Brushing up top spin serve

TrojanTennis

New User
I can’t seem to hit from 7 o’clock to 1 o’clock. I think I am hitting 12 to 6 o’clock from the side of the racket like a topspin slice. The ball is going down and not up. Any tips to fix this?


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Dan Huben

Semi-Pro
I do the same thing. For me it’s imagery and toss position. I have to toss and hit where my racquet is still ascending. If I throw a really high ball and pull it down then I slice in the manner you describe.

The imagery is maintaining the visual to go up to the ball.


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user92626

Legend
Try a different concept. Angle your racket down and forward and hit the ball on its top. First you'll send lots of ball to the net bottom. Then, aim the ball higher, much higher. Instinctively you'll swing up. Move the ball toss position back.
 
A high speed video will show you what you are doing.

I believe that a top spin serve hits the back of the ball around half way up. The kick serve which bounces to the right has the racket face closed at impact by about 15 degrees, more or less. The closed racket will first contact the top half of the ball. The kick serve will show a bounce to the right for a RH server.

I can't understand how anyone can hit top spin or kick with a Waiter's Tray technique. Slice works.
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
Toss directly over your head..
Conti grip with a lot of hammer.
Spin the ball forwards and swing slightly upwards.
 

aarenes

Rookie
Try a different concept. Angle your racket down and forward and hit the ball on its top. First you'll send lots of ball to the net bottom. Then, aim the ball higher, much higher. Instinctively you'll swing up. Move the ball toss position back.
User92626.... any chance to show this in a video or more elaborate tep by step instructions.

This looks promising and I want to try it... but cannot visualize the steps

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Dim Sim

New User
User92626.... any chance to show this in a video or more elaborate tep by step instructions.

This looks promising and I want to try it... but cannot visualize the steps

Sent from my SM-G960U using Tapatalk
Try thinking of it this way. The key to is it the racket path being in the direction of the server’s net post throughout the stroke and not being redirected at contact in the opposite direction toward the receiver’s service box.

1. Your racket path up to contact is following the direction of your arm (out to the server’s net post).

2. At contact your wrist will break and flip the racket to meet the ball. The direction of travel of your wrist and hand determines whether you put spin on the ball. That wrist break/flip is the throwing motion you use when throwing a ball to send it in the direction of travel and impart velocity to it.

3. To contact the top of the ball (and not the back of it) when you flip your wrist over you need to feel that you are flicking the hand out to the right/server’s net post and not rolling it square into the court in the direction of the service box. Try it without a racket and fan the fingers open at “contact” to see what it looks like.

4. To hit flatter you decrease the “flick” out to the net post and increase the degree to which you are rolling the palm square into the court. These are discrete movements and it does not require a large shift in motion to change the effect at impact.

5. Keep in mind the the racket path up to and at contact and through contact continues toward the net post rather the back fence or the receiver’s service box. If you redirect the racket at contact to “somersault” left toward the receiver’s service box it is impossible to impart spin onto the top of the ball and you’ll hit only flat shots with low percentage accuracy.

8. Tossing the ball further over toward your head (and less toward your striking shoulder) and contacting it slightly closer to the ground increases the amount of travel the racket can make in the more horizontal plane (in relative terms, as compared to the more vertical orientation of the racket at impact for the flat serve) caused by the wrist flick that imparts the forward rotation to the ball.

The last element for me is visualising where I’m contacting the ball and for topspin serves I’m thinking about hitting/swatting the top of the ball while for flat serve I’m thinking of whacking the back of it. Adding degrees of the wrist flip in a flat serve adds topspin to the serve and increases accuracy and consistency (as compared to hitting it dead flat and simply relying on perfect alignment and angles to get in down into the service box).

Tennis Evolution has a quite nice video (Tennis Serve: powerful & easy serve in 3 steps) that has a good demonstration of this, and at about 4:00 shows the difference between rolling the palm into the court (pushing) as compared to flicking the racket up and out to the side.

