Why does my serve fall to pieces going from practice into a match???

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by HughJars, Mar 27, 2013.

  1. HughJars

    HughJars Banned

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    Kind of the opposite for me - my tennis partner ONLY wants to play games. Any practice is done by myself against the wall or serving on a court. Probably reinforcing the need for me to get some coaching or at least be around others who are willing to have a hit by joining a club.
     
    #51
  2. Relinquis

    Relinquis Hall of Fame

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    are you missing short or long? you want to miss long if possible.
     
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  3. HughJars

    HughJars Banned

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    Well, here goes, my first video. These are my attempted top spin second serves. Think its a pretty good demonstration on just how inconsistent and unstable things are in my action overall.

    Im finding I feel really unstable just before contact point. Im not sure if its because of the way I jump into the serve, or the toss, or even the way my feet move - I notice my front foot is shuffling forward, probably double faulting.

    Please, go nuts! Thanks for the tips in advance.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fvr2dIfEXrs
     
    #53
  4. HughJars

    HughJars Banned

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    *I meant foot faulting!
     
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  5. Bobby Jr

    Bobby Jr Legend

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    I used to have terrible serve consistency. The way I fixed it was to start going to regular mid-week/weekend evening doubles league sort of thing where the games are a little more social than proper competition. There I made a concerted effort to get every first serve in by serving only second serves. I didn't care or give a moments thought to the score, situation or whether I was double faulting a lot - which I did do sometimes initially.

    For me it was good match practice but without the same level of pressure as proper matches but still way more than just practising my serve. Eventually - within a season - I developed a killer reliable second serve.

    Serving imo is the one shot where you must always serve without the slightest hint of failure in mind. This is the thing which makes the majority of club players serve poorly when the pressure to perform rises - it is so hard to overcome. I managed to shift away from the dreaded "I hope this goes in" voice in the back of my mind to one which didn't consider failure. I do still hit double-faults but far, far fewer than before and the serves I get in a far, far better.

    The absolute key is to make hitting serves with confidence your routine mindset - instead of being all over the place day to day. Good practice is what makes this happen, not just practising.
     
    #55
  6. gmatheis

    gmatheis Hall of Fame

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    This is just a guess, but ...

    Stop trying to see where your serve lands ... keep your head up through your entire service motion and concentrate on the ball.

    It is very common in match play that people get more concerned with where their shot will go than thay are with keeping their focus on the shot itself.
     
    #56
  7. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    This is a good suggestion. As you start the racquet head drop after the trophy position, try to notice the position of the (falling) ball with respect to your outstretched left hand (left arm should still be vertical at that point). This visual should help your to time & adjust your swing appropriately (either on a conscious or a subconscious level). Try to keep your eyes fixated on the expected contact point on your upward swing.
    you
    Also, try to get your elbow a touch lower on your trophy position and go for just a little more of a shoulder tilt. Note that the elbow should be in line with the shoulder tilt as shown in the 1st image in post #44.

    You are falling a bit too much to the left on your follow-thru. Your left foot points too much to the left when you land and your right leg kicks off to the right. See if you can land with your left foot pointing toward the target area and have you right leg kicking back (toward the camera). This should help you to drive upward and forward on your 2nd serve (instead of over-rotating to the left).
     
    #57
  8. Nellie

    Nellie Hall of Fame

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    ^^^ Good suggestions. Overall, stay sideways longer, but the motion is pretty good (definitely doing a lot of good things, and a couple of the serves had nice diving actions).

    I also suggest letting the ball drop slightly (a couple of cm) so that you are hitting up and past the ball. It looks to me like you are making contact at the peak of your reach, so you cannot get good topspin (by brushing up at the ball).

    It also looked to me like you are chasing a few bad tosses. Don't be scared to catch the ball and retoss.
     
    #58
  9. luvforty

    luvforty Banned

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    like i said earlier it's your grip.. try my 'dart throw grip' method and you will realize how easy it can be.
     
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  10. beernutz

    beernutz Hall of Fame

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    What surface is that?

    I am going to second gmatheis's suggestion to keep your head up longer until past impact. Just focusing on doing that has greatly improved my serve consistency.
     
    #60
  11. Fugazi

    Fugazi Professional

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    I get the distinct feeling that there's a lot of fear or anxiety around your serve. When I get like that, I try to find more aggression in myself, especially on the second serve, and it always works. Hit it with a vengeance!
     
