'Waiter's tray' - Definition? What is the arm position?

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by Chas Tennis, Dec 31, 2012.

  1. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Hall of Fame

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    'Waiter's Tray Error'- Definition? What is the arm position?

    Is there an internet definition of the 'Waiter's Tray Error'(WTE) on the serve that matches most TW forum usage of this term?

    Website description
    http://www.hi-techtennis.com/serve/big_l_student.php

    The 'Waiter's Tray' Error involves not having the desired 'edge on' racket orientation at some point in the serving sequence. At which point?

    The effective 'edge on' racket orientation allows the arm-wrist-racket face to freely rotate as it approaches impact.
    [​IMG]
    'Edge-On' racket face when arm becomes straight. One frame later at 240 fps the racket face has turned noticeably toward the ball impact orientation. Very rapid.

    I have assumed that the 'Waiter's Tray Error' applies also just after the arm becomes straight - in final position for the internal shoulder rotation and wrist joint motions that take the racket from about 90° to the arm to the beta angle at impact (20-35°?) and provide 90%? of racket face velocity. With this view the WTE is transitory, dynamic because the elbow has just rapidly extended and other body joints are also moving. The desired 'edge on' or WTE probably only last a short time. But with WTE the racket really does not turn as rapidly as it does with the 'edge on' orientation. Does WTE also occur when the arm becomes straight?

    Earlier in the service motion the racket face might be facing up in a similar way to WTE and that is OK, I guess?

    These issues probably involve the sequence of supination and pronation as well as other joint motions. ??

    Speculating - Maybe the 'Waiter Tray Error' occurs because the server has a misconception and believes that he has to swat-swing at the ball instead of using axial rotation of the arm. ? I had that misconception until last year too but have never had much tendency to do the WTE.
     
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2012
    #1
  2. dominikk1985

    dominikk1985 Legend

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    Isn't that the "house wife serve" (grip it like a frying pan and push it over)?
     
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  3. rkelley

    rkelley Hall of Fame

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    Waiter's tray refers to a racquet position during the serve where the face is parallel to the ground and the racquet is pointing backwards at the beginning of the forward swing. The racquet could act as a "waiter's tray" holding food and drinks. The racquet face sweeps up 90° to impact.

    You usually get this position by using an E. fh grip on the serve. The serves can be quite fast, well into the 100 mph range, but they'll rarely go in at that speed because this type of serve produces no spin on the ball. The window between getting it over the net and hitting long is almost zero. The waiter's tray also telegraphs the direction of the serve so the receiver can start moving to where the serve is going before the ball is even struck (10s of milliseconds, but at +100 mph that much time counts).

    Also, since this type of swing can't produce much spin, there person likely has no second serve to speak of, so they have to bunt it over.
     
    #3
  4. slowfox

    slowfox Professional

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    I always figured it was simply because people were not using the continental grip.
     
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  5. luvforty

    luvforty Banned

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    yeah the housewife serve is the most common waiter tray.. but recent thread from JackB also shows that a conti grip with improper racket drop can also cause the tray.
     
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  6. user92626

    user92626 Legend

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    Questions for all you guys..
    What image or concept do you imagine for your racket to contact the ball?

    I mean..is it that for direction: the racket goes from back fence to the general direction of where you want to ball the land? Or from back/left to forward/right?

    Visualize the racket face must be squarely open at contact point?

    Hit the ball (clock face) from 7 to 1?

    Intent to align body, shoulder in a certain way?

    Or what?
     
    #6
  7. luvforty

    luvforty Banned

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    momentum rarely goes towards the target.... depends on what you wonna do.

    my 1st serve is a hard slice, racket path goes about 30-45 degrees from the target line.... 2nd serve has more spin, racket goes 50-80 degrees from the target line.
     
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  8. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    I've seen the waiter's tray position (first) manifested at different phases of the service motion for different servers. Some players will exhibit the waiter's tray at the "trophy" phase of their motion; while others will have something resembling a somewhat conventional trophy phase/position, but then improperly drop the racket to a waiter's tray position. Both of these will often be a result of a lack of proper supination of the forearm. An improper extension of the wrist (or an improperly timed wrist c0ck) can also be part of the problem.

