Got Questions you need answers to?....maybe I can help

AnyPUG

Semi-Pro
I get it different:
- You ensure upward alignment in prep by tilting torso back and pushing hips forward;
- You rotate your torso (powered by leg drive) about the tilted axis, keeping alignment to (i.e. towards) contact (i.e. the ball).

By contact chest has already rotated and is now more facing somewhere front/to the side, depending on the serve type:
Right, it's almost impossible to keep the chest tilted to the sky and make contact with the ball (the ball has to be 3 feet behind the head for that to occur and does not make sense).
From what I interpreted from serve doc is that the tilting can occur anytime, but in my mind just before initiating the contact (from the drop position) is the last opportunity.
 
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Rubens

Hall of Fame
I get it different:
- You ensure upward alignment in prep by tilting torso back and pushing hips forward;
- You rotate your torso (powered by leg drive) about the tilted axis, keeping alignment to (i.e. towards) contact (i.e. the ball).

By contact chest has already rotated and is now more facing somewhere front/to the side, depending on the serve type:
Agreed. Another example (Pete):

All the steps up to 9 (before launch): the front of the chest is not pointing to the sky, it is pointing almost to the back fence because of the coil.
Step 12: _this_ is when the chest is pointing to the sky.
Steps 13,14: chest no longer pointing to the sky. As you said , it is pointing somewhere to the front/side.

@Serve Doc would you consider this the ideal technique, or would you recommend that the chest be upwards for a longer part of the serve motion?
 

Dragy

Legend
Oops @Dragy I just realized you were talking about something different (the tilt). But Sampras does it as well.
Yeah he does, and I think it's what sets up and facilitates the chest orientation and the way torso/shoulders rotate further on.
 

Serve Doc

Rookie
Another thing to consider.... While players like platform stances for easier to balance themselves but the lower back can get stressed and injured if they have much lower back arch & too much upward thrust is coming from back leg. If the hips and quads take the stretch in set position, the back can remain relatively flat and not arched.
 

onehandbh

Legend
Another thing to consider.... While players like platform stances for easier to balance themselves but the lower back can get stressed and injured if they have much lower back arch & too much upward thrust is coming from back leg. If the hips and quads take the stretch in set position, the back can remain relatively flat and not arched.
This is the exact problem with my serve. Too much back arch. This bad habit start a long time ago when I was a junior and was learning the kick serve and got used to tossing it too far to the left.

Any suggestions on how to correct this?

Should I rebuild from scratch and practice serving with using my legs?

Here is a slow motion video of my serve from a few years ago. This toss wasn't as bad as they usually are, though.

I think my motion changes slightly when using a wood racquet, but it is mostly the same.
 

RogueFLIP

Professional
@ServeDoc,

Regarding the 2nd serve stance, do you recommend changing it from the 1st serve? Currently I stand for my first serve with my front foot at a 45 degree to the baseline (pointing to the net post) while my back foot is parallel to the baseline. But for my second serve, both feet are parallel to the baseline (but are staggered). I use a pointpoint for both.

Thanks in advance.
 

Serve Doc

Rookie
Agreed. Another example (Pete):

All the steps up to 9 (before launch): the front of the chest is not pointing to the sky, it is pointing almost to the back fence because of the coil.
Step 12: _this_ is when the chest is pointing to the sky.
Steps 13,14: chest no longer pointing to the sky. As you said , it is pointing somewhere to the front/side.

@Serve Doc would you consider this the ideal technique, or would you recommend that the chest be upwards for a longer part of the serve motion?
It was ideal for Pete but he had very advanced Pitching technique like Mac who was very impressive throwing first pitch at 60 years old at a Mets game...perfect strike.When you have that capability stances can be more closed and parallel to the baseline because the power of their shoulder action is enough to get the base to spin into Serve/volley landings. However, many players especially from non-throwing sport cultures are better off with the footwork more aligned more forward for a windup and unwind process coming from hip & shoulder separation like Rafa which makes up for under developed shoulder mechanics required in the pitching motion.
 