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  12. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    More good suggestions. On a flat serve both the arm and racket should be fully (but comfortably) extended at contact. For a topspin serve, the contact point is somewhat lower (I would say even more than just a couple of cm lower). In this case, the arm would still be fully extended but the racquet is not vertical.
    [​IMG]

    http://i47.tinypic.com/2zsnrxc.jpg
     
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  13. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    Many athletes have found that 1/3 to 1/2 beer (or 1/2 glass of wine of less) is optimal to calm the nerves. Seriously. This is just enough to have the desired effects without impairing judgment or reducing reflexes/reaction time or hand/eye. Caveat: more is not better. Some ppl believe that they play better after 1 or 2 beers. This is almost never the case.

    I have found that coffee can have the opposite effect for me. I find that it will work quite well for peak performance for 15-30 mins of play. After that period, the jitters hit me and consistency goes out the window. While even small amounts of coffee have this effect (jitters) on me, no-sugar products, like 5-Hour Energy, do not produce the jitters. There is more to this equation than caffeine.
     
    #63
  14. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Is that as fast as you can do a controlled swing?
    Looks too slow, like a push, or guide, to me.
    A faster swing, regardless of ball speed, ends up to be a more consistent match level second serve.
     
    #64
  15. HughJars

    HughJars Banned

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    Thanks for the good suggestions. Waiting for the ball to drop, keeping my head up for as long as possible a noticing the position of the ball in relation to my outstretched left hand are things Im definetly going to try work on.

    I do have a tendancy to chase bad tosses, probably cos most of them are bad!

    Luvforty - do you possibly have a picture of that grip? For the life of me I cant work it out properly. I was trying to grip it with more fingers.

    From looking at the vid, I think a major thing Im doing is falling left, rather than up and forward like Systemic suggested. This is throwing me way off balance.

    Could someone please comment on the movement of my front foot? Do you think its something Im subconciously doing to increase the base of support? Do you think its adding to the instability?

    The surface is grass btw. The shadows from the fence make it look weird. This was taken at the local council tennis club around the corner from my house, which is literally completely unused except for a few hours on a Saturday arvo, where a few (maybe 6 to 7) oldies have a hit. There's about 25 courts there that are all maintained by the council, and everytime we call to book a court no one answers. So we jump the fence. Often some irrate oldie drives by a hurles abuse, threatens to call the council and demands money. Its outrageous!!!
     
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  16. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    Try a dozen or so service actions without the ball. Try to remain true to the timing & tempo of your real serve -- many players are sloppy about the speed of the tossing arm -- they usually lift it much too quickly.

    Make sure that you are coiling at the trophy or prior to the trophy position. Eyes up on the imaginary ball. As your drop the racket head. start to pull down the tossing arm as well. As the racket head drops your legs should straighten as they drive upward. Also drive the chest and right shoulder upward.

    As you land, try to do so with your left foot pointing more-or-less toward the target area. I think that I've seen a video where Almagro lands pointing slightly to the left, but most elite servers land as I described. The back leg should kick up toward the back fence rather than off to the right. Will Hamilton talks about this in his FYB videos on the serve sequence. This kick toward the back should help to prevent the lower body from over-rotating late in the serve motion.
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2013
    #66
  17. luvforty

    luvforty Banned

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    [​IMG]

    ok, put the line on the palm over the line on the racket.. if the racket were a steak knife, you should feel the pressure on the black spot when you cut.

    now go to your racket drop position, with elbow bent about 90 degrees. when you swing up, the pressure is felt on the same black spot.

    when you swing up, do NOT pronate. only rotate your upper arm (this is known as the Internal Shoulder Rotation or ISR)... you will see that the racket face will be looking at the same direction from the bottom of the racket drop to 3 feet past impact. this gives you the maximum margin for error, you can produce good results even with a lot of other things go wrong.

    without pronation this serve does not go very fast, but you can swing very hard and put a load of spin on it... vary the swing path to vary the mix of side/top spin.

    you can put a serve in, simply by ISR and putting pressure on the black spot... later you can add deeper racket drop (External shoulder rotation), core rotation and the legs.... but i believe this is the right sequence of serve progression, not the other way around - without the good stuff in the hand, you can add the legs etc and still produce crap.

    your current grip is not easy for 2nd serve because the palm is changing directions due to pronation, and when you brush, you don't have a pressure spot in your hand to control the racket.

    edit - the base knuckle of the pinky may go more towards bevel 3 than shown in the picture.... but as long as you get the black spot pressure right, you are getting there.
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2013
    #67
  18. Anton

    Anton Hall of Fame

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    key with second serves is to not be afraid to double fault. Everyone double faults, even pros, even on break points. It's fine to double fault. Don't worry about making the ball in, worry about doing what you did in practice that worked.

