is opening wrong.

    My question is this...if I put down my racquet and aimed the bottom of my palm like it is karate chopping the ball, and swung at it like a serve..is this the correct swing to contact? Getting the feel for it and keeping it consistent has always been my biggest challenge as I used a lot of wrist action when I used to throw a baseball. Just trying to get a way to practice this as when I do get things going, my serve is effortless and very tough to deal with. It basically wins me matches.

    I am just still in that stage where I lose it some days and revert to old habits.
     
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  2. boramiNYC

    boramiNYC Hall of Fame

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    try this. relax your hitting arm and pronate to the limit. do this for the trophy pose. this should pull back the elbow naturally. then explode very quick supinate-pronate for contact.
     
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  3. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    In my trophy pose, my palm is facing the side fence as is my racquet face..is this what you mean?

    The second part is what i am still inconsistent on.
     
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  4. boramiNYC

    boramiNYC Hall of Fame

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    that should be close enough. also make sure your torso is torquing to the left 90 degrees as the arm is being thrown. this combination helps the pronation feel more natural and relaxed resulting in faster RHS.
     
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  5. Cheetah

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    When do you do the racquet drop? what initiates it?
     
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  6. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    I want to say it's my toss hand coming down.
     
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  7. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    Worked on this tonight. I think i was not whipping the racquet properly before. Say im in the trophy pose, my palm is faccing the side fence...i think my next move is into the racquet drop, and the bottom side of my palm should turn towards the fence then towards the ball..all rather fast..not sure if this makes sense, but it seemed to lock my arm into a motion better.
     
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  8. Cheetah

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    Hmm... I guess that's ~ok~.
    but there's a better cue/method for that i think. The way you're doing/visualizing/initializing it, imo, might lend itself to early or mis-timed manipulation of the hitting hand by using/tensing muscles...maybe.

    I think you might want to try to link the racquet drop with the legs pushing up. Because that's what happens first and kicks everything off. It's the chain. The legs pushing up should cause the racquet the racquet to drop on it's own since your body is going up and your arm is (should be) loose. And this works better if there is no (or rly short) pause in the trophy position.

    sampras. racquet is in constant motion into and past the trophy pose, no pause; legs push up causing the racquet to drop.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kqj1F-DCskM
     
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  9. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    I'll definitely try this and I'll get some serves filmed so I can see what I'm doing wrong. I have a feeling my serve does not look smooth enough yet and my timing is still off.
     
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  10. Cheetah

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    another thing to try just for mental imagery for helping you get a feel for the swing or whatever is instead of thinking about pronating the 'wrist' up into the shot, try swinging up and making the wrist high 5 the ball by shooting the elbow out to the right. don't manipulate the wrist, just throw your elbow out to the right. do you know what i mean?

    this is a good tip if you don't already do it. because you are supposed to meet the ball with the racquet angled slightly to the left right? (for righties). A lot of people try to meet the ball with the racquet straight up which is not optimal. the racquet should be angled with the handle to the right of the ball. This gives more leverage. so if you swing try concentrating on the elbow going to the right instead of thinking about forearm pronation. If you are one of those 'straight up and down' guys this will immediately give you quite a bit more power even on the first try and it's easier to put manipulate the racquet this way. This is a good way to get a better feel. It's hard to explain this though.
     
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  11. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    I think a vid of your serve is the best idea.
    Nice you're going as direct as possible to trophy. Cut's out the errors in elbow bend that guys who lay the racket out before going into trophy, like the guy with a great serve does who is friend says is 6.0. Not BT, but the other guy.
     
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  12. Power Player

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    Yeah, and as we all can see this is the trickiest part to describe, but cheetah what you are saying makes sense to me. I like that visual of high fiving the ball actually.

    So if you started at the trophy pose:

    Hand is like you are waving at the side fence

    Hand is then swinging up like you are karate chopping the ball.

    Contact - high fiving the ball.

    I believe this is correct? I definitely have to take my wrist out of it..i used my wrist way too much in tennis..fixed it on my forehand, and now have to fix on serve.
     
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  13. Cheetah

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    Do the karate chop up to the ball but instead of going up straight like as if you were holding a hammer, swing your elbow out to the right. (a lot more than you think you should).

    lemme see if i can find a vid...
     
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  14. Cheetah

    Cheetah Hall of Fame

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  15. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    Sweet..yes this makes sense and is a small tweak from what I am doing now.
     
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  16. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    Been shadow swinging the sampras serve and it all is starting to click now. I was doing abbreviated serves and pausing during my trophy pose. When i do the sampras, it just never stops..its just one motion. Seems like my racquet drop is a lot deeper now as my arm is just along for the ride in a way. Kind of eliminates any real pronation issues as my elbow is now turning instead of my wrist, and this indeed has the racquet angled a little to the left.