Serve Doc

Rookie
@ServeDoc,

Regarding the 2nd serve stance, do you recommend changing it from the 1st serve? Currently I stand for my first serve with my front foot at a 45 degree to the baseline (pointing to the net post) while my back foot is parallel to the baseline. But for my second serve, both feet are parallel to the baseline (but are staggered). I use a pointpoint for both.

Thanks in advance.
Always preferred pinpoint for my serve and most students but with the front foot at 45 degree angle to allow balance and support for the shift into the court. You are turning your feet to parallel on 2nds likely to achieve more shoulder turn for spins but hopefully you have the upper body mechanics for it to work well.
 

Serve Doc

Rookie
Could you explain the thought process on variety and placement of serve... at say a 3.5-4.0 level, to achieve maximum results.

Use more spin on first serves and try to place your serves to feed your second shot more like wide on deuce court should feed your forehand side with opportunities as a righty. Keep opponents off your second serve opps more but don't live in fear of double faults when you do need to use it. Too safe can result in far more lost points in the end than a handful of double faults.
 
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Serve Doc

Rookie
It was ideal for Pete but he had very advanced Pitching technique like Mac who was very impressive throwing first pitch at 60 years old at a Mets game...perfect strike.When you have that capability stances can be more closed and parallel to the baseline because the power of their shoulder action is enough to get the base to spin into Serve/volley landings. However, many players especially from non-throwing sport cultures are better off with the footwork more aligned more forward for a windup and unwind process coming from hip & shoulder separation like Rafa which makes up for under developed shoulder mechanics required in the pitching motion.

And more forward aligned is not just preferable for poorer pitching mechanics but I feel is preferable for majority of players. To further explain why it may have been more ideal for some to be parallel platforms but because it was essentially unwinding coil energy for shoulders down to base...when they ran into coil resistance for the lower body as shoulders unwind.....just before contact that resistance would force head speed acceleration into contact with a very rapid turn over of the racquet through contact...tip of racquet leading way down very high in followthrough with very little energy left in the swing after contact....arm floats down....other stance involves a flow of uncoil from base upward to shoulder mechanics. Plus the more forward stance can increase not only balance but extended reach for higher contact points.
 

Fintft

Legend
Hi coach!

As I've posted in another thread, I am thinking about giving up learning a proper 2nd serve and use my flat 1st serve twice (if it doesn't go bellow 25%).

What if, like Zverev, your second serve is much worse than your first?
I just heard the commentators during the AO saying that Zverev's 2nd serve is the weakest among top 87 ATP players (they've stopped doing stats after him)...

My serve progress has been hindered also by:

Hard to learn to lock the wrist and to use the fingers to add spin to the ball during the toss, after doing basketball layups for many years with my non-dominant hand, the left (especially after stopping playing competitively)
  1. Having a weak throw, even as a kid, when I played handball (age 9-12). I remember playing and winning also a city level scholastic championship in our variation of baseball and being the best at the bat instead.
  2. The coaches have gotten into my head (I think that I had a stronger serve, but maybe inconsistent, before taking lessons). Even Djokovic said (when they tried to change his serve) that "the worst thing you can do is to think about many different technical things, during the serve"...
  3. Getting older and less mobile as a young coach (who used to be my opponent when he was in HS) guessed.
  4. It's discouraging to see your 1st serve the weakest among your group at the club, while having the strongest FH (as measured by radar gun during only one try- after which I had fallen on my butt, due to clay shoes on a hc and a strange cc feeding by the coach).
Thanks
 

Fintft

Legend
Keep opponents off your second serve opps more but don't live in fear of double faults when you do need to use it. Too safe can result in far more lost points in the end than a handful of double faults.
That's exactly my reasoning for using the 1st serve twice! Instead of a 2nd serve...

(I presume that the word "opps" is not needed in this setence "keep opponents off your second serve opps more"?)
 

Fintft

Legend
yup my tempo is off.
the serve to me is a ballet of movements where if one thing is off, it fails... especially when i start stretching myself to maximize the load of my various power sources.
thx for the tip, and that's exactly what i have been doing (without realizing i was fixing my tempo)... i was being very deliberate about the timing and sequence of movements, and working on a repeatable movement (without trying to put any major effort into the serve itself)... just working on smooth toss/load/hit the feels effortless.
Slow tossing arm, right (at least at the begining of the move)?
 

