How to add topspin on flat serve

NedStark

Rookie
I believe that my flat serves can have good pace but they tend to be too flat. So, how do you guys do to add topspin on flat serves (but not changing the swing path completely into a topspin serve one)?
 
Need video to see what you are doing. Just for reference, watch a video of Nadal and pause it at contact. My guess is that you are facing your target with your upper body more than he is at contact. You can’t get much topspin if you open up toward your target too much.
 

Crocodile

Legend
What you do is bring the ball tosd closer to you and between 12 and 1 o’clock and with soft hands you hit 6 to 12 over the hall which will increase your rpm’s on the ball,
You also have to swing fast and have soft hands and pliable wrist profile,
 

5263

G.O.A.T.
I believe that my flat serves can have good pace but they tend to be too flat. So, how do you guys do to add topspin on flat serves (but not changing the swing path completely into a topspin serve one)?
This is the key to serving big with a high percentage. All serves have spin, so it is key to be "in charge" of what type spin you end up with....
 

nyta2

Professional
I believe that my flat serves can have good pace but they tend to be too flat. So, how do you guys do to add topspin on flat serves (but not changing the swing path completely into a topspin serve one)?
if you really don't want to change anything about your swing... then you can "add" topspin by tossing as high as you can manageable time consistently... but tossing too high comes with it's own problems...
 

NedStark

Rookie
Is your serve going into the net or long? What's wrong with a flat serve being flat with pace? Kinda thought that was the point.
Actually both, but it is more likely to go long.

Need video to see what you are doing. Just for reference, watch a video of Nadal and pause it at contact. My guess is that you are facing your target with your upper body more than he is at contact. You can’t get much topspin if you open up toward your target too much.
Unfortunately I will be busy for the next few weeks, so I won't be able to play tennis :))
Btw, do you mean that I need to keep my body sideway longer when serving down the T on Deuce or outwide on AD?

if you really don't want to change anything about your swing... then you can "add" topspin by tossing as high as you can manageable time consistently... but tossing too high comes with it's own problems...
Actually I am willing to adjust the motion, but still want to keep it a flat serve fundamentally.
 

Chas Tennis

G.O.A.T.
For the high level serving technique:

The racket head must rise up while in contact with the ball for top spin and kick serves.

The racket also rises up for flat and slice serves, but not as much.

This can be directly observed in high speed videos. It appears to involve ulnar deviation, a wrist joint motion.

These composite gifs and pictures were created by Toly.

Slice serve gif. 3 frames shows racket positions before, during and after impact.


Slice serve. The 3 frames from above. Note rise of racket vs baseline.



Kick serve gif.


Kick serve. The 3 frames from above. Note racket rise vs baseline.



Flat serve. Use the period & comma keys to single frame. Time scale counts down to impact at "0" milliseconds.

Observe and compare all angles for the composite gifs, pictures and the video. All at impact - Arm angle tilt, forearm-to-racket-shaft angle, average direction of racket strings contacting ball vs vertical.

In order to record videos like these you need:
1) 240 fps
2) small motion blur (fast shutter)
3) bright sunny day
4) camera placement. (these were looking along the ball's trajectory)

Countdown time scale, processing & analysis was done on Kinovea. Kinovea is a free open source application that has many capabilities for video analysis and display.

The direction of the racket strings tend to be perpendicular to the spin axes shown in this ball diagram. The match would not be perfect because the racket head is on a curved path and the collision adds complications. Also, the ball spin diagram was made by studying elite players and the above images are from one pro player. But the racket string direction for the kick serve looks closer to the horizontal direction than the flat and slice serves. Print the ball diagram, draw perpendiculars to the 3 spin axes and see how close they might be. (I believe that the top spin serve has a different spin axis than the kick serve.)




If the OP does not have a high level serve technique, the OP is on his own.
 
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First of all, relax. A stiff, tight arm limits your possibilities.
Strike the ball a bit lower in the toss than what is normal for you (maybe an inch?) and
visualize the follow through finishing over the ball.
Keep your wrist loose so that at impact you can feel a sort of
rocking up and forward movement- sort of like throwing a knife.
This will not produce a ton of topspin, but even the worst
result will prevent you from pulling down through the ball,
Which could very well be what was happening.
 