I hope that helps. It’s the result of a lesson I has to correct problems I was having with my serve and the demonstration of fanning the wrist at contact was a lightbulb moment for me.
 

aarenes

Rookie
Try thinking of it this way. The key to is it the racket path being in the direction of the server’s net post throughout the stroke and not being redirected at contact in the opposite direction toward the receiver’s service box.

1. Your racket path up to contact is following the direction of your arm (out to the server’s net post).

2. At contact your wrist will break and flip the racket to meet the ball. The direction of travel of your wrist and hand determines whether you put spin on the ball. That wrist break/flip is the throwing motion you use when throwing a ball to send it in the direction of travel and impart velocity to it.

3. To contact the top of the ball (and not the back of it) when you flip your wrist over you need to feel that you are flicking the hand out to the right/server’s net post and not rolling it square into the court in the direction of the service box. Try it without a racket and fan the fingers open at “contact” to see what it looks like.

4. To hit flatter you decrease the “flick” out to the net post and increase the degree to which you are rolling the palm square into the court. These are discrete movements and it does not require a large shift in motion to change the effect at impact.

5. Keep in mind the the racket path up to and at contact and through contact continues toward the net post rather the back fence or the receiver’s service box. If you redirect the racket at contact to “somersault” left toward the receiver’s service box it is impossible to impart spin onto the top of the ball and you’ll hit only flat shots with low percentage accuracy.

8. Tossing the ball further over toward your head (and less toward your striking shoulder) and contacting it slightly closer to the ground increases the amount of travel the racket can make in the more horizontal plane (in relative terms, as compared to the more vertical orientation of the racket at impact for the flat serve) caused by the wrist flick that imparts the forward rotation to the ball.

The last element for me is visualising where I’m contacting the ball and for topspin serves I’m thinking about hitting/swatting the top of the ball while for flat serve I’m thinking of whacking the back of it. Adding degrees of the wrist flip in a flat serve adds topspin to the serve and increases accuracy and consistency (as compared to hitting it dead flat and simply relying on perfect alignment and angles to get in down into the service box).

Tennis Evolution has a quite nice video (Tennis Serve: powerful & easy serve in 3 steps) that has a good demonstration of this, and at about 4:00 shows the difference between rolling the palm into the court (pushing) as compared to flicking the racket up and out to the side.

I hope that helps. It’s the result of a lesson I has to correct problems I was having with my serve and the demonstration of fanning the wrist at contact was a lightbulb moment for me.
Dim Sim.... thank you so much. Im going to try this and report back.

Hopefully this is the start of something new

Sent from my SM-G960U using Tapatalk
 
Try thinking of it this way. The key to is it the racket path being in the direction of the server’s net post throughout the stroke and not being redirected at contact in the opposite direction toward the receiver’s service box.

1. Your racket path up to contact is following the direction of your arm (out to the server’s net post).

2. At contact your wrist will break and flip the racket to meet the ball. The direction of travel of your wrist and hand determines whether you put spin on the ball. That wrist break/flip is the throwing motion you use when throwing a ball to send it in the direction of travel and impart velocity to it.

3. To contact the top of the ball (and not the back of it) when you flip your wrist over you need to feel that you are flicking the hand out to the right/server’s net post and not rolling it square into the court in the direction of the service box. Try it without a racket and fan the fingers open at “contact” to see what it looks like.

4. To hit flatter you decrease the “flick” out to the net post and increase the degree to which you are rolling the palm square into the court. These are discrete movements and it does not require a large shift in motion to change the effect at impact.

5. Keep in mind the the racket path up to and at contact and through contact continues toward the net post rather the back fence or the receiver’s service box. If you redirect the racket at contact to “somersault” left toward the receiver’s service box it is impossible to impart spin onto the top of the ball and you’ll hit only flat shots with low percentage accuracy.

8. Tossing the ball further over toward your head (and less toward your striking shoulder) and contacting it slightly closer to the ground increases the amount of travel the racket can make in the more horizontal plane (in relative terms, as compared to the more vertical orientation of the racket at impact for the flat serve) caused by the wrist flick that imparts the forward rotation to the ball.

