Could use some help with my serve (video included)

Cuclain

New User
Hello,

for some backround. I startet playin Tennis this June and have been playing quite a bit. I had 3-4h with a coach but mostly i am self-taught (coach ist too expensive).
I am using a continental grip and try to do everything i learned from videos, but double fault a lot. Most of my faults land in the net. Would say around 80-90%.
I am analyzing my footage, but only thing i see, is my tossing arm starts to bend a little mid toss.

Some pointers on how to improve and get a consistent serve would be awesome.
In the Video you can jump to 19:30 where my service realy breaks down.
Game Footage

Greetins :)
 

Dragy

Hall of Fame
Hey mate! First of all, your basic motion looks solid. Don't tweak small things at this stage, they are mostly ok. You're really doing some good job building this motion, it's just not complete yet.
What I suggest to focus on:
- Get that toss under control. Motion is ok, but dedicated practice will be fruitful.
- Get rid of tightness. Not getting you anywhere. Swing at the ball like you don't care, focus on clean contact, don't worry where the ball goes until you feel great with the strike itself.
- Stop slowing down, altering, controlling racquet face around contact, particularly on second serve. It's not why you accelerated it on the way up - not to then fight that built-up RHS. Just guide it accross the ball to complete the swing, and let the contact happen.
- Get feel for the moderate spin on all your serves. Every serve shall have RH travel across the target line at contact, even if just a tad. On second serve - more, be that topspin or just sidespin. Not slowing down RHS, but putting it into some spin.

Your mindset shall always be, toss the ball and swing up-and-accross with free flowing/rolling/whipping/throwing motion.

PS: lots of mishits on your 19:30 serves. Tight, scary to miss, manipulating, slowing down - and you are toast. Trust, hit the ball (not the target), swing through non-restricted, not jerking, with flow - and you have much better chance of doing it, and doing with quality.


PPS: on your ad serve, set your feet more away - you are going to serve to completely different direction than for the deuce!
 
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Chas Tennis

G.O.A.T.
I looked at the serve at 19:30 and at first it looked like a Waiter's Tray because the racket more faces the sky and continues with little rotation, see 19:32. But it is probably a third technique, seen before, where the arm is more off to the side and ISR is used for racket head speed. This technique at 19:32 is not high level because racket more faces the sky. It closes as it moves forward. It is not WT either because it uses ISR for racket head speed. I don't see how a kick serve could be hit with this technique.

20:10 looks WT.

Later another serve, ad side, does not look WT, probably high level.

That's three serving techniques, out of about 5-6 serves. I think that the techniques vary.

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

You have the Waiter's Tray technique as the majority of active tennis players. CORRECTED ABOVE

Search: Waiter's Tray Chas

internal shoulder rotation Chas

Waiter's Tray Error HiTech tennis


Please excuse, but I write the same things often. Look at some of the recent posts from the searches.

With a WT you need to learn what a high level serve is and decide if you want to relearn the serve technique.

There is a safety issue where your upper arm should be limited in how high an angle it makes with the shoulder joint. Often mentioned with links given in earlier posts associated with the name Ellenbecker.

High level serve.

Compare your serves at the same racket positions frame-by-frame. To single frame on Youtube use the period & comma keys. Always select the video with Alt+Left Mouse Click, otherwise the video starts playing. Go to impacts and single frame back and forth and look at similar racket positions.
 
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Chas Tennis

G.O.A.T.
Hey mate! First of all, your basic motion looks solid. Don't tweak small things at this stage, they are mostly ok. You're really doing some good job building this motion, it's just not complete yet.
What I suggest to focus on:
- Get that toss under control. Motion is ok, but dedicated practice will be fruitful.
- Get rid of tightness. Not getting you anywhere. Swing at the ball like you don't care, focus on clean contact, don't worry where the ball goes until you feel great with the strike itself.
- Stop slowing down, altering, controlling racquet face around contact, particularly on second serve. It's not why you accelerated it on the way up - not to then fight that built-up RHS. Just guide it accross the ball to complete the swing, and let the contact happen.
- Get feel for the moderate spin on all your serves. Every serve shall have RH travel across the target line at contact, even if just a tad. On second serve - more, be that topspin or just sidespin. Not slowing down RHS, but putting it into some spin.

