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-   -   Which professional's serve should I copy? (http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=484546)

carguy01123 12-03-2013 06:40 PM

Which professional's serve should I copy?
 
My serves aren't too great, and even though I understand the basic principles like bending your knees and twisting your forearm for pronation, I want to have something to look at and copy. Which professional's serve should I analyze and get principles from to improve my serve? What should I look for similarities in? I'm about 5'9.5-10'' (I'm 14 and a male), so should I copy a serve from a pro who's about the same height as me (like Michael Chang)? Or does that not matter. I obviously don't need the best serve on the planet because my main focus right now is to make sure my serve is good enough to make my pretty good high school team. Which professionals' the easiest to copy and learn quickly? I'm looking at Djokovic because, in my opinion, his entire game is quite simple and fundamental and effective, whereas someone like Nadal is an oddball. Should I go with him? I know these are a lot of questions. Thanks and sorry for the trouble.

Say Chi Sin Lo 12-03-2013 06:45 PM

Sampras', and then +/- as you wish, because some parts of a motion just won't gel with the individual. Instead of trying to be a carbon copy of a particular motion, take the concept behind the motion, and mold it into your own. That's what I did :)

Couple things I removed from Sampras' motion were:
- The "take-aim" part where he brings his racquet and ball forward before he starts the the motion. That's just too much motion for me, and it messed up my rhythm. I kept a small part for it, but I didn't bring the racquet/ball up to my face.
- The "high-elbow" finish. I just couldn't do it.

5263 12-03-2013 07:16 PM

I agree Sampras is a great template.

SystemicAnomaly 12-03-2013 07:51 PM

I agree that many elements of the Sampras serve are worth studying but modifications are needed for most players trying "copy" his serve. His toss is a bit too high for many players. I prefer Federer's tossing height & style. Sampras' racket lags quite a bit behind the tossing arm. Because of of this he needs the higher toss to be able to synchronize the motions of his arms (wrt each other). When I "copied" his serve, I went with a lower toss and adjusted the synchronizations of the arms accordingly.

Take a look at the image of Pete below. The ball is already 2-3 feet out of his hand and his racket is still down -- it has a way to go to get to the trophy position. This is not the "down together, up together" motion that many coaches teach. Check out the Federer-Sampras video serve comparison. Look at the difference in their racket position at about the 0:24 mark. Roger's racket position is much to the trophy position than Pate's. Federer's arm sync/timing would be easier to copy that Sampras'.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=npxP6Jej9iE

Ojibway 12-03-2013 07:56 PM

I feel Federer motion is easier to build upon. Though Sampras has much better serve, I could never arch my back way he did.

Bobby Jr 12-03-2013 08:01 PM

To the OP, to take inspiration from a serve it is really important to look at what are the broad, important movements and separate them from the superfluous extras or particular traits which rely heavily on some special ability (Sampras's foot point and his freaky shoulder flexibility for example). Not all great serves can be easily scaled down to a club player.

Sampras's serve was a piece of artwork and many people say they were inspired by his despite not obviously having much commonality with his at all. Federer definitely did. He and guys like Almagro probably provide better all-round lessons for a club hack than someone like Sampras because they lack the amount of extras and the slight timing quirk that Systematic Anomaly mentions above - they are straight-forward motions which are both reliable and not overly height or body-type dependent (like Roddick or Isner's serves for example). A player of almost any height or build could do well with a reliable Federer-esque serve for example.

I'd say, for someone starting out, not having a fluid 'throwing' motion (to be clear I'm referring to the swing, not the ball toss) is the single biggest factor which limits a person's serve potential. So, get onto that aspect really early on and look at who has a really nice throwing motion like Federer, Sampras, Almagro etc and getting that part sorted will be a great accompaniment to the other advice you will no doubt get in this thread. Hopefully CharlieFederer posts as he is really astute on matters relating to the serve.

Bobby Jr 12-03-2013 08:06 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Say Chi Sin Lo (Post 7934235)
Couple things I removed from Sampras' motion were:...

I've seen your serve (in the infamous "arming the ball" thread :p)and it doesn't really resemble Sampras's at all. If I had to guess who inspired your serve I would never have guessed that - but there are plenty of tell-tale aspects take directly from Federer's whether intentional or not - the way your start on the front foot and hold/rock the racquet pre-serve, the way you bounce the ball on the edge of your racquet exactly like Federer does before almost every serve and the angle/pose you start with.

Also, you basically don't pronate on your serve which adds a significant biomechanical and swing path gap between motions like Sampras/Federer etc.

This doesn't at all mean you can't offer good advice to others - most coaches can't serve all that well themselves and some not at all - but self-awareness and the ability to see what is actually happening goes a long way in working out what to work on. That is one of the inherent difficulties of learning tennis - those that need to improve the most usually start with the lowest ability to self assess so take ages to make changes for the good.

