The Serve: Busting misconceptions once and for all

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

  1. treblings

    treblings Hall of Fame

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    i use the drill from the service line to work on some aspects of the technique.
    mainly from the trophy position to the contact point.
    with some players, if they serve from the baseline they either go for too much or are too tense. both inhibit the learning process
    to get them to swing freely, i use the sidefence and let them serve hard against it.
     
  2. treblings

    treblings Hall of Fame

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    i can actually understand surehs decision not to post a video. the man has alienated so many posters over the years that it would be a carnage.

    Lee, you´re often critizised for claiming to be able to serve at high speeds.
    i wonder, have you ever measured your serve speed with a radar gun?
    we did that a few years back at our club, and 100mph is a pretty good speed for club players.
     
  3. treblings

    treblings Hall of Fame

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    yes, i think i get the main points of what you are saying:) although it´s no easy reading for a non-scientist like myself.
    my main concern is always the student, and what i can tell her/him, that can make a difference. sometimes my tips don´t hold up to scientific scrutiny, but i couldn´t care less if they work:)
     
  4. Raul_SJ

    Raul_SJ Professional

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    Every student and instructor needs to allot some of their lesson time to clear the court for the next student.

    Never heard anyone whining about this before.
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2013
  5. treblings

    treblings Hall of Fame

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    i have this fantasy: Sureshs meets Oscar Wegner for an hour-long instruction:)
    i would actually pay money to watch the DVD

    Oscar: "try to feel the ball with your hands"
    sureshs: "don´t i need to supinate my forearm???"

    Oscar: "on the serve, try to lead with your hand"
    sureshs: "does it help if i stand on my toes???"
    (voice from the background: "harder, you have to want to hit harder")

    Oscar: "we need to pick the balls up"
    sureshs: "not on my time, we don´t"

    feel free to run with it:)
     
  6. skiracer55

    skiracer55 Hall of Fame

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    I disagree...

    ...at the 5.0 and above level, you better have a decent serve, or you're, by definition, not at that level. At all levels, serve is still the most important shot. You're not necessarily looking for freebies, although they are nice, but what you're really trying to do is control the point from the start, and a "good serve" equals consistency, pace, placement, or spin, or better yet, all of the above...
     
  7. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Reminds me of the last week of December when I was in Honolulu and took a group clinic. The ball-pick-up situation degenerated pretty fast, with the men trying to avoid it first, then the women, and finally there was one elderly woman doing all the work. It became so bad that the instructor asked us to retrieve the balls after round of feeding, or she wasn't continuing!

    What happened to robotic technology and all those promises?
     
  8. treblings

    treblings Hall of Fame

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    you let one elderly woman do the work for the whole group???
    that is disgusting, shame on you:)
     
  9. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    All of us did it. We vaguely looked the other way, pretending not to understand the difficult task of picking up balls.

    Are YOU going to pick up balls when on vacation in Hawaii? I don't think so.
     
  10. treblings

    treblings Hall of Fame

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    hopefully i have better things to do:)
     
  11. Relinquis

    Relinquis Hall of Fame

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    I visited a friend's club and they had ball boys during one-on-one practice sessions... I thought it was a bit over the top.

    sureshs,
    why don't you try the service line drill and let me know if that helps. start from the trophy position as treblings says (thanks for explaining the rationale behind the drill).

    20 serves from the service line, then tell us what your normal serves from the baseline feel like after that.
     
  12. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Hall of Fame

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    The TV coverage is showing close up high speed video at the Australia Open. Some are excellent for stroke analysis. You can single frame with a DVR (Digital Video Recorder in the digital cable box). On a Motorola controller, hit pause, then each time you hit the pause button again it advances one frame. No single frame going backwards. Are there similar single frame capabilities with other make DVRs and remote controllers?

    They showed a close up of Sharapova's face on a serve. Her eyes appeared locked toward the ball to very close before impact (you could not see the actual ball impact in the frame). Then some distinct part of her motion involving her shoulder seemed to also move her head distinctly & rapidly forward and down looking. I'm sure that she could not possibly see the ball from then on. Point being, as you said, she "almost has to move forward with the serve motion." The head movement occurs over just a few frames in high speed video and it would be impossible to see without high speed video.

    In contrast, my head does not point down as much in my service motion - I can watch impact and the impact area afterwards - possibly because my overall body-trunk position is too vertical, without enough motion (trunk lateral flexion & rotation,etc. ?) and some shoulder action of mine is too abbreviated - I can keep my eye on the ball, the myth.

    Of course, not being young pros, we don't want to injure our necks either so..................
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2013
  13. Relinquis

    Relinquis Hall of Fame

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    Chas Tennis,

    RE: Eyes not on the ball at serve contact. Isn't it a matter of what position allows for the arm to move quickly without putting excess pressure on the shoulder?

    It is very uncomfortable to point straight up at the sky and look at the tip of the index finger while standing upright, shoulders level. Tilting the shoulders by bringing the shoulder of the non-raised arm down, takes off most of the pressure from your shoulder joint, looking away from the index finger allows even more strength at this position.

