working on improving this spin serve (video)

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by SnoxicTennoxic, Mar 12, 2012.

  1. SnoxicTennoxic

    SnoxicTennoxic New User

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    I'm trying do develop a reliable serve. Let's say I'm going for a kick serve (or topspin, seen in some other threads there's a difference but would need to go back to it).

    I've been checking out some instruction about it, so far this is what I've gotten to:
    http://youtu.be/7ljYKm4VGNA (ad court, near view)
    http://youtu.be/AdPHK6pPkU8 (deuce, far view)
    [480p max]

    ====
    Current goal:
    To develop a smooth swing, nice "effortless" serve. I "tried" too hard in the past.
    I want high percentage in.

    So far I focus on the swing and making good contact.
    Later on, I'd like to be able to aim better: 1st serve going deep into the box and closer to the lines; 2nd serve more towards the middle but with enough control to choose if I want a forehand or backhand return.

    ====
    So...
    What do you think I should I keep / change / throw out? What should I focus on next?

    It would be great to have some opinions.

    ====
    Background:
    I've played racquet sports before, but only started tennis about a year and a half ago and love it. However I've been haunted by injuries for months :(, so it's been a lot less court time than that. Actually got injured by playing too much.
     
    #1
  2. rkelley

    rkelley Hall of Fame

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    You know, the actual swing itself is not bad. You hit a trophy pose and then swing nicely to the ball. Motion is relaxed. First thing to work on there is that you're off balance and falling away from your serve.

    The motions before the toss I'd would get rid of. Just toss the ball while you take the racquet back, then bend your knees and hit the trophy pose. Just keep it simple.

    There's other stuff, but that's the first thing I'd do. Simplify the motions before the toss, and balance during the swing, and you have yourself a nice motion that you can work with.

    Look at Federer's serve for a model.
     
    #2
  3. jdubbs

    jdubbs Hall of Fame

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    That's actually a decent 2nd serve. You've got a weird hitch at the beginning, not sure what that does for you. And your racket acceleration could be a little better.
     
    #3
  4. SnoxicTennoxic

    SnoxicTennoxic New User

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    Ok, so that's two plus a friend that have suggested to simplify.

    I kind of feel in rhythm when doing that, it's not really deliberate. But yes, objectively, it is a lot of movement. I guess I could find another (simpler) way to get a rhythm before the toss.
     
    #4
  5. Kevo

    Kevo Hall of Fame

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    I agree that it could be simpler, but it doesn't look like it's hampering the rest of the serve, so if you like the rhythm of it I don't see any issue with keeping it. I mean it sort of reminds me of Ljubicic.

    As far as what you can improve on, the main thing is racquet head speed. I think you may need to work on using more pronation. It's hard to tell from the videos but it looks like you are relying a little to much the swing of the arm and not enough on the rotation of the arm.

    Maybe watch the youtube video on Pete Sampras pronation and see if you need to incorporate more pronation. On the second serve the pronation is not as directly involved in the strike of the ball as on the flat first serve, but it does help with the approach angle and racquet head speed required for a really good spin serve.
     
    #5
  6. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Before swinging faster, bend elbows more at trophy, lower the hitting hand, toss more into the court (even for second serves, especially for first serves).
    Watch video of pros serving. You look disconncted and discombobulated.
     
    #6
  7. Kevo

    Kevo Hall of Fame

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    I don't disagree with tossing into the court, however for second serves, assuming spin or kick, you really don't want the ball to get out in front of your head. If you have to reach in front of you it prevents getting full access to an upward swing path on the ball. The one caveat might be slice serves, but I like to keep all my serve tosses for second serves over my head as much as possible. You can hit any type of spin serve you want from that position and it's very hard to read.

    So if you do toss into the court on your second serve make sure you are capable of bending and leaning into the court far enough to get underneath the ball at contact. I don't think many pros toss that far into the court on second serves.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PLwz3noMt8o

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DTlotcSxM2I
     
    #7
  8. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    While it's true most of us choose to stay back after hitting a spin second serve, we cannot give up too much ball speed hitting it from a completely defensive position. If we don't at least land half a body inside the baseline, we are giving up too much for defensive positioning.
    I don't have enough rackethead speed to allow myself the luxury of staying behind the baseline after the second serve is struck.
     
