Beginner serve - A slight standoff with my tutor this morning

Hi

Rec/beginner trying to improve my serve.

Historically I've been waiter-traying (but with a continental grip) and I'm trying to fix this (in practising my serve) and move towards edging and properly internally rotating my shoulder on contact.

See as
as my reference for how I'm trying to progress.

I have weekly lessons with a tutor who this week, after me trying to edge and internally rotate my shoulder (as I've been practicing) and told me to not edge too much and change from edge to "pushing" forward with my racquet into the contact position. (I hope this describes it OK). Which IMO, goes back to what I was doing and is waiter tray esque, going against what I'm trying to achieve.

What are your thoughts? Should I look for another tutor? Should I go with his plan and maybe he's looking to improve other areas of my serve before focusing on my edge and pronation?

Thanks in advance, as ever.
 

PKorda

Semi-Pro
Really not enough info to comment definitively but if you trust him as an instructor I would listen to him, focusing on approaching on edge and internal shoulder rotation are pretty advanced concepts so he's probably trying to simplify things.
 
Really not enough info to comment definitively but if you trust him as an instructor I would listen to him, focusing on approaching on edge and internal shoulder rotation are pretty advanced concepts so he's probably trying to simplify things.

That's what I get, but it's hard when I'm trying to learn something I know I'm capable of.
 
Communication.
What you are trying to implement, and him assuming you are a beginner, does not match.
Yes, you're right. I'm probably an advanced beginner, to be honest, but my serve is definitely a weak point. I don't want to get into a bad habit,t hat's all.

I'll give him more time, but I don't feel like I'm advancing with his serve tuition, unfortunately.
 

WildVolley

Legend
...

What are your thoughts? Should I look for another tutor? Should I go with his plan and maybe he's looking to improve other areas of my serve before focusing on my edge and pronation?

Thanks in advance, as ever.
We are only hearing your perspective, but I agree that the verbal advice he gave you sounds bad. If the coach can't explain why he is giving the instruction, that's not a good sign.

As a general rule, I think that a coach should immediately correct a waiter's tray problem when working with a beginner. Repetitions of improper form will start to become habituated which makes it harder to develop the proper technique in the future.
 
Communication.
What you are trying to implement, and him assuming you are a beginner, does not match.
I shot some footage yesterday of my independent progress. I'm trying to work that shoulder rotation.
Let me know if you think I'm on the right line.
(the court was a bit damp, some of the balls were wet and there are a few bad tosses that I should have left, I know :) )

 

SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
I shot some footage yesterday of my independent progress. I'm trying to work that shoulder rotation.
Let me know if you think I'm on the right line.
(the court was a bit damp, some of the balls were wet and there are a few bad tosses that I should have left, I know :) )

Not too shabby. Looks more like a low int rather than adv novice level. (Really only took a quick look tho). From what I saw, your toss appeared to be a bit too far to the right -- somewhere between 1 & 2 o'clock. Try for a toss placement that arcs back a little bit toward you so that you are contacting between 12 & 1 o'clock for first serves and between 11 & 12 for 2nd serves.

It is okay that your arm is angled a little bit to the right but you want the racket angled to the left as shown in the image below. Might be able to get more ISR (and pronation) with that



Toss arc:

from TennisPlayer.net
 
Not too shabby. Looks more like a low int rather than adv novice level. (Really only took a quick look tho). From what I saw, your toss appeared to be a bit too far to the right -- somewhere between 1 & 2 o'clock. Try for a toss placement that arcs back a little bit toward you so that you are contacting between 12 & 1 o'clock for first serves and between 11 & 12 for 2nd serves.

It is okay that your arm is angled a little bit to the right but you want the racket angled to the left as shown in the image below. Might be able to get more ISR (and pronation) with that



Toss arc:

from TennisPlayer.net
Thank you (as always), I personally feel like I'm improving each day with increased reps however this was my first success at actually getting into the feel of the ISR.

I agree with the toss comments, now I'm starting to commit my swing to memory, I'll start working on my toss more. That PS gif is a great visual of the arc.

Now I've got some footage and a baseline, I'll start working on the areas.

I'll be sure to post back when I feel like I'm improved some more.

Thank you.
 

Toss arc:

from TennisPlayer.net
Continuing to work on my own serve, I found it strange initially that there was even a toss "arc" rather than pushing it straight up to an intended location to drop. With Sampras, is he actually hitting a flat serve here or more of a topspin serve? I also wonder if he is even doing the "edge" first then pronate until it ends up face on the ball. Also, is he doing the wrist pullback bend before wrist pronate? It all happens in a split-second fast.
 

SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
Continuing to work on my own serve, I found it strange initially that there was even a toss "arc" rather than pushing it straight up to an intended location to drop. With Sampras, is he actually hitting a flat serve here or more of a topspin serve? I also wonder if he is even doing the "edge" first then pronate until it ends up face on the ball. Also, is he doing the wrist pullback bend before wrist pronate? It all happens in a split-second fast.
Pretty much all elite servers have an arc to their toss. Roger's toss is a bit lower than Pete's, but his tossing parabola is even wider -- particularly for second serves

Pete tosses the ball to his Left (seen as our Right from this front perspective). According to a study from Jeff Cooper some years ago, Pete's 1st toss is somewhat to the left while his 2nd serve toss was up to 2 ft more to the Left (but not quite as far forward of the baseline). But even tho he tosses to the left of his original position his head & body have also moved to the left so this toss seems nearly lined up with his right ear.

