Weight transfer serving same as throwing upwards?

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by HughJars, Apr 28, 2013.

  1. HughJars

    HughJars Professional

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2013
    Messages:
    1,069
    Im having real trouble incorperating the throwing action right in my serving. Ive played a lot of ball sports all my life so throwing is second nature, and am wondering to what extent does throwing a ball upwards at an angle of about 50 degrees mimic the serve in terms of weight transfer. Should I be taking this throwing mentality into my serving? At the moment the two have been pretty much mutually exclusive.

    I asked about this in another thread, but wanted to create a specific one so I can get as much exposure for feedback and advice as possible.

    Cheers
     
    #1
  2. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2008
    Messages:
    36,403
    Location:
    East side of San Francisco Bay
    Think, throwing for distance, not like a pitcher or SS, but like a javelin thrower.
    Toss direction for best practice is around 35 degrees upwards from horizontal, so you finish your serve/throwing motion before 12 o'clock above your shoulder.
     
    #2
  3. TennisCJC

    TennisCJC Legend

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2010
    Messages:
    5,361
    I think serving is very, very much like pitching a baseball. See Nick B's sonic serve video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ajoZ0f7hw-A

    This video is a better example too: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6EFWB18kPWY

    I had a left partner for a number of years who pitched collegiately D1 and he developed a good serve.

    Next time you practice serving, put down your racket and put a tennis ball in your racket hand. Go thru your service motion and throw the tennis ball smoothly up through the contact point. The ball should go high and forward. Repeat 5 or 6 times. Then shadow stroke serve with racket in hand and think of throwing the racket head up through contact.

    Then practice serving and continue to think throw the racket head up and into contact.

    Get your racket hand outside of the ball at contact and think throw up and through the ball on an 8 to 2 o'clock racket path and you should have the making of a good top/slice serve.

    Disclaimner: I am not a coach so if I screw your game up it's your own fault for listening to me. But, I think this is pretty solid advice.
     
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2013
    #3
  4. Lukhas

    Lukhas Legend

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2013
    Messages:
    6,527
    Location:
    France
    Yes it is. Or so it worked for me. I used to throw the racquet forward, in the direction I want to serve. It makes sense, right? But the results were:
    -Lots of power;
    -Lower toss;
    -****-poor net clearance;
    -Lower angles that made the ball being long most of the time;
    -Shoulder pain/cramping (but that may just be me).
    And since I'm not tall, I couldn't sustain such a motion.

    Then I decided to experiment, look at some videos, and throw upward. Much better net clearance, better angles so the ball doesn't go long as much, no pain, higher toss, automatic leg drive (don't even notice it).

    So IMO yes it's like throwing your racquet to the ball instead of the direction where you wanna serve.
     
    #4
  5. HunterST

    HunterST Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2009
    Messages:
    3,412
    I think the upward throw bit is overrated advice.

    It's great for people who have a problem with making their serve to linear (not getting their chest pointed up, shoulders sloped, etc.) For people that have a decent trophy pose, though, the upward throw visualization doesn't help a ton.

    If you pronated on the serve exactly like someone who was throwing upwards, your racket face would be open and contact and send the ball way long.
     
    #5
  6. TennisCJC

    TennisCJC Legend

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2010
    Messages:
    5,361
    I disagree - you hit up brushing the ball up - you don't pronate to flaten your racket face so it points straight at the sky. But, it works for me and if it doesn't work for you, that's fine too. Too exaggerate the point, you can actually have a very slightly closed racket face at contact and still be hitting up - basically, the racket head is going up and the strings are pointing toward the target.
     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2013
    #6
  7. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2008
    Messages:
    36,403
    Location:
    East side of San Francisco Bay
    It's possible HunterST missed the meaning of swinging or throwing upwards.
    My explanation means to swing or throw the ball 35 degrees upwards, not straight up.
    The reason.... All the posted vids of serving show the server uses about 1/3 of the swing before hitting the ball, and about 2/3 after hitting the ball.
    Should be close to 50/50.
    The followthru is too long, the pre hit swing is too short. The power is applied after the ball is hit.
    That explains the high elbow, high hand finish of the top servers who point their rackets at the ground after contact, but their elbow and hand is above their head! This shortens the finish, and in effect, lengthens the pre hit.
    If you intend to hit the ball just in front of your shoulders, you will be applying the power too late.
     