    #8
  9. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    I think that Lee is correct that the server is a little bottled up by his toss.
    Slightly more into the court should help in this case, even for this second
    serve.
     
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  10. Kevo

    Kevo Hall of Fame

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    I think he's ending up a foot or more into the court. I don't think that's as much of an issue as fixing the swing itself.

    Maybe if Snoxic would post some video from a side view we could better see what's happening with the swing itself.

    I feel like he's a tweak or three away from some really nice kickers.
     
    #10
  11. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Hard to hit high bouncing kickers with a high elbow at trophy. Hard to hit UP on the ball, needed for high net clearance.
    And that turkey swing needs to be cleaned up....you need a strong smooth swing from the start. His mid swing and finish is fine, but the start STARTS with a hitch.
     
    #11
  12. Nellie

    Nellie Hall of Fame

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    I would suggest an abbreviated service motion for you as well. Also, you are not getting a lot of top spin on the ball and need to hit up and through the ball. Try letting the ball drop another 2 or 3 inches so you hitting past the ball.
     
    #12
  13. SnoxicTennoxic

    SnoxicTennoxic New User

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    I tried to simplify it, but it wasn't a good idea to do it before playing a set =S. Ok, it's just practice so shouldn't care, but still. It felt awkward, and then it took me some time to settle after I decided to go back.

    Will give it a go again, but will probably focus on swing first. So many things, probably better to add one or two maximum at a time.

    It felt good, best I've felt it, but for sure far from getting it all down. Altough on that day quite a lot went in, I can't say I can hit those consistently in match play.

    Good idea, I'll make a vid from the side. It'll take some time though, I can't play as often. I'd like to maybe already apply some of the tips here before that. It'll likely get somewhat worse before it gets better.

    About wrist/forearm pronation, so far I'm just trying to keep loose and do as if throwing a ball. In the original files I do see the wrist going outwards. I'm a bit tentative about it because the wrist injury I had came in part to too much wrist in the serve (the wrong way, I see that now).

    I'll try to incorporate it gradually. I love this video, it helped me realize what I should go for later on.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nKhbKSKKmyM&feature=player_detailpage#t=33s


    Actually the start does feel a bit strange, the rest does feel flowing.

    I didn't get what you meant about lowering the elbows.
    Where should the elbow be at trophy?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=IUheC5VmguI#t=38s
    (Fed frozen at trophy; at the start there's a slow motion clip)

    http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7050/6836787616_6e567a44c2.jpg
    Is that a good example (of bad)? How much lower should it be?
    Maybe that will lead to a better start of swing.

    ====
    Thanks to all for the info.
     
    #13
  14. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Your picture is misleading you. Right after your pic, you RAISE you hitting elbow so it's around your right ear, too high to hit UPWARDS and outwards to hit a kicker/twist serve.
    Your pic shows nice altitude of your elbow, but that isn't where your elbow is when you start the forward loop swing.
    So, you need ONE trophy position, not two like you have now. In your case, keep the elbow more bent, like around 90 degrees, for control.
     
    #14
  15. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    Why do say kickers?

    Looks like he is using a nice top slice 2ond serve to me.
    Why do so many always think of kick serve anytime the 2ond serve is mentioned?
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2012
    #15
  16. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Original poster's second sentence, he's doing a top/slice serve, but wants to maybe develop a kicker/twist.
    Since both are slightly different swingpaths, he needs a trophy that allows both.
    For instance, a great topspin/slice serve was Navritilova's. She hit it great, but could not his a kicker off the high elbow positioning of her trophy pose.
     