Your mindset shall always be, toss the ball and swing up-and-accross with free flowing/rolling/whipping/throwing motion.

PS: lots of mishits on your 19:30 serves. Tight, scary to miss, manipulating, slowing down - and you are toast. Trust, hit the ball (not the target), swing through non-restricted, not jerking, with flow - and you have much better chance of doing it, and doing with quality.


PPS: on your ad serve, set your feet more away - you are going to serve to completely different direction than for the deuce!
Dragy, are you screening for Waiter's Tray?
 

Dragy

Hall of Fame
Dragy, are you screening for Waiter's Tray?
This doen't look like dreaded WTE to me:


There's room for improvement, maybe just the grip is a tad shifted towards EFH, which for sure can be addressed. It's clearly not the typical WT techniques of swatting at the ball squarely. The overall motion up to the contact area looks very healthy to me.

Add: I believe I gave advice (dedicated for OP) which will solve the issues of lack of ISR - remove tightness and swing accross. Without focusing on forcing ISR.
 
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Chas Tennis

G.O.A.T.
I looked at another serve and it did not look WT, had some late ISR. The one at 19:30 looks WT.

See correction post #3.
 
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Cuclain

New User
Wow! First of all, thank you so much for all the tips! Did not expect such detailed answers. My main takeaways:

- Work on tightness (generell problem i have doing sports. don't know why. The more competitive the worse it gets)
- Swing through (i didn't even notice i was slowing down. Guess i wanted to be accurate)
- Work on ball toss isolated
- Work on Waiters tray and Pronation. Will try some trills where i hit the ball with the edge and then progress into pronation drill (found some usefull advice: "Thumps up to thumps down")
- Hitting the ball not the target
- Period and comma for frame to frame. Super useful!
 

Dragy

Hall of Fame
Work on tightness (generell problem i have doing sports. don't know why. The more competitive the worse it gets)
It’s same for most. Just be aware, work out in practice, try to carry more fluid execution from drilling to practice point play to competitive matches. Mileage and awareness.
 

SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
Your toss seems to be higher than necessary. That could contribute to your toss inconsistency. I like the fact that you let your left hand extend upward (almost vertical) after your ball release. Shoot for a ball toss that is a bit more than 60 cm above your extended hand. Perhaps as high as 80-90 cm but no higher.



From the images provided by @Dragy, I would say that your tosses in the 2nd and 5th frames are too far to the right (unless you only intend to hit slice serves). Frame #1 looks great for hitting topspin 2nd serves. Frame #4 looks ok for that as well but I prefer your arm & racket angle in frame #1. Frame #3 might be your best toss for 1st serves at this point. Should be able to hit flat or topspin-slice with that toss.

Can't tell from these images how far into the court you are tossing the ball. Hopefully it doesn't vary as much as your left-right deviation. Typically, first serve tosses are a bit more into the court than 2nd serve tosses.

Turn away from the court and go to the back fence to practice your toss. You can use the back fence to help you gauge the height of your toss. If your ball toss peaks close to the top of the fence, there's a good chance that toss is much too high. Try to use a full prep motion (up to the trophy phase) for your ball toss practice. If you can catch the ball in your outstretched hand, without moving your arm, this would be a pretty good toss. Any ball the passes with 10 cm or so of your outstretched hand would also be pretty good.
 

Nellie

Hall of Fame
Mostly, I see issues with toss placement. When you toss too far forward, you bend your wrist back to get under the ball and avoid hitting into the bottom of the net, and this hitting position causes you to float the serve long even if you hit very lightly due to the open racquet face and underspin. As a short term solution, I would focus on tossing closer to your body on your second serve, and as a longer term solution, I would practice pushing your hips forward to get your body under the ball even on a forward toss.
 

Chas Tennis

G.O.A.T.
My information is analysis and not intended as instruction. You may have read some things about ISR and serving and are trying to incorporate them. ?

Search other posts that I wrote containing "Ellenbecker" and study that shoulder impingement safety issue. It has been explained many times and there are some links the other posts.
 

