The Serve: Busting misconceptions once and for all

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by sureshs, Jan 18, 2013.

  1. boramiNYC

    boramiNYC Hall of Fame

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    You can hit pretty fast with just shoulder and arm but I don't recommend trying it. Not very well coordinated souls can get injured. Try to relax and see how you 'naturally' like to use your shoulder and arm focusing on keeping everything in the sweetspot of range of motion. Go slow and smooth but the pronation better be snappy otherwise you lose too much control. Start at the contact point and slowly try to expand using more of the chain. knowing the exact feel at the contact point is the most important key.
     
    #51
  2. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    YOU, or a tennis player in general?
    Realistic....you could poop it in at 60 mph, flat, and get some in, strikepoint like a normal person's high forehand.
    You can whack heck out of it, a little deadball, a little forward spin, maybe 105, and get it in once in a blue moon....
    But you probably don't have the developed arms of a real wheehchair server.
     
    #52
  3. Ash_Smith

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    For a wheelchair player 84mph is the absolute max a ball can be hit with no spin (were that possible) based on average contact point heights. With spin theoretically you could increase this to ATP speeds if you could move the racquet fast enough, but realistically the best male servers on tour are serving at around 100mph which requires around 2000rpm to go in from the average contact height.
     
    #53
  4. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Do they lock the wheels on the chairs?
    I'm serious, I friend of mine is thinking of taking up tennis, after years of monoskiing on his wheelchair. His arms are double mine in strength, us weighing the same.
     
    #54
  5. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    The serve is a very frustrating beast. I think my first serve is a second serve. Both use a little knee bend, a little rotation, and spin. With that, I am pretty competitive at the 4.0 level, and the second serve is far better than the dinks of some 4.5s.

    What will happen is that on Sundays when I am relaxed, the serve will be great. On Fridays, like today, I will be upset with the quality. On Tuesdays, it will be in between. I cannot get the rhythm the same all the time and I cannot tolerate it. I will serve one in the middle of the box and then walk away disgusted that it was not deep.

    I don't feel the same every time I serve. One day I am very smooth all archy and heads up and knees bent, one day I am flat footed.

    There must be a way out of this. There are 4 adult players in my club who serve better than me, and they are all 4.5s, and I know that all 4 have played since they were kids, two here and two in the Philippines. Which doesn't give me much confidence in learning anything from the rest of those around me. Out of the 4 teaching pros here, 2 of them have worse serves than me, one is the same as me, and the 4th one who can heat it up had beaten Vijay Amritraj. I have observed his serves very carefully, but his 6+ height gives him trajectories others don't have. So the pros are not useful either.
     
    #55
  6. Ash_Smith

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    #56
  7. Ash_Smith

    Ash_Smith Hall of Fame

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    Unless, god forbid, you actually book a lesson with one of them! I mean, maybe...they know stuff!
     
    #57
  8. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    What I am getting at with the post @leed and you is that are club players benefiting at all from adopting the proper service motion? Though there are several at the 4.0 level and some at the 4.5 level with pretty horrible technique, many of the players do have elements of the standard serve - the conti, the knee bend, the arch, the pause, the swing, some pronation etc. The result is not showing though. Some of the beautiful kick serves which are seen and admired at this level are not effective - the same level opponent can easily return them.

    Technique (or attempts and it) and style - but the result? Probably the same as just standing there and swinging at the ball.

    Very disappointing.
     
    #58
  9. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    I have seen all their lessons over the years, playing on adjacent courts. They look good while demonstrating stuff, ball arching in with spin and all that. Then then say "let's play some points" and their serves go into the net or long or suck. How can I settle for that? I need to find someone better than me.

    The 4th guy is good and I know all the stuff he teaches juniors. It is matter of me doing it.
     
    #59
  10. TCF

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    ==========================
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2013
    #60
  11. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    I thought you had an appointment at the courts.
    A great looking technically sound serve can serve a player at the 5.0 down to 3.5 levels, if the rest of his game varies and wander's all over the map. I know from recent experience.
    Why work at it? Well, I know for sure, if I had a normal 4.0 serve, I'd be playing around 3.0 levels, since I cannot run whatsoever.
    The serve alone helps me stay within 3.5-4.0 parameters.
     
