Tennis serve trophy pose pause versus fluidity

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by Selftaught, Sep 10, 2009.

  1. Selftaught

    Selftaught New User

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    Conventional tennis serve instruction stresses the importance of getting into the trophy pose before the racquet drop. Fuzzy Yellow Balls (FYB), for example, does a great job of illustrating this. However, in watching the US Open, I've noticed there is considerable variation in how the pros get to their racquet drop. Sometimes, we see players using a clear momentary pause in the trophy pose (for example, Oudin, Wozniacki, Kleybanova, even Federer to some degree). Other players do not seem to pause at all (for example, the Williams sisters and Kuznetsova both use a much more fluid motion). So, we have an extreme between a clear, definitive pause, and an almost completely fluid "non pose."

    My question is, does it matter? Tricky has addressed C-style versus smile and shoulder versus elbow, but I can't find anything that answers this specific question. As somoene who is struggling to put the pieces together, I have a hard time grasping how someone like Serena Williams is able create such a fluild motion in her backswing. Does anyone teach this?
     
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  2. Selftaught

    Selftaught New User

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    Perhaps I did not ask this question in the right way, or the answer has been posted elsewhere (please point me to it if so!). Looking at the following video from Serena, there is no pause whatsoever when the racquet reaches its highest point:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XoNhZtPO5S4

    This would seem to run counter to the "momentary pause" advice I have seen in tennis books and instructional sites. Though no pro seems to actually pause, many have considerably longer transition times than Serena. Again, does the "pause" matter in serve effectiveness?
     
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  3. Selftaught

    Selftaught New User

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  4. naylor

    naylor Semi-Pro

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    I think it probably depends on the height of the toss. In Serena's serve, the ball only drops what looks like a couple of feet (from the top of the stand side to the line of the seats) from high point to hitting point. In Steffi's serve her toss reaches a greater height, so she has to wait - in the trophy position, before throwing the rackethead up at the ball - for the ball to drop to hitting height.

    It's no coincidence that Serena is the best server in the WTA, and her movement has great rhythm and fluidity, with no pauses. Compare it to Sharapova's or Safina's actions - both very high tosses so have to wait for the ball to drop, less fluidity, lots of doublefaults.
     
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  5. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    I haven't seen this on Will's site. Are you sure?

    You do not want to get into the trophey position from a literal point of view. The tropheys position is just a still statute off a motion that should be continuous which is how you gain momentum and accelerate your arm.

    Now, maybe Will is describing the "Abbreviated Serve". That is a serve that brings both arms up at the same time bypassing the lower portion of the windup for a classic motion.

    The abbreviated motion is an acceptable motion as is the classic.

    It only matters to you. Both can be taught.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2009
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  6. heretoserve

    heretoserve Rookie

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    What's interesting is if you freeze Serena at 8 sec. you couldn't tell the difference. It is my understanding that with the trophy pose serve you have to recruit more muscle to get the racquet going again. Also like you said you would have to toss a little higher.

    I prefer the low toss continues motion. But I'm biased. Huh BB. Check it out.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T6YpbNu9S5w&eurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Efuzzyyellowballs%2Ecom%2Fpro%2Dstroke%2Dlibrary%2Fbryan%2Dbrothers%2F&feature=player_embedded#t=22


    I heard a funny story once(might not be true) that the guy that designed the trophy was a horrendous tennis player and designed it so for dramatic effect.
     
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  7. gzhpcu

    gzhpcu Professional

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    I don't think it matters. Look at Federer: he keeps loose and slow, and only really accelerates his racket head well after the racket drop, just prior to impact.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HW4-7uhUjdI&feature=channel
    So if most of the loop is slow, a slight hitch does not seem to matter IMHO.
     
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  8. Selftaught

    Selftaught New User

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    Thanks for the responses. Ball toss may affect the continuity, but it still leaves the question open. Will's FYB site simply freezes the video in the trophy pose (not an abbreviated motion). His next video sequence actually seems to show a continuation. However, from an instructional point of view (in virtually all tennis instruction), there is a lot of emphasis on the pose as part of the sequence. The pause, due to a high ball toss or any other reason, could be viewed as a hitch (that is, undesirable), or unimportant. However, my guess is that a more continuous motion is somewhat desirable -- though, as noted above, the abbreviated style takes us back in the other direction.
     
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  9. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    What question is open????

    You made a statement about the trophey pose as follows:

    "Conventional tennis serve instruction stresses the importance of getting into the trophy pose before the racquet drop."

    I have not seen this instruction. Where is it? You mention that it "stresses" the importance of it. Where? What? When? Why?

    Again, where, what, when, why? The pose is stressed where? Do you have an example? Are you sure you are not looking at the abbreviated serve motion?

    You make statements but dont have anything to support it. You dance over the questions people are asking because you dont have any depth in your knowledge to support your position. You just blurt out a statement and hope some poor gullible fellow comes around and believes you.

    My gosh, what are you doing!!!! The high ball toss can be viewed as a "hitch"???? The abbreviated motion takes us back in the other direction???? hahahaha, now that is funny.