    #7
  8. Nellie

    Nellie Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2004
    Messages:
    3,773
    I think the serve is **entirely** about maximizing speed/power up. What is tricky is that you are not really trying to hit up at the ball. Rather, you are throwing everything up but holding on to the racquet so that, at the top of your swing, you whip the racquet forward forward because your arm/shoulder can't go up any more.
     
    #8
  9. HughJars

    HughJars Professional

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2013
    Messages:
    1,069
    Last night I worked on my serves. Put my Extreme Pro 2.0 back in the bag and got my old racket old, cos man, the Pro has being giving me some major shoulder and elbow pain. Using my old racket felt like home again. Anyway, thats another story.

    I did some ball throws really trying to incorperate the action into my serving. At first the serves were going AWOL, but eventually I managed to tame them well.

    I made a commitment to myself that I wasn't going to hit any serves into the net, therefore eliminating half the problem with my consistency in the first place. Probably the most major aspect I took from the throwing mentality was focussing on brushing upwards. Up the mountain. Combining with other things Ive been focussing on including keeping my non hitting up arm up longer, and keeping my feet still and stable until after contact.

    The result was I had a serving consistency of around 70%.
     
    #9
  10. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2008
    Messages:
    36,403
    Location:
    East side of San Francisco Bay
    Be aware, practicing serve percentage and match play percentage often conflict and contradict each other.
    While you can certainly have decent serving percentage in practice, match play often brings it down about 2/3rds, giving you few first serves and a whole soul searching head game to counter.
    Lots of good players practice first serves with just 2 balls, then jog over to the other side, retrieve, and serve again while still winded somewhat.
     
    #10
  11. taurussable

    taurussable Professional

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2012
    Messages:
    1,295
    what's advantage practice serving with only 2 balls?
     
    #11
  12. Lukhas

    Lukhas Legend

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2013
    Messages:
    6,527
    Location:
    France
    You're more focused on the two balls you have in your hand. Quality over quantity. Just because it's more bothersome to go search two other balls after a failure (double-fault) than after two good serve.

    The other reason (and the most likely one) is that you have two balls like you have during match play. A first and a second serve. Good habit to take.
     
    #12
  13. 10nisne1

    10nisne1 New User

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2011
    Messages:
    47
    Mainly from letting you get into too much of a rhythm. You normally only get 2 serves per point unless you get a let.

    I also use 2 - 3 balls so I don't blow out my arm when practicing serves. Gives me some time to rest the arm when walking over the other side to pick up the balls.

    10

     
    #13
  14. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2006
    Messages:
    11,059
    Location:
    Stuck in the Matrix somewhere in Santa Clara CA
    Not sure where these 35 and 50 degree launch angles are coming from. Most of the upward swing is 60 degree or greater. Take a looks at the images below. When the racket head first comes out of the "scratch" loop it is going straight up (90 degrees). For a while the angle is about 75 degrees and then moves up at about 60 degrees for much of the upward swing (as seen in the Sampras serve). It is only just the last few milliseconds (perhaps centi-seconds) just immediately prior to contact that this angle decreases.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
    #14
  15. 10nisne1

    10nisne1 New User

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2011
    Messages:
    47
    Going back to the OP's original topic. I think the main reason for the throwing the ball up motion is basically try and obtain leverage.

    For example, if you were to look at someone from the side just throwing a baseball or a football, the release point of the ball will be between 10 to 11 o'clock position, where 12 o'clock is right above your head. The reason why you release between 10 to 11 o'clock is because your arm needs a little bit of momentum for the fastest throw. The main point is that your release point is past your head, not right over your head or behind your head.

    Your arm also needs a little bit of momentum for a tennis serve. However, depending on how tall you are, for a tennis serve, you want to make contact with the ball between 11 to 12 o'clock position. By "bowing" or arching your your back and having your chest point up towards the ball as if trying to "throw the ball up", it allows you to make contact past the your head even if the contact point is at 12 o'clock from the side view. The arm has traveled to the 10 to 11 o'clock position relative to your head (your head being at the 12 o'clock position), but your contact points look to be at 12 o'clock if you were observing from the side.

    I know this isn't probably the best explanation, but it's early for me for a weekend. :)

    Good luck!