The last element for me is visualising where I’m contacting the ball and for topspin serves I’m thinking about hitting/swatting the top of the ball while for flat serve I’m thinking of whacking the back of it. Adding degrees of the wrist flip in a flat serve adds topspin to the serve and increases accuracy and consistency (as compared to hitting it dead flat and simply relying on perfect alignment and angles to get in down into the service box).

Tennis Evolution has a quite nice video (Tennis Serve: powerful & easy serve in 3 steps) that has a good demonstration of this, and at about 4:00 shows the difference between rolling the palm into the court (pushing) as compared to flicking the racket up and out to the side.

I hope that helps. It’s the result of a lesson I has to correct problems I was having with my serve and the demonstration of fanning the wrist at contact was a lightbulb moment for me.
First, the majority of active tennis players do not serve with a high level technique so none of the information below applies. First screen for a Waiter's Tray serve where the racket face points to the sky and not to the side. Search Waiter's Tray Error HiTech Tennis.

Here are some overhead views of racket motion showing the path of the racket head and its significant rotation from internal shoulder rotation (ISR). Note Frank Salazar's chest is more facing the side on the kick serve. Toly composite pictures from Fuzzy Yellow Balls rare overhead videos. See videos.


Rare Fuzzy Yellow Balls overhead videos processed by Toly into composite pictures.


Measurements for these 3 pictures:
1) Slice - 70 d. racket head rotation.
2) Flat - 82 d. racket head rotation.
3) Kick - 54 d. racket head rotation.



Similar thread to this one only on the kick serve.
https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/index.php?threads/does-kick-topspin-serve-need-pronation.578063/#post-10824274
Kick serve with racket head motion shown rising at impact - because impact occurs just below the highest point that the racket will reach. The video is intended to be viewed single frame so that the text boxes can be read.
For single frame on Vimeo, click Vimeo, full screen, hold down the SHIFT KEY and use the ARROW KEYS.

Gifs Kick serve vs Slice serve showing differences.
1) Forearm to racket angle at impact.
2) Forearm angle more vertical on kick serve.
3) Impact closer to peak of racket height for slice. Racke still rising for kick. This rise is the clearest signature for kick or top spin serves in high speed videos.
4) Chest point more to side for kick serve.
Toly processed gifs.





Last, the kick serve - with bounce to the right - should first impact the ball with the racket head closed by about 15 d. The top half of the ball is first contacted. For the top spin serve, the racket face is not closed very much and first contacts the ball about half way up the ball. Where the ball is first contacted depends entirely on the angle of the racket face for all strokes.

See frame 12, impact. Notice the Gulbis serve impacts at the highest point of the racket path but the Federer kick serve impacts at a lower point of the racket path. Toly gif composite from high speed video frames.


More detail.
 
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user92626

Legend
User92626.... any chance to show this in a video or more elaborate tep by step instructions.

This looks promising and I want to try it... but cannot visualize the steps

Sent from my SM-G960U using Tapatalk


Don't think too much on the clock positions which doesn't work for you.




Try:Angle your racket down and forward and hit the ball on its top. First you'll send lots of ball to the net bottom. Then, aim the ball higher, much higher.



 
Don't think too much on the clock positions which doesn't work for you.




Try:Angle your racket down and forward and hit the ball on its top. First you'll send lots of ball to the net bottom. Then, aim the ball higher, much higher.



The first gif - demo with a horizontal racket at impact - is not accurate. Compare to the kick serve gif in post #10.

The second gif is too fast to see. Gifs cannot do single frame so they are not as good as videos.

Find clear high speed videos of how the racket contacts the ball.
 
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Dim Sim

New User
Chas, do you mean only that the one first gif user9 posted shows the contact point as too low and the motion of the racket rolling over the ball is too exaggerated? If not, what do you mean please?
 
Chas, do you mean only that the one first gif user9 posted shows the contact point as too low and the motion of the racket rolling over the ball is too exaggerated? If not, what do you mean please?
Expand the quoted post. See comments in red.
.......................................................................
Kick serve with racket head motion shown rising at impact - because impact occurs just below the highest point that the racket will reach. The video is intended to be viewed single frame so that the text boxes can be read.
For single frame on Vimeo, click Vimeo, full screen, hold down the SHIFT KEY and use the ARROW KEYS.