    NEVER go back to pansy serve, that will only harm your serving and make you second guess yourself.

    You served just fine in practice, you served just fine for a few games. NOTHING should have changed. It's same ball, same racket, so it's probably the fear in your head making you abandon what you practiced.
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2013
    #68
  19. Anton

    Anton Hall of Fame

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    Looking at the vid - you need to relax the arm. Racket should come a bit after rotation (from elastic tension and release).

    Too light of a racket can make feeling the momentum load up I'm taking about tough.

    Change the grip like explained above as well to get better brush up angle.
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2013
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  20. Cheetah

    Cheetah Hall of Fame

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    Ok <[I, *I 2nd 1 19th ( 1 @1st ein @1st @I the way gs 1st either he st
     
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  21. Cheetah

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    ^^ my cat posted that. not me.
     
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  22. Bobby Jr

    Bobby Jr Legend

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    Exactly. Too many people get hung up on finer technique changes but a huge factor in having a reliable serve is to approach it with success in mind. My post here a few pages back covers my thoughts on this.
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2013
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  23. Fugazi

    Fugazi Professional

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    I looked at the vid: wrong grip (make it more continental), you almost face the net (turn clockwise a little), not enough elbow flex, ball toss a bit too low (seems like this forces you to rush your motion).
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2013
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  24. HughJars

    HughJars Banned

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    Another vid

    Heres another video I just shot today. Things Im emphasising from my last serve video and hearing everyones suggestions is having my momentum going forward, looking up at the ball more and trying to utilise the grip Luvforty suggested.

    I also tried to bring down my racket and make the serve motion more smooth.

    Results were mixed to generally positive. In general I felt more controlled when going for placement over power for second serves. I had a more trouble getting top spin on the ball, so subsuquently a lot of balls sailed long rather than dipping in however.

    Questions I have:

    - I am still not side on enough?

    - The massive abduction of my elbow before the trophy phase when Im standing upright - is this contributing to me falling over to the left and my toss falling to the left almost everytime?

    - Hows the grip going?

    - Am I jumping to much into the ball?

    - Why is my toss so inconsistent?! (probably no simple answer but here goes...)

    Thanks for the tips again!!!!!
     
    #74
  25. HughJars

    HughJars Banned

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    #75
  26. mikeespinmusic

    mikeespinmusic Rookie

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    Could be the balls dying. They go off at weird angles when they start to die. Or you just getting warmer and more flexible doing things different when you swing. Maybe even fatigue hurting your form?

    Do you have a kick or a slice serve? I know these arent that safe when the balls die either, but they're something.
     
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  27. mikeespinmusic

    mikeespinmusic Rookie

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    Some people are going to scorn me over suggesting this (as there probably is a technical flaw). But what racquet and string are you using? Do you get much feel? And how heavy is the racquet?

    I found when I started to switching to string setups with more feel I had more control on serve. And when I started adding lead tape or using heavier racquets I had more consistency in everything.

    I've just read that you've stated you've got a pansy 2nd serve. Raid the youtube vids for lessons on slice and kick serves. Focus on having a strong second(backup plan) serve and you'll have a lot more confidence.
     
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  28. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    If you clone your cat 1 million times and give them each a typewriter, how long will it take them to bang out the complete works of Shakespeare? Could they do it any quicker with a PCs running Windows XP? Better yet, give them Macs so they don't crash as often.
     
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  29. Anton

    Anton Hall of Fame

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    I don't see any change in the grip (or anything else).

    The way you are serving closely resembles a volleyball serve. You'll get a fast ball with those flat whacks but very little spin. This gives you very small margin for error.

    Most simple recommendation I can give you is if you want to get a nice serve in long term then you should stop jumping for a while - this will force you to learn to put topspin on the ball if you want any sort of pace out of it.

