Service game: how can a weekend warrior improve it?

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by omega4, Feb 21, 2013.

  1. omega4

    omega4 Rookie

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    Here's my dilemma. I don't really get to practice my tennis game during the work week. What is the best way to improve my service game if I don't have a bucket of used tennis balls to hit serve after serve with (like I used to do in high school)?

    I haven't played tennis in some 22+ years. Currently, my serves usually going long (around the baseline or just inside it) or into the net. When my serves do land in, I don't feel like they're traveling with much pace to them.
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2013
    #1
  2. user92626

    user92626 Legend

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    So getting a ball hopper and starting to collect used balls is a dilemma? :)

    I got a hopper but I also got a big Target bag full of balls kept in the trunk. Get practice, man.

    It's really good when you're confident that you could hold your service game.
     
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  3. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Your serve won't get better without some sort of swing practice.
    Shadow swing, LISTEN to the sound of the racket going thru the air. The highest pitch is your fastest swing.
    Embrace the idea you cannot hit a flat serve IN if you don't practice, so hit a topspin serve with some speed instead. The topspin curves the ball IN, and you slowly add more ball speed and take away the spin.
    Have a set pattern when you serve. Slow down, STOP, gather some energy, THEN go thru the same service motion every single time.
     
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  4. charliefedererer

    charliefedererer Legend

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    Are you sure the mechanics of your swing are correct, rotating back from the court as you toss, then rotating back in to initiate the racquet drop to occur well to your right side so you can pronate right to left?

    If there is any question, review the following video, with careful attention to how Coach McCraw does it:
    McCraw explaining a serve pronation exercise http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iONY6fcqZGg

    Then do as LeeD suggests above and "shadow" the swing at home to build "muscle memory".

    This should significantly decrease the practice time at the court, but you are still going to have to find some night(s) to hit some serves on the way home from work.




    Don't blow out your shoulder!!!

    Use the following tips to not place your shoulder in jeopardy:
    Your serve technique doing more harm than good? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GgdXawklcZk
    Preventing Rotator Cuff Injury http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lTRvxaBMh8s

    Do the Thrower's Ten exercise to help prevent the common shoulder, elbow and wrist problems that plague all-too-many weekend warriors: http://www.muhlenberg.edu/pdf/main/athletics/athletic_training/throwers10.pdf




    "You are only as good as your second serve."

    Do you understand the different mechanics of a topspin and slice serve?
     
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  5. Smasher08

    Smasher08 Hall of Fame

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    Do you mean your flat serves? Do you also have kick serves?

    Assuming you mean flat serves, one of the best ways to practice is to do a ball throwing motion with your racket arm. A proper service motion uses the same muscle groups in the same motion. Just make sure you go over your shoulder in your motion and delivery, as opposed to side arm or 3/4 (baseball pitch parlance). Once you get the motion grooved, then it's a matter of timing.

    Good luck!
     
    #5
  6. eguang

    eguang New User

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    Like it was mentioned above, shadow serves while at home, throwing balls against the backyard fence can help. But you really need to hit practice serves and have a coach or a buddy analyze your motion to detect issues.

    Unfortunally, when playing an actual match, the need to win points create a level of tension that will make your arm stiff and you can revert to bad habits.
     
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  7. Fuji

    Fuji Legend

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    Thanks a ton for that video on the left shoulder drop. I'm in recovery off a bunk shoulder, and I was definitely not dropping my left shoulder enough! Something I will for sure have to work on next time I'm out!

    -Fuji
     
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  8. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    I thought I mentioned that lack of archer's bow when we reviewed your serving video?
    However, since you're a strong kid, by kid meaning less than 50 years old, you can compensate with pure strength and flexibility.
     
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  9. Fuji

    Fuji Legend

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    We definitely did! I've been trying lately to incorporate more of a bow, but since I've moved to pinpoint stance over the last month or so, I've still been working on getting the balance correct. Just a lot of stuff to work on all at once haha! The bow is definitely on my list of things to improve on if I ever want to get serving past 110MPH.

    -Fuji
     
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  10. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Well, I've got a great archer's bow, but my serve sucks at around 100mph max right now. Just lacking in armsnap, or a back leg to push off of.
    I'd rather have your live arm, and not have the archer's bow.
     
    #10
  11. Relinquis

    Relinquis Hall of Fame

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    Seems you are pressed for time, but everyone has 15-20 mins.

    allocate 20 mins before your weekend match to practice something. focus on one or two specific things to practice max (make one serve related).