    My take away i to look at the ball for as long as i can without it straining my shoulder/neck.
     
  14. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Will do the service line drill and let you know. Weather was nasty last night so just hit for an hour.

    OK here is another misconception or fallacy about the serve. For other strokes, the more I play in a given session, the better my strokes get, even up to 3 hours at a stretch. For serves, the first few I hit when I first land up are the best. I am very relaxed. Then I realize what happened, and try to make sure that the next few are equally good, and they are not. As time goes by, the serve does not improve, and even goes south.

    Why?
     
  15. arche3

    arche3 Banned

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    Not enough pracrice and confidence in your serve. Plus possible technique issues will not allow your serve to be consistent and effective. Post a video and we can get to the bottom of it.
     
  16. treblings

    treblings Hall of Fame

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    fascinating.
    i agree on two points. like you i can see the ball contact, and there maybe something lacking in my serve to make that possible. needs more thought and maybe input from others.
    second point i agree is about not being a young pro:)unfortunately so true in my case
     
  17. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Hall of Fame

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    MYTH: Practice, practice your serve to get a strong serve.

    REALITY: If your technique is not effective for a strong serve you will be learning the wrong muscle memory and technique. However, you will probably hit the ball more reproducibly and that may allow you to improve your serve's reliability and pace up to a point. First, learn an effective technique without any biomechanical flaws that would prevent an effective serve. Or hire a well-qualified instructor that can train the proper techniques.

    This is one reason that I hate to practice and avoid it. Maybe an effective practice method using high speed video would be to video just 1 - 3 strokes and immediately look at the videos and analyze them. Find flaws, they are very easy to spot. Make corrections. Repeat. Looking at videos of every 2 or 3 strokes is very, very cumbersome. Is it better to practice for an hour and then to go home and view the videos only to find that you never use leg thrust, or that your wrist has a bend in it that might cause injury.

    For example, I think that this wrist angle at impact is wrong and stressful. This technique might have contributed to the slight wrist pain that I was experiencing at the time that the video was taken. Compare to pro servers wrist angles viewed from behind on other videos.
    http://vimeo.com/21512296

    [​IMG]

    Pro server.
    https://vimeo.com/27528701

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2014
  18. Pet

    Pet Semi-Pro

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    Pronation or not protation?

    ju ju ju
     
  19. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Correct. I used to hit 75 serves from a ball hopper. There are guys who show up every day and hit serves and go home. Their serves are the same as years before, and the guy who just takes two serves before a match or plays FBI and who always had a better serve than them, still has.

    Something has to click and lead to a meaningful change, before the practice becomes useful.
     
  20. treblings

    treblings Hall of Fame

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    one main reason for practice is to improve consistency and/or precision, thereby gaining confidence in your serve and reducing the risk to choke under stress.
    improving your technique isn´t the only reason to practice.
     
  21. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    But it is boring! I want to improve by leaps and bounds with every session.
     
  22. treblings

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    it doesn´t have to be. i try new things frequently and am happy to say my serve has improved significantly over the last year. and i´m playing for 36 years by now. so improvement isn´t common for longterm players like myself.
    last thing i tried was the drill by feeltennis, that was mentioned in this thread here.
    not bad at all, "feels" good, but needs more practice to see, if i might incorporate that particular drill into my regular practice
     
  23. Kevo

    Kevo Hall of Fame

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    Yes, your wrist is being used incorrectly throughout the motion. It's very likely that this would contribute to wrist pain especially when serving aggressively with that technique. Kudos to you for video taping it and correcting it.
     
  24. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    In every single sport around, if you do your best on the first 5 tries, that totally means you have inadaquate practice, are not confident in that shot, and don't have the mental toughness to keep on going.
    EVERY sport, and you know I've done a few.
     
  25. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Your compensation will be based on the usefulness of your comments. Try harder to give some good tips.
     
  26. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Only tip I'm giving up there is that you don't have any base for serving.
    If your best serves are within your first 5, you have no serve inside you.
    Hit more serves, but try practicing them and not just going thru the motions.
    Practice pace and location, to each of the 3 quadrants.
     
  27. arche3

    arche3 Banned

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    Hire john yandel to video you?
     
  28. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Just post a vid, from behind, about 7' up off the court, showing the ball landing and the backboard.
     
  29. WildVolley

    WildVolley Legend

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    This is a good idea. If you can't afford that, have some one else video tape you or set up a camera on a tripod.

    If you want to improve rapidly you need to have a realistic assessment of what you are currently doing. A coach will point out what you are doing wrong, but you can coach yourself if you use the video. Break a few bad habits and improvement can be rapid.
     
  30. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    One of the friendly Filipino 4.5 guys is helping me. He advised staying completely sideways right from the beginning (legs and waist at 45 degrees), but that is not working for me (ad court is worse). Then I posted here and someone clarified that the starting position need not always be sideways. He has a good serve, but both of his serves are spinny second serves. I am taller than him, I may have other options.
     