Say Chi Sin Lo 12-03-2013 08:13 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bobby Jr (Post 7934336)
I've seen your serve and it doesn't resemble Sampras's. If I had to guess who inspired your serve I would never have guessed that - but there are plenty of telltale commonalities with Federer without any doubt - the way your start on the front foot and hold/rock the racquet pre-serve, the way you bounce the ball on the edge of your racquet exactly like Federer does before almost every serve and the angle/pose you start with.

Also, you basically don't pronate on your serve which adds a significant biomechanical and swing path gap between motions like Sampras/Federer etc.

I didn't know bouncing of the ball with the beam of my racquet is a Federer exclusive. Should I stop doing that too as I walk along the baseline to the next point? Hmm, I better think of new ways to get myself into rhythm...

The hold/rock is derived from my observation of Rafter (I had a phase where I tried to emulate Rafter's motion, but holy crap, it damn near destroyed my shoulder). I kept the concept, but just toned it down. Instead of holding it for a period of time like Rafter, I just let it drop and let it "rock" into my motion. It felt more simple to me. The "lock n' loaded", "cocking" (or whatever you want to call it) right before Sampras goes into his motion was just too much for me.

Next time I'll include the complete timeline for the progression of my serve.

Bobby Jr 12-03-2013 08:25 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Say Chi Sin Lo (Post 7934344)
I didn't know bouncing of the ball with the beam of my racquet is a Federer exclusive. Should I stop doing that too as I walk along the baseline to the next point?

It's been his thing since over a decade and you do it on virtually every single serve in that video. It doesn't affect your serve so it's no biggie at all - I was just saying it immediately stuck out as Fed inspired. If you don't realise it then you're more impressionable than you might think you are and I have a business opportunity you should invest in. :p

There's no shame in being inspired by a player a lot - not sure why you seem to want to not give Federer credit. Hallmarks of him can be seen in how you prepare (not the hitting part) for your serve, hit both your forehand and backhands and even in how you dress (the white-under-black sock with the US Open V8s was clearly your thing)

Quote:

Originally Posted by Say Chi Sin Lo (Post 7934344)
Next time I'll include the complete timeline for the progression of my serve.

Please post a newer video to go with your recent rallying ones. Your forehand doesn't seem to have changed much in the two years since those videos other than you seem to move a little better now (that could be simply down to the day though). You still put tons of stress on your shoulder by having such a small backswing and not engaging your core much at all - something I thought you were dead keen on doing given your history with shoulder injuries.

Say Chi Sin Lo 12-03-2013 08:41 PM

I don't like being compared to the pros because I find it to be disrespectful to them. I don't even come close to what they can produce on the court.

Secondly, the mention of me copying a pro takes away my own efforts in developing my strokes.

Also, Mr. Federer wasn't really on tv that much when I was developing my strokes in the late 90s/early 00s. I'm not denying the similarities as I have heard them from other people. I'm just saying it was through my own development and efforts.

White/black socks, ok that one I did copy. Because I thought it looked good. :)

carguy01123 12-03-2013 09:16 PM

the video
 
I appreciate your guys' help. Could you guys post the link to the video you are talking about? Maybe I can learn a little from that as well. Thanks.

Bobby Jr 12-03-2013 09:28 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Say Chi Sin Lo (Post 7934364)
I don't like being compared to the pros because I find it to be disrespectful to them. I don't even come close to what they can produce on the court.

If someone were claiming a serve was as good as player X I might agree but insofar as admitting a stroke was inspired by one - especially if it was widely considered to be a benchmark example - is not in the least bit disrespectful to the pro. That's how things are learned and with the advent of easy access to slow-mos and replays of almost any pro's stroke it takes over from the previous situation where a coach would get you to copy their swing as a starting point of how to serve.

I doubt Federer would ever have any issue ever with anyone, Dimitrov or the average club player, basing and entire game on him. It's more of a compliment than the opposite - even if it doesn't work very well.

WildVolley 12-03-2013 09:35 PM

I'm partial to copying Goran Ivanisevic's serve or perhaps Almagro's. You likely will keep growing so I don't think height is a major factor. In any case, you can simply add more topspin if you find it difficult to hit flat.

I'm not as big of a fan of Sampras's serve as a model for the average person because he was quite athletic and I don't think his extreme left toss and leaping ability can be easily duplicated by most players.

carguy01123 12-03-2013 09:39 PM

copying
 
I agree with Bobby. I take lessons, but I find that taking screen shots of slow motion videos of the pros' shots and then coming up with a document that talks about the things they do that make their shot effective and then copying them can make much more of a difference than just taking lessons, where you basically do the same drills everyday. Watching videos has greatly improved my ground strokes over the past few months. I'm able to get a wrist snap without hurting it, and its all due to the internet. My shots don't look exactly like the people I copy (no one's does), but there nothing wrong in copying from the best of the best. Which is what this thread was all about. Now stop arguing and bury the hatchet.

JW10S 12-03-2013 09:47 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by carguy01123 (Post 7934418)
I take lessons, but I find that taking screen shots of slow motion videos of the pros' shots and then coming up with a document that talks about the things they do that make their shot effective and then copying them can make much more of a difference than just taking lessons, where you basically do the same drills everyday.