    Examples:
    - kick serves drills: kneel on one knee and serve. this takes your legs out of the equation, keeps you sideways and makes you very aware of your toss. it will force you to use more spin on your ball to get net clearance and get the ball in.
    - flat serve drill: drill where you fill your pockets with balls and start serving from the service-line (hard/fast/flat serves) and take a step back every time you get one in until you are serving from baseline. This drill makes you aware of how low the net really is and allows you to feel hitting through the ball more.
    - these re just examples, there are many many (probably better) drills. those that focus on placement or other parts of the serve motion.

    focusing on two things, each for 10 mins will help you be match ready and be able to refine your technique on a regular basis.

    Also, take video of these drills so you can review after the session. this way you can compare from week to week.
     
    #11
  12. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Can't get a better serve without practice. Gotta get a hopper and lug it around like the rest of us.
     
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  13. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    OHHHHHH......
    Reality can hit really really hard.:shock:
     
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  14. omega4

    omega4 Rookie

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    Thanks for the tips, everyone!

    For golf, we have a driving range where we can work on different shots for a pretty reasonable price. I wish there was something like that for tennis.
     
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  15. TheCheese

    TheCheese Professional

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    You can usually rent out a ball machine for 30 minute blocks at clubs. Or you could find someone to hit with at a local public court for free. :)
     
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  16. charliefedererer

    charliefedererer Legend

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    You've got to be clever enough to find a court to practice on.

    Hint: If you are having trouble finding an open court, for practicing serves find a run down cracked court that no one likes to play on.

    It is more likely to be abandoned, and you don't need a court in great condition to practice serves.
     
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  17. charliefedererer

    charliefedererer Legend

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    I don't want to hijack this thread, but if you are coming back from a shoulder problem, try and get all the way through this video that may seem complex because it is made for teaching pros, but I'm sure you will get the main idea:
    Rotator cuff injury http://www.tennisresources.com/inde...ail&basicsearch=1&media_name=&rv=1&vidid=3712

    [Don't miss the points on how important shoulder exercises are - see thrower's ten above - and by that by tilting the body and lowering the left shoulder we don't have to extend our arm straight up - instead it comes out from the side of the body- the shoulder is spared from strain.]

    second "topsin" serve
    [​IMG]


    first serve
    [​IMG]
     
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  18. slowfox

    slowfox Professional

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    I do the major tune-ups to my serve during the winter months. The courts are practically abandoned. As long as it's dry out, the cold is ok for me. I can have 50+ balls all over the courts from serve practice, and nobody complaining.

    It can be a bit odd playing in your winter coat... :)
     
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  19. omega4

    omega4 Rookie

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    That's a great tip. It also looks like you need to have a good sense of balance while lowering the left shoulder (and having the right arm come out from your side) to not fall down on your side.

     
    #19
  20. corbind

    corbind Professional

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    Book marked
     
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  21. WildVolley

    WildVolley Legend

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    Figuring out what you should work on is going to be very important for a weekend warrior. I'd advise getting video tape of your serve that you can then watch in slow motion. Ideally from both behind at a reasonable height and from the side.

    Take notes of what you are doing differently from a pro model and then start making changes right away. Repetition is good, but if you have a major form problem, you might just be developing ingrained bad habits.
     
    #21
  22. julian

    julian Hall of Fame

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    Please see PAT THE DOG THREAD

    Please see PAT THE DOG THREAD
     
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  23. Avles

    Avles Hall of Fame

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    If you don't have access to a court for serve practice, try practicing your toss. It's amazing how much better the serve works when the ball is where it's supposed to be.
     
    #23
  24. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    ^ that's a golden tip right there. All my serve issues improved 100% when I started paying attention to the toss. Amazing how contorted we can get trying to make up for a bad toss.
     
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  25. Relinquis

    Relinquis Hall of Fame

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    don't practice toss indoors*, unless you get on your knees...


    * ceilings too low.
     
    #25
  26. Metalica

    Metalica New User

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    Agreed. I shadow swing infront of a mirror all the time and it really helped my game, not just for the serve but for every shots. No point to hitting a 100 practice serve if you're hitting a 100 incorrect serves. Everybody learn differently though. I just happen to be a drawer and have good eye for detail.
     
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  27. SnoxicTennoxic

    SnoxicTennoxic New User

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    +1

    - Get video. Check what you do wrong. Pick out a part that you'd like to improve and track your progress.

    - Commit to improving the serve. For me that meant that during practice sets too. It can be hard because it will likely get worse before it gets better. Don't mind loosing a few extra games, concentrate on doing a good swing which will make you better in the long run.
     
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