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-   -   Flat serves go long. How to fix it? (http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=442266)

directionals 10-06-2012 06:28 PM

Flat serves go long. How to fix it?
 
I've been practicing to incorporate pronation into my flat serve for the past 3 months. It had been going pretty well until about a couple weeks ago. For the past 2 weeks, I haven't been able to keep the ball from going long. The success rate is probably now 1 in 4. I'm not sure what changed. What do you suggest I should do to keep the ball in the service box?

I'm starting to wonder if I should hit a flat serve for my first serves at all. I'm 5'9" on a good day :) Should I use a different serve, something like a topspin slice, for my first serves? Or should I stick with my flat serve and hope that I can correct whatever mistakes I'm making and raise the first serve percentage? I'm starting to worry because the men's USTA season is starting in a couple months.

LeeD 10-06-2012 06:43 PM

YOU choose how you serve, not us.
Several cures for long flat serves. Stay closed when you hit the ball, finish your swing earlier, keep a high elbow after you hit the ball, use more backhand on your grip, whichever works for you.

LeeD 10-06-2012 07:01 PM

Oh, or, you can aim lower.

SStrikerR 10-06-2012 07:55 PM

I'm going to guess either your toss is too far back, or you're hitting the ball too late.

Chotobaka 10-06-2012 08:04 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SStrikerR (Post 6939982)
I'm going to guess either your toss is too far back, or you're hitting the ball too late.

Agree with this -- the first step is to see if tossing the ball a little further into the court solves the problem.

Headshotterer 10-06-2012 08:29 PM

Toss the ball higher, further into the court. Snap your wrist and hit through the ball real well, and keep your eyes on the ball until after you make contact.

OHBH 10-06-2012 11:01 PM

What I find works well for me when the first serve starts flying a little long I just alter my grip to a slightly more hammer style grip making sure the pinky is at the very bottom off the handle without hanging off. *Though this is the type of adjustment I would do during a match to get my first serve% back up when it starts to fall off; so it may be less useful if you have a more permanent problem with your motion.

rkelley 10-06-2012 11:51 PM

It's really hard to say anything without seeing your motion, but an important thing to remember is that your "flat" serve should not really be flat - i.e. no spin. It should have some topspin on it to help pull it down into the court. Sampras, Roddick, Fed, etc. all have lots of topspin on their "flat" 120-140 mph serves.

Djoker91 10-07-2012 05:55 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Headshotterer (Post 6940008)
Toss the ball higher, further into the court. Snap your wrist and hit through the ball real well, and keep your eyes on the ball until after you make contact.

Now THIS is a great tip. It's hard enough to get people to do this on the forehand. But doing this on the serve, tho difficult, is game changing. Keeping your head down on EVERY stroke is important. Hits clean. I can really put a jolt into the ball, serve or forehand, and have confidence that it will drop in without me looking! As Fed does, KEEP THAT HEAD STILL.

directionals 10-07-2012 06:39 PM

Thanks everyone for the tips so far.

Quote:

Originally Posted by rkelley (Post 6940211)
an important thing to remember is that your "flat" serve should not really be flat - i.e. no spin. It should have some topspin on it to help pull it down into the court. Sampras, Roddick, Fed, etc. all have lots of topspin on their "flat" 120-140 mph serves.

How does one impart topspin with a flat serve motion. When I pronate, I hit the ball squarely(or at least that's what I think I do). I don't intentionally brush up.

boramiNYC 10-07-2012 08:44 PM

learn what pronation is and once you (not just your head but also your arm) understand very well what it is you can use it to generate topspin. then practice even more topspin and less topspin using pronation. once you become pretty good at spin control you can reduce spin enough without losing the rhs. that's when you can start hitting flat serves. without all these processes flat is uncontrollable.

Raul_SJ 10-08-2012 02:01 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by directionals (Post 6939892)
I've been practicing to incorporate pronation into my flat serve for the past 3 months. It had been going pretty well until about a couple weeks ago. For the past 2 weeks, I haven't been able to keep the ball from going long. The success rate is probably now 1 in 4. I'm not sure what changed. What do you suggest I should do to keep the ball in the service box?