    #61
  12. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    ok boys time to go try some of the stuff from leed and others who actually post something useful.

    leed, how much do u charge for a day of lessons? Say I fly you in and out and put you up at a resort here for a night?
     
    #62
  13. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    I would never accept payement for any kind of advice or lessons. It's a game we play, and we play it for love of the sport.
    If we wanted the mighty dollar, we'd all get a good education and startup a new internet idea.
     
    #63
  14. Relinquis

    Relinquis Hall of Fame

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    i'm reconstructing my serves at the moment.

    what kind of serve are you talking about? kick, slice, flat?

    have you tried serving while being on you knees? i tried that drill (put a towel under your knees to be comfortable) and it helped me with my toss consistency and with my kick serve. I still have an issue that i keep "arming" my kick serve, but I'm working on that.

    another area i'm working on is my serve consistency/placement. I'm not concerned with power at the moment, as I don't have an issue with that on any of my strokes.

    i find that i get better practice trying to focus on one or two areas max during a session. i.e., serve placement drills, or only kick serves, or only flat serves.

    the serves is one area where you can practice on your own so get a bucket/hopper full of balls an get out there. also, record yourself as you seem fond of analysis.
     
    #64
  15. TheCheese

    TheCheese Professional

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    Oscar has talked about how on the forehand you should go up and find the ball, then pull diagonally up and across to generate maximum topspin.

    Is there an equivalent tip on the serve? Which way should you be pulling on the serve?

    What is the technique to simultaneously produce maximum spin and power?
     
    #65
  16. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Hall of Fame

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    Myth - ATP pros usually watch the ball through impact.

    Myth - ATP pros watch the ball through impact

    Reality (?) - ATP pros hardly ever watch the ball through impact

    See reply #9.
    http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=442804

    Needs more research to confirm.
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2013
    #66
  17. treblings

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    i think the head almost has to move forward with the serve motion.
    the key point for us is that pros watch the ball longer than us amateurs as a rule and that helps in several ways
     
    #67
  18. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Hall of Fame

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    I agree completely with your points.

    Until now, I did not believe that this was the case.
     
    #68
  19. treblings

    treblings Hall of Fame

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    know what you mean, i thought the same. then you stumble upon some pics on the internet that tell a different story:)
     
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  20. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Frustration really is the mother of invention. So last evening I went back in a bad mood seeking a silver bullet. And I think I found it. I think I found the element that made the serve scalable, a foundation on which more makes better.

    I reflected on what was different in the way I was hitting the serve and the forehand. On the forehand, at least I personally am not spinning like a helicopter in air. I am perhaps moving my inside foot backwards, or sliding slightly forward, or up on the balls of the feet. But in the serve I was moving significantly into impact with the back foot (obviously I don't go off both feet either, but move the right leg into the court). I was hitting as I was moving my back foot forward significantly.

    I just changed it to focus on the hitting first, limiting the back foot motion to raising it, and then finishing its forward movement into the court.

    Seems to have fixed the main issue. Now other things that I had incorporated over the years are adding up nicely and scalably to the main product, in a predictable manner.
     
    #70
  21. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Or not get a good education and still startup a new internet idea. Or more specifically, write a new mobile app.

    We will find the right kind of compensation which will entice you. Maybe a new racket or surfboard?
     
    #71
  22. WildVolley

    WildVolley Legend

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    One big misconception is that most of the power comes from the legs. To hit a world class serve, leg drive is very important (actually hip rotation is also important) but it needs to drive the proper torso/shoulder/arm movements. If you don't have the basic upper body form down, jumping hard is not going to make your serve awesome. The average amateur player has form problems that bending the knees more will not cure.

    When I'm showing serve form to beginners, I find having them focus too much on the legs will actually throw off learning proper form. I've even seen players who bend their knees too much and thereby sap power. For instance, If you want to jump as high as possible, you don't go into a full squat.
     
    #72
  23. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Most of the power does not come from the legs - that myth was busted way back. I don't have the break up in front of me now, but wasn't ISR the biggest contributor?
     
    #73
  24. WildVolley

    WildVolley Legend

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    I completely buy that, but I'm a skeptic with respect to these models that try to break each movement into some sort of % contributor to the overall serve speed.
     