Chas Tennis

G.O.A.T.
Your video on serving and throwing

A comparison of the throw and serve shows that the upward throw and the serve are very similar. A practice technique that simulates the serve so closely is very rare and interesting (this is the only technique that I have found.) . Do you have any more comments or videos on throwing and serving since making this video?


But I believe that throwing a ball in the way taught by Pat Dougherty does copy motions in the tennis serve including ISR.
To do single frame on Youtube use the "." & "," keys.

Throw frame at ball release with double exposure of forearm motion. Note the upper arm between the shoulder joint and elbow, for this upward throw, even has a similar angle to the serve picture below.


Tennis serve at impact with double exposure of forearm & racket motion. I believe that the arm is straighter at the later time as in high level serves.


There is an incidental double exposure of the arm that shows ISR moving the forearm & ball for the throw and moving the forearm and racket for the serve. The use of ISR - the most difficult sub-motion of the tennis serve - is very similar for both motions. Looks like a good simulation for the server especially as Dougherty teaches throwing the ball upward. Of course, to get speed from ISR the hand for the throw and the racket head for the serve must be located at a distance from the rotation axes of ISR and those angles show in both of the above pictures. Imagine the rotation axes of the upper arm bone.

This same student after two years of development at 5 hours a week.

But I disagree with the demo of the top spin serve given at 3:45, "When we are talking about top spin and kicks we gotta make sure that the racket head is making contact with the level of the grip not way up here". The racket shaft tilts up from the grip to contact for a kick serve in the ATP serve high speed videos that I have seen. ??
 
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toth

Professional
Are you serious with this question, Chas? This is a Q for a tennis physicist (or biomechanics expert). Most coaches & students do not find this level of minutia useful at all

99+% of coaches, even high level coaches, will have no idea what you are talking about or how to respond to your query. I believe that Pat D is fielding questions related to information / instruction content he's posted on his YT channel.
Of course, you want to visualize your intended serve placment.

The other part of this is to visualize the toss placment for the type of serve you would like to execute. Not uncommon at all to have a different toss for 2nd serves than for 1st serves. (But you do not want a different toss for different serve placments). It's a myth that elite servers hittin ALL their serves off the very same serve toss. If your serve is not consistent, if could be that your actual toss is too far off from your visualized toss -- and you have settled for a substandard toss. If your actual toss is only slightly off (say 20 cm or so), you should still be able to hit something very close to the intended serve as long as you follow the advice I suggested in the previous post.
What is your opinion about i want to hit a topslice serve but the toss succeed more backwarts as i intended and change the topslice serve to kick serve?
For me the topslice serve is much more easier and natural than the kick, but i dont like to catch the tossed ball...
 

Raul_SJ

G.O.A.T.
Does the racket tilt about 14 degrees closed just before (~1 cm) contact for a high level kick serve?
What does the high speed video show with regard to racquet tilt at contact? Is there much video available?

If and when confirmed, this closed tilt is likely a high speed video checkpoint for confirming the technique of a kick serve. It's just one video observation that would be very useful feedback for the kick serve.
It may or may not be useful as a checkpoint.

The approach I see from Serve Doctor and Jeff Salzenstein videos is to mainly focus on the setup, swing path and the finish -- not the racquet tilt position at the millisecond before contact.

So if you get the toss for a kick correct, and have the proper setup, swing path and finish, everything else will usually fall into place. Do not have to focus on the racquet position at contact; that will take care of itself.

I do not recall any of Jeff's kick serve videos ever mentioning the tilt at contact for a kick serve.ever

The correct tilt is something that usually naturally happens as a consequence of proper setup, swing path and follow through.
 
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SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
What is your opinion about i want to hit a topslice serve but the toss succeed more backwarts as i intended and change the topslice serve to kick serve?
For me the topslice serve is much more easier and natural than the kick, but i dont like to catch the tossed ball...
A kick serve can be a special variation of a topslice serve. That is, many kick serves will have a generous amount of both topspin and sidespin (slice).