    And DO change that grip that will help you brush the back of the ball more.
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2013
    #79
  30. luvforty

    luvforty Banned

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    Last edited: Mar 31, 2013
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  31. HughJars

    HughJars Banned

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    Thanks for the tips.

    So you guys are talking about the second grip mentioned in this video?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w2d2ZgdOATs

    Just that I only converted from pancake serving to using was I thought was a full continental grip about 6 weeks ago, under the advice of a coach who had a quick look at my grip. But now I seem to be getting the idea of changing again?!
     
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  32. Anton

    Anton Hall of Fame

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    Second grip in the video is eastern grip, you want "the pro level", continental, third grip he talks about.
     
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  33. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Not so sure about his third grip. Looks almost eastern backhand to me, or a weak eastern backhand, which is great for top/slice and kick serves, horrid for flat first heater serves.
    Remember BorisBecker? He is a pro, uses a conti grip close to eastern FOREhand on every serve.
    This grip thing. If someone says ONE way is the correct way, shut his audio down right away!
    The correct way, for you and you alone, is the grip you hit hard, you hit consistent, and you can replicate it over and over again. Every player is different.
    To me, grip 2, what I consider a conti that can be used for all volleys, is the ideal first serve grip. #3 is a second serve grip.
    Milos would argue, but generally, and with Becker in mind, I think I'm close to the grips most pros use.
     
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  34. Anton

    Anton Hall of Fame

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    #84
  35. Overdrive

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    #85
  36. Overdrive

    Overdrive Legend

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    Being 6'2, high tosses don't actually work for me. I can serve faster and better at a medium length toss like N. Almagro. :)
     
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  37. Anton

    Anton Hall of Fame

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    Novak doesn't have any retail rackets ;)
     
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  38. Overdrive

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    Right, because it's not Novak's racquet at all! :)

    Sigh...

    It's sad that people that play here actually believe that they are playing with the 'pros' racquets... :|
     
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  39. HughJars

    HughJars Banned

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    #89
  40. jakeytennis

    jakeytennis Rookie

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    to keep your confidence from plummeting. quit criticizing your self after double faults. just move on, focus, and relax, and have fun.
     
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  41. HughJars

    HughJars Banned

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    Played a match today, and things went well. Although I lost (my return game wasnt great), it was close (two sets went to 7-6), and my serves felt reliable and strong most of the time. My partner even commented that they were zipping and bouncing quite a lot. And with my second serves, I refused to resort to pansy taps - instead I well for full blown top spin dippers. Yes there were double faults, but I think this was easily matched by the errors I got my opponent to make from my second serve. And I was happy that I didnt hold back. I cleared my mind and just went for it. Like what Jakeytennis said, just went out and had fun. The sun was a factor at one serving end, and I have to admit that although I didn't inhibit things a lot, just the mere presense of it messed me around quite a bit. Myplaying partner admitted he was having the same trouble. I had one game serving into it at 6-6 where I made three doubles. Cost me the set in the end.

    Last night I looked at a slow motion of video of Djokovic serving, and I took someone into today from that video.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XJ9wIQUWC6E

    When he tosses the ball up, his rear leg is completely straight and his trunk is upright. It all looks so simple. When I start my own serve Im beginning to flex my back leg, and I also have a lot of hip flexion. So today I tried to stay as upright as I could going into my toss, and focusing on not jumping, and staying upright. And it did wonders. My tosses felt much more consistent, and overall the action felt 'simpler'.

    As for grip, I used continental slight eastern.
     
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  42. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    I would not switch to an Eastern FH grip for your serve. If you are not comfortable with a true continental grip, you might try a semi-continental for a while. Serena Williams and Boris Becker used this grip for first serves and used a more conventional service grip for 2nd serves.

    The Eastern FH grip has the base index knuckle on bevel 3. The Continental grip has this knuckle on bevel 2. The semi-Continental would be halfway between the Eastern and Continental grips. I would suggest using the full Continental grip for your serve, especially for 2nd serves. Alternately, try the semi-Continental for while if you feel that you have issues with the full version.
     
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2013
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  43. HughJars

    HughJars Banned

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    Thanks, yeah I was trying the semi continental today, and it felt very comfortable - thats what I was trying to say when I mentioned my grip in the last post.
     
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