Can't hit flat serve

Hartska

New User
Hello, some time lurker here. I decided to ask help here, because my serve is not progressing.

My serve has always been rather weak. I never had a real flat serve. Its basically always some kind of dink inside. However, I can hit this crazy slow sidespin serve. Demonstrated in the video(27:13). By varying my serves a bit, I did fine in my matches. But this level won't be enough to beat anyone higher leveled.

These problems lead me to develop reliable kick second serve. I did change some things up. I started tossing the ball more left and forward, trying to hit up. As a result, I kinda seem to get the ball in better and a little faster. I don't even know if my serve is more flat or kick but it seems to have a lot of sidespin still. I tried to add power but I just can't seem to hit ball fast. I tried pancake grip couple of times and definitely got more speed into my ball, so there must be something really wrong with my continental serve. As I keep playing against better opponents, their serves keep getting better and better and I am getting frustrated with my own serve.

So my questions are: Is my serve enough of kick/topspin serve? How can I serve flat/faster? What is wrong with my serve in general? In the video below, I believe I hit 3 low effort serves in the beginning. Then tried for kick and in the later parts I tried to go more flat.
 

GuyClinch

Legend
Toss ball more into court - toss more at 12'30. Imagine you want to high five ball with racquet - make square contact with back of ball. .Swing as fast as you can..

First serve is the most natural.. its almost like you are teasing us.. If none of that works..try some of daily tennis lesson videos.
 

Hartska

New User
Toss ball more into court - toss more at 12'30. Imagine you want to high five ball with racquet - make square contact with back of ball. .Swing as fast as you can..

First serve is the most natural.. its almost like you are teasing us.. If none of that works..try some of daily tennis lesson videos.
No tease.. Just don't know how. :/ Its like I can't hit through the ball with continental. But you are saying that toss the ball even more to the court? 12:30 means even more to left?
 

atp2015

Hall of Fame
No tease.. Just don't know how. :/ Its like I can't hit through the ball with continental. But you are saying that toss the ball even more to the court? 12:30 means even more to left?
To learn to hit using continental grip, bounce the ball on the floor using continental.
See this video from 3:00

 

Chas Tennis

G.O.A.T.
You are using the Waiter's Tray serve, the most common serving technique among active players. Here are posts from another poster's WT serve explaining and giving some information on the WT and high level technique.

Waiter's Tray Error
http://www.hi-techtennis.com/serve/big_l_student.php


Racket faces sky one checkpoint for WT. Racket edge faces ball one checkpoint for high level technique. But the use of internal shoulder rotation for racket head speed is most important.

WT is the most common serving technique among the total number of active tennis players.

My rough estimates of what is out there
1) Waiter's Tray Technique - 50%
2) Miscellaneous Techniques - 30%
3) High Level Technique - 20%

Only the High Level Technique has been well studied and described.

You should search internal shoulder rotation ISR tennis serve.

Recommend that you get the reference
Technique Development for Tennis Stroke Production, 2009, Elliott, Reid, Crespo, ITF Store & Kindle

Your upper arm is abducted too high for a high level serving technique. See especially references that describe shoulder impingement risk.

The Tennis Serve Nuthouse
This is the best information - and about the only information - that I have found on how to hit a Waiter's Tray serve. Pat Dougherty does not use the term 'Waiter's Tray' but the 'Hammer' is the WT or similar. You have to pay close attention as he also discusses the 'Advanced Serve' and demos some ISR it if you can catch it.

There is next to no information on the internet that describes the Waiter's Tray Technique and how to do that technique well.

The first issue to resolve is the path the hand. Does the Waiter's Tray hand path go more directly toward the ball than the high level hand path? Of course, the ISR causes the hand path and racket path to be different for a high level technique. Best seen from behind.

I don't know which advice for the high level serve applies to the Waiter's Tray technique. Is there a reference on the Waiter's Tray besides the Pat Dougherty's "Hammer that Serve" video?
 
Last edited:
A

Attila_the_gorilla

Guest
The main issue I see is that you're trying to "push" the ball down. In fact your racket has left its highest point when you make contact. You're not really swinging and whipping the racket upwards but are rather trying to push the racket down into the ball.
You should visualize a serve where the racket is swinging upwards like a whip as you make contact with the ball. This is important for topspin. Even for the most powerful flat serves, the racket needs to be swung upwards, not just slower topspin serves.

