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Postpre 01-07-2013 06:48 PM

Playing Tournaments with a Sketchy Serve
 
My son's a pretty good 8 year old player, especially groundstrokes. His serve is coming around, however since changing to a continental grip a few months back, he's still inconsistent. Last spring/summer (first exposure to a few tournaments) he served underhand during a few matches. He's doesn't particularly like doing it, but he enjoys playing and it was the only way to avoid double faulting more than half his serves (at the time).

As of today, I'd estimate that in a competitive environment (continental grip and pretty decent serve technique) he'd double fault about half his serves. Do you think he should hold off on tournament play until he becomes more consistent? Should underhand serves ever be an option?

Thanks.

Alohajrtennis 01-07-2013 06:56 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Postpre (Post 7104743)
My son's a pretty good 8 year old player, especially groundstrokes. His serve is coming around, however since changing to a continental grip a few months back, he's still inconsistent. Last spring/summer (first exposure to a few tournaments) he served underhand during a few matches. He's doesn't particularly like doing it, but he enjoys playing and it was the only way to avoid double faulting more than half his serves (at the time).

As of today, I'd estimate that in a competitive environment (continental grip and pretty decent serve technique) he'd double fault about half his serves. Do you think he should hold off on tournament play until he becomes more consistent? Should underhand serves ever be an option?

Thanks.

At that age, all the kids serves are kind of sketchy, especially if they are really trying. Holding serve is the exception rather than the rule. So don't worry about the DF's. Flip side of the coin is that the other kids are most likly DF too and/or pushing their serves, so it's never to early to teach them to be aggressive on the service return.

TCF 01-07-2013 07:04 PM

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Bash and Crash 01-07-2013 07:13 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Postpre (Post 7104743)
My son's a pretty good 8 year old player, especially groundstrokes. His serve is coming around, however since changing to a continental grip a few months back, he's still inconsistent. Last spring/summer (first exposure to a few tournaments) he served underhand during a few matches. He's doesn't particularly like doing it, but he enjoys playing and it was the only way to avoid double faulting more than half his serves (at the time).

As of today, I'd estimate that in a competitive environment (continental grip and pretty decent serve technique) he'd double fault about half his serves. Do you think he should hold off on tournament play until he becomes more consistent? Should underhand serves ever be an option?

Thanks.

I would avoid the underhand serve, just keep him working on the regular serve in practice and matches. I would work a lot on spin, consistency, height over net right now and it will get more consistent. As also stated, DF's are par for the course at that age among most competitors, I call it a breakfest when they start playing. Good to do some drills were he has to get 4 out of 10 in, then 5,6 etc., if he can get 7 or higher that can be his match serve as he continues to build power with the consistency.

Bash and Crash 01-07-2013 07:14 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by TCF (Post 7104779)
I am on the side of waiting until they can serve properly to start tournaments. But I am most likely in the minority.

+ 1, welcome back TCF..................................

lala28m 01-07-2013 08:02 PM

There seems to be much discussion on this forum about "playing too early".

IMHO.. as long as the kid can keep score and is courteous, fair, can call lines correctly, etc...they are ready. You are just training them for one more aspect of the game. it is actually hard to simulate.

Tournament play is such a different, mental aspect to the game: shaking off unfair calls, loud, obnoxious onlookers, brand new opponents, the opponent's parents...sometimes cheering at your unforced errors. Mental toughness... Hard to practice that outside of the real thing.

All kids have something to work on. Most adults do. We just keep plugging along :-)

There has been some debate (on forum) of current top juniors hitting an eventual success ceiling if continued to be allowed to compete without having all strokes and parts of the game "ready", and funny this thread popped up, I just was watching this video this a.m....Azarenka, age 13 at the Orange Bowl. Who can me she doesn't have strokes to work on (including serve!). But early tournament play does not seem to have hindered her. (I know you have a boy, so slightly different strategy, etc, ...but the moral of the story remains).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=80dX_yNz70c&sns=em

Bash and Crash 01-07-2013 08:19 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by lala28m (Post 7104886)
There seems to be much discussion on this forum about "playing too early".

IMHO.. as long as the kid can keep score and is courteous, fair, can call lines correctly, etc...they are ready. You are just training them for one more aspect of the game. it is actually hard to simulate.

Tournament play is such a different, mental aspect to the game: shaking off unfair calls, loud, obnoxious onlookers, brand new opponents, the opponent's parents...sometimes cheering at your unforced errors. Mental toughness... Hard to practice that outside of the real thing.

Agreed, if that is the game plan, to learn and grow it's all good, but it seems that for some it still comes down to winning, and not handing it to their opponent. The other stuffs goes out the window too quickly.

Soianka 01-07-2013 08:33 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by lala28m (Post 7104886)
There seems to be much discussion on this forum about "playing too early".

IMHO.. as long as the kid can keep score and is courteous, fair, can call lines correctly, etc...they are ready. You are just training them for one more aspect of the game. it is actually hard to simulate.