However, the conventional (non-kick) topslice serve will normally have a contact that is more forward (in front of the baseline) and more to the right than for a kick serve (for a right-handed server). The kick serve will often have more spin or a higher spin-to-speed ratio.

The kick serve can also have a higher trajectory. Or will approach the court at a steeper angle. It is a fairly high spin rate with a steep incident angle that will cause the ball to kick upward on the bounce. If the spin rate is high enough, the ball can have a twisted bounce (a sideward deviation).

Not exactly what your question is. Can you rephrase it if I haven't already answered your query.
 

toth

Professional
A kick serve can be a special variation of a topslice serve. That is, many kick serves will have a generous amount of both topspin and sidespin (slice).

However, the conventional (non-kick) topslice serve will normally have a contact that is more forward (in front of the baseline) and more to the right than for a kick serve (for a right-handed server). The kick serve will often have more spin or a higher spin-to-speed ratio.

The kick serve can also have a higher trajectory. Or will approach the court at a steeper angle. It is a fairly high spin rate with a steep incident angle that will cause the ball to kick upward on the bounce. If the spin rate is high enough, the ball can have a twisted bounce (a sideward deviation).

Not exactly what your question is. Can you rephrase it if I haven't already answered your query.
Thank you.
I already solved my problem with your helps.
 

Raul_SJ

G.O.A.T.
Do you have any more comments or videos on throwing and serving since making this video?
What do you think of this kick serve video?
"Throw it like a hatchet" "Let the toss drop further than flat serve. At contact, the racquet head is almost at handle level".

 

Serve Doc

Rookie
That video was recently shot so not much has changed. But I do highly recommend to those actively teaching this stuff to share the analogy to irons in a golf bag for those who vaguely understand it. Golfers have a rather consistent swing but change clubs for the affect on the shot they want. As tennis players we adjust the grips towards backhand side of continental to adjust spin rate and depth so that you don't concede to being tentative with swing speed to fix issues.
 

Raul_SJ

G.O.A.T.
That video was recently shot so not much has changed.
Hi Serve Doctor,

As you've demonstrated a lot of your skinny kid students hit huge serves. Djoker has put on some muscle. Many posters on TW are speculating that is the reason for Djoker is serving big now, with some more mph at big moments.

We are not convinced that there is a correlation. It mainly correlates with having flexibility, staying loose and relaxed so that you get a nice deep racquet drop and generate Racquet Head Speed. Being taller also definitely helps... But it is not really about strength training and building up arm muscle.

What is your opinion Serve Doctor?
 
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Serve Doc

Rookie
What you stated is very true Raul. Range of motion and flexibility are more impactful than brute strength in improving MPH and serve skills. Pros work harder on those qualities than too much on muscle building to accomplish those goals and to avoid injury.
 
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J011yroger

Talk Tennis Guru
That video was recently shot so not much has changed. But I do highly recommend to those actively teaching this stuff to share the analogy to irons in a golf bag for those who vaguely understand it. Golfers have a rather consistent swing but change clubs for the affect on the shot they want. As tennis players we adjust the grips towards backhand side of continental to adjust spin rate and depth so that you don't concede to being tentative with swing speed to fix issues.
Hey, that's my line!

J
 

chetrbox

Rookie
That video was recently shot so not much has changed. But I do highly recommend to those actively teaching this stuff to share the analogy to irons in a golf bag for those who vaguely understand it. Golfers have a rather consistent swing but change clubs for the affect on the shot they want. As tennis players we adjust the grips towards backhand side of continental to adjust spin rate and depth so that you don't concede to being tentative with swing speed to fix issues.
In your MPH video, you advocate the 'pro grip' with the heel pad placed on the top bevel (bevel 1). When you suggest switching to the eastern bh grip for the second serve, would you recommend moving only the base of the index knuckle to the top bevel (bevel 1), or would you also suggest moving the heel pad over to bevel 8?