    I just need some court time with this, but it eliminates so much thought..i just have to get the toss right and everything seems rather smooth.
     
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  17. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    Went out and served today. This will take a little time to get automatic, but definitely feels better. I finally was hitting serves with that loose arm where it feels like the wrist is snapping down the ball. The main thing to get used to for me is that i have more time to drop the racquet down, and also that i can rush the right hand at the toss since the racquet is still pointing down and not up yet.

    But what i notice is all the constant movement just seems to build up this momentum to where my arm feels so loose by the time i make contact.

    Power seems to come rather easy as well.
     
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  18. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Still no vids? You got us piqued.
     
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  19. Cheetah

    Cheetah Hall of Fame

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    cool. make sure you do the cartwheel motion too.
     
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  20. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    How do you do the cartwheel motion? I think im doing it but im not sure. I know it is shoulder over shoulder. What i can say is i try and keep my tossing hand up as long as i can until my racquet is swinging to the ball so that hand is dropping while the other is rising....which sounds like what you are talking about.


    Ill try and get vids soon. I know i am still a little stiff since this is not going to be fluid without more reps, but the serves stll get me free points.

    Since my wrist is finally out of the equation, i have to mess with my spin serves a litte, so my DFs may go up for a bit.
     
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2012
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  21. Cheetah

    Cheetah Hall of Fame

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    Watch the bionic serve vid on youtube and also essentialtennis.com's "free serve course". goes into depth on the cartwheel.

    When practicing integrating/activating the cartwheel motion toss the ball like 2 feet higher than you normally do. this will help you get the feel of going up there to get it using the motion. that worked for me.

    You need the cartwheel motion. It's a fundamental part of the serve and prevents injury.
     
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  22. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    Ok saw my serve yesterday and was messing with it. There is no doubt that the more complex sampras serve gets me into the proper trophy position. I have to fix my feet as my right foot comes past my left and opens up my hips too early. The timing on the toss is more advanced and tougher to execute so far, but i will stick with it, as i feel it will result in a better serve.
     
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  23. Cheetah

    Cheetah Hall of Fame

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    I wasn't saying to copy the sampras serve. Just the racquet movement in the trophy pose where it doesnt stop moving and to use the legs to make the racquet drop. Federer does the same thing with a much easier motion.
     
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  24. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Why not copy Becker?
    JuanIgnacoChela?
    I'd pick Stich or Korda.
    Goran certainly has a nice serve.
    Hewitt and Ferrero are standards.
     
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  25. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    Yeah, the fed serve is more realistic i think, and it is my favorite serve of all time.

    Using the legs to make the racquet drop..i need to figure that out a little better. I basically need to get higher on my extension.
     
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2012
    #25
  26. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Post vid.
    Copy a simple'er motion, like those I mentioned.
     
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  27. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    I dont need to post a vid yet. I am seeing what i need to fix already on my own, as the vid makes it pretty obvious. Until i fix that and am stuck at what to do next, i dont really see the need to post.
     
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  28. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Yet you post all these threads about it, who are you posting to?
     
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  29. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    Whats your point lee? I am using the info and fixing my serve..what else do you want? Do you just like to have a debate in every single thread on tt?
     
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  30. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Count the number of current threads. I"m in about 8 out of 50 threads.
    That too much?
     
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  31. bad_call

    bad_call Legend

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    not clear about using legs for racquet drop? anyway PP showed me vid and saw what needed fixing.
     
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  32. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    Well it looks like what we discussed..basically getting up off the ground and extending to the ball. So its all about the toss as we were saying. I think it will come together pretty quickly as we saw what needed to get fixed.
     
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  33. Power Player

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    I tweaked a few things and if i can see some consistency this week, ill get a video up..kept my feet apart and basically copied the fed motion, which is definitley easier. Im coming off the ground, but not real high yet.

    Other main change is that im hitting a topspin serve, just coming over and out on the ball and for whatever reason that really helps my swingpath. So if this continues, i will put up a vid and if any fine tuning is neccessary.
     
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  34. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    Yeah I may do that, but I am still making some tweaks. Once I have it going then I will video and fine tune. I can see my own mistakes as of now when I look so I dont really need any feedback yet.

    A few things I have changed - my stance is now a complete copy of Fed's. I think my feet were screwing up everything because I was letting my back foot come forward far too early..it caused me to arm the ball and I lost a lot of power.

    Focusing on a high toss and making sure to grip the ball with my fingertips only...also keeping my toss arm up longer as well.

    The other thing I am messing with is starting lower..more bent over and crouched down than before where I was too straight up. It feels more like I am coiling and I get off the ground higher.