    10
     
    #15
  16. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2006
    Messages:
    11,059
    Location:
    Stuck in the Matrix somewhere in Santa Clara CA
    ^ Some good points there. Note that the upper back arches somewhat to facilitate the upward drive the chest. However, we should not attempt too much arch, if any, of the lower back.

    Take a look at where the contact point is for a serve. The racket must move upward at a steep angle for the required contact point. Being able to throw a ball (or racket) upward with the dominant hand should also facilitate a deep racket head drop for the serve. A low launch angle would not necessarily require a deep racket drop. This is sometimes seen with overheads at the net where the contact point is considerably further forward than it is for the serve.
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2013
    #16
  17. boramiNYC

    boramiNYC Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2011
    Messages:
    2,361
    throwing upwards and serving are different. the initial upward travel of racquet makes it appear they are the same but the real important portion of the motion is the contact point. at CP force should be directed towards the target which is low in the service box. all the preceding upward motion serves to maximize the directed force at contact. simplifying serve motion further and further will reveal how different it is from throwing upward, which has no directed force downward nor near horizontal.
     
    #17
  18. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2006
    Messages:
    11,059
    Location:
    Stuck in the Matrix somewhere in Santa Clara CA
    ^ Yes, of course there are differences -- but it does help. I throw a ball better with my right arm than my left. However, my left-handed serves are better than my right-handed serves. Throwing (old) rackets upward (in the park) might be a bit more useful that throwing balls upward. I seem to be a lot better at throwing rackets upward left-handed than throwing balls lefty.

    Note that most servers do not actually hit downward on the ball for the serve. Even if the racket face is slightly closed at contact, the racket (& hand) are usually still moving upward during the contact phase. Also, most of the upward swing is still at a steep upward angle. When we throw balls (or rackets) upward, we release it slightly early. If we release the ball (or racket) late, it will go down even tho' most of the throwing action was upward.
    .
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2013
    #18
  19. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2011
    Messages:
    4,275
    Location:
    Baltimore, MD
    Both Baseball Pitch & Tennis Serve use the Same Final Drive Motion

    Maybe this relates to the throwing & tennis serve connection -

    The baseball pitch and the serve both use the same motion to develop the final high baseball speed and final high racket head speed.

    Baseball pitch
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y2PBLcp9tWM

    At 46, 58 and 1:10 you can clearly see Tim Lincecum's upper arm rotate and especially his biceps flop around violently right afterward. (2500 fps?)

    Overhead view of baseball pitch. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p8s1KbK1eaI

    Tennis Serve
    https://vimeo.com/66720415

    Look for the biceps of Raonic to flop around after impact in a similar manner to the Lincecum pitch.

    Another
    https://vimeo.com/66720474

    This same motion can be clearly seen in most of the other pro serve videos.

    https://vimeo.com/user6237669/videos
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2013
    #19
  20. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2011
    Messages:
    4,275
    Location:
    Baltimore, MD
    If you are experimenting be sure to be aware of the Jim McLennan & Todd Ellenbecker videos on the shoulder orientation to hold during serving.

     
    #20
  21. boramiNYC

    boramiNYC Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2011
    Messages:
    2,361
    saying servers don't actually hit downward when obviously the ball travels downward is a contradiction and not true. the racquet head is controlled and accelerated in such a way at contact the RHS is highest at contact and it's facing the target with desired spin. all these info are directly registered and comes from the servers mind.

    you might be able to achieve pretty good serve in a roundabout way but I would contend that's not the optimal way. it could be argued it could be helpful and I agree to that however.
     
    #21
  22. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2011
    Messages:
    4,275
    Location:
    Baltimore, MD
    #22
  23. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2006
    Messages:
    11,059
    Location:
    Stuck in the Matrix somewhere in Santa Clara CA
    I've seen a very slow motion video of a pro serve that indicates otherwise. Just as the ball has left the stringbed, it travels horizontally (or virtually horizontal) for short time before the ball begins to fall due to gravity & topspin. High speed video also shows the racket still rising after contact even tho' the racket face was slightly closed. I have also witnessed numerous serves (in person) where the ball rises for while after leaving the strings.

