Expert says side-arm serve superior

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by Steady Eddy, Jul 10, 2018.

  1. Steady Eddy

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  2. Curious

    Curious Hall of Fame

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    1. Is there a video showing that type of serve?
    2. How do you hit a topspin serve with that motion?
     
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  3. Steady Eddy

    Steady Eddy Hall of Fame

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    I haven't found a video, but I imagine you just swing low-to-high.
     
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  4. IowaGuy

    IowaGuy Professional

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    Geometry would suggest that sidearm serve would be much lower %, even if power could reach that of overhead serve. Think Isner/Karlovic compared to Schwartzman...
     
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  5. Raul_SJ

    Raul_SJ Hall of Fame

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    This must be a typo. It says toss to the left? Has to be to the right.

    The Toss
    The toss for a side-arm serve is more outside the body (to the left for a right-handed player) and lower. Braden recommends that the toss be no higher than the tip of the outstretched racquet.

    Have players practice tossing and hitting a lower ball, which goes no higher than the tip of the racquet. This will give them a feel for the new timing. Remember, they should still be stretching as high as they can go, but just not tossing the ball as high.

    Step #3 — Have players move their tosses out slightly farther to the left (for right-handed players), a the new, lower height, while serving at half- or three-quarter speed. This should not be an exaggerated toss, just slightly left of what they’re used to. This serve may actually remind them of the slice serve they used as beginners.​
     
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  6. Mongolmike

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    Wouldn't a side-arm serve be the same as a self fed FH? To get decent pace AND to get it into the service box you'd have to hit massive topspin to bring it down quickly. I'm not convinced you could get anywhere near the speed of a good regular serve and still get it into the service box with any consistency.

    Now could you hit a reliable side arm serve? Sure, but you'd be relying more on spin and placement. A great serve has speed, spin and placement. I don't think you can get all 3 side arm, tho I am interested to see if I am proven wrong.
     
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  7. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    Don't remember Vic B ever talking about a sidearm serve. I actually learned a fair amount of Vic's stuff in the 1970s from his brother, Dan Braden.

    I suspect that this is what he meant:
    [​IMG]

    Notice that Braden uses a version of the J-toss (notice the path of the tossing hand). Andy Murray is one of the few top servers that employs the J motion for his tossing arm/hand.
     
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  8. nytennisaddict

    nytennisaddict Legend

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    i thought that too (typo)...
    i interpretted it as being described from the perspective of having your back facing the opponent more (ie. toss more towards where your toss arm is pointing (ie. the left fence)
    i swear alot of serve descriptions sound like physics: laws of relativity... ie. if an object is moving X relative to a space ship moving Y...
     
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  9. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    Another reference to a sidearm throw/serve: http://ushsta.org/teaching-girls-to-serve-in-tennis/

    This article talks about a throwing motion that is similar to a football (passing) motion: Note that the football motion is more sidearm than an overhead baseball pitch... Note that a conventional tennis serve uses a shoulder-over-shoulder motion. But, for the serve that Braden demonstrates (post #7), he does not use a shoulder-over-shoulder motion. The shoulder motion is closer to the horizontal plane: very much like the sidearm action when throwing a football.

    Note that with the sidearm serve action, it is easy to hit flat serves, slice serves and topspin-slice serves. But I doubt that you can hit with even topspin with this type of action to hit a kick serve.
     
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  10. Raul_SJ

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    Yes, I think that is what the article is describing... Don't know if Braden is getting the shoulder-over-shoulder benefit since he is dropping the tossing arm so soon. But that is out of necessity due to the low toss. Maybe has to rely more on torso and hip rotation for power than cartwheeling.
    Did not know he had a J toss. Doesn't Fed also have one since he brings it back behind his front thigh, even more than Braden does.

    At contact, he has definitely dropped the front shoulder. Gets into a somewhat similar position as a conventional Fed serve. At first glance, would say there might be significant shoulder-over-shoulder motion -- about 70% of the conventional overhead serve, but the cartwheel happens very fast.
     