Thanks for sharing all this great content.
 

Serve Doc

Rookie
In your MPH video, you advocate the 'pro grip' with the heel pad placed on the top bevel (bevel 1). When you suggest switching to the eastern bh grip for the second serve, would you recommend moving only the base of the index knuckle to the top bevel (bevel 1), or would you also suggest moving the heel pad over to bevel 8?

Thanks for sharing all this great content.
You'll need to experiment awhile with the various grip adjustments but the adjustments are subtle not extreme. You'll figure out how the adjustments affect the results. Moving the heel over to bevel 1 will create more of a racquet angle in relation to forearm which creates more of a twist affect. Again, I always want to feel confident enough to swing as aggressively as I can and use the grip variations to lock in on targets.
 

Raul_SJ

G.O.A.T.
Serve Doctor,

I am guilty of swinging at volleys. Have been doing it for a hundred years.
:(

Do you any training aids/devices to break this evil habit?

Don't like volleying against the wall as it is difficult to maintain a rally and find that proper volley form (keeping racquet head angle above wrist, stepping in, etc) quickly breaks down on the wall.





Edit:
Just noticed that Serve Doctor has student first volley short with compact swing before progressing to the deeper volleys. Genius.

 
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Serve Doc

Rookie
At the risk of being removed for promotion...to answer your request we have the volley (Double cuff) trainer to limit backswing tendencies. There are times we load the racquet head back to cutaway floaters...it doesn't require the elbow to react backwards. https://www.apbelt.com/product/volley-trainer/
However, the video needs to be updated because I've found a better design not shown which is 2 cuffs and 2 carabiner clips instead of tubing....works much better.
 

Curious

Legend
Serve Doctor,

I am guilty of swinging at volleys. Have been doing it for a hundred years.
:(

Do you any training aids/devices to break this evil habit?

Don't like volleying against the wall as it is difficult to maintain a rally and find that proper volley form (keeping racquet head angle above wrist, stepping in, etc) quickly breaks down on the wall.





Edit:
Just noticed that Serve Doctor has student first volley short with compact swing before progressing to the deeper volleys. Genius.

@Serve Doc
I’ve noticed you say heel on top bevel when you described continental grip in the video. You know the widely accepted one is both heel and index knuckle on bevel 2, something I’ve always had doubts on.
 

Serve Doc

Rookie
@Serve Doc
I’ve noticed you say heel on top bevel when you described continental grip in the video. You know the widely accepted one is both heel and index knuckle on bevel 2, something I’ve always had doubts on.
Palm directly down on top bevel including heel is the best. I had a talk with Nishikori about it a few years ago as he was struggling with wrist injury from not being fully in the grip and it was causing his wrist to get jammed at contact. clears the way for correct pronation and healthier serving
 

J011yroger

Talk Tennis Guru
Palm directly down on top bevel including heel is the best. I had a talk with Nishikori about it a few years ago as he was struggling with wrist injury from not being fully in the grip and it was causing his wrist to get jammed at contact. clears the way for correct pronation and healthier serving
Provided you can get them to wrap their head around the correct contact point.

J
 

Raul_SJ

G.O.A.T.
There are times we load the racquet head back to cutaway floaters...it doesn't require the elbow to react backwards.
I rarely mishit on a groundstroke but will often frame routine volleys that are not particulary coming in at a high pace... If I am good at catching a baseball with a mitt, I should also be able "catch" a volley and consistently make clean contact.

Resist the temptation to strike at the ball. View it more as a catch.

Is that the idea?
:unsure:

The concept of the “catch” on forehand volleys encourages you to react forward with your elbow, as you would to catch a ball.
 
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Curious

Legend
Palm directly down on top bevel including heel is the best. I had a talk with Nishikori about it a few years ago as he was struggling with wrist injury from not being fully in the grip and it was causing his wrist to get jammed at contact. clears the way for correct pronation and healthier serving
Would you agree that index knuckle is also not quite on bevel 2 but a little more towards 2.5? I watched hundreds of Federer volley videos and thought his index knuckle is a bit like that.
 