Here'a a little demo
 

Lance L

Semi-Pro
You are in an interesting position. Your serve is OK, but it is also not right either.
The problem is there isn't a thing to point out that would solve your problems.
The serve is a complicated stroke, it requires several things to work just right in a smooth sequence. This is not easy.
I think the only thing you can do is start from the beginning and work on the progressions. Build it up slowly, then start over. Each time you do this you will get a bit better. This is a lifetime activity. Once a year I start from the beginning and build up the progressions. Each time I notice something new. There are many videos online to help with this.
 

Hartska

New User
Atp2015: Intresting tip will try doing this
Attila_the_gorilla: You may be right. Should probably forget control for a while and just hit the ball in practice, wherever it may end up.
Chas Tennis: You are right and that is what I have identified. Forgot to mention it. Its under progress and I can do it without waiter's tray if there is no ball to hit. Occasionally there are better swings but yeah... mostly still waiters. Haven't really found way to beat muscle memory yet and it takes too much active thinking to do it constantly. Maybe combine leading with edge with free swings for a while.
Lance L: I have been thinking about this option. Problem is that I really like matches. Maybe after summer if I haven't progressed.
 

chikoo

Hall of Fame
Hello, some time lurker here. I decided to ask help here, because my serve is not progressing.

My serve has always been rather weak. I never had a real flat serve. Its basically always some kind of dink inside. However, I can hit this crazy slow sidespin serve. Demonstrated in the video(27:13). By varying my serves a bit, I did fine in my matches. But this level won't be enough to beat anyone higher leveled.

These problems lead me to develop reliable kick second serve. I did change some things up. I started tossing the ball more left and forward, trying to hit up. As a result, I kinda seem to get the ball in better and a little faster. I don't even know if my serve is more flat or kick but it seems to have a lot of sidespin still. I tried to add power but I just can't seem to hit ball fast. I tried pancake grip couple of times and definitely got more speed into my ball, so there must be something really wrong with my continental serve. As I keep playing against better opponents, their serves keep getting better and better and I am getting frustrated with my own serve.

So my questions are: Is my serve enough of kick/topspin serve? How can I serve flat/faster? What is wrong with my serve in general? In the video below, I believe I hit 3 low effort serves in the beginning. Then tried for kick and in the later parts I tried to go more flat.
check out Boris becker. His style of throwing your whole body behind the serve will give you the flat serve


 
Last edited:

GuyClinch

Legend
LMAO.. Poor guy..

Listen first thing you need to do is just concentrate on making square contact with back of ball. Flat serve is very simple and straightforward. Hitting it very fast and in - that takes more practice. But you have to start somewhere..

Just watch and do the drills in this video - and you will be back on track.

 

Limpinhitter

G.O.A.T.
Hello, some time lurker here. I decided to ask help here, because my serve is not progressing.

My serve has always been rather weak. I never had a real flat serve. Its basically always some kind of dink inside. However, I can hit this crazy slow sidespin serve. Demonstrated in the video(27:13). By varying my serves a bit, I did fine in my matches. But this level won't be enough to beat anyone higher leveled.

These problems lead me to develop reliable kick second serve. I did change some things up. I started tossing the ball more left and forward, trying to hit up. As a result, I kinda seem to get the ball in better and a little faster. I don't even know if my serve is more flat or kick but it seems to have a lot of sidespin still. I tried to add power but I just can't seem to hit ball fast. I tried pancake grip couple of times and definitely got more speed into my ball, so there must be something really wrong with my continental serve. As I keep playing against better opponents, their serves keep getting better and better and I am getting frustrated with my own serve.

So my questions are: Is my serve enough of kick/topspin serve? How can I serve flat/faster? What is wrong with my serve in general? In the video below, I believe I hit 3 low effort serves in the beginning. Then tried for kick and in the later parts I tried to go more flat.
Not bad. You are doing some things well, other things not. I would recommend only trying to change a few things at a time. First, use a Continental, or, even an Eastern backhand grip on serve. The reason is that it forces you to rotate your hand counter clockwise (the often discussed "pronation"), in order to square up the racquet face at contact, and it will contiue to rotate after contact. This is very important because it increases racquet head speed which increases power and spin. Second, be more deliberate in your preparation. After you bounce the ball a few times, come to a full stop with the racquet pointing at the service box and hold the ball against the racquet throat ala Sampras (or string bed ala Djokovic, whatever you like), and think about what you are going to do, where you are going to hit the ball, what kind of spin, etc. Finally, your windup is wasted because you are coming to a full stop in the back scratch position and trying to accelerate from there. Rather, your swing should gradually and continually accelerate as soon as you begin your windup, continue accelerating through the back scratch position and through contact with the ball.

In short: (1) Continental or Eastern backhand grip, (2) deliberation, (3) continual acceleration.
 
Last edited:
Top