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  11. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    Because Braden does not use a traditional shoulder-over-shoulder motion for his serve, it is likely that he is not going to be able to get a lot of topspin on his serve. His sidearm motion is ok for a slice serve or a topspin-slice serve but probably will not be able to execute a kick serve with this motion.

    No, Federer does not employ a J motion with this tossing hand. Look at Andy Murray's tossing arm/hand (below). Notice how similar it is to the toss that Vic uses (in post #7). This is the J-toss that both Vic and Dan Braden taught back in the 1970s.

    BTW, Dan Braden coached the college team over at WVC in Saratoga from 1971 to 1992. He had the top community college team in Northern Calif in the 1980s (til 1992).

     
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  12. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    Braden drops the left shoulder somewhat -- but a lot less than Federer does. Seems pretty obvious in the GIF (isn't that a gif that you produced?). Note that Braden also has a bit less shoulder tilt at the trophy -- his left arm does not rise up after the ball toss release to go vertical. That left arm action is similar to the left arm action for a football pass. This also makes for more of a sidearm throwing action than a conventional pro serve.

    For a conventional pro tennis serve, the cartwheel action is in in a plane that is something like 60 to 75 degrees up from the horizontal. I would say that Braden's cartwheel is in a plane that is more like 30 degrees -- making it much more sidearm than the conventional pro serve. While Braden places his toss to the right, Federer's toss is to the left, especially for his 2nd serve. This yields more of a shoulder-over-shoulder motion for Federer than for Braden's sidearm serve.

    https://web.archive.org/web/2016031.../ss/same-serve-toss-different-spins.htm#step4
     
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  13. Raul_SJ

    Raul_SJ Hall of Fame

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    Will have to compare with Fed's. Looks like a pretty decent shoulder-over-shoulder motion. Obviously, not as much as Fed but guessing 70% as much.

    Particularly impressed with how Braden drops the left shoulder to get a decent downward tilt at contact... Some preliminary pics but will need to compare with similar camera angles.


    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
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  14. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    Not seeing the 70% that you suggest. Looks less than that to me. For your 3rd image above, try drawing your line across the top of Vic’s shoulder. Your line is at the top of his right shoulder but almost at the armpit of his left arm. Redrawing the line will yield something like 30° rather than 45°

    Notice that Braden’s head moves forward but only slightly to the left the the video. Put the tip of your finger on Braden‘s head when he starts his serve. You will notice that there is only a slight shift of his head to the left when he makes contact. No doubt that this is because his toss is to the right. Federer OTOH tosses to the left (more so for 2nd serves). His head moves forward and quite a bit to the left during his service motoon. This allows his right shoulder to come over the top a lot more than Braden’s right shoulder.

    http://www.**********.net/userfiles/images/Feds 5.jpg
    ********* = tennis head (w/o the space)

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
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  15. Raul_SJ

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    I think "sidearm" is a misleading description. I view it as something like 3/4 of the steepness of the overhead serve.
    Braden was a top 20 player. Presumably he had a very effective "sidearm" serve while not being tall. Would be curious to know if anyone knows how well he served.

    At first I thought Braden did not get tossing arm vertical because of the low toss and he was being rushed for time. But now I think Braden did this intentionally.

    He has time to get left arm vertical arm but as the OP article says, he believes this way is more efficient and powerful than a pure overhead motion.

    Top tennis research Vic Braden still contends that his work with biomechanists and physiologists shows that the side-arm serve is the most efficient way to serve.

    One of Braden’s biggest arguments for this serve is that a side-arm serve produces just as much, or more, power, but does not place any of the stresses on the rotator cuff that an overhead serve does.​
     
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  16. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    I don’t recall Vic being a top 20 player. Seems he was on the Pro tour (b4 the Open Era) for just a few years (when I was a baby/toddler). My earliest memory of tennis was Poncho Gonzalez in the mid 50s (on a B&W tv). Pancho G was also on the Pro tour.
     