    #74
  25. treblings

    treblings Hall of Fame

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    too much focus on parts versus looking at the big picture.
    very popular error here in this forum:)
    the kinetic chain is only as strong as it´s weakest link
     
    #75
  26. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    It doesn't do anything for me either, because I am not at the point where I can consciously up one by x % and decrease another by x %.

    But it might be useful for tour-level coaches who are looking to tweak one aspect of their student's serve and need to know how useful that is going to be.
     
    #76
  27. Ash_Smith

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    ^^^marginal gains Sureshs - marginal gains!
     
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  28. boramiNYC

    boramiNYC Hall of Fame

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    One of the big common misconceptions for someone building a serve is that the right or correct stance for the serve is complete sideway and everyone should start there. As I mentioned previously, the stance is something very dynamic depending on the use of the core.

    More constant thing among pros and most good rec servers, the common denominator, is the optimal racquet path right around the contact. This path is short but must be very clearly understood by both mind and by body coordination. All the contributions of the body is to maximize the speed of the racquet head at this zone consistently. and there can be many different ways to achieve this contact swing path.

    A good way to improve the feel for this contact zone is for righty stand on left foot only and stretch out the racquet as high as you can to the possible contact point and simply balance in the right form. right leg slightly extended sideway and backward in the air, left arm tucked in, head looking toward the target not at the ball as Chas discussed, and racquet stretched out. The line of force transmission from the left heel through the hip and torso and right shoulder and arm must be very clear to the server's mind and body in feel. Once the solid balance at this contact point is realized one can find out where to toss the ball.

    keep practicing for this balance as much as you can to get better feel of this all important line of force transmission and make this line as solid as you can in the best possible posture.
     
    #78
  29. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Hall of Fame

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    Power at Impact & Power Before Impact

    Look at the video and identify what explosive joint motion is contributing most to racket head speed at impact.

    http://vimeo.com/27528701

    The feet are off the ground and therefore are contributing 0 power at the time of impact.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Earlier in the kinetic energy chain -

    The legs contributed power at much lower velocity earlier in the kinetic energy sequence. The resulting jump velocity caused the body to rise about 4-10" off the ground. However, the legs contributed a lot of power because the legs are big muscles and they propelled the entire body mass up.

    Utilizing that leg thrust and other serve motions the shoulder muscles were sloooowly stretched. In the video you are seeing those stretched muscles - mainly the lat muscle - shorten explosively, which internally rotates the shoulder, that is, the upper arm, ISR.

    Which power was greater - the slow large-mass power during leg thrust or the extremely fast power at impact? Guess legs but I don't know. I believe that the racket face velocity at impact is the most important thing, never power.
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2013
    #79
  30. Relinquis

    Relinquis Hall of Fame

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    sureshs,

    what are you trying to achieve with your serve? what improvements?

    i take it you're looking to improve the speed of your serve, is that correct, or are you trying to find an optimal serve?
     
    #80
  31. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    In our line of work, we use the term incremental gains.
     
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  32. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    First serve at 75 mph will do. However, must be reproducible on demand with no excuses, like weather, sun, not warmed up, bad hair day, etc. Must happen all the time with no failures.
     
    #82
  33. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Good video and agree with everything.

    However, power vs speed is a false dichotomy. Is a Corvette's speed not related to its V8 engine?
     
    #83
  34. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Hall of Fame

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    MYTH: Reach up as high as you can to hit the serve.

    REALITY: When the ball is impacted
    1) the racket is at an angle to the nearly straight arm.
    2) Also(and this needs some more research to quantify) the arm is usually not strictly vertical but out to the side a bit. How far off of vertical is the arm on an average serve?


    I believe that I have heard this only once or twice so it may not qualify as a MYTH
    MYTH: Stand against the fence and hold your racket straight up. That is the height at which you want you want to impact the ball.

    REALITY: Because of the combination of the racket-arm angle, the off-vertical angle of the arm and the jump, by coincidence, you might actually hit the ball at the height of your racket when you stand against a fence but maybe not. ? Does this demo help the server understand the serve biomechanics in any way or does the demo encourage him to hit with no angle between his arm and the racket using the wrong biomechanics.
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2013
    #84
  35. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Problem here is taking the advice literally.
    You can in your scientific world, but we live in a real world, where everything has to be muted by a sense of reality, not black and white.
    Everything we do, we have to infuse reality, like our bio mechanical limitations, to the rule.
    Like hitting hard. We cannot hit as hard as we physically CAN, we have to infuse some reality to the situation. Like how strong we are, how much control we can apply.
     