What was your first serve percentage prior to this recent problem with the flat serve?

If the adjustments mentioned in this thread do not fix your flat serve

I would take some off and go for more spin until first serve percentage is at least 75%...

xFullCourtTenniSx 10-08-2012 10:49 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by directionals (Post 6939892)
I've been practicing to incorporate pronation into my flat serve for the past 3 months. It had been going pretty well until about a couple weeks ago. For the past 2 weeks, I haven't been able to keep the ball from going long. The success rate is probably now 1 in 4. I'm not sure what changed. What do you suggest I should do to keep the ball in the service box?

I'm starting to wonder if I should hit a flat serve for my first serves at all. I'm 5'9" on a good day :) Should I use a different serve, something like a topspin slice, for my first serves? Or should I stick with my flat serve and hope that I can correct whatever mistakes I'm making and raise the first serve percentage? I'm starting to worry because the men's USTA season is starting in a couple months.

THIS is why people should stop talking about technical specifics when teaching (or even learning) tennis, because it simply makes people overcomplicate stupidly simple things.

You don't "practice pronation", you use a grip that forces you to do it and your body learns to do it within 100 serves unless your tosses are so bad that your body can't get any legitimate repetition in.

Pronation NATURALLY happens. You don't force it. The better your motion, the better your pronation also is.

Quote:

Originally Posted by directionals (Post 6941645)
How does one impart topspin with a flat serve motion. When I pronate, I hit the ball squarely(or at least that's what I think I do). I don't intentionally brush up.

Just hit a topspin server with less spin and more pop than you normally would? You will pronate automatically.

If you want to be super technical, then compared to a normal topspin serve, you supinate much deeper on the upward reach of the swing, and therefore pronate faster and harder through the ball when you approach the top of the swing, maintaining basically the same wrist motion (flexion or extension? I forgot. Basically chopping your hand downwards with just the wrist).

Compared to a flat serve, you use your shoulders to go more up on the ball as opposed to through, contact your toss a little lower than a "perfect" flat serve, and incorporate that chopping wrist motion.

Obviously, if you tried to make all of these changes consciously, your service motion would suck, everything would be mistimed, and you could even induce injury. The idea you want is:
Throw the racket at the ball with a continental grip in a nonchalant way (like you don't give a **** about anything, especially not how slow you THINK your serve will come off the racket), WITHOUT slowing down your racket. Meaning once you start your motion, only let it get faster. Focus on the nonchalance and not slowing down.

Now, from there, if you want to impart spin, simply think of hitting through the ball less and rolling it more in the direction of the spin you want to impart (you usually want to incorporate some upward factor to it).

For your first serve, you should be varying in as many of the serves you know as possible (slice, topspin slice, topspin, flat, kick, high kick, slow flat) as well as their locations.

Think slow serves are bad? Hit most of your first serves at 70-80% then throw in one at 90% and they'll probably throw up a bad response (unless they've been doing bad on your slower serves and can basically only return faster serves properly).

Best part about slowing down your first serves just a bit? More control, more consistency, and your "heaters" become more effective. Even if the "heaters" don't go in often, as long as you get a few it, it gives the returner something to think about and could prevent them from stepping in on your slower first serves because you might just respond with a "heater" into the body. Also, start slow first, THEN throw the heaters in (when you're up 30-love or 40-love or, if you're ballsy, when you're down break points, a la Pete and Federer). If it's the other way around, they just assume you have a terrible serve and are resorting to patting the ball in to save yourself.