    #16
  17. Kevo

    Kevo Hall of Fame

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    Cause a kick serve is the most awesome second serve. :)
     
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  18. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    From an old fart.....
    While a kicker is normally a great second serve, the real BEST second serve is the one you can hit that solicits a weak return.
    Sometimes, it's a high kicker to the backhand. Other's, it MIGHT be a low slider out wide, or a body shot, or a low ball into a forehand that's tailored to return a high bouncer.
    What works against your opponent is the best second serve.
    That's why you need to practice all the shots.
     
    #18
  19. SnoxicTennoxic

    SnoxicTennoxic New User

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    Yes, maybe I can check where racquet points at trophy to keep an eye on the angle.

    Couldn't stop watching this, kept going back to second 12 over and over...
    www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=IUheC5VmguI#t=12s

    The elbow path is completely different. Mine just goes (starting poing from the picture) directly up towards my ear. Roger's goes from trophy a bit lower and towards the right and then straight up, all very smoothly of course.

    So many things... cool!

    Maybe a good idea for a thread and an eventual sticky with description and accompanying video (The Serve Types Described)?? :)
    It has been discussed, but when I've seen it's been as part of another topics.
     
    #19
  20. SnoxicTennoxic

    SnoxicTennoxic New User

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    Here's an update:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nVjhhzMIVUo
    Rather low resolution, but with slow motion. The thing got streched out vertically. From ad court, that's the only recorded serve from the near court that day, ran out of battery. Side clip still pending.

    ====
    - There's less pre-serve motion, I think I could keep this. Maybe later on do even less.
    - Was trying bend the elbow a bit more at trophy, trying to point up rather than behind (previous picture). Maybe need to bend a bit more?
    - The ball is a bit lower when struck.

    It feels a bit rushed, maybe I'll try tossing higher and then letting it drop a bit more.
    Sure, tons of other stuff to do left.
     
    #20
  21. Kevo

    Kevo Hall of Fame

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    I think the biggest thing you are missing is pronation. Everything else is good, maybe not great, but good. Without proper pronation in your motion, all of the other stuff could be great, but that bottleneck will still be there and your serve will underperform.
     
    #21
  22. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Much cleaner motion. If you want to keep hitting low toss, just bend your elbow on the takeback, instead of taking the racket back with a straight elbow. The bent elbow is much quicker into position. You're hitting top/slice in the vid. To flatten it out, more pronation.
     
    #22
  23. shindemac

    shindemac Hall of Fame

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    Everything looks ok. It depends on what you want to improve at this point. More rackethead speed, more spin, or more consistency.

    I'll just focus on more spin with your current swing speed. First, your serve looks more like a topslice. If you look at federer's serve, his chest and shoulders are pointing more towards the sky, and it stays like that for a longer duration. So you need to either bend your knees more, or make sure your torso is tilted more towards the sky. Both if you can do it. I've noticed big differences in my serve when I concentrate on this aspect so I can get more of a pure topspin. It'll usually bounce a foot or two higher when I do this.

    The other thing I've noticed is your balance on your previous videos. Sometimes your momentum was falling in different directions after your serve. It's even more critical on a spin serve to get this right. All your energy and momentum should be directed up. Again, this is the difference between having a first serve with topspin, and a second serve with topspin. It's hard to explain how to accomplish this, except to say you need to feel where your body weight is going. If you can't do this, then an easy way to tell if you're doing it wrong is to see where you land. If you land to your left or right, that's obviously no good. If you landed forward, then your momentum was definitely not directed up. Again, compare how federer's body stays sideways for as long as possible, and how his shoulders and chest points towards the sky for as long as possible. His energy is clearly directed up. At the same point in time for your serve, you have already rotated your body to face the opponent, and your chest and shoulders are not even facing the sky anymore. Also, federer barely lands into the court. You land a foot into the court, and you are falling to your left.
     
    #23
  24. blipblop

    blipblop Rookie

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    To me it looks like you coc.k your hips twice (two trophy positions). It's smoothed out since the first video, which reminded me of Bartoli for some reason.