    [​IMG]

    A third possibility for a waiter's tray error can happen some time after the racket head drop. In some cases, the forearm may have been supinated earlier in the motion but then is pronated too early resulting in a waiter's tray at the "big L" phase (where the arm has become full extended but the racket is still more-or-less parallel to the ground). There are also some players who exhibit a waiter's tray but never get to the "big L" because they never straighten then arm on the upward swing. Other aberrant serve motions (in addition to the ones I've mentioned here) may also result in a waiter's tray error.

    http://www.hi-techtennis.com/serve/waiter_student.php
    .
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2013
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  9. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Hall of Fame

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    Visualizing ball contact -

    Experiment - I have found just using my hand and no racket that if I visualize the impact orientation that I want and simulate a service/similar motion to impact, the hand can reproducibly impact at the desired angle after just a few practice tries. For example, stand and imagine that you are to hit a ball and want to hit the back square on or at some other angle. You then practice and in a few tries the amazing system seems to be doing it very accurately. The natural visualization system is very capable. However, I'm not doing the full and free rotation with a racket as on the serve.

    Knowing exactly where I want to impact with the racket for a serve is much more difficult. I don't trust my interpretation of the simple descriptions, for example, the '1 to 7' o'clock' path (kick serve). The stroke for the kick serve seems much more complicated than the '1 to 7' or similar description.

    Believe this to be a kick serve.
    https://vimeo.com/40449544

    How do I visualize this motion as I serve looking up at some angle? I've decided not to practice until I better understand. The face of the racket is really changing and how the server would perceive the racket face orientation in not clear. Is it squarely across the back of the ball or hitting the top half of the ball due to path and racket face rotation? Does Stosur see her racket face as traveling 1 to 7?

    This motion seems simpler and the racket vertical orientation at impact is shown. Serve type unknown.
    https://vimeo.com/53440915

    However, video camera views from the side or behind always show only two dimensions and never the direction toward or away from the camera. It is easy to misinterpret 3D object locations using 2D video.

    To complicate things, I'm not sure that the pros look at the ball at impact for the serve. If I'm looking at the ball at impact have I screwed up my body position or motion? See videos above at impact. See Reply #9.
    http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=442804

    In serving during a match I abbreviate or leave out components of the service motion. Very often I'm not using the full edge-on racket orientation. I sometimes notice and change it and see an immediate pace increase on the serve.

    The comments have been very helpful. The rkelley and SystemicAnomaly comments bring home the point that the WTE can precede the straight arm step.

    I have not had a mental picture of supination during the serve or noticed it very much in videos. Maybe I've had more WTE than I thought in most of my serves and early supination might play a part. ?
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2013
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  10. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Waiter's tray is a wrist and hand position noted at the trophy position. What happens afterwards becomes a SORT of waiter's tray by the loop of the swing.
    If you start in a waiter's tray, you can be more consistent, but you lose out on the loop of the racket for power and rackethead speed.
    Waiter's tray can be seen with any grip.
     
    #10
  11. JackB1

    JackB1 G.O.A.T.

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    thanks for the credits :)
     
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  12. JackB1

    JackB1 G.O.A.T.

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    so here is the question....at what point SHOULD the racquet and palm MOMENTARILY point to the sky? Because it HAS to at some point in the serve as you start the forward part of the swing.
     
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  13. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    No...it comes in on edge like a hatchet, then irs pronates the racket head to
    accel it and face it to the ball.
     
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  14. JackB1

    JackB1 G.O.A.T.

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    watch this video referenced above
    http://vimeo.com/53440915

    I believe its Raonic. Freeze it at .04 and you see his palm facing the sky.
     
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  15. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    I see your point, but the key is that position is not necessary, and what you see at
    .05, with it coming on edge is.
     
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  16. luvforty

    luvforty Banned

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    both ways are possible...

    at the trophy position, if the racket faces the right fence, then it will face the sky momentarily during the transition into the back scratch racket drop.

    at the trophy position, if the racket faces the opponent, then it doesn't need to see the sky at all (Edberg is one example)
     
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  17. JackB1

    JackB1 G.O.A.T.

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    #17
  18. JackB1

    JackB1 G.O.A.T.

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    this was exactly my point
     
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  19. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    Really?
    Racket may or may not ever point to the sky during transition, but on your
    serve the problem is you move the racket face towards the contact in that
    inefficient position.
     
    #19
  20. luvforty

    luvforty Banned

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    Jack - 5263 is right... after the racket drop, the face doesnt see the sky during the swing up to the ball.
     