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  17. Raul_SJ

    Raul_SJ Hall of Fame

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    You are right. Mixed him up with Bobby Riggs. Nevertheless, looks like Braden played at a relatively high level.
    Any downsides to his service motion? Any top players today serving like Braden?
     
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  18. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    Not aware of any top players serving like Braden. His serve motion is suitable for hitting flat, slice, and a topspin-slice serves. I have my doubts that one could hit an effective kick serve with this motion tho.

    Possible advantage is that his motion is easier on the shoulder, as you have suggested.
     
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  19. Curious

    Curious Hall of Fame

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    What is a side arm serve, exactly? Serve with no shoulder on shoulder/cartwheeling motion or elbow never going above shoulder during the throw?
     
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  20. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Legend

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    Is there a "side arm serve" in the current top 100 ATP?

    The reference in the OP is has tennis verbal descriptions that are very unclear.

    "With an overhead serve the elbow eventually points straight up to the sky, as the racquet path eventually going as high as the player can reach."
    * English ?
    * the arm is straight and at an angle to the right. Kick serve appears more vertical.
    * players do not reach as high as they can reach because there are many angles of body parts.
    * when is "eventually"


    With a side-arm serve, the elbow point more away from the body, perpendicular to the ground, rather than the exaggerated, straight up motion.
    * what does "the elbow point more away from the body, perpendicular to the ground" mean? Doesn't that also mean - that the racket head is much lower and it will be more difficult to keep the ball over the net and inside the service line, giving away the height advantage?


    [​IMG]

    Henceforward, all threads on strokes with word descriptions will be vetted by the OP with high speed video taken in bright sunlight.
     
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  21. IowaGuy

    IowaGuy Professional

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    Yes, a reduced height at which he's serving = low percentage for fast serves. This would effectively give him the same serve geometry (net clearance) as a much shorter player.

    How many 5'3" guys do you know with a huge 1st serve?
     
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  22. Raul_SJ

    Raul_SJ Hall of Fame

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    I agree "side arm" description is not helpful or accurate... Here is video.

    If your criteria is whether any ATP use this motion it may not be worthwhile analyzing it. But Braden was a high level player in his time with a consistent effective serve.

    If it worked for him it could conceivably work for a 4.0 rec player today.
    "Top tennis research Vic Braden still contends that his work with biomechanists and physiologists shows that the side-arm serve is the most efficient way to serve.

    One of Braden’s biggest arguments for this serve is that a side-arm serve produces just as much, or more, power, but does not place any of the stresses on the rotator cuff that an overhead serve does."


    [​IMG]
     
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  23. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    @Raul_SJ
    No “exactly” for the sidearm serve discussed. The US High School Tennis Association links in post #1 & #9 indicate that the sidearm serve that they are discussing is not a true (or pure) sidearm arm motion. Their description fits the Vic Braden serve seen in the GIF and video (post #7) fairly well. Take another look at the description under The Motion section on the USHSTA page.

    They indicate that the sidearm motion that they are discussing is very much like a football pass rather than a more shoulder-over-shoulder serve (or throwing motion).
     
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  24. Steady Eddy

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    I knew a teaching pro who played in the pre-open era. He said that he couldn't beat Vic Braden because Braden had too much power. I think he pioneered in using topspin and power tennis.

    I'm not sure what he means by a sidearm serve. If there is a way to serve sidearm with power, I'd like to see it. Then I wouldn't have to worry about the sun getting in my eyes.
     
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  25. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Legend

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    [​IMG]

    All leading to impact.

    It looks as if Braden extends his elbow at the same time that he is doing ISR. The current high level technique mostly extends the elbow first and then does ISR. He seems to use less wrist joint than the current technique. Fo the high level technique the wrist joint angular motion supplies a lot of racket head speed at impact, 30% in one Elliott publication where ISR supplied 40%. This kind of timing detail of various joint motions is present in all serves. Braden is using different timing for his joint motions. You need high speed video and side-by-side comparisons is best to compare these motions.