    Remember that the ball is only on the strings for a few milliseconds. We often see the racket moving downward shortly after the ball has left the strings and incorrectly make the assumption the we have hit down on the ball on the serve.

    Whether the ball leaves the strings moving horizontally, slightly upward or even slightly downward (Isner et al), it is probably a mistake to tell students to hit down on the ball for the serve most of the time. There are exceptions -- sometimes we tell a student to perform an action that we know is not quite right in order to elicit a desired response.
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2013
    #23
  24. Topspin Shot

    Topspin Shot Legend

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2009
    Messages:
    5,093
    #24
  25. TennisCJC

    TennisCJC Legend

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2010
    Messages:
    5,361
    Yes, there are very strong similarities in that throwing motion and serving. The thrower even appears to be in the infamous trophy pose at one point with arms apart, shoulders tilted upward and chest muscles stretched. Then he uses core/hip/shoulder rotation to whip the arm through.
     
    #25
  26. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2006
    Messages:
    11,059
    Location:
    Stuck in the Matrix somewhere in Santa Clara CA
    ^ The trophy position is not really quite the same. See my explanation below. BTW, I do not like term, trophy pose. It implies a static position. To my mind, Steffi Graf is one of the few pros that performed an actual pose (as she waited for her very high toss). I prefer the terms, trophy phase or trophy position. The position is a dynamic one, not a static one.

    (Note: for the tennis serve, "throw" refers to the action of the racket arm whereas "toss" refers to the action of the other hand/arm.)

    The upper body motion of the outfielder throw exhibits quite a bit of similarity to the tennis serve/throw. One difference that really jumped out at me was the position of the left arm when the right arm gets to the "trophy" position. For the tennis serve/throw the left arm would still be up (nearly vertical). The left arm of the outfielder has already dropped considerably. The synchronization of the 2 arms is somewhat different -- possibly because an arm holding a 27" racket would have a greater (rotational) inertia which would likely affect the timing of the motion. For a tennis serve, the left arm would not start to come down until the racket head has started to drop to the "scratch" position.

    Also, a tennis server often coils up the body a bit more than the outfielder. Another difference is that the outfielder does not look upward to watch a ball toss. The gaze of a tennis server would be up, watching the toss before, during and after the trophy phase.

    One aspect that is rather interesting is that the outfielder exhibits something very similar to a racket drop. His shoulder externally rotates, his forearm supinates a bit and his wrist cocks during this drop phase. However, the chest does not drive upward during the drop (very much).

    As the torso of the outfielder uncoils the throwing hand/arm lags behind creating a pectoral stretch. This is somewhat similar to right elbow and racket lag of the tennis serve/throw. Also the left shoulder drops for both as the right shoulder and elbow come around and upward. The outfielder throw, like the tennis serve employs ISR (internal shoulder rotation) as the arm moves upward (& forward) from the "scratch" position. As the arm extends we also see that the wrist uncocks and the forearm pronates. With the tennis serve the pronation happens after the arm has extended and the racket head start starts to move upward above the hand.

    When performing racket or ball throws for the tennis serve, be sure to employ a proper trophy position/phase and keep the head up, eyes on the (imaginary) ball toss. Do not pull the tossing arm down until the racket head start commences. Drive the chest upward to facilitate the racket head drop.
     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2013
    #26
  27. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2011
    Messages:
    4,275
    Location:
    Baltimore, MD
    Tennis Serve - Racket-Forearm Angle (wrist). The server uses the racket at an angle to the forearm so that the ISR can create racket head speed. That forearm-racket angle during the final acceleration goes from about 90° to say 150° at impact. Then on to about 180°, arm-racket close to straight, right after impact. Probably if you let the racket go then it would be thrown upwards. ?

    Baseball Throw - Forearm - Upper Arm Angle (elbow). Without a racket, a baseball player develops ball speed throwing using ISR in a similar way but by using an angle at his elbow. His elbow starts the final acceleration with an angle between his upper arm and forearm, it increases to a straight arm at release.