Gifs Kick serve vs Slice serve showing differences.
**1) Forearm to racket angle at impact.
**2) Forearm angle more vertical on kick serve.
.............................................................

Is the racket near horizontal at impact?



Does the racket roll over the top of the ball in this high speed video or the videos above?
.....................................................................................................................
See frame 12, impact. Toly gif composite from high speed video frames.

..............................................................................................
The racket in the demo is about 10 degrees above horizontal. The actual kick serves are not.

The demo shows the racket rolling over the ball. The Federer gif between racket positions #12 and #13 shows a kick serve. Do you see any roll over?

Find clear high speed videos that show the racket motion for a kick serve.
* Don't believe demos if there are conflicts with high speed videos.
* Don't believe word descriptions if the are conflicts with high speed videos.
 
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user92626

Legend
Chas,

You also forgot, in the demo (my first gif) the ball doesn't even leave guy's hand. The racket moves too slowly.

It's a demo of a concept!!!! duhhh!!!



Concepts don't equal results. Only thing concept does is to help with understanding.
 

acintya

Hall of Fame
lol the kick serve is so complicated. 1000 topics already on this. just dont forget: results come slow
 

user92626

Legend
Guys,

If you like Chas' way of helping by analyzing specific degrees, finding, looking at high speed videos and whatnot, go for it. More power to you.



Naturally if you don't find it working, you must find some other approaches.



If you like my way which is simplifying it to a few instrctions (below) coupled by some easily observable gifs up there, go for it.




Start simple, no major body arching, huge racket dropping, etc:

"Angle your racket down and forward and hit the ball on its top. First you'll send lots of ball to the net bottom. Then, aim the ball higher, much higher. " See gifs. :)

After a while, add the green stuff.
 

aarenes

Rookie
@Dim Sim - thanks for following up.
I went out this morning specifically to hit 50 serves all from ad side using this method and kept reading/evaluating. I want to say about 5 serves looked GREAT which had net clearance, exploded quickly and went way out WIDE to a (righty) receivers backhand. Hate to admit it, they were all flukes and I could not reproduce 2 in a row which would have given me confidence in the technique.

Some questions

The key to is it the racket path being in the direction of the server’s net post throughout the stroke and not being redirected at contact in the opposite direction toward the receiver’s service box.

1. Your racket path up to contact is following the direction of your arm (out to the server’s net post).
To confirm - the racquet strings are constantly facing the ad net post until the fan / flick occurs in step 3, correct?

2. At contact your wrist will break and flip the racket to meet the ball. The direction of travel of your wrist and hand determines whether you put spin on the ball. That wrist break/flip is the throwing motion you use when throwing a ball to send it in the direction of travel and impart velocity to it.
Every time I connected the ball correctly or somewhat correctly, I saw the power, spin or both occur. Sometimes on slight miss hits, one of the two were present.

3. To contact the top of the ball (and not the back of it) when you flip your wrist over you need to feel that you are flicking the hand out to the right/server’s net post and not rolling it square into the court in the direction of the service box. Try it without a racket and fan the fingers open at “contact” to see what it looks like.
I didn't get this instruction until I saw Tennis Evolution's video at 4:00 mark. The racquet strings which were facing the ad side net post during the swing is now vigorously flicked to right hand side net post. The key for me was I had to flick up along with left to right motion with speed to get the net clearance. If I only flicked from left to right or the speed was not there, the ball never made it. But if all 3 elements were there - speed, up, left to right, the kick and going out wide was evident.

For now I did not try this motion with flattening, swatting the ball at different positions. My shoulder was sore after. I wish I had warmed up and carried my lighter racquet.

Hope I interpreted these correctly.

I intend to continue practicing and then advance to using the same technique for flat serves with net clearance.
 
................................................................................................................................
For now I did not try this motion with flattening, swatting the ball at different positions. My shoulder was sore after. I wish I had warmed up and carried my lighter racquet.

Hope I interpreted these correctly.