    One thing about the high level serve is that it rotationally accelerates using ISR with the forearm near straight (at elbow) and the racket at a changing angle (at wrist). The moment of inertia of the forearm has been minimized by placing it on the rotation axis.

    In Braden's side arm technique, he rotationally accelerates both the forearm and the racket at changing angles using ISR. This has the effect of increasing the moment of inertia of the forearm & racket above that of a high level serve.

    The moment of inertia has the effect of increasing resistance to acceleration. For equal accelerations a greater moment of inertia requires more force and stress.

    But this is a complicated biomechanics problem.

    The performance achieved by the technique is unknown. ? I guess Braden would have gotten some results with that technique?

    Braden was associated with a research lab in the early 80s, maybe they pursued this technique?

    Coto Research Center
    http://www1.macrosport.com/personal...hapter 17-The Coto Research Center-4-2-11.pdf

    That lab might have taken high speed video of Roscoe Tanner's great serve as there is a Youtube of pressure plate measurements of Tanner's footwork during the serve. The lost high speed films would likely have been 16 mm film. They must be out there somewhere....
     
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  26. Steady Eddy

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    The closest thing to that, is I remember Tanner being a guest on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. He just served into a radar gun, it didn't have to go in a service court. Tanner started out in the upper 80's, then he hit the 90's, finally he started hitting them over 100 mph. BTW, Tanner was wearing street clothes, and dress shoes. Then Carson took a few tries and got some into the 80's.

    I think that what made Tanner's serve so good was his low toss. Also, he moved his body forward, into the serve. Modern servers toss too high, IMO. Also, they're very obsessed with spin. Spin gives a high bounce, which if unpredictable can work. But I think a fairly flat serve, with a low bounce is very hard to attack.
     
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  27. Raul_SJ

    Raul_SJ Hall of Fame

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    I believe the current high level technique is more of an overhead motion due to the need to produce massive kick. Hence the "Big L" (straight elbow) position to reach up high and then followed by ISR.

    Braden looks to be copying the upwards football throw or outfielder throw. I am guessing that ISR is typically simultaneous with bent elbow on distance football and baseball throws.

    [​IMG][​IMG]
     
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  28. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Legend

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    Tanner was measured at 153 MPH. But it was by a coach or other known tennis person in the stands with a radar. It does not sound like a very reliable measurement. He was famous worldwide for his serve. It is hard to understand why there are no high speed films of his serve or measurements since equipment was readily available for both.

    I read somewhere that there was a lot of research material - I assume some high speed films were included - as part of an estate. But I now can't remember if it was Braden's estate or another.

    Tanner's autobiography says that he started by smacking leaves on trees. He also said the very low toss and very quick delivery surprised many receivers and got him extra points.

    I have heard the interesting comment that 'you toss the ball into the service motion'. At least that is how things felt to someone. ? For impacts near the peak of the toss that would seem to be required and be an appropriate comment.
     
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  29. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Legend

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    When you throw you must accelerate the mass of the forearm with ISR because the elbow is bent to get speed from the ISR. That appears to be what the football passer is doing and including the heavy football.

    With the high level serve using an ultralight racket, with the mass of the forearm placed around the rotation axis then you only have to accelerate the mass of the racket farther out from the rotation axis. The racket is at a larger radius out from the rotation axis (spin axis through the long axis of the upper arm bone, humerus). See high speed videos.

    On this issue, I noted in an old post on your serve that you showed some of characteristics that are seen in Braden's GIF.

    These are the joint timing details that have to be examined in detail using high speed video comparisons, preferably with side-by-side videos. Elbow extension, Big L, if present, ISR, wrist joint motions.....to impact.

    Kinovea is great for side-by-side videos and very easy to use. The Kinovea countdown time line to impact is perfect for analysis and provides a complete time line leading to impact.

    GIFs don't allow single frame viewing, do they?
     
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  30. Dan R

    Dan R Rookie

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    All serves are basically a side arm motion. The thing that determines if the arm comes under, side, or over is shoulder tilt. The basic motion is the same for all of them.

