What serve should be taught to an adult who will never have a text book serve?

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by HunterST, Sep 22, 2013.

  1. HunterST

    HunterST Hall of Fame

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    I'm going to be teaching a few family members to play tennis. They don't aspire to be great players, just good enough to have some fun and get some good exercise. At most, they'd play a 3.0-3.5 tournament every now and then.

    My female cousin has very little sports experience and doesn't have much of a throwing motion. I don't think teaching her the text book serve will work. I just can't see her developing it at this point in her life with this level of commitment.

    So, what serve should be taught to someone for whom a full blown serve is out of the question?
     
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  2. keithfival

    keithfival Professional

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    I'm teaching my wife to play, 50 years old, never played before. She naturally started with a paddy cake serve and gets 9 out of 10 in the box. After a while I tried to teach her a regular serve and it bothered her arm/shoulder right away so she's just sticking with the paddy cake serve. She gets them all in, it's really simple and non-taxing, and if she wants to try to hit harder it will be the same motion just more of an underspin line drive. Very simple and zero strain on her body. Certainly fine for our purposes.

    (paddy cake= body and racket face facing the court, very little back swing, just pops the ball up and over the net. Gradually hit lower and harder if desired.)

    Works great for my wife. Curious to hear others.
     
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  3. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Hall of Fame

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    Good luck finding a known non-text book serve.

    One safety issue to be aware of is the risk of shoulder impingement on the serve. I see many people keeping their shoulders too level on the serve - not the recommended orientation in these videos. If you find a non-text book serve give some attention to this issue.

     
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  4. HunterST

    HunterST Hall of Fame

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    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xjXJGsRtm08

    serve doctor talks about how to work with maximizing a forehand grip serve.
     
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  5. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Hall of Fame

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    I recall viewing that video when discussing TomT's serve. I linked it somewhere also. TomT has a forceful serve with some non-text book characteristics. I can't recall the details but maybe it was this thread.

    See how the Serve Dr's serve technique fits in with the Ellenbecker video regarding shoulder orientation to minimize impingement risk.

    In the link I had my wrist at an angle on my serve that I did not want. It looked stressful. I was getting wrist pain where it appears to be pinched and that may have been the cause. This wrist angle came from the an old misconception that a serve should swing up at the the ball and straight through it, as any beginners might assume. That misconception and racket path might also lead to shoulder impingement, in my opinion based on the Ellenbecker video. The racket head speed comes mostly from turning a straight arm in the current serve. I realize that may be difficult to picture and incorporate in your serve, it is in my serve and I understand the serving technique as verified in high speed videos.

    Click ">" to go to the thread for pictures.
     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2013
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  6. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Hall of Fame

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    Old post on same Pat Dougherty video on non-text book serve.

     
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  7. goober

    goober Legend

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    I have seen plenty of women in mixed doubles all the way up to 4.5 levels serve with a waiters grip or paddy cake style as you call it. After years and years of practicing this style they rarely double fault and a lot of them learn to keep their serves low so they are not easy to tee off on. At the 3.0 and a 3.5 levels this style of serve I would say is actually in the vast majority for middle aged women. I would agree that is probably easier to keep it especially if she has no pain from it, she can get it in and she does not aspire to be club champion
     
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  8. boramiNYC

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    stance facing toward the target. most weight on the left leg. pancake looking swing with the conti grip. conti grip is easier to toss for and the contact point is higher. it's just a small habit that needs to be taught.
     
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  9. RetroSpin

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    Why intentionally teach incorrect technique? It's one thing if someone is already doing a pancake serve and has neither the time nor inclination to alter it.

    For a beginner however you're doing them a huge disservice to get them to groove a motion that will limit them. It's not that hard to teach someone to start with the racquet in trophy and just drop the head into back scratch. Once they learn that concept, they will have a decent serve. From there, they can learn to spin it, which is very hard with a pancake serve.

    Whatever.
     
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  10. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Guys who play a bit of tennis, but don't care about improvement.....
    Slice serve is No1. Grip can be eForehand, conti, or in between the two.
     
