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Old 10-03-2012, 06:59 PM   #1
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Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Baseline
Posts: 3,588
Default Do You Have an Unusual Serve?

I have virtually no cartilage in my left knee (martial arts and racquet ball) and bone fragments in my right ankle (football injury). Thus, while I can do a traditional serve motion complete with full leg drive upward my knee and ankle protest loudly enough that, with the help of fellow TT members, I've developed an earth bound serve stance and motion that works for me.

On Tuesday night I helped my wife warm up for her team practice. I knocked in a couple of serves before leaving the court and while her team was chatting her coach stopped me. He told me my feet were all wrong and showed me a proper stance. He was, and is, perfectly correct of course. He explained that as a righty I should have the left/front foot aimed at the net post, the right/rear foot parallel to the baseline, and the left heel aligned on the right toe. Been told that and have seen it in every tennis book and video.

But when I do that I feel like I'm not getting enough power and fluid movement. I feel too much friction between my earth bound feet and the court.

So my serve stance is "backwards".

My left/front foot is parallel to the baseline and my right/rear foot is angled away from the baseline roughly 45 degrees. And like a certain position in t'ai chi my feet start pretty close together. With my weight fully on my back foot I toss and begin my serve motion and, as when throwing a football or baseball, I step into my swing by lifting and then planting my left/front foot followed up by a full, smooth follow through and step into the court with my right/rear foot.

All of this means a massive hip and shoulder turn far in excess of a traditional serve since I set up looking at my target over my shoulder/back. I develop RHS with a slower than normal acceleration but final speed is still enough for great topspin and pace. The more calm and smooth I am the better the serve too.

I tried the coache's traditional approach this afternoon and just couldn't achieve what I felt was sufficient power. I felt constrained as if I was losing a huge chunk of my hip and shoulder turn. To get the same final RHS I had to accelerate faster which meant far less accuracy. Essentially my serve is a long, slow acceleration to full speed which replaces a full leg drive with extra hip and shoulder turn (feels very comfy on the shoulder and arm too!)

I'm not looking for a critique of my serve. It works for me and lets my middle aged, sports damaged, desk jocky body wield a "heavy" AG 4D 200 Tour with ease. My flat serve stays very low and fast, well below the net, making returns more difficult. In spite of its low altitude it now nearly reaches the back fence before skidding into the court surface. My kick serve clears the net by several feet and has so much topspin it can dive down back into the court before reaching the baseline. It can also hit service box corners near the net post and make a second hard dive wide (sometimes my kick serve comes in so "stright down" it bounces far more up with little or no court penetration).

I'm curious if others have unusual aspects to their serve stance or motion. Have coaches tried to break you of your unique serve? Do you perform fine with an unusual serve stance or motion? Have you tried to change it? Why or how did you develop your stance or motion?
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Last edited by TimothyO; 10-03-2012 at 07:04 PM.
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