    That said that forehand in the video in the OP is awesome.
     
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  31. Raul_SJ

    Raul_SJ Hall of Fame

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    It's very easy to split a gif into individual frames. Many free tools available.
    Example:
    1. Browse to https://ezgif.com/split
    2. Paste the URL of the Braden gif: https://i.makeagif.com/media/12-27-2017/NXT-bj.gif

    Result: It will split the Braden gif into its 65 individual gif frames. You can then download all 65 individual gif images locally.
    Or use the online "Sprite Sheet" tool https://ezgif.com/gif-to-sprite to create a single image sheet as below.

    Are the Braden and Football gifs above suitable for analysis on Kinovea? Drop the individual frames on the Kinovea timeline?



    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
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  32. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    You should be able to get very decent power (forward ball speed) with the so-called sidearm serve. Plenty of amateurs have done so. But the power (speed) potential sb greater with the more conventional shoulder-over-shoulder serve that most pros hit. Should be able to hit more topspin with the conventional pro serve as well.

    To be able to hit a decent kick serve, I believe, you would need to toss the ball more to the left (less to the right) and employ a shoulder-over-shoulder action rather that the “sidearm” motion.

    [​IMG]
     
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  33. Raul_SJ

    Raul_SJ Hall of Fame

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    Do any baseball pitchers employ a similar steep shoulder-over-shoulder motion seen with the today's topspin serve? I realize baseball throw is more of a horizontal/slightly downward throw.

    IIRC, the pitchers I'v seen have either horizontal or slightly above horizontal shoulder positions . Don't think their shoulders tilt much steeper than the Braden serve.
    Servers tilt steeply to get topspin. There may not be any reason for a pitcher to tilt that much...

    Sometimes my toss is too low and I accidentally hit my most powerful serves with a side-arm serve (very flat but fast, ~30% go in). I tend to think you are trading a bit of pace for more spin and with the overhead serve.

    Braden could have employed the overhead motion but I think he went with the more side-arm motion primarily for the power. Braden mentioned rotator cuff injury but Braden could have safely served overhead by dropping the front shoulder at contact.

    "One of Braden’s biggest arguments for this serve is that a side-arm serve produces just as much, or more, power, but does not place any of the stresses on the rotator cuff that an overhead serve does."
     
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  34. nvr2old

    nvr2old Professional

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    Nah sidearm is misleading IMO. If so it’s a forehand and we ooh and ahh at the pros 100 mph forehands but not their 100 mph serves.
     
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  35. AZSunTennis

    AZSunTennis New User

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    I think this may be what you are talking about?
     
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  36. StringSnapper

    StringSnapper Professional

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    Damn that guy gets great racquet drop for such a strange contact point
     
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  37. Curious

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    And great side spin, right? I looks like the key is tossing the ball low and way to the left. I will try this.
     
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  38. Steady Eddy

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    Are you a lefty? I am. And I know it would really help if my serve was sliced more.
     
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  39. Curious

    Curious Hall of Fame

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    I'm right handed. The only problem with this serve is that it makes your intention very obvious.
     
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  40. Shroud

    Shroud G.O.A.T.

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    It works. I hit one at 5:00 and yeah its telegraphed but bexause the toss is soo wrong some players might think you wont hit it. The guy in my vid I think was fooled a bit thinking i wouldnt hit such a bad toss

     
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  41. sredna42

    sredna42 Semi-Pro

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    So that's what it's called. Side arm serve.

    That's how I served when I first picked up tennis. I'd never get off the ground much, and treated it like a throw. The power comes from putting your weight through the ball with a loose arm, and coiling like a spring. I'd toss well to the right, and quite far forward. When the ball was in the air in just the right spot really forward and to the right, I'd know it was going to be an ace or unreturnable before I even hit it. It was easy power.

    I lost how to do it when I taught myself the kick serve, and my ball toss grew to be naturally over or just behind my head and not so far forward.
     