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  11. josofo

    josofo Semi-Pro

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    this is the serve u want to teach them.

    you want them to reach up with the racket.

    have a high contact point. so many people i see who cant serve have horrible contact points. so look where they are hitting the ball and you will see its too close to there bodies. make them put the racket as high as it goes over there head tell them hit the ball way up there.



    tell them to aim at the middle of the box.



    most people can get serves in the box with that high contact point.
     
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  12. user92626

    user92626 Legend

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    Yeah it's pretty strange how alot of people do not know how to deflect a ball off a racket face. They can only process linear, direct hitting.

    I mean, the whole big concept of the serve is to swing in one direction and deflect the ball in another direction, right?
     
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  13. Topspin Shot

    Topspin Shot Legend

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    I guess so. I mean, all good servers do it, since it's the only way to get spin on the ball (or to get spin on any shot), though there still has to be a pretty strong through component to get any pace.
     
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  14. Baxter

    Baxter Professional

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    I'm in the exact same situation with my daughter. Letting them do the pancake serve is taking the easy way out, IMHO. Go the tough love route and teach them a proper serve. I sure wish someone had taught me properly when I was starting out. Unlearning bad strokes is really difficult, and maybe one of your "proteges" will want to go beyond 3.0 and 3.5 tournaments.
     
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  15. goober

    goober Legend

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    Depends on the situation. In general proper technique should be taught. OTOH, if you are teaching a beginning middle aged woman doesn't have a natural throwing motion and only is playing once a week social doubles I am not so sure. If they don't have the time and willingness to go through learning proper serve technique they will probably give up trying.
     
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  16. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    I would seriously consider the underspin serve. You can hit it "harder" than a patty cake serve and the underspin will give them control.
     
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  17. goober

    goober Legend

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    Are you talking about an underspin serve with an overhead motion? That seems pretty hard to do- forehand grip hitting down on the ball?
     
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  18. NLBwell

    NLBwell Legend

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    Play catch with them for a while.
     
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  19. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    Yup. Actually it is probably the most common serve type on public courts, in my experience.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hzW0lgxpHVY
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2013
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  20. goober

    goober Legend

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    To me that just looks like a typical waiters grip recreational serve. I suppose it could have some element of underspin, but I doubt the spin on the ball she is hitting is very significant.
     
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  21. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    My use of the word "underspin" was more to identify the motion than to comment on the effectiveness of such a serve.

    I don't disagree on the lack of a significant amount of underspin (though I have seen more advanced Rec players put mean underspion with the same basic motion). But we are talking rank beginners who will never play tennis seriously.

    Unfortunately I couldn't find a video of a 22 year old, 6'0" soccer player playing tennis for the first time with the same motion, usually more underspin than the video I found, but whatever...
     
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  22. Baxter

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    I guess I assumed the cousin was a younger person. It is hard, but not impossible, to teach old dogs new tricks, but if they're old, uncoordinated and out of shape, that's different. I just think it would be a really dirty trick to "teach" someone with any potential at all a pancake serve.
     
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  23. goober

    goober Legend

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    Well given how ubiquitous these serves are on the 3.0-3.5 levels especially on women's side, somebody has to be teaching them this type of serve. I know tons of people who take lessons and clinics regularly and still serve this way.
     
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  24. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Hall of Fame

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  25. Shroud

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    my 2 cents is to give her some credit, she might just surprise. One thing to try is teaching her the text book serve from the service line, and then slowly moving back to the baseline. Its simpler to understand hitting it from the service line and easier to get it in. She can slowly figure out by moving back a ft at a time what changes to make.
     
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  26. ProgressoR

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    I see underspin serves a lot from the women at my club and some of the older guys, its effective, they hardly miss and it doesnt sit up to get whacked.
     
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  27. martini1

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    SW grip, butt first, "squatting the fly" kind of serve?
     