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Friedman Whip

Professional
I believe that my flat serves can have good pace but they tend to be too flat. So, how do you guys do to add topspin on flat serves (but not changing the swing path completely into a topspin serve one)?
How can a flat serve be too flat? You want a flat serve to be as flat as it can be. That's the point of a flat serve. It's either flat or it ain't.
 

Chas Tennis

G.O.A.T.
A flat serve curves down because of gravity. 'Flat serve' is a tennis term that has probably been used for many decades. As is usually the case, old tennis terms are misleading. A flat serve has a component of top spin. So it curves down both from gravity plus from the downward aerodynamic forces. It is relatively flat compared to a kick or slice serve.

If you wanted to make a flat serve flatter you would apply more underspin, then the lift from aerodynamics would work in the opposite direction to the force from gravity. That is done in underspin ground strokes. That does not seem to work so well because no pros do it.

See the ball spin diagram in post #10. It shows the amount of the three components of spin for the three most common serve types, kick, slice and flat. All types of serves have a side spin component, a top spin component and a spiral or gyro spin component. There is only spin vector and it has one direction in 3D space, the 3 components give the direction of the spin axis in 3D space. A kick serve or top spin serve has more side spin component than a slice serve. A kick serve has more side spin component than top spin component. That is according to the researchers that measured elite servers as shown in the ball spin publication. That is what the ball spin diagram shows.

Spin Serve Nuthouse.
 
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Chas Tennis

G.O.A.T.
My guess to answer the OP's question would be to have the racket rise more than usual for a flat serve but less than usual for a kick serve.

Measure the racket shaft angle to the net for both the kick and flat serves using a protractor in post #10. The top spin component would increase as impact occurs at a smaller angle. You would have to have a high level serving technique and be able to adjust the angle described by trial and error or to have high speed video feedback.

The kick serve has a more vertical arm than the flat serve, that is a factor. ? To see arm angle in 3D has to be viewed from two orthogonal camera views.

Also, the kick serve impact typically has the racket tilted closed about 15 degrees just before impact. That closed angle probably has to be incorporated also to a lesser degree.

In simpler terms, the racket has to rise more during impact to get more top spin.
 
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2nd Serve Ace

Hall of Fame
I was thinking about this topic today. One thing I've noticed recently is that if the handle is held flush to my palm firmly, I can't hit anything BUT overspin serves! Regardless of swing path or even toss location.

Now, if I move the handle slightly away from the palm and into the first joints of my fingers, its the opposite, low slice spin always seems to result. Just something to consider.
 
Btw, do you mean that I need to keep my body sideway longer when serving down the T on Deuce or outwide on AD?
By looking at Nadal, I just wanted you to see what the body position looks like when you try to put spin on a serve. Sometimes people don’t realize how much they may have to put themselves in what feels like an awkward position. But, it is not about trying to stay sideways, or opening up a certain amount. His body position is the result of position at toss, pushing off the ground out into the court, and where he swings the racquet. Body position is the result of the swing path more than it is turning a certain way affecting the swing path.
If you have your shoulders in line with target (at a minimum) or where your opponent can see your back a little and you use a swing path that allows for the spin you want (many videos to help are available) you won’t have to worry about trying to be facing a certain direction. Let that come naturally.
 

Chas Tennis

G.O.A.T.
At what point or time of the service motion would 'opening up' occur?

And what is the definition of 'opening up'?

Does 'opening up' apply to the racket face, chest, whole body or what?

Is 'open' related to the vertical? That is the only use I understand. If the lowest edge of the racket is closest to a vertical line through the ball the racket face is open. Used when the racket and ball are coming together. The opposite for closed.
Could someone post a video and point out 'opening up'.

Does opening up mean the same to all readers or a certain level of tennis players?
 
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At what point or time of the service motion would 'opening up' occur?

And what is the definition of 'opening up'?

Does 'opening up' apply to the racket face, chest, whole body or what?

Is 'open' related to the vertical? That is the only use I understand. If the lowest edge of the racket is closest to a vertical line through the ball the racket face is open. Used when the racket and ball are coming together. The opposite for closed.
Could someone post a video and point out 'opening up'.

Does opening up mean the same to all readers or a certain level of tennis players?
It is similar to ISR and ESR.
 
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