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John Jung 04-24-2004 08:03 AM

The geometry of the serve - clock?
Where is this clock that is used to serve?

In books and magazines and on this board I have read about the racket moving from something like 7 o’clock to 1 o’clock, but nowhere have I seen the clock defined. Am I the only one that wonders about this?

Here is what I think is the position of the clock: The clock is in the vertical plane that is perpendicular to the planned flight of the ball. For example, if the server is at the center, by the hash mark and serving down the center, the clock would be in the plane of the back court line. If the server moves to either side on the center to serve wide, the clock would rotate with the direction of he serve. Is this correct?

Am I correct that the plane is vertical?

And why is there only one clock? It has been a long time since I studied geometry, but I doubt that geometry has changed. Movement in one direction on one plane is only part of what it takes to define movement.

Phil 04-24-2004 08:40 AM


Am I the only one that wonders about this?
You probably are, John, but it's obvious that you've given this subject quite a lot of thought, and although I'm just not qualified to even BEGIN to scratch the surface of clock-space-time-continuum physics vis-a-vis tennis court geometrics, I know just the cat who can. Please go to the sites listed below for an introduction to what I hope will be for you a fruitful and life-affirming journey for the Truth.

John Jung 04-24-2004 01:30 PM


O.K., you wasted my time. Unless your "truth" has to do with tennis, I suggest that you take it somewhere else.

ProStaffTour90 04-24-2004 04:15 PM

God, it's pretty simple, i've never come across this "clock" but just from reading the first line of your post it's pretty obvious what it is, just imagine a clock directly infront of you and now imagine a textbook serve, the racquet goes back over your shoulder to about a 7 'o' clock position and you end up striking the ball at 1 'o' clock!

It's not quantem physics!

Phil 04-24-2004 11:19 PM

John - Suggestion rejected. I'm sure it took you all of 45 seconds to go through my post. Lighten up a little bit, SMILE even, if you can.

jun 04-25-2004 12:10 AM

Well, actually the clock thing can get a little confused if you start thinking too much about it, or run into people who uses it with different reference point.

I have always though that 12 was at my left foot. So flat serve toss would have been around 1 o'clock..But some people thought 12 was where you face...So for them, 12 was flat serve toss....-_-;

Anyways, if you have any questions about serving, i suggest you go and see pro...It may cost you time, but will save you unnecessary thinking.

sanitarium 04-25-2004 10:07 AM

holy crap, do you think a clock is that difficult? you could have also used an easier description, while I understand what you're saying it's just you're making a simple concept way too hard.

Consider the ball in the air to be an open face clock.

If it is directly above your head, you are directly under 6:00.

If you hit it from the side across, you go from 3 to 9.
If you hit it from the bottom to the top(ie kick) you go roughly 6 to 12.

anton785 04-25-2004 08:23 PM

Sanitarium has the correct definition. The clock does not describe where you hit the ball, IMO. The clock describes the swingpath necessary to hit a certain type of serve, such as 6-12 (bottom to top of the ball) for kick serve and 7-1 (diagonally from bottom left to top right of the ball) for twist.

ProStaffTour90 04-25-2004 09:25 PM

not quite, just imagine the ball to be a clock, it's nowt to do with the swingpath, just where you make contact with the ball, as it's a kick serve the racquet head is touching the ball for longer so the racquet ends up touching a different part of the ball when it's realised! 7 'o' clock to 1 'o' clock for a standard kick serve!

Bungalo Bill 04-25-2004 09:50 PM


I have students that get this a little confused as well so dont feel bad.

I have them hold up a ball straight in front of their eyes as their navel is pointing straight to the net (shoudlers are parallel to the net).

As you face the ball, imagine a click face on it. The clock face is used for not only your swing path but also where you need to strike the ball. So they are used for both. For example, a twist serve will be mainly a swing path you want going from 8 to 2 or 7 to 1 depending on how much twist you want vs topspin.

On a slice serve you want to strike the ball at the 2 o'clock part of the ball.

The clock face combined with your toss for any kind of serve will help you not only generate the right swing path but also help you hit the right spot on the ball.

Now if you toss the ball up high, it does not change where the clock face is, about the only thing that changes is your angle to the clock face which should help you know how to swing or where to hit the ball for the serve your trying to do.

Here is a site to help you with tossing

kevhen 04-26-2004 07:30 AM

Yes, I agree, a slice serve gets hit around 2 o'clock (8-2) and kicker will be coming from (7-1) unless you toss way to the left, then it might be 6-12. Flat serve just gets hit at 12 o'clock with no spinning motion, just some snap down, so maybe (12-6).

I am going back to hitting more flat serves as my back gets tired over 3 sets hitting so many hard spin serves. Anyone know what might be causing this? I do hit 90-100mph kick serves now so they do take alot out of me over the course of a match but I get them in like 60-70% so going back to the flat serves may hurt my game since I only get about 40% of flat ones in at 100-105 mph.

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