    Anyway, when it all comes together I am hitting some really nice serves with a lot of power. So it feels right, like a proper forehand or backhand would. I also am able to go back to a more abbreviated take back since that doesn't seem to matter much anymore that I got my feet and leg drive situated properly.
     
    #34
  35. bad_call

    bad_call Legend

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    ^ - this player also needs to work on getting the legs more into the serve. might be an old age thing...dunno.
     
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  36. tricky

    tricky Hall of Fame

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    It helps to learn the cartwheel motion as a kind of throwing motion first.

    1) Go through a complete football throwing motion (as if you were throwing 10-15 yards out.) It's fine if you stride.

    2) Now, lift your left hand to the sky, as if you just tossed a ball. With that left hand up, initiate your football throwing motion again.

    The key to the cartwheel motion is the left hip. As you go through the forward part of the motion, you'll notice your left hip tilts about 45 degrees and pivots around a point. This becomes more pronounced, the "deeper" you throw.

    Once you "internalize" this, you can go back to your service motion and self-correct.
     
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  37. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    Tricky. Gold as usual. Thanks

    Bc ill have to show you this drill I was taught next time. It is awesome for developing leg drive.
     
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  38. JackB1

    JackB1 G.O.A.T.

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    He's not going to post a vid....give it up.
     
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  39. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    I KNOW that.
    He's waiting for his service motion to correct it's flaws.
    In the meantime, he can still take potshots of other players, without ever showing how HE plays currently.
    And you know, ALL our games are in a state of evolution, but you gotta start somewhere.
     
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  40. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    ahhh - there it is. I knew there was a reason some people clamor for a vid so much. I actually posted vid before and I play a lot of people from TT.

    Now who do I take potshots at? Just curious. And why are you saying I am waiting for my motion to correct my flaws when I am actively updating the thread explaining the changes I make.

    Leed, your bitter side appears.
     
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  41. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    You are working on your motion, yes?
    You won't post while your motion is being refined, yes?
    Meaning, you won't post your motion as is, because it's flawed and you don't want to post a flawed service motion. Yes?
    You also say you play 4.5. That is quite a bit better than any of us say we are. Yes?
    And who's the number 5 LeeD detractor?
     
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  42. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    Its a PITA for me to video or I would do it all the time. I really learn a lot from seeing myself hitting.

    What you dont get is I post in here for the tried and true guys like Tricky's advice. They give great tips as seen in this thread.

    I dont need to post video yet because I see what I need to fix as of now. As I stated here. Next time I get my serve filmed if i am doing what I need to be like I think I am, Ill post it - who cares?

    I like to post in here because it is like a journal, I can read what I said about a racquet, string, or technique. It helps me remember things. I don't even say im 4.5, I have had other people who hit with me and the people at my club rate me as such. they schedule my matches for the most part and have me listed at that level.

    You pick a lot of fights for being such a "sage of wisdom".
     
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  43. JackB1

    JackB1 G.O.A.T.

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    PP...have you tried the Federer toss, the way he holds the ball with his palm facing sideways (like a handshake) instead of facing upwards?
    This really allows your toss to be consistent and prevents the wrist and elbow from interfering
     
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  44. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    Jack I will try that because a consistent toss, as we know, is about everything in a serve.

    Im currently doing palm up, and it is not consistent enough so I am open to trying other ways. The palm down toss does not really work with me.

    My problem for a long time was a low toss. As a junior I had a real low toss and somehow it didnt matter. But my second serve was just bad news back then..it is much better now.
     
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  45. JackB1

    JackB1 G.O.A.T.

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    its not palm down. Your left palm will face the back fence. And don't decelerate at all until you reach the top. There is no flipping of the ball...it just comes out at around head height. If you hold and release this way, the ball comes out with no spin at all.
     
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  46. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Gee, and I thought the key to the second serve, besides a fast brushing swing for spin, is an accurately tossed ball farther back than the first serve toss.
     
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  47. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    I know it is not palm down, but i have seen people who toss that way and did try it myself - thats what i meant in the last post. I definitley get what you are saying and ill use that toss tonight.
     
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  48. bad_call

    bad_call Legend

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    toss depends on what serve to hit...at least for this old player. at times 2nd serves have more heat than 1st. :)
     
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  49. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    I admit I can be wrong.
    Second serves, usually more spin, slower ball speed, higher net clearance, equal toss farther back than any first serve toss.
    Now if you choose to dink your first serves IN, that's your business, but not generally accepted or applicable.
     
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  50. bad_call

    bad_call Legend

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    never been labeled a serve dinker here...lol. aces and weak returns are what i aim for. :) and after watching a service vid of me, realize can get more pop since the legs aren't doing enough work.
     
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