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  21. moopie

    moopie Rookie

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    Hey Jack, interesting question. As your video and picture evidence shows, the palm does face straight up for a moment as the racket drops behind the head. But at the same time never does the racket face actually become a "waiter's tray" because if it was a waiter's tray all the drinks would fall off.

    So for your question, I'd say the palm while the racket is behind the head, but never the racket face, at least not straight up.

    Thinking about it some more, in a continental grip, the palm and the face of the racket are not facing the same way. That would be an eastern forehand grip.
     
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  22. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    Yeah, I agree that 5263 is correct on this. While the palm may face the sky for some servers on the racket head drop, it does not happen on the upward/forward swing for elite players at all.
     
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  23. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    Very observant points, imho.

    I'm a 3.0 player. Here's a couple vids of my serves. In the first, I don't think I'm getting into the waiter position. In the second, I think I am. But it's very fleeting because I have a very fast and fluid motion.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8T6PIuxavp8

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

    But, contrary to what you say, I do have a very effective second serve. No bunting it over. It's almost as fast as my first serve, and generally sliced. Very unusual for my level of play, and very effective. For example:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v2SlPsVFVQE
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2013
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  24. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    Agree. Though I'm a comptetitively low level player, I think I do have a fairly good classic serving motion. In looking again at my serves, I notice that even though I sometimes get into the waiter position, it's quite transitory, and on the upswing the racquet face is perpendicular to the plane of the court. This all happens very fast because I don't have a conventional modern serving style, but rather a very quick classic serving style.
     
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  25. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    You don't do it in a way I would call you on it.
     
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  26. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    :) Ok, but I think I have a pretty good idea what to do to improve both the velocity and spin of my serve. It's just that my current physical capabilities are hampering the realization of that. :)
     
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  27. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Hall of Fame

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    Good find JackB1.

    Can most of us agree point-by-point to these? --

    1) Edge-On. That having the racket edge-on toward the impact point just after the arm is up & straight is a common characteristic of the current strongest servers. We can check this point in high speed videos of pros.

    2) WTE. Having the racket face facing the sky after the arm is up & straight is not a characteristic of current strong servers. We can check this point in high speed videos.

    3) Not WTE. Some combination of grip and joint motions might have the racket face pointing toward the sky prior to the arm's being up & straight for the strongest servers (as JackB1 proved). This point could be checked farther in high speed videos. But JackB1's frame looks good and we might assume that we could find more examples, some maybe with timing variation on when the racket face faces the sky.

    4) WTE. We might agree that with the arm up & straight and a racket face facing the sky that - at that point - we have Waiter's Tray Error.

    5) Possible WTE. The grips and sequence of joint motions that occur at times before the arm is up & straight are not so obvious and we need more research and description for WTE to become clear and unambiguous.

    6) WTE Cause? The most important and interesting thing is the murky sequence of joint motions preceding the time when the arm is up & straight..................
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2013
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  28. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Hall of Fame

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    CORRECTION: I looked at the slow motion of your first two videos again and now see that your upper arm looks in line with the line between your shoulders. Your elbow has a considerable angle in it.......

    Have you seen the Todd Ellenbecker video on the shoulder, serving and minimizing impingement risk? The angle between the line between your shoulders and your upper arm might be too large in my opinion.

    Check out the Ellenbecker video. Search in the TW Health & Fitness forum: Ellenbecker + shoulder + impingement.

    I wish I had your slice serve....
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2013
    #28
  29. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    Seems large angle is good....am I getting it backwards?
     
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  30. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Momentary tray position during the moving loop is fine, if it's momentary and moving.
    Trophy starts with both racket and toss hand up towards the sky.
     
    #30
  31. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Hall of Fame

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    -------duplicate------
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2013
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  32. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Hall of Fame

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    See correction in reply #8.

    Best to view the Ellenbecker video as I could misinterpret. At minute 8 he describes the shoulder orientation to minimize the risk of impingement.

    http://www.tennisresources.com/index.cfm?area=video_detail&vidid=3712&ATT=&reso=hi

    Think of the line between the two shoulders and the line of the upper arm. If those lines fell in a straight line, the angle is 180°, and the shoulder internally rotates (upper arm axial rotation) well and impingement risk is low. As the upper arm rises relative to the shoulders the risk increases. I have read that 170° is still OK. Let's say that it is higher than recommended, at 150° for example - then there is more risk of impingement.

    You can also visualize the angle by extending the shoulder-shoulder line and considering the complementary angle. Then for example, 0° is upper arm straight out, 10° is the upper arm up slightly and still OK, 30° is the upper arm up and at increased risk of impingement.