And as someone else said, check your toss. If you should ever fuss over anything in a serve, it should be your toss and your tossing motion. Nothing else really matters because the rest is relatively easy to develop. Venus Williams has a stupid good serve for a stupid bad toss (relative to her peers). Serena has no issues with her toss, and has an even better serve in the clutch as a result. The serve is said to be a weapon because it is the ONLY shot where you have near full control and your opponent has none (it's supposed to be "complete control", but not many people play in indoor courts, and in outdoor courts, wind and sun play an uncontrollable but accountable factor).

smarulanda 10-08-2012 10:57 AM

Naturally what works for one player may not be the immediate fix for another. I hit a very flat first serve as well and when the balls start going long, the first thing I remind myself is to make sure to snap my wrist at the apex of the toss.

LeeD 10-08-2012 11:23 AM

If you want to add spin to what is now a flat serve, use slightly more backhand grip. You will lose ball speed for sure by adding spin.
If you need 70+% first serves IN, then you don't have a fast enough flat first serve to play at YOUR levels. If your flat serve goes in 40%, but you win 80% of those points directly from the serve, your first serve is plenty effective.

xFullCourtTenniSx 10-08-2012 12:10 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by LeeD (Post 6942604)
If you want to add spin to what is now a flat serve, use slightly more backhand grip. You will lose ball speed for sure by adding spin.
If you need 70+% first serves IN, then you don't have a fast enough flat first serve to play at YOUR levels. If your flat serve goes in 40%, but you win 80% of those points directly from the serve, your first serve is plenty effective.

So... 80% of 40%=32% won, with 60% going to second serves... Which is probably anywhere from 40-60% won. So that's 24-36% won... So you have a 56-68% of service points won...

Say he win's 60% of his points with his first serve... 60% of 70% is 42%. 40-60% of 40% is 16-24%. So he wins 58-66% of service points.

His first serve is bound to win more points than his second serve, so the more he gets in, even if they are a fraction of a percentage higher in terms of point conversion rate, he has a better lower threshold of winning points.

For a pro, 80% of 70% is 56%. 50% of 30% is 15%. So a pro will generally win about 71% of service points. Someone with a good second serve however, 60-80% raises that up to 18-24%, totaling 74-80% conversion rate on service points.

In the end, it's all percentages and it's about a 2% difference in both directions, differing basically in how confident you are in your second serve effectiveness (hint hint). If you're more confident in your second serve (both in consistency and point conversion rate), obviously going bigger on first serves is better if you have a very good second serve to fall back on. Falling back on safer first serves to avoid hitting a terrible second serve is another good strategy to follow. Again, it all comes down to how good is your second serve.

On a side note, it's funny how I spit out these percentages and this conclusion, am very confident in my second serve (as long as I warm it up in the first game or two), and yet still strive to slow down my first serve for better percentages. Well, part of it is trying to conserve what's left of my shoulder and ease the burden by avoiding as many kick serves as possible.

TimothyO 10-08-2012 12:20 PM

Toss deeper into the court, raise the contact point as high as you can, and hit UP on the ball.

Flat serve is a misnomer. Unless you're a gaint you need some spin to keep a "flat" serve in the court. Too often flat serves are hit...flat. And those go long or into the net since the window for a fast ball serve is so tiny with less spin.

LeeD 10-08-2012 12:48 PM

In the end, a good tennis player will always beat a great mathematician at the game of tennis, as played on a tennis court.
The math guy will when lots of arguments, and lots of logic debates.
But the tennis player wins on the court.
If you need 70% of your first serves to go IN during a match for you to win, you are a pusher with no big first serves.
If you can win at your level with a 40 % first serve, either your first serve is GREAT, or your second serve is basically hard to attack....or both.

LeeD 10-08-2012 12:50 PM

For sure, as a 4.0 level player, lower in singles than doubles, if I get 40% of my first serves IN, I almost always win at my level.
Against a 5.0, I would lose, of course.
Math people can't figure out why this can be so, but they can't figure out the game of tennis, either.

dlam 10-22-2012 08:17 AM

I rather error on long than hitting the net as I can make minor adjustment on long flat serves and put more spin on the ball
One of my prematch warmup serving is too hit the ball flat at the ad side and then make my adjustment to spin
I like to make my grip slightly more EBH than continental
I make a lateral spin tilt to the target to initial my serving motion


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