    I think in addition to what other have said about the toss and landing position, you really either need to fully get rid of this extra hip motion, or stay with it and get the first hip coc/k 100% repeatable so it doesn't affect the rest of the swing.

    Just a noobs 2 cents. Happy hitting!
     
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2012
    #24
  25. SnoxicTennoxic

    SnoxicTennoxic New User

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    I'll be looking to add pronation but progressively, later on, I still have some wrist issues from time to time.

    Will try to bend elbow on takeback, see how that feels and check what that does for me. I'm still looking to get comfortable with the toss + rhythm. At the moment it drops down about 6 inches at the most from highest point. Feels kind of rushed, maybe with practice it'll get better. Haven't tried tossing higher yet.

    Definitely going for consistency. Getting as many balls in play as possible, trying to keep a relaxed swing. Then build on that. At this stage I'd rather go for spin and higher percentage than power.

    ====
    I'm thinking of getting a tennisplayer.net subscription for the strokes videos. Maybe there they'll have a "topspin" / "kick" serve section, ideally from different players. Watching the videos I take frame by frame help a lot, but would like to look in detail at something to model after.
     
    #25
  26. Nellie

    Nellie Hall of Fame

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    If you want more topspin, you need to stay sideways longer so you are hitting up the back of the ball. If you look at about 30 secs in the video, you have already turned toward the net when you hit, so there is no way to get top spin. If I was you, I would start turned more (more back to the ball), and delay the shoulder rotations as much as possible. Note that when you start your service motion turned more, you still need to toss in the same place, relative to your body, so your toss will feel really far to the left, almost behind your body.
     
    #26
  27. watungga

    watungga Semi-Pro

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    I tried to position with more facing up front, in order to simplify my serve motion. But this post has made me realize why my upward brush stroke (7am-1pm) service is hitting the net which sometimes it would hit the ground before the net!!

    If I use a McEnroe serve, I can shoot the ball over the fence. I always forgot I got that serve during plays!! :mad:
     
    #27
  28. Kevo

    Kevo Hall of Fame

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    Pronation is not hard on the wrist. It is actually easier on the wrist for most people since it limits the motion of the wrist compared to what a lot of people do. You can swing easier and more fluidly and still get more pace and more spin on the ball.

    It can be a tricky transition though, so if you try it and do experience any wrist discomfort then you should probably stop trying or get someone who knows how, to help you until you get the motion down. I think with what you've accomplished so far, you should do well just by studying some of the videos that are out there.
     
    #28
  29. SnoxicTennoxic

    SnoxicTennoxic New User

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    About a year later, here's what it has become…
    http://youtu.be/gjfdH2m7VpE
    (this time from behind and to the right)

    In my view, some changes:
    - Pretoss simplified. Not the most important. Allows for a "mental rhythm".
    - Toss. Around 1 o'clock. Depth, a bit more into the court.
    - Racquet path. I focused a lot on the head itself. Letting it "drop" to back stratch.
    - Pronation/forearm. From the vids I there's a bit more, especially compared to before. Actually, this wasn't that concious. Basically it came from trying the throw a ball mental image (there was a good Nadal video posted in the forum).
    - Balance. Still leaning to the left, but way less. I don't step over with my right leg to the left of my landing leg that much anymore.

    The result is a rather reliable slice which I use as 1st and 2nd serve (aim more towards the middle).

    ====
    This felt more natural. I kind of steered away from the topspin serve because it was hurting my neck/upper back. Was probably doing something wrong.

    ====
    Thanks a lot for the tips/info you gave.
    Next… keep that as a base, make it so it's almost "automatic." Often when I miss I'm thinking too much. Then maybe get a bit more offensive with it. And we'll see what else...
     
    #29
  30. TennisCJC

    TennisCJC Legend

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    You have an very good serve for a couple years time and it has improved in last year. One thing you do well is get good balance before you start the forward swing from trophy position. Many fall forward and never get balanced. Here's a few things that may help - practice these as drills with a bucket:

    1. Use your arms more in unison. Try holding L arm up straighter and longer and as L arm/shoulder go down, R arm and shoulder start forward motion from trophy pose. As R arm contact ball, L arm should tuck close to stomach/chest area to stop the L side and speed up the R side. Shadow stroke this motion in your den to see how the L down R up work together and give you a shoulder over shoulder feel.