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  28. mbm0912

    mbm0912 Professional

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    helpful approach, although probably not great for your racquet!:shock:
     
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  29. Baxter

    Baxter Professional

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    I'm sorry, but a USPTA certified pro taught my thirteen year old daughter that serve last year and I've spent countless hours trying to undo the damage. Fine for decrepit hackers with grooved garbage strokes, but I think it's bordering on the criminal (OK, maybe I'm reaching here) to "teach" a kid that horrible serve. He usually works at the local country club with mostly older people, and uses a similar low toss motion himself because of shoulder problems, so maybe that's why.
     
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  30. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Waste of yours and the student's time to force a real serve onto someone who doesn't care how they serve. They just want to get the ball IN, and THEN start the point.
    This is true up to 3.5 levels, as some old farts, and old in the mind farts, just don't care to learn anything new.
    Yes, a combi backspin and sidespin is prevelent in public court typical tennis.
    You can't fix the whole world, so focus on people WILLING to learn a correct serve, and leave the rest alone.
     
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  31. Baxter

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    If they don't want to improve why are they paying for lessons? I know why my ex-wife took lessons (hunky pro) but I won't go there. As to why so many 3.0s and 3.5s serve this way, there is only one answer: They don't know any better. I asked a 4.0 player with a fast but slightly odd serve the other day what grip he was using and he didn't have a clue what I was asking about. It turned out to be EFH and he serves in the 90s, but he has full arm extension and decent form.

    The conti grip serve is not natural. If you hand someone a racket and tell them to serve, I don't think one in 100 would use anything but EFH. I wonder how this grip got "discovered." It's like, who ate the first oyster?

    The coach of the local college team told me teaching the conti grip serve and pronation, especially to girls (his words, not mine!) is his toughest challenge as a coach. Pancake serves aren't an option for his players of course.
     
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2013
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  32. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    What serve should be taught to an adult who will NEVER have .....
    Did you read that part?
     
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  33. ProgressoR

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    Hardly anyone seems to be addressing what the actual original post said, and rather are trying to convince the OP on an approach that he made clear is not appropriate (ie learning the proper serve technique)

    Pancake patty serve is fine at at that level for rec players who want to have fun and enjoy themselves. They typically want to get started and be able to PLAY POINTS quickly, and that means any serve will do.

    For those who show potential and are keen, I would make them aware the patty serve is just to get the ball over, if they want to improve then there is a proper motion to be learnt. Then its up to them.

    Isn't it?
     
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  34. ProgressoR

    ProgressoR Hall of Fame

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    Lord only knows the grip but it looks like a FH grip, and for them it works, they are happy with it, and are happy playing that way, I have seen pretty good club players (older) serve like this and their overall game is a bit unorthodox but they are good, sharp, good court craft, good hands, great use of the court.

    Each to their own, not every one is playing to be the absolute best they can, to some its fun and exercise.
     
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  35. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    exactly....can be tough in mixed doubles where it really stays down and she
    has a man at net to poach your lifted rtn. :)
     
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  36. Baxter

    Baxter Professional

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    What a bizarre concept.
     
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  37. GuyClinch

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    Obviously they should learn the patty-cake serve. Almost all the rec players in Central Park used it back when I played there. It doesn't take long to learn - and you can 'self learn' it.. Some guys can hit a fairly hard first serve with it..and learn to hit an annoying second serve that stays really low over the net and then kinda drops in.Its very reliable too..

    A poster hit on the correct problem with the real serve. Its counter intutive. You are swinging in a different direction then the ball ends up going - especially when you are learning this..I actually think the flat serve (with a continental grip) is the toughest to hit for this reason..but I digress..

    If you want to teach a real serve - watch this video.. No offense to the serve doctor (his real serves) but its too complicated for a beginner..

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mxVP_KkdF-I

    In short there are two real choices - the Patty Cake serve - or the HEAVY slice/top serve. The mistake most coaches make is that they teach women a 'first' serve kind of serve thinking its 'easier' but then they never get the idea of the serve right - like the women in the above video.. She hits some unholy fusion of the Patty Cake and proper first serve form..
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2013
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