    #85
  36. Relinquis

    Relinquis Hall of Fame

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    ok. you have a goal at least. A consistent* 75 mph first serve.

    now that we know what you want, where are you starting from? what is your current speed and consistency like?

    - Current 1st serve speed on average =
    - Top 1st serve speed =
    - 1st serves made on average = %
    - 1st serves made at 75mph speed = %
    - How consistent is your ball toss for 1st serves (i.e. % of times you toss it perfectly in the same spot) = %

    If you don't know where you are, other users won't be able to tell you what to work on**.

    * Leaving aside that first serves aren't supposed to be like clockwork if you are hitting at the higher range of your speed, you will need to warm up and practice to keep the % and form high. Even the top pros have bad days.

    ** If you can post video of your serves, you'll get better feedback.
     
    #86
  37. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    You want a "75mph" conistent first serve?
    Just drop feed a chest high forehand every time.
     
    #87
  38. boramiNYC

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    So you can consistently drop feed a 75mph fh into the service box from baseline? hitting any 75mph fh is very difficult for rec let alone precise one into the service box.
     
    #88
  39. WildVolley

    WildVolley Legend

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    I'm not sure how consistent that would be. If he has decent racket head speed, he should be able to hit a topspin serve consistently in at 75mph. I'm not saying with the amount of spin that a pro's 2nd serve at 75mph would have, but enough spin that it would be a very consistent shot at the amateur level. With enough spin, the average rec player shouldn't be able to tee off on it.
     
    #89
  40. boramiNYC

    boramiNYC Hall of Fame

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    Suresh, spin is all good and need to be learned as well but foremost the feel of arm action (loose arm and pronation) for timing and overall balance (which include good toss) are most important to start. Try to hit flat using real pronation for starter.

    try serving on the left leg only (heel touching ground and maybe a little lift for contact) without much knee bend or rotation and the right leg coming around. let it stay back in the air for balance. keep as erect as possible through contact. The left foot stance should be pointing almost straight forward when you do this. This practice will improve consistency and give you the feel of that power line. this serve can reach 75 mph and can be used in real match too.
     
    #90
  41. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Day 2 of timing the impact to the raising of the back foot, instead of moving the back foot forward at the same time.

    No DFs, easy hold of service games, 4 unreturnable serves resulting in gasps from the opponents.

    I have arrived, baby.
     
    #91
  42. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    No that will not result in a 75 mph serve
     
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  43. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    #93
  44. Relinquis

    Relinquis Hall of Fame

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    timing your serve to your back foot?

    if that's your biggest problem, then 75mph serves shouldn't be an issue to begin with.
     
    #94
  45. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    er... YES, a high forehand can result in a "75"mph serve if you hit it sorta fast....not super fast.
    Monfils can hit forehands into the 110's. NOT saying you can. But you can hit 3/4 his speed, can't you?
    You can hit 100 mph overhand serves, he can hit 135's. that is about 3/4.
    You think negative. Try thinking positive.
     
    #95
  46. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Is that what you meant by "drop?"

    Next time the UPS guy comes by to deliver something to you, I will ask him to "drop" it at 110 mph.
     
    #96
  47. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    I'm very sorry that after your 23,000 posts, you still don't know what a "drop feed" is. I hope your life goes well from here on in.
     
    #97
  48. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    No no please continue to give tips. I apologize for the lack of knowledge of such great technical terms. I suppose you meant a toss the ball and hit it flat kind of thing.

    In any case, I am not interested in whatever it is. Tell me how to hit a regular serve at 75 mph with no exceptions. I am so tired of exceptions.
     
    #98
  49. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    OK.
    A fast swing on a topspin second serve, so it bounces close to the backboard after going IN. That is over 75mph, that always goes IN.
     
    #99
  50. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Yeah that or the top slice is what every one is going with for consistency.

    Now focus on the mechanical details and show how to make each part and the whole product consistent. Come up with hidden secrets which go beyond the usual cliches used in coaching. Provide a unique insight. Show how to immunize the serve against mental state fluctuations.
     

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