Don't go to the court without them

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by atp2015, Sep 15, 2018.

  1. atp2015

    atp2015 Hall of Fame

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    Tennis is so much fun with two things -
    1 top spin serve
    2 athletic footwork

    After toiling for years without them, I wish I knew better when I started out with tennis. For the benefit of others still in early development, my top two things - Learn to hit proper top spin serve- it let's to you swing as fast as you can and still keep the ball in the box, reach any corner because of high net clearance.
    Second, build and work on footwork patterns and you will be amazed how small the tennis court becomes and how fast you can get to the ball.

    Quick caution on top spin serve - make sure you really nail down the technique before putting in hours of practice. It's counter productive to practice without learning the proper top spin serve motion.
    I can say it from my experience- don't rush and waste time and energy. It's not hard if you learn the proper way first.
     
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  2. styksnstryngs

    styksnstryngs Professional

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    Footwork and control makes your side of the court seem half the size of your opponent's.
     
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  3. S&V-not_dead_yet

    S&V-not_dead_yet Legend

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    I hope you're talking about your side of the court... ;)

    it is hard, as evidenced by the legions of players who do it poorly. That's not counting the even larger legions who can't due to physical limitations or won't due to unwillingness to break old habits.
     
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  4. atp2015

    atp2015 Hall of Fame

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    My side becomes half and the other side grows by certain percentage - and I say that in all seriousness figuratively speaking.

    I think top spin serve is easier to learn and be good at - the only problem I see with that is that it does not come naturally and someone has to teach it. No matter how much you practice, it does not occur to you like learning a bicycle for example, there is no sudden aha moment. Willingness to learn the subtle nuances is required. It's not physically or mentally hard, but needs patience and problem solving mentality.
     
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  5. Traffic

    Traffic Hall of Fame

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    I learned how to do a topspin serve as a kid. Just picked it up on my own by watching others.

    Ffwd 30yrs and I tried to do it regularly and my less flexible body couldn't handle the bad form. I was trying to bend my back too much. I naturally bent my knees as a kid to jump up to meet the ball. blah blah...

    Took me 5 - 30min sessions with a private coach to sort it out. Plus a bunch of practice in between including matches. Actually, I was trying to learn a kick serve. But really, it's similar motion, but the toss is different. From that same motion, you can do a:

    1) Slice - Toss the ball out wide
    2) Top - Toss the ball about front shoulder
    3) Slop - Toss the ball not quite as wide as slice but away from body
    4) Kicker - Toss the ball to back shoulder
    5) 1st serve Top or Slop - Toss the ball into the court

    My main serves are Top, slop and kicker. The depth, pace, spin is all dependent on where I toss the ball.
     
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  6. FiReFTW

    FiReFTW Hall of Fame

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    So basically let your opponent know exactly what you are hitting? You should aim to learn how to hit every serve from roughly the same toss, apart from kick.
     
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  7. atp2015

    atp2015 Hall of Fame

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    Does it matter at the rec level ?
     
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  8. Slicerman

    Slicerman Semi-Pro

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    I learned something really interesting this week. Don't sacrifice the quality of your serve for the sake of disguise. Yes, you eventually want to learn how to better disguise the toss, but not at the expense of its quality, especially if you're still developing your form. After seeing some footage of a pro hitting a slice serve off of a kick serve toss, I was inspired to try it out yesterday. It was a total fail. I managed to do it a few times in practice, but it really made me second guess my technique and the serve started to break down during point play. Today I made another adjustment and was able to hone in the serve better but going for less disguise. I used ALMOST the same toss for both serves but varied it by a few inches, and that made all the difference.

    I would say disguise only matters when you're at a level where most players know how to hit various types of serves. But even if you're giving hints away, you're probably putting yourself in the strongest position to nail that specific serve anyway.
     
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  9. ByeByePoly

    ByeByePoly Legend

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    1) beer
    2) sweat gutter
     
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  10. FiReFTW

    FiReFTW Hall of Fame

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    At like 4.5 and over it probably it does, ive heard a few posters here mention about it already, that they can read some serves from people and get on the ball and setup for easy returns.

    I don't think the quality of the serve has to suffer you just have to learn to have the same toss and hit different serves from it, its what you practice that you eventually master after many years, I would say its better to work on having a similar toss and start working on that from the beginning.

    Im currently working on that aswell with my coach with some drills and practice, as she said that im giving away too much with my toss few weeks before.
     
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  11. S&V-not_dead_yet

    S&V-not_dead_yet Legend

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    It depends on what you define as "rec level". I define "pro" as someone who [attempts to] earn a a living by winning tournaments. "rec" is anyone who is not a pro. That's a very broad range of skills. So the very best of these rec players will be able to use toss and stance information to their advantage.

    I agree with @Slicerman that serve quality trumps disguise the vast majority of the time. If my opponent's BH is weak, I don't care whether he knows I'm about to serve to his BH. I could wear a big sign on my shirt that says "I'm serving to your BH!!" and it wouldn't affect the outcome.

    As you improve, the more disguise will have an impact.

    One could then argue that the most efficient way to learn to serve is from the same stance/toss to avoid later having to unlearn anything. But most players will never get that far and practically, it's better to stick with the simpler method [multiple tosses/stances] because the player is more likely to stick with it.
     
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  12. Traffic

    Traffic Hall of Fame

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    I will never be 4.5 so I won't worry too much about giving away my serve.

    At 3.5, I still hold my service games. They may have an idea what spin I'm about to hit, but they don't know where I'll place it. And even if they knew exactly what was coming, they have a hard time hitting a BH that bounces to their ear. Or swinging too early because the ball just seems to hang in the air forever. Or the ball kicked farther than the last time...or less than the last time.
     
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  13. Traffic

    Traffic Hall of Fame

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    I also think that at my level, my toss is not perfect. There are slight variations of lateral along the baseline and fore/aft into the court or behind the basline that changes the depth, pace and action of the ball. This margin of error in my toss causes changes to my serve. But the basic (spin) serve motion provides a good margin of error to allow the serve to be in.

    I don't blow anyone off the court with my serves. But there is just enough unpredictable movement that causes non-perfect contact in ROS. In doubles, that equals easy point for my net person.
     
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  14. S&V-not_dead_yet

    S&V-not_dead_yet Legend

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    And even if you served exactly the same every time, you'd still get RoS errors because the returner can't perfectly execute every time.
     
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  15. mcs1970

    mcs1970 Professional

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    I've a close friend who was a 5.0. Now in his mid 40s..probably still strong 4.5, but doesn't play tournaments anymore for anyone to say for sure. Absolute bullet of a first serve and a tremendous kicker 2nd serve. People from other courts stand and watch this guy, because that sound of the first serve is just something totally different that you don't hear much from most rec level players. His 1st and 2nd service motions are totally different. Yet it didn't matter when he was playing a high rec level all those years. Maybe it limited him from going much higher, but who knows. In most sports, the best have weapons that others can see coming and still can't do much.
     
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  16. travlerajm

    travlerajm Legend

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    My kick serve motion doesn’t seem to age well. Gets worse every year as the explosive motion required to hit it well doesn’t agree with my body anymore.

    In my mid 40s now and strangely my biggest weapon is my ability to defend court more easily than my opponent. Thankful that my ability to defend an inside-out forehand blast to my bh corner has not disappeared yet.
     
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  17. atp2015

    atp2015 Hall of Fame

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    Tbd
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2018
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