Curious

Legend
Would you agree that index knuckle is also not quite on bevel 2 but a little more towards 2.5? I watched hundreds of Federer volley videos and thought his index knuckle is a bit like that.
Sorry about the confusion. I actually meant heel pad on bevel 2, index knuckle on bevel 2.5, Aussie grip as some call it.
 

Serve Doc

Rookie
I rarely mishit on a groundstroke but will often frame routine volleys that are not particulary coming in at a high pace... If I am good at reliably catching a baseball with a mitt, I should also be able "catch" a volley and make clean contact. Is that the idea?
:unsure:

The concept of the “catch” on forehand volleys encourages you to react forward with your elbow, as you would to catch a ball.
Would you agree that index knuckle is also not quite on bevel 2 but a little more towards 2.5? I watched hundreds of Federer volley videos and thought his index knuckle is a bit like that.
A floating ball that requires striking.....react like a waiter lifting a tray to prepare to forehand volley....palm towards sky and a forward and downward forearm action to hammer the ball. Elbow never needs to go backwards on either side.
 

Curious

Legend
When you think about a neutral position of the hand when you grab something like a hammer, the index knuckle is actually a little to the right of the heel pad hence I think it makes sense that a true continental grip should be more like bevels 1-2 or 2-2.5 rather than 2-2.

 

eah123

Rookie
@Serve Doc Thanks for your videos. I'm going to start working on getting my chest to face the sky during my serve windup!

A few questions about the serve:
1) In the starting position, is it better to keep the hips fairly straight like Federer, or bent like Sampras, McEnroe so you have more space to thrust them forward into the court?
2) Is it better to go for a coil and release ("load and explode") with a brief pause in the trophy position (like Roddick), or a more continuous action with the arm like the Pliskova sisters?
3) After the toss, is it better to keep the head in a neutral position, to bend it to the left toward the court (like Federer), or bend it back to the right (like Wawrinka)?

If it makes any difference, I use a narrow platform serve with an abbreviated takeback. Looking to maximize power and minimize injuries!
 

nyta2

Professional
@Serve Doc any experience with folks with UCL elbow injuries? (eg. tommy john injury)
i overdid it this summer... was serving a bucket of balls daily.
if so, any advice?
 

Serve Doc

Rookie
Your video on serving and throwing

A comparison of the throw and serve shows that the upward throw and the serve are very similar. A practice technique that simulates the serve so closely is very rare and interesting (this is the only technique that I have found.) . Do you have any more comments or videos on throwing and serving since making this video?
Just an update on this young girl's development....Sany turned down a full ride offer to Wharton School of Business at Penn to accept a full ride to Harvard where she is happily playing today....focus on proficiency of skill set early on...not results so much....results will come when it's the right time in the process for it....it works
 

Serve Doc

Rookie
I rarely mishit on a groundstroke but will often frame routine volleys that are not particulary coming in at a high pace... If I am good at catching a baseball with a mitt, I should also be able "catch" a volley and consistently make clean contact.

Resist the temptation to strike at the ball. View it more as a catch.

Is that the idea?
:unsure:

The concept of the “catch” on forehand volleys encourages you to react forward with your elbow, as you would to catch a ball.
Update on this player...Top Nidunjianzan reached the finals of Eddie Herr 14s and quarter of Orange bowl a few years ago and is on track for pro career...again focusing on full development of skill set first...results second.
 

Jake Speeed

Professional
I rarely mishit on a groundstroke but will often frame routine volleys that are not particulary coming in at a high pace... If I am good at catching a baseball with a mitt, I should also be able "catch" a volley and consistently make clean contact.

Resist the temptation to strike at the ball. View it more as a catch.

Is that the idea?
:unsure:

The concept of the “catch” on forehand volleys encourages you to react forward with your elbow, as you would to catch a ball.
I find this photo troubling.

JS
 

J011yroger

Talk Tennis Guru
Not sure what u find troubling but we have altered the volley trainer since this pic...we are trying to break bad take back habits on volley skills is all
Just ignore him. He is a park player who thinks he knows everything and likes to hear himself talk.

J
 
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