I intend to continue practicing and then advance to using the same technique for flat serves with net clearance.
"...My shoulder was sore after. I wish I had warmed up and carried my lighter racquet. ........."

Stop experimenting with your serve.

Todd Ellenbecker has a video, "Rotator Cuff Injury". He explains and demonstrates the orientation of the upper arm at the shoulder joint to reduce the risk of shoulder impingement, a common tennis injury. You need to join Tennis Resources for 3 months/~$30 to view their videos. High level ATP servers, nearly all, are examples of good practice as Ellenbecker describes. The arm cannot be at too high an angle at the shoulder joint or bones may rub tissues.
 
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Dim Sim

New User
@aarenes, that sounds like good progress. I’d be happy with a 10% strike rate on the first go.

Racquet strings - closed during the takeback up to the trophy position, which means palm facing downwards or no more than vertical (toward the deuce side post); then yes, during the racquet drop and throw to the ball the palm side racquet face will be orientated toward the ad side post (as a consequence of how your arm moves and rotates/folds during the racquet drop). Then the racquet travels on edge (with the palm side still facing the ad post side) towards the ball before the flick of the wrist rotates the racquet head to meet the ball. The takeback, drop and throw parts will be idiosyncratic to you but important points are to not let the palm side of the racquet open up to horizontal or beyond before the trophy position (which is the waiters tray issue that gets discussed all the time) and to keep the racquet path travelling toward the deuce side post up to and through contact.

Using a lighter racquet should help as you need to accelerate the racquet during the flick to get racquet head speed and spin on the ball. Using a heavy racket means you are asking your forearm muscles and tendons to do more work during the flick.

If your shoulder is hurting then you are possibly using too much brute force through the shoulder. It’s tempting to up the power to try to increase the action on the ball but the speed of the racquet flick is what gives you the kick - so try to reduce the contribution of the torso and shoulder a bit and slightly increase the whip through the elbow and wrist.

A sore shoulder could also mean you are standing too square on to the service line at address, which will mean you will also too square at contact which will both reduce the amount of available travel for the racket to flick up the back and top of the ball at the point of contact and will also mean you will tend to somersault into the court and have to use more of a swatting motion than a throwing motion (by swatting here what I mean is, in an exaggerated sense, the motion where the upper arm is held out perpendicular to the torso in a line with the shoulders with the forearm held vertically (palm forward) and the upper arm rotates 90 degrees so the palm goes from vertical to horizontal facing the ground - I busted my rotator cuff with that swatting motion years ago playing squash as a result of the hitting arm being higher than the shoulder). Try opening up your stance at address by moving your back foot further back/around so that your chest is more exposed to the back fence - that will help with getting the desired racquet path and leaving enough room for the flick to cause the racquet to travel up the back/top of the ball at contact.

To increase the shoulder angle like Chas suggests try slightly exaggerating the time your tossing hand stays pointed at the ball, that will cause your shoulders to stay at an angle longer (hitting shoulder lower than tossing shoulder) and prevent the hitting arm getting above the shoulder during the loading phase, if that’s what’s happening.

If you are getting more swish on the ball than forward propulsion try tossing the ball slightly further into the court, and vice versa if you are getting power but no spin. In order to stay balanced during the swing it’s important that your toss is over your hitting shoulder side toward the deuce post - if you are modifying the toss to be slightly closer to your head you need to make sure that it’s not going too far over toward the ad post (which will unbalance you) or that it’s not going too far back toward the service line (which will compromise your contact point and reduce power and result in balls going long).

Hope that helps.
 

Dim Sim

New User
One further thing, using a slightly stronger continental grip (rotated slightly towards a one handed backhand) can help because it changed the angle of the racket face at contact to allow the strings to come further over the top of the ball. To see this in context, hold something a ruler or something similar with a flat edge in your hand (continental grip) with the arm outstretched above your heads, roughly where it would be at contact. Then rotate the ruler anti-clockwise (toward a OHBH grip) and back again to see the effect on racquet head orientation at contact. This is from a righty perspective, I’m not sufficiently coordinated to work it out from a lefty’s pov.
 
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