For Roger, there was often an even greater diff between first and second serve tosses.

I can't see enough detail in the GIF to make out what kind of serve this is. Can you make it out @WildVolley? It may be an illusion but it looks like his racket face is not completely square to the ball. He might be on the Deuce side serving a slice (or top-slice) out wide -- but this is a WAG. It might actually be flatter than what I think I'm seeing.

Sampras most definitely uses rotations of his shoulder and forearm on his serve to get his racket "on edge" for his drop and for a good part of his upward swing. I can clearly see that he is externally rotating his shoulder (ESR) for his racket drop. He may also be supinating his forearm. On his upward swing, he releases his internal rotators (ISR) in addition to some forearm rotation (pronation). With these rotations he is turning his hand to move from "on edge" to a racket face orientation that presents his strings to the ball.

His wrist does bend during the drop phase and the early part of his upward swing. His wrist is laid back (wrist extension) with a bit of side bend (radial deviation). This wrist extension and deviation are released later during the upward swing. However, I believe this bending and unbending of the wrist are largely passive action. As long as the fingers, wrist and forearm are relaxed for most of the serve action, the wrist articulations should happen without a lot of active or conscious effort. At least, that is the way it looks and feels to me.
 
Pretty much all elite servers have an arc to their toss. Roger's toss is a bit lower than Pete's, but his tossing parabola is even wider -- particularly for second serves

Pete tosses the ball to his Left (seen as our Right from this front perspective). According to a study from Jeff Cooper some years ago, Pete's 1st toss is somewhat to the left while his 2nd serve toss was up to 2 ft more to the Left (but not quite as far forward of the baseline). But even tho he tosses to the left of his original position his head & body have also moved to the left so this toss seems nearly lined up with his right ear.

For Roger, there was often an even greater diff between first and second serve tosses.

I can't see enough detail in the GIF to make out what kind of serve this is. Can you make it out @WildVolley? It may be an illusion but it looks like his racket face is not completely square to the ball. He might be on the Deuce side serving a slice (or top-slice) out wide -- but this is a WAG. It might actually be flatter than what I think I'm seeing.

Sampras most definitely uses rotations of his shoulder and forearm on his serve to get his racket "on edge" for his drop and for a good part of his upward swing. I can clearly see that he is externally rotating his shoulder (ESR) for his racket drop. He may also be supinating his forearm. On his upward swing, he releases his internal rotators (ISR) in addition to some forearm rotation (pronation). With these rotations he is turning his hand to move from "on edge" to a racket face orientation that presents his strings to the ball.

His wrist does bend during the drop phase and the early part of his upward swing. His wrist is laid back (wrist extension) with a bit of side bend (radial deviation). This wrist extension and deviation are released later during the upward swing. However, I believe this bending and unbending of the wrist are largely passive action. As long as the fingers, wrist and forearm are relaxed for most of the serve action, the wrist articulations should happen without a lot of active or conscious effort. At least, that is the way it looks and feels to me.
Wow. :)
 

WildVolley

Legend
...

I can't see enough detail in the GIF to make out what kind of serve this is. Can you make it out @WildVolley? It may be an illusion but it looks like his racket face is not completely square to the ball. He might be on the Deuce side serving a slice (or top-slice) out wide -- but this is a WAG. It might actually be flatter than what I think I'm seeing.
I believe that GIF of Sampras is from John Yandell's high-speed video of Sampras's serve (and specifically from an article analyzing Sampras's serve technique @JohnYandell). I'm fairly certain that is a Sampras first serve from the deuce court down the T, so mostly flat with a probably a slight bit of action to it. It seems to match a high-speed copy of that clip (without showing the toss location bars) on my computer.
 

fuzz nation

G.O.A.T.
I shot some footage yesterday of my independent progress. I'm trying to work that shoulder rotation.
Let me know if you think I'm on the right line.
(the court was a bit damp, some of the balls were wet and there are a few bad tosses that I should have left, I know :) )

Thanks for posting - impossible to know what's going on without having a look at how it's all unfolding.

The general thing that I saw was that your ISR is definitely happening when you swing over the top, but it's obviously happening because there's almost nothing else contributing to the energy in your swing. If you're serving like that to really activate your ISR, I'd say that's fine. But if you want to really stoke up the engines for your serve, you need to add a significant measure of leg drive and trunk rotation. This "pushing" with your larger muscle groups could be what your coach is trying to add to what you're doing now.

When I'm working with developing servers, I sometimes have them set up at the baseline with the orientation that they use for serving with a racquet in hand, but instead of swinging a racquet, I have them use their service motion to throw a tennis ball in a high arc to the far end of the court - usually in the general direction of the service box that they'd be going for when hitting an actual serve from that spot.

That throwing motion should coax you toward "pushing" both upward and forward with your legs to throw the ball in a high arc. Trunk rotation - your chest and shoulder - will compound the energy of your swing up through the ball by turning away (to your right) as you wind up and then back toward the left as you drive and release over the top. A nice and loose, limber racquet arm will fly over the top faster than a tense arm - same as when throwing a ball. Just try to avoid too much deliberate or forced ISR/pronation as you swing or you may put unnecessary torque on your rotator cuff or forearm.
 
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