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  42. Curious

    Curious Hall of Fame

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    Great example Shroud. I will watch rest of the video later. Back to your previous racket weight?
     
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  43. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Legend

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    Kinovea imports videos and places them side-by-side.

    The latest version is 8.26. I have been using 8.25. I assume that many of the features of 8.25 are on the new 8.26 version.
    http://www.kinovea.org/en/forum/viewtopic.php?id=854

    Download the 64 or 32 bit version and Kinovea icon(s) should appear on your desktop.

    For my version 8.25 when I click the icon I get a list of files with one showing an 8.25 icon I double click it and Kinovea opens.

    A lot of powerful features are there. Open video files that are on your computer and place two video files side-by-side. I have how to set the time scale for version 8.25, it might be the same for version 8.26.

    There are many features that I have not yet used.

    Kinovea version 8.25 comparing a 30 fps video to a 240 fps video with time scales relative to impact. Some frames are skipped on Vimeo for this type video but all can be seen on my computer. This video has short messages that are intended to be read in single frame viewing, not 30 playback.

    To do single frame stop the video by clicking on it and hold down the SHIFT KEY and use the ARROW KEYS.

    Where is Gasquet's rotation axis? How far is Gasquet's racket head from his rotation axis? Compare to Mojo28.
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2018
    #43
  44. Shroud

    Shroud G.O.A.T.

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    Yikes. No need to watch any more than the one serve at 5:00.

    Actually still using the 337g one. I miss the weight sometimes and occasionally bring out the beast but sticking with the light racquet so far. Though maybe 350g is a happy medium.

    Fwiw my hitting partner said the heavy racquet hit a heavier ball but that i didnt really need it as the light racquet was still good.

    Thanks for keeping on me
     
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  45. Chadillac

    Chadillac Legend

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    Now you just have to figure out a way to throw it 120mph into your sweetspot :)

    Power creates power. Imagine if he perfectly timed an overhead off it.

    Side arm is great for people with shoulder problems, but an expert knows there is no proper way to hit a serve (aside from racket path). Its all based on result. Open like goran or closed like mac. Whatever works best for you is superior. Becker even used the frying pan...
     
    #45
  46. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    Yes, it’s pretty much a novelty serve that I have used on occasion. Most effective for lefties (like me) on the ad side whereas it’s most effective for righties on the deuce side. It is a very low % serve, if possible at all, if you attempt to execute this on the opposite side.

    As mentioned, an extreme toss out to the left with a low (sidearm) contact point should work on the ad side but will be difficult for a lefty to execute on the deuce side. Listen to the sound of the contact that produces this kind of extreme side spin. It takes good timing with very fast brushing action across the ball to achieve this type of spin.

    For the deuce side you are going to need to change the toss (a bit more to the right) so that you can get some topspin in addition to the side spin. Check out Naomi Totka’s serve in the video below. It is actually a difficult placement for a lefty server that she is going for in this video.

     
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  47. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    Commentators used to say that Boris B was serving with a (Eastern) forehand grip. Close inspection some years later revealed that Boris was actually using something close to a semi-continental (Aussie) grip for 1st serves and something close to a standard conti for 2nd serves. Serena W does this as well.
     
    #47
  48. Shroud

    Shroud G.O.A.T.

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    In naomi’s vid serve doctor says its an agressive serve and you have to swing harder to get the angle and shortness in the court. But check out this vid at 5:49. He isnt doing that at all and some of those kicks are way better than naomies.

    It seems that the slower kicks have more action

     
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    #48
  49. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    Even tho intent is very obvious it can still be a very effective serve for a lefty (on the ad side) since a lot of players have fits with any good lefty spin.
     
    #49
  50. StringSnapper

    StringSnapper Professional

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    Salzenstein is a former pro and a man though lol. Man I saw him hitting kick serves in one video to the ad side... Literally was kicking like 9 foot high onto the fence, almost over the damn thing.

    Imagine rocking up to a tennis match, and every untouched kick serve you hit bounced over the fence

    #tennissuperheroes #tennisdreams
     
    #50

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