Clearly you haven't had lessons from a good pro. If you're 'basically doing the same drills everyday' I can see why you think copying others is better. You need to find another pro to take lessons from.

Chas Tennis 12-04-2013 06:39 AM

Study the shoulder and beware especially of impingement issues. The information in this video describes the shoulder and especially impingement risk during serving. There are light shoulder conditioning exercises such as the Thrower's 10 that strengthen the muscles and help the range of motion.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Chas Tennis (Post 7243583)
I believe that serving with ISR is never forced and could cause injury if practiced incorrectly. Here are some known issues. With forceful and rapid ISR the small external shoulder rotator cuff muscles have to be conditioned to keep the ball of the humerus in place and to stop the arm rotation in the follow through. See recommended shoulder conditioning exercises. Easy, light exercises.

There are also the important safety issues related to technique such as the shoulder high orientation for the serve to minimize impingement risk. Just one very bad motion can cause injury.

1) Jim McLennan short video on the rotator cuff, impingement and serving
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lTRvxaBMh8s

2) Todd Ellenbecker video on shoulder anatomy, impingement, and serving. At about minute 8 he describes the same issue as McLennan but in more detail.
http://www.tennisresources.com/index...2&ATT=&reso=lo

If you are concerned because you are having pain, how can you determine that the technique that you use is OK? You have to study and know the proper technique and verify that you are doing it with high speed video or find a well qualified instructor. Keep in mind that the more rapid motions during the serve cannot be seen by eye or even 60 fps video so an instructor who uses HSV is a plus.

You cannot tell exactly what you are doing on the serve without high speed video.

Research the most basic service motion which is the same for any height. Racket head speed is not mostly produced by "forearm pronation" but internal shoulder rotation.

Raonic has an interesting and very strong serve.
https://vimeo.com/user6237669/videos/page:3/sort:date

Sampras video
Quote:

Originally Posted by Chas Tennis (Post 7933541)
Here is a nice view showing some phases of the serve.

Pete Sampras Serve in Slow Motion
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jBv4WjGQWFQ

Leg thrust.
Racket + forearm rotate back with external shoulder rotation joint motion.
Racket angle to forearm drops back & racket raches nearest to 'Back Scratch. Upper body motions.
.
.
.
.
Leg kicks back up behind.

Work with a well-qualified instructor.

mbm0912 12-04-2013 07:12 AM

I find myself going back to the Murray Serve pretty often for reference.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xwow2QGkNuw

GoudX 12-04-2013 09:00 AM

Some good serves to copy, with what to look at:

Sampras - Technically copy the very controlled consistent motion, with plenty of back and leg power. Tactically copy the way he keeps his cool on the first and second serves - both always are hit with decent power (not excessive amounts), a lot of kick, and good placement.

Nadal - Technically you want to copy the way he gets exceptional consistency with a hard to attack shot by focusing on spin instead of power. Tactically you want to copy his high first serve percent, the way he moves the opponent around the box and the way he keeps them guessing with spin.

Roddick - Technically you want to copy the very simple takeback and toss, which prevents errors, and the huge coiling he achieved with a lot of knee bend/racquet drop/shoulder turn/back bend, which let him generate a lot of power without having to hit flat. Tactically copy the way he would rarely hit his biggest/flattest 145+mph first serve, instead favouring a more consistent 130mph spin serve. In other words: serve as big as you can without losing spin or consistency.

Isner/Karlovic/Janowicz: Technically -be tall-. Also, these players use a combination of heavy spin and high/forward contact points to be able to hit extreme angles, so hit the ball with spin at as high a point as you can consistently manage, while moving forward into the court to get open up angles. Tactically, lots of variation - sidespin, topspin, torpedo spin, placement, and power can all be changed - don't let them get comfortable with your serve.


DON'T:
Always hit big flat serves trying to be Roddick/Karlovic, as the big flat serve is inconsistent and easy for your opponent to predict.

ALSO DON'T:
Wimp out on serves, first serves should always be an attempt to get you in a favourable position, second serves must not be easy to attack - so really kick it!

REALLY DON'T:
Try to perfectly copy a pro technique, as you are different to them in terms of your body and training, instead you should take inspiration from what they do well and copy the general idea.

Say Chi Sin Lo 12-04-2013 10:56 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by carguy01123 (Post 7934392)
I appreciate your guys' help. Could you guys post the link to the video you are talking about? Maybe I can learn a little from that as well. Thanks.

Here you go, Rafter vs. Sampras US Open 1998 SF

Two of the most beautiful motions ever in my opinion. The movement on Rafter's serves was unreal, he was stupid fast!

SystemicAnomaly 12-04-2013 11:38 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by carguy01123 (Post 7934392)
I appreciate your guys' help. Could you guys post the link to the video you are talking about? Maybe I can learn a little from that as well. Thanks.

Let Google or the Youtube search function be your friend. Use something like "Almagro serve slow motion" for your search criteria. Have you watched the videos listed in this thread? Here is one link that shows Almagro and Wawrinka (but not in slow mo):

http://www.top-tennis-training.org/strokes/serve/the-lightning-bolt-serve


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