    The amount of ISR that average throwers have learned to use probably varies a lot among individuals. Do you need to throw with stronger ISR for the throw drill to be effective in teaching the tennis serve?
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2013
    #27
  28. boramiNYC

    boramiNYC Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2011
    Messages:
    2,361
    SA, two reasons why I think this distinction is important. one I believe imagining throwing more horizontal is more helpful in achieving max rhs thru the optimal contact swingpath. remember rafter saying 11 to 4 swingpath? it helps you to accelerate the racquet head more thru the swingpath toward the target.

    two the first idea helps you maintain the contact point more out in front and it helps setting the limit how far you can windup and go down and up before reaching the contact point with the good swingpath in max speed.

    emphasizing upward accelerating more than thru swingpath can tilt the contact point more backward compromising the quality of serve for excessive emphasis on topspin.
     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2013
    #28
  29. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2006
    Messages:
    11,059
    Location:
    Stuck in the Matrix somewhere in Santa Clara CA
    ^ What distinction are you referring to? Are you referring to the last post by Chas or some other post? Also, your statement "helps you to accelerate the racquet head more thru the swingpath toward the target" puzzles me. The target would be the ball (toss) not the service box, correct?

    These differences are why I suggest throwing old rackets in the park rather than throwing tennis balls alone. With a racket, the throw is a bit like a double catapult action -- somewhat like a trebuchet.
     
    #29
  30. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2011
    Messages:
    4,275
    Location:
    Baltimore, MD
    Which applies to the racket throwing drill?

    1) It somehow works on/trains using the fact that both the throw and serve use strong upper arm axial rotation (ISR) in the final acceleration.

    2) It trains the wrist to be lose and start from an effective take back angle to throw, rotating the racket freely and rapidly handle over head.


    Note for 2) - I have a tendency in my strokes to leave things out or abbreviate the proper motion. I use checkpoints both hitting and viewing videos. As a checkpoint - The handle of the racket should point approximately at the ball around the 'back scratch' position. I usually notice when I'm abbreviating and leaving out this checkpoint. When I correct it there is a big improvement in pace and often control, and it feels free and like a throw. Is that free feeling handle-over-head action the point of the throwing drill?

    One problem that comes to mind is that - the throw could freely simply launch the racket rapidly, handle over head, probably without any internal shoulder rotation. You could throw it without any internal shoulder rotation especially if your were not a strong natural thrower. ?
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2013
    #30
  31. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2006
    Messages:
    11,059
    Location:
    Stuck in the Matrix somewhere in Santa Clara CA
    ^ We are not throwing darts here. I do not believe that I've ever seen anyone throw a racket or ball w/o any ISR when asked to simulate a serve action. Don't really need to dwell on ISR all this much --- ISR happens.

    Will look at your post in depth later. WhenI have more time.
     
    #31
  32. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2011
    Messages:
    4,275
    Location:
    Baltimore, MD
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2013
    #32
  33. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2006
    Messages:
    11,059
    Location:
    Stuck in the Matrix somewhere in Santa Clara CA
    ^ Lately, I've been emphasizing ESR (external SR) a bit more on the racket head drop. (No, I don't necessarily mention the terminology to students). By increasing the ESR for the trophy and after the trophy (the drop), more ISR results on the upward swing -- w/o ever mentioning ISR (to students).

    The steep angle upward racket throws does several things. It primarily promotes a deeper racket head drop. As Will Hamilton (FYB) has pointed out, a shallow angle (nearly horizontal) can be performed with very little racket head drop. The steeper throws tend to require a more pronounced racket head drop.

    The steep angle throws also emphasizes the increased racket head acceleration coming out of the loop. As can be seen in the 2 images below (different serves), there is some increase after the trophy and during the racket head drop loop. However, the greatest acceleration happens on the upward swing after that "scratch" loop -- much, if not most, of it during the steep part of the upward swing. (Take a look at the data points in both images. The further apart the data points, the greater the racket head speed is).

    [​IMG][​IMG]

    The increased accleration on the upward swing is a combination of ISR, arm extension (straightening of the elbow), uncocking of a relaxed wrist, and forearm pronation.

    Note that I actually perform a series a different racket throws with students. The intial throws are low-angle launches. We then move to 45-degree launches and then to steep angle launches (75 degrees or so), We actually start with some tomahawk (hatchet) throws -- no pronation. Racket flies like an axe, handle over head. We then progress to throws where the forearm is rotated (pronated) after it has extended to the big L position. Lastly, we try different swing paths with varying amounts of pronation to simulate various spin serves (slice, topspin-slice, topspin only).
     
    #33

Share This Page