Tournament play is such a different, mental aspect to the game: shaking off unfair calls, loud, obnoxious onlookers, brand new opponents, the opponent's parents...sometimes cheering at your unforced errors. Mental toughness... Hard to practice that outside of the real thing.

All kids have something to work on. Most adults do. We just keep plugging along :-)

There has been some debate (on forum) of current top juniors hitting an eventual success ceiling if continued to be allowed to compete without having all strokes and parts of the game "ready", and funny this thread popped up, I just was watching this video this a.m....Azarenka, age 13 at the Orange Bowl. Who can me she doesn't have strokes to work on (including serve!). But early tournament play does not seem to have hindered her. (I know you have a boy, so slightly different strategy, etc, ...but the moral of the story remains).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=80dX_yNz70c&sns=em

good point. Azarenka definitely needed improvement in a lot of areas from that video.

I'm actually really surprised to see how good she is now compared to how she looked at 13. Obviously, was still a good competitor at 13 but her game looked all kinds of hitchy.

Also, where's all that noise that she now makes, LOL

strike1 01-08-2013 01:51 AM

When my kids started playing, their coach at that time thought they shouldn't compete until they could regularly "beat the ghost." Basically he would have them play games -- but with no one on the other side of the court! So as long as they did not double fault too much, they would win the game, or beat the ghost. We still have great memories of them out there, all alone, calling out the score. :) But ultimately it did give them confidence about their serve once we started putting them into tournaments.

chalkflewup 01-08-2013 01:58 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by TCF (Post 7104779)
But I am most likely in the minority.

Welcome to my world! ;)

TCF 01-08-2013 04:40 AM

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Soianka 01-08-2013 04:43 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by strike1 (Post 7105180)
When my kids started playing, their coach at that time thought they shouldn't compete until they could regularly "beat the ghost." Basically he would have them play games -- but with no one on the other side of the court! So as long as they did not double fault too much, they would win the game, or beat the ghost. We still have great memories of them out there, all alone, calling out the score. :) But ultimately it did give them confidence about their serve once we started putting them into tournaments.

That's a really interesting and unique way to think about practicing serving.

Soianka 01-08-2013 04:45 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by TCF (Post 7105310)
Apples and oranges. A kid should be able to serve overhand before playing tournaments in my opinion.

I play the odds, of course kids continually have things to work on. But in my experience once they win a trophy with a low take back, pancake serve and bunting the ball, that can be hard to break.

Azarenka is a hard correlation to make to this thread about an 8 year old who has to serve underhand to get serves in. At 13 she had the fundamentals...she split stepped, moved her feet, had a nice racquet take back, nice rotation...everything was mostly fundamentally correct. Not everything, she still had things to work on of course.

Again, apples and oranges. Kids who lack many fundamentals, start competing and never change those issues.....vs a kid who has the fundamentals and now must get the experience of competing while also improving aspects of their games.

I have a feeling if someone would have posted the video of a 13-year-old Azarenka as their kid and asked for opinions, you would have declared that she would never have a pro career and her game was terrible. Her legs were too skinny. Her serve was awful and she shouldn't compete until she fixes it. She'd be lucky to get a D2 scholarship and girl juniors suck, etc. :)

TCF 01-08-2013 04:47 AM

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TCF 01-08-2013 04:51 AM

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coaching32yrs 01-08-2013 09:29 AM

I read some of the comments about the Azarenka video at age 13 and then watched the video with interest. I thought from some of the postings her strokes were going to be very flawed. They were not. The stokes look good. The swing on the serve is good and that's the critical point. Of course what she does with her lower body, taking her right leg way off the ground at times and other times landing on the right leg are problems. But, like I have said before, if the swing is good those can be easily fixed. If the swing is the problem- the fix becomes very difficult.

TCF 01-08-2013 09:46 AM

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mrj1813 01-08-2013 11:47 AM

And not a grunt/shriek heard out of azarenka at 13.

Just makes her utter cheating gamesmanship nowadays all the more disgusting.

Totally coached and forced in order to disrupt opponents.

Sorry. /rant.

Soianka 01-08-2013 02:39 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by TCF (Post 7105779)
Agree. I also missed what people said was wrong. Looked like a talented girl to me. I also look for her focus and self control. Also her fundamentals.

Certainly not like some of the stuff I see in high level 12s-14s USTA.

By the way, this fist pump stuff is ridiculous. I see the OB 12s and the girl actually fist pumped every time her opponent hit the net totally without any good shot by her before hand. Thats terrible sportsmanship.

Sorry, I don't buy it from either one of you :)

You are complimentary because you know the result is that this little girl grew up to become the #1 WTA player.

If this was any body else's kid playing exactly like that in 2013, you'd both be super negative about her zero chances for even a modestly successful pro career.

Soianka 01-08-2013 02:40 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mrj1813 (Post 7106000)
And not a grunt/shriek heard out of azarenka at 13.

Just makes her utter cheating gamesmanship nowadays all the more disgusting.

Totally coached and forced in order to disrupt opponents.

Sorry. /rant.

It is really weird how loud she is now and how quiet she was back then.

I'm not ready to say that she makes those horrible noises in an effort to cheat these days though.


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