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Old 10-08-2012, 10:49 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by directionals View Post
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.

Originally Posted by directionals View Post
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).
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