    I see many players serving well beyond the 10°.

    The shoulder orientation requires lateral trunk flexion which may stress the back for some people.
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2013
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  33. luvforty

    luvforty Banned

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

    pat explains this issue well.

    and like Chas said.... which one is the bigger evil, do you kill your back to go chest up, or do you kill your shoulder otherwise. lol.
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2013
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  34. JackB1

    JackB1 G.O.A.T.

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    I wonder if my serve grip is slipping towards Eastern as I serve and not staying in Continental? Interesting point about it being impossible to have both pointing up unless you are in Eastern.
     
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  35. JackB1

    JackB1 G.O.A.T.

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    So is that the "key"? Not to let the palm face up on the forward/upward part of the serve?
     
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  36. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Hall of Fame

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    In my interpretation of the Ellenbecker video the issue involves putting the ball of the humerus and attached tissue (supraspinatus tendon, bursa sack?...) in a more confined space under the acromion and then doing the very violent and perhaps sometimes wobbly internal shoulder rotation as shown in this serve video.
    https://vimeo.com/27528701

    The space under the acromion is more confined if the upper arm is high and at the wrong angle.

    Acromion illustrations
    https://www.google.com/search?q=acr...JIcmw0AG13IGoBg&ved=0CD0QsAQ&biw=1312&bih=703

    Are there any Pat Dougherty videos where he discusses the part played by 'internal shoulder rotation' on the serve?
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2013
    #36
  37. JackB1

    JackB1 G.O.A.T.

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    I thought the racquet face should be facing the side fence at Trophy pose?
     
    #37
  38. Dimcorner

    Dimcorner Professional

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    I'm totally lost on these positions without pictures :\
     
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  39. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    ^ Which positions are you referrring to? There are a couple of images and links on the first page of this thread.

    I would think of it as having the racket head moving on-edge as it moves upward from the racket head drop (upward from the so-called, back scratch). It is still on-edge at the "big L". As the racket head moves upward from there, the orientation of the racket face changes with forearm pronation (and ISR). If you lead with the edge on the way up from the "scratch" loop, the palm will never face upward.

    Note that a semi-continental grip (between the conti and the Easter Fh grip) can also be employed without committing a WTE. Boris Becker, Serena Williams and others have used this grip on first serves w/o a WTE issue.
     
    #39
  40. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Hall of Fame

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    There are many illustrations in the links in this thread.

    Many threads involve discussions and arguments by interested and observant parties that involve poorly defined terms like WTE that are defined somehow in the collective tennis wisdom................

    In this thread see reply #162.
    http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=448202&page=6

    The first illustration with the arm up gets my vote as to what Waiter's Tray Error is or should be - a significant and wrong orientation of the racket face that ruins the service motion flow and significantly slows racket head speed. Obviously, the error began before this arm up position......... See SystemicAnomaly Reply #7 for a crystal clear illustration of the arm up racket orientation.

    The next two pro illustrations in the other thread with labels "1" and "2" show the racket faces also oriented to the sky but appear to be earlier during the service motion. They are called by Toly also Waiter's Tray. JackB1 found the same orientation in relpy #17 in this thread. Other people in this thread are discussing other racket head positions and whether they consider them to be WTE. Since some bad serves and some strong serves have the racket face point to the sky at various points during the motion, it is difficult to resolve the discussion. Good luck if you want illustrations for all the possible WTEs.

    I started this thread to discuss what Waiter's Tray means or should mean and to get a location in the service motion at which WTE is/should be defined.
     
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2013
    #40
  41. Dimcorner

    Dimcorner Professional

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    Ok the last post and link cleared it up quite a bit.
    Thanks!
     
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  42. Dimcorner

    Dimcorner Professional

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    Ok dumb question... where is the button to edit thread?
     
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  43. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Hall of Fame

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    I looked for it too for a long time. Then someone told me 'Edit' only appears after you have posted 50 replies. Sure enough I saw Edit appear after 50 replies as described. You also have to be logged in to see it.
     
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2013
    #43
  44. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    As you note in your first (red type) sentence, my upper (serving) arm is more or less aligned with my shoulders. As my serving arm goes up to the point of contact, I've tilted enough to keep the upper arm aligned with the shoulders. Which is what Ellenbecker recommends to minimize the risk of impingement. Which accords with the fact that I've never had any shoulder problems.