    You were joking right? :-|
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2009
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  10. Selftaught

    Selftaught New User

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  11. gzhpcu

    gzhpcu Professional

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    Seems to me, that a low, minimal toss like Roscoe Tanner used to have, leads to a fast continuous, concerted movement.

    A very high toss, coupled with an abbreviated toss, could lead to a slowing down at the trophy position.
     
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  12. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    Rude? lol

    You made statements that are not true which I think is rude and inapproriate coming from a person who can't figure out the trophey pose nor explain it right.

    If you make statements here that are not true why don't you look at yourself instead of the one pointing it out to you?

    Your statement that using an abbreviated serve is going backwards is not only wrong but laughable. What the heck did you mean by that exactly?

    Use this for a reference to support what Will is trying to get at. Will is explaining that at some point in the continuous motion of a classic style serve, your racquet and body will be in a certain positon that resembles the trophey pose. However, this position is not a static position. You are to move through this position so that you can improve your chances of increasing racquet head speed.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vcjZ5r_YHV0

    Watch the racquet head move through the "trophey pose". It doesn't stop. when Braden said "the trophey has hurt many peoples serve" it was because people would stop there and stifle the momentum they were building up.

    The serve motion is all about gaining momentum to eventually transfer this energy into the arm for maximum speed.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2009
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  13. gzhpcu

    gzhpcu Professional

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  14. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Do it the way you want.
    Higher toss tends to cause the player to pause.
    Lower toss's need continuous motion.
    But don't matter, what matters is how good your service is.
     
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  15. Counter

    Counter New User

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    In fact, some players basically START their service motions in the trophy pose (as far as their hitting arm is concerned):

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YY7aNGBr9EQ

    This is Mathilde Johansson, highest rank WTA 59 (April 6 2009), and she always serves this way.

    Personally I'm only learning to serve properly, and as far as relevant for present purposes, I'm doing it precisely the way Johansson does it: the initial part of the hitting-arm movement (leading up to the trophy pose) distracts me too much, although I would like to perhaps add it later on.

    Also, my uneducated guess would be that the initial part can't be ALL that important, since by all appearances it seems that the development of raquet speed only seriously starts with the raquet drop (i.e., after the trophy position has been reached). Which suggests that anything happening BEFORE the trophy position should not affect the end result too much. But correct me if I'm wrong.

    Best regards,
    Counter.
     
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  16. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    You may use a #59 WTA player as an example, but I'd rather look only at a former top 20, JuanIgnacioChela to see a player starting his motion with the trophy position.
    And Chela, who now uses a conventional motion, doesn't serve any faster NOW than the abbreviated trophy position start. His speed is around 125 regardless of windup, swing, or coaching.
     
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  17. naylor

    naylor Semi-Pro

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    I thought Chela had some shoulder problems for a while, which is why he was using the abbreviated serve motion then?

    I was under the impression that you got into the trophy position in order to bring the right elbow up to the same height as the right shoulder (for a rightie). At that point the elbow stopped rising, but the forearm bent back towards the shoulder and brought the racket down to the "back-scratching" position - buth with the trophy position just being one point in that motion. What gives the power to the serve is the throwing/straigthening of the forearm/hand at the ball, which it turn throws the racket at the ball at contact point.

    I think the transition is quite similar to the golf swing. On the backswing, the golf club is taken by the rotation of hips and shoulders, to a position when it's parallel to the direction of the hit. Some golfers look like they have a noticeable pause at that point, but what happens is the club lags the forward swing, and the golfer has already started it from the legs and then the hips. Backswing and forward swing is one continous motion, but the club stops (the typical golfer statuette) until it's pulled forward by the uncoiling of the shoulders.
     
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  18. mental midget

    mental midget Professional

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    either works, but most of the really big servers have had pretty fluid, non-stop motions (pete, goran, stich, tanner, etc)
     
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  19. Selftaught

    Selftaught New User

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    Fascinating. Any idea on how well she serves this way (for example, speed and accuracy)? I could not find video of Chela serving like this -- only a full motion.

    My earlier comments about the abbreviated motion were not meant as a slight to this style. I've tried it myself, though never mastered it.
     
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  20. user92626

    user92626 Legend

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    IMO, if you start out in the trophy position right away, you can't toss out in front very well because you're already leaning back.
     
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  21. tricky

    tricky Hall of Fame

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    There's actually no correlation. Your shoulders should already be aligned, so that the serving shoulder is above the tossing shoulder. In addition, your weight should be moving into the court (i.e. your center of gravity be in front of you) as you toss.

    The issue of a "pause" in the trophy pose itself is not that relevant. The real issue is the rest of your body. At any point in the windup, is your body still / in a static position (bad)? Or is the rest of the body (esp. the legs) in perpetual motion?

    The underlying problem for most people is that their weight transfer stops at some point in their windup. It's not that they pause in their trophy pose, but that their whole body is no longer moving or loading, which is what happens when weight transfer stops. As soon as that happens, you've lost not only all the energy that you've preparing in your windup, but that you've also lost elements of your future upward service swing.
     