Chas Tennis

G.O.A.T.
.................................................................................................................
- Work on Waiters tray and Pronation. Will try some trills where i hit the ball with the edge and then progress into pronation drill (found some usefull advice: "Thumps up to thumps down")
...................
Some posters show a serve that looks to be based on a common misconception - "Swing at the ball edge on and at the last second rotate the racket face to be on the ball." They start ISR late or even after impact. Check out all word descriptions of tennis strokes, many are very misleading! Use high speed videos. I don't know if 'edge on' swinging is a useful progression or not. I know that it does not simulate what is seen in high speed videos of high level serves.

The arm and racket accelerate/rotate over a long distance from internal shoulder rotation (ISR) and there is no special 'last second' racket face rotation. Rare overhead high speed videos show this best. Is there any last second special edge motion before impact?



Positions vs Motions. If you move to body & racket positions seen in the serve, that probably won't work as practice. There are sub-motions and you can see what they look like at instants in high speed videos. But each position that you see in a video frame also has velocities and many muscles in some state of length and pre-stretch - strokes have 1) positions, 2) velocities, 3) stretched muscles at any instant and 4) nerve signals.....

Usually the tennis usage of the term 'pronation' is not correct as the serve uses mostly ISR for racket head speed, not pronation. You will think more clearly about the serve if you use the correct terms and identify the joint motions in high speed videos.
 
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Chas Tennis

G.O.A.T.


For the serve at impact, the arm usually tilts to the right and the racket tilts to the left (as in the 1st picture). The racket must have an angle to the near straight arm in order to get racket head speed from ISR. But after ISR has accelerated the racket head up to speed, then that angle may not still be necessary. ? See high speed videos at impact to see what is being done - I expect the arm to tilt to the right for the slice and flat serves and the racket to tilt to the left at impact.

Four of five of the pictures above have the racket appear near vertical. I'd say that most ATP serves appear more like the serve on the left, racket tilts left relative to the arm. This might suggest the idea of reaching as high as possible is being considered. High speed videos show ATP players are not reaching as 'high as possible' as any angle that is not vertical is not as high as possible. Look at the forward tilt of the trunk and arm at impact in the side camera view, not vertical.

Another angle is the path of the hand to the right relative to the ball trajectory.

Toly composite picture from a high speed video.
 
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Slowtwitcher

Hall of Fame
I don't have nothing to add regarding your serve, but wanted to point out that you're using your racquet wrong.

With the Head Gravity you need to ALWAYS hit backhands with blue side/forehands with red side. Serves with red side. ALWAYS.
 

kayak4water

New User
I've been watching YouTube videos on how to watch the ball, because I mishit too many balls, including the serve. Sometimes you look up at the target immediately after impact. Roger Federer keeps looking at the impact zone for a long moment after impact. Most videos tell me if I start to look, the movement of my head throws off the contact point between ball and racket, giving me off center hits, which weaken my stroke.

Moving my head can impact the service, too. Things I have to get right: the toss (rejecting bad tosses as you did), timing , the angle of the string face to the ball and not letting myself look immediately at where I've hit the ball. One thing at a time.
 
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enishi1357

Rookie
One thing I've learned recently is tip toe my feet in my second serve. I went from 3 double fault last service game to 1 double fault (the ball hopped the net and went out). It felt effortless. I guess it engaged my body to launch up. It's not great for first serve so I guess there's still tip toe but less.
 

Chas Tennis

G.O.A.T.
I've been watching YouTube videos on how to watch the ball, because I mishit too many balls, including the serve. Sometimes you look up at the target immediately after impact. Roger Federer keeps looking at the impact zone for a long moment after impact. Most videos tell me if I start to look, the movement of my head throws off the contact point between ball and racket, giving me off center hits, which weaken my stroke.

Moving my head can impact the service, too. Things I have to get right: the toss (rejecting bad tosses as you did), timing , the angle of the string face to the ball and not letting myself look immediately at where I've hit the ball. One thing at a time.
The majority of ATP servers are not looking at the ball at contact. They watch the ball and then look down before impact. Some do watch the ball, Tsonga, Karlovic, others. For the kick serve, usually impacted over the head, I believe that all high level servers are not watching the ball.

But some have their heads on the side for the kick serve and I can't tell if they are looking at the ball. Not a confirmed kick serve. To single frame on Youtube hold down the SHIFT KEY and use the ARROW KEYS.

Whether on not a server is looking at the ball shows best from the side camera view.
 
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