    But yes my (serving) elbow is somewhat bent. I suppose that if I was able to tilt a little more, then there would be less bend at the elbow at contact (ie., upper and lower arm more aligned, closer to 180 degrees between upper and lower arm).

    Apparently the elbow bend is also within acceptable limits because I've never had any elbow problems either.

    http://www.tennisresources.com/index...2&ATT=&reso=hi

    Thanks for the video and comments.
     
    #44
  45. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    I think there might be a happy medium that produces effective serves while minimizing the risk of injury. I've been experimenting recently with trying to get my chest pointing a little more up.

    Nice vid. Thanks.
     
    #45
  46. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Hall of Fame

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    You seem to get some very good serves.

    "Apparently the elbow bend is also within acceptable limits because I've never had any elbow problems either."

    Your technique is different than the high level serves.

    I will say that I was using a slightly similar arm arrangement - straight upper arm and ~90° elbow flexion to try and add pace to my volley (the line between the shoulders was about parallel to the ground). I used very forceful internal shoulder rotation. In just a few volleys I tore the tendon associated with Golfer's Elbow. Played on it some days later and tore it farther with a burst of pain. However, the moment of inertia of my forearm and racket was much greater with the elbow bent at 90° than your serving technique with a small angle between the upper arm and the forearm-racket. Much more stress on my ill-advised technique. I would stay aware of stressing your tendon where the GE injury occurs. Stop immediately if you get an acute injury. If you feel any discomfort at the GE location reconsider changing your particular bent arm technique.
     
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2013
    #46
  47. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    Not that similar to my arm arrangement at contact (which is upper arm within ~ 10 degrees of alignment with the shoulders, and lower arm within ~ 15 degrees of alignment with the upper arm -- a much smaller angle than the ~ 90 degree elbow flexion you were experimenting with, as you note below).

    No doubt. Thanks for mentioning this, because prior to reading this (and watching the Ellenbecker vid) I was actually thinking about experimenting as you did (increased elbow flexion to impart greater force at contact ... but with the serve, not the volley).

    Sorry if this discussion has been a slight bit off-topic, but I'm thankful for it because it has probably prevented me from injuring my arm.

    For sure. But, as noted above, my arm really isn't very bent at contact. The motion doesn't seem to stress the shoulder or elbow at all. It seems I've found a happy medium between effectiveness (for, say, 3.0 to 4.0 level) and risk of injury.
     
    #47
  48. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Hall of Fame

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    When I look at your first video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8T6PIuxavp8

    At 14 sec, around impact, which is hard to see, I would say that the angle between your forearm and your upper arm is much larger than 15°, guessing roughly 40°. Also, your upper arm may have a more forward angle to it relative to the line between the shoulders.

    Keep in mind also that the camera is showing you a 2D projection of the 3D space so things can be deceptive, especially shortened, etc.. What camera and frame rate were you using and can you set a faster shutter?

    It looks as if you stretch the internal shoulder rotator muscles very cleanly with external shoulder rotation. Sec 7-12.

    Anyhow, some serving technique observations for you to research.
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2013
    #48
  49. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    Yes, I think this is much closer than my original guess. But I think that contact is happening during the 15 sec interval. The angle between forearm and upper arm is continually decreasing during the swing, and I now guess it to be between 30 and 40 degrees, which, apparently, is producing no inordinate stress on anything.

    Sony Cybershot, 30 fps is the max I think. Yeah, better camera and multiple perspectives would be good.

    Thanks Chas Tennis.

    And returning to your OP, I was a little worried that I might be doing a waiter's tray position on some serves, but apparently it's fleeting enough when it happens that it's not a problem. I guess it might be a problem if I had a more modern style serving motion, but I doubt that I'll ever be able to do a good modern style serving motion.
     
    #49
  50. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Hall of Fame

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    Serves viewed from above.

    Fuzzy Yellow Balls has many Youtube high speed videos of serves where the camera views from above the server.

    For example,
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G1a7Qq0eljU

    In the high level serve shown the racket faces the sky briefly earlier in the service motion. When the arm is up and straight the racket has the edge-on orientation toward the ball. Similar observations for YT FYB kick serve. Others?

    [It is difficult to do stop-action single-frame on YT. I get the best results pressing the play-pause button as fast as possible.]

    If we had these camera views for the pros they would be ideal for answering another question - How often are the pros looking at the ball at impact? I now don't believe that they look at the ball at impact.
    http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=442804
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2013
    #50

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