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  22. Selftaught

    Selftaught New User

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    Tricky, thanks for those insights. Regarding the tossing arm, what do you make of this video of Andy Murray, which it seems he is moving his arm backward while tossing forward? Is this because he's using the pinpoint stance?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2GFkqD7GBZQ&feature=related

    (I know, this is off topic, but Serena's tossing arm in the link upthread seems much more stable.)
     
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  23. thebuffman

    thebuffman Professional

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    if i can jump in and out of this thread with a quick comment. after looking over many videos of professional players executing the service motion, one thing becomes funny to me is how a lot of them are not "doing it right".

    in other words, i would spend countless hours trying to learn the perfect serve...and i do mean countless hours. taping myself for review, shadowing, practicing, correcting....back to taping for review. now i begin to wonder just how much of the serve is suppose to be flat out natural. i do realize some fundamental aspects of the serve must be obeyed to meet your full potential, however, other aspects of the proper motion seems to be a waste of time trying to drill.

    for instance, my tossing arm drops into a nice position as it tucks into my torso. i practiced and practiced this until it was committed to memory. contrariwise, and to my surprise, when i would study andy murray, whose serve i love, does not drop his tossing arm properly. his tossing arm always goes out to the side, but his serve is THE BOMB!

    i could go on with improper tendencies i've noted from watching other players (like how tight nadal grips his racquet instead of keeping a very loose grip "so that someone could easily snatch it out of your hand" when serving) but you all get the point. all in all it just seems like a person should focus on the fundamentals and leave the rest to your own body to determine.
     
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  24. Cody

    Cody Semi-Pro

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    I believe my serve suffers from this.

    Do you have a key points to avoid it.
     
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  25. Fay

    Fay Professional

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    I found this clip helpful

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6OFxUSOYVuc

    It seems that one cannot make a quarter turn in the air if one has hesitated or had a hitch in their serve ... seems to start from the ground and go up.
     
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  26. TheCheese

    TheCheese Professional

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    Continuous is probably best since it means your toss isn't any higher than it has to be. Federer is a prime example of a continuous motion, by the way. He goes slow to fast, which is what you're seeing.
     
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  27. TimothyO

    TimothyO Hall of Fame

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    I once tried to pause in the trophy pose thinking it was what you're "supposed to do".

    It completely messed me up.

    I serve best when I flow through the entire motion smoothly. I definitely accelerate but it's a slow steady acceleration until the moment I swing to contact. Even then it's smooth acceleration, just faster.

    Another thing I don't do: pre-serve ball bouncing. For some reason it takes me out of my "zone". Instead I pause with the ball on the frame and visualize where I want the ball to go and then visualize my toss and swing. Bending over to bounce the ball and then standing erect to serve messes with my balance.
     
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  28. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Novak DJ would argue with you. He still bounces the ball 9 times on average.
    As for the pause, it's the hand pause that is important, not the racket swinging pause.
    I've been trying the racket swijng pause and the hand pause. Seems to give me lots of power, with stress on the wrists.
     
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  29. Coach Chad

    Coach Chad Rookie

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    I can get my serves in more consistently using the trophy pose pause as opposed to the fluid motion...I raise my racket arm and the toss arm at the same time...perhaps if I had more time to practice the fluid motion I could master it...as it is I have spent many hours trying and just cannot hit a good percentage of serves in with the fluid style.
     
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  30. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    I still think it don't matter.
    Fed and PanchoGonzalez have wandering trophies.
    Lots of other players have a static moment, at trophy.
    All serve pretty well.
     
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  31. TennisCJC

    TennisCJC Legend

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    Serena may have a continuous loop because Rick Macci teaches it this way. He coached the Williams sister for awhile when they were juniors. Macci is on the Tennis Channel with a drill to teach a continuous kinetic chain.

    There have been great servers with both motions - Roscoe Tanner and Goran Ivanesivic served huge with compact continuous motions. Ivan Lendl, Sampras, Graf and Federer all have either some or a long pause.
     
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  32. 2ndServe

    2ndServe Professional

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    Lendl and Graf have a pause. Sampras and Federer are about as fluid and smooth as they get. Lendl and Graf had very high tosses so they had to pause. Tanner, Goran, Sampras, Fed have tosses at or just above their reach. It's better that way, not only do they have a good kinetic chain with no break but lower ball tosses provide for a longer hitting zone as high tosses drop through the zone fast and usually aren't good on the stadium courts with swirling winds. Plus low tosses make it harder to read for the returner.
     
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  33. TimothyO

    TimothyO Hall of Fame

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    Yeah, it seems that all professionals do the ball bounce thing. I did it initially too. Last year I stopped after reading about the benefits of visualizing strokes, especially the serve. I feel so much more focused and calm when serving now and get far more consistency and accuracy. I've practiced various martial arts and t'ai chi ch'uan and this approach feels a lot like t'ai chi to me.
     
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  34. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Couple things....
    Any technique if you hit the serve hard, have direction, and can do it over and over.
    Low toss is readable, otherwise Goran and Tanner would always win. They don't.
    That tucked toss elbow thing is a theory. In reality, it's better to have balance after you serve than to have a quicker rotation.
     
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