    2. On spin serve, stay sideways longer with your chest. Use the shoulder over shoulder but keep your chest to side fence until you start up.

    3. This helps me a lot. Get your hand outside of the ball at contact where hand to ball look like this angle \. Look at Sam Stousar's kick serve (or any pro serve) on youtube and watch her contact which will be very angled with hand outside of the contact spot. Even first serves have this angle.

    These 3 have helped me. Hopefully, they will help you too. Good luck and keep it fun.
     
    #30
  31. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Yes, it has improved immensely, but..
    Lose all that extraneous body movement before your motion and as you toss. Those make for mistakes and uses too much energy, and don't add anything to your serve.
    Still, swing faster, but now it's an OK serve, as opposed to last year.
     
    #31
  32. 2ManyAces

    2ManyAces Rookie

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    1. take out the hitch at the beginning

    2. your palm is facing upwards in trophy position, try to turn it inwards so you can actually pronate

    looks good
     
    #32
  33. toly

    toly Hall of Fame

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    Jim McLennan - The Pete Sampras “signature” Snap
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&v=nKhbKSKKmyM&NR=1
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2013
    #33
  34. luvforty

    luvforty Banned

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    the idiosyncrasy before the toss... i wouldn't worry about it.

    pronation - for the most part is fine.

    the key issue here is the tightness, and using the arm muscle to swing...

    check out my other thread about serving with 2 fingers (well, maybe 3), the entire arm/racket unit should be 100% passive and work as a whip, and the 2 fingers are just there to hold on to the racket.

    you swing by sending your right shoulder UP to the ball, then the arm/racket will whip thru.

    http://www.feeltennis.net/tennis-serving-tips-how-to-serve-fast-and-yet-effortless/
     
    #34
  35. Graphiteking

    Graphiteking Rookie

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    It looks good for the amount of time you have worked on it. The reason your off balance is because your toss is off. If your trying to get topspin your toss needs to be slightly to the right. If your trying a kick serve the toss needs to be slightly to the left. Next thing I noticed is that your tossing arm comes down too early, leave it up until your ready to hit the ball. Are you using a conti grip? After you bring your racquet up, it's in a waiter tray position. To avoid that keep your palm down on your racquet take back and racquet head needs to be straight up. Racquet head speed is next. Don't pause, your body needs to be relaxed. Smooth swing with no hesitation. There are several videos on YouTube about each one of these things I mentioned to get you on the right track. Take your time, don't get frustrated. Rome wasn't built over night. Good luck!!
     
    #35
  36. NLBwell

    NLBwell Legend

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    As your toss is in the air and your tossing arm is stretched out, you can draw a vertical line from your hand, through your knee, through your foot. What you want is for your front hip to be in front of that line. Feel the stretch through the left side of your body (which is facing the net).
    From that point, just stay relaxed and feel yourself fall into the court.
     
    #36
  37. SnoxicTennoxic

    SnoxicTennoxic New User

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    Thanks for all the comments. It will take some time to build them into the serve. I had never heard "hand outside of the ball at contact where hand to ball look like this angle \." I checked some videos of someone here who has a cannon of a serve does this.

    In the meantime, I've been focusing on grooving in what I have, and it's been getting more automatic. Basically if the toss is good, the serve will also be, so I just try to think about the toss. I'm trying to aim better: forehand, bh, into body. In the videos below I manage to get a couple right, but it's not yet at will.

    As is now...

    Ad court
    http://youtu.be/dOkeWVK6RSU
    (the first two serves are examples of what I'd like to do, one up the middle, one out wide)

    Deuce court
    http://youtu.be/kB6rZ3sZNt4
    (@0:38, um middle then wide example)

    As if in game
    http://youtu.be/77oF6180ysc
     
    #37

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