  31. President

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    Suresh from reading the threads in this section of the forum it seems like you vastly overcomplicate these really simple concepts. It's really not THAT hard, and thinking too much about pronation and back arch can be counterproductive, especially if you are 4.0 level player. Just toss the ball up and utilizing the kinetic chain make clean contact for a flat first serve...
     
  32. treblings

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    sureshs has a couple of problems.

    one, he doesn´t like to practice.

    two, as you point out, he overcomplicates things.

    three, he is allergic to coaching.

    makes it difficult to help him, i´ve pretty much given up at this stage
     
  33. TheCheese

    TheCheese Professional

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    Are there any videos of suresh hitting?
     
  34. treblings

    treblings Hall of Fame

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    you´re right about the angle of the wrist. makes sense that it´s the reason for your wrist pain.

    the old saying that practice makes perfect is wrong, imo.
    practice of perfection makes perfect

    there is a difference between understanding a technical detail on your serve and being able to change it effectively.
    last summer i worked with a very good senior player who was unhappy with his serve. it was a weapon alright, but with a tendency to break down in a match. he couldn´t figure out why, and for me observing him from the outside it was clear from the beginning. his toss was erratic and too much to the right side, leading to a less than optimal contact point.
    after some explanation and an hour of practice the improvement was clearly visible and he was happy.
    he said that he would practice the toss by himself and didn´t take another lesson, as he figured he now knew the problem.
    six months later he approached me again, because his serve hasn´t improved as much as he had hoped.
    bottom line, it looks the same as before, no change at all.
    we now work on a weekly basis.

    his problem obviously is his muscle memory as you said in your post.
    he has a less than optimal serve action but it feels right for him, and the improved action doesn´t. also, the body and mind tend to resist change.
    the mind tricks you into believing that the change is huge, while in reality it is minute.
    i try to work around that by doing lots of drills, that are not exactly serves.
    for example i let him serve into the side fence, or from the service line, or start him from the trophy position,...,
    what that accomplishes is, now it´s something different, and his mind doesn´t resist the new motion as much

    sorry for the long post, couldn´t stop myself:)
     
  35. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    What happened to Oscar? He asked me to start this thread and then never showed up. He was supposed to be moving, but isn't that part of footwork or is it not?
     
  36. TheCheese

    TheCheese Professional

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    Yeah, I'd love to see Oscar's thoughts on the serve. He had some great insights on forehand technique.
     
  37. TomT

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    You're looking for something over 75mph with a high % in right? There's always
    gonna be the occasional "exception".

    I get about 75-85% of my serves in. DF 0-3 per match. Aces ~ 6 per match.

    matchplay, about 80-83mph I'd guess:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v2SlPsVFVQE

    practice, about the same:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4D8vs4jQ4e0

    matchplay, a little slower on some but still over 75mph:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MgUkTtJsDsc
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2013
  38. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Thanks. I would say, on the average, my serves would be slightly lower speed than yours, and about the same number of faults. I am guessing the second bounce is very close to the fence and low on most of the serves. I might be getting more depth and height on some serves.

    However, you seem to have a down the T slice which is very fast and accurate.
     
  39. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    Another tip. Get your toss consistent and focus on the racquet drop by using an abreviated serve.
     
  40. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    I have tried that. I could not get any rhythm in an abbreviated action.
     
  41. Bobby Jr

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    Serving a hopper of balls in my experience is not the most productive way to hone serving skills once you're past a certain level. I think factoring in the real-life breaks/activity that happen between serves - the point itself and picking up balls etc - is an important aspect of developing a reliable rhythm on serve.

    I practice my serve with just 4-6 balls. I serve them as I would in a match: 1st serve, 2nd serve, swap sides... then I run to the other end of the court, collect the balls and then repeat.

    If you repeat this a couple of dozen times you'll see how it helps - you learn your pre-routine, serving routine, have more similar little breaks in rhythm and variations in how puffed you are etc that you have in real world situations.

    Doing that for half an hour for me has been far more productive than serving a whole hopper - even though I serve probably 1/3 the amount of balls.
     
  42. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    Yep, I do the exact same thing.
     
  43. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Very important to practice serves when you're winded like in match play.
    That way, you can time your breathe, like a shooter, for precise body alignment.
     
  44. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Played singles and doubles for 3 hours. Very nice serves. 1 DF overall.

    On Tuesday night when I rush back from work, the story will be different. At that time, my body will feel uncomfortable and tense.
     
  45. luvforty

    luvforty Banned

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    you take work too seriously... look, the **** is never gonna end, so it doesn't matter how much you do.
     
  46. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    That is exactly what I do before every match if I get there earlier! It forces me to serve from both sides, and to run around and pick up the balls. All providing exercise, which is the final goal. And it does not require me to haul a hopper (though that would be great exercise too......).
     
  47. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Today my focus was on moving the hips forward. So natural with the knee bend.

    But will this effortlessness return on a working day?
     
  48. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    I need to check my work email on every changeover till about 8 pm and sometimes shoot off a short reply saying I will look into it tonight. It is just how it is. And I have it easy compared to others.
     
  49. luvforty

    luvforty Banned

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    i don't understand, if you so busy, how come posting so much here?
     
  50. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Multitasking
     

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