I totally don't get pronation and how to serve.

It should be unsurprising from my other threads that I've realized I've been serving wrong for the past 15 years. Apparently there's this thing called pronation that I've never done before on my serves.

I tried pronation on slams at the net and they work wonderfully. I get much cleaner, flatter, more powerful strikes that drill the ball into the other side of the court.

I went through 80-some balls today trying to serve with pronation and I don't understand it at all, and I've even watched the videos on YouTube describing it.

I'm a righty. As I'm swinging up to the ball, the face of the racquet that will eventually hit the ball is facing the left side. Through pronation, the racquet face turns to where I want the ball to go, and then on the follow through the racquet face is facing the right side.

So the racquet face goes through an entire 180 degree turn counter-clockwise, if viewed from directly below, during the serve motion.

Uhhhhh... WHAT?!

This kinda makes sense for me on a flat serve, but I'm 5'5" and my flat serves never land in.

If I'm slicing the serve, my intention is to spin the ball clockwise if viewed from below. How can pronating the racquet head counter-clockwise from below possibly accomplish this? On my normal slice serves my racquet face brushes up against the back-right side of the ball and brushes clockwise around it. The racquet face ends up facing the left at the end of the follow through, not the right.

And I don't even know where to begin with a kick serve. I think what I do now is the same thing as the slice, but I brush up more along the back of the ball than the right side. I still end up with the racquet face pointed towards the left though...
 
Last edited:

SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
So the racquet face goes through an entire 180 degree turn counter-clockwise, if viewed from directly below, during the serve motion.

Uhhhhh... WHAT?! ...


When your racket moves upward from the drop, it should be pretty much "on edge" as shown in the Big L position in the image above. From that position, the hand and racket are turned 90 degrees to make contact for a flat serve. The turning of the hand is done with rotation of the forearm (pronation) and rotation of the shoulder (ISR). After contact another 90 degrees or so of rotation will occur.



For spin serves (slice, topspin or top-slice), you should have a very similar Big L position (almost the same but maybe not exactly). From the Big L, the hand/racket will be turned a lot less than 90 degrees to make contact with the ball for a spin serve. There will be a lot of rotation of the forearm and shoulder after contact. So you will still get close to 180 degrees of arm rotation even tho' there is less of it prior to contact. Does this make any more sense to you?
 

SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
Racquet face orientation at contact:



Can you see that the racquet face has squared up to the ball for contact on the flat serve (90 degrees of rotation)? The racquet face is turned less for contact on the slice and topspin serve so that we can attempt to brush the stringbed is across ball to generate the desired spin. Not easy to see in this series of images, but the contact point for the topspin serve will be significantly lower than for the flat or slice serves.

For the slice serve the brush direction is somewhat left to right (perhaps 8 to 2 o'clock). For the topspin serve the brush direction is more bottom to top (perhaps 7 to 1 o'clock). Not easy to see in these images, but the contact point for the topspin serve will be significantly lower than contact for the flat or slice serve.
 

Gazelle

Legend
I think it's far too confusing trying to hit slice/kick in a specific way, and at the same time thinking about pronation. Maybe a computer can process this, but our minds probably can't, as it happens all too quickly.

I'd focus on learning how to hit a flat serve with pronation, untill you can do it subconsciously without thinking about pronation anymore. Then some small adjustments should enable you to hit slice/kick, again without focussing on pronation (which happens on all serves).
 

Crocodile

Legend
I wouldn't get too bogged down in pronation. I'd be focusing on ball toss consistency, effective loading and good rhythm and timing. If you do this the pronation will look after itself. Make sure you are using continental grip and correct stance.
 

kaninfaan

Rookie
...
I went through 80-some balls today trying to serve with pronation and I don't understand it at all, and I've even watched the videos on YouTube describing it.
...

So the racquet face goes through an entire 180 degree turn counter-clockwise, if viewed from directly below, during the serve motion.

Uhhhhh... WHAT?!
...

And I don't even know where to begin with a kick serve. I think what I do now is the same thing as the slice, but I brush up more along the back of the ball than the right side. I still end up with the racquet face pointed towards the left though...
I really think this video explains most of it and, as a bonus, without any nomenclature creating additional confusion.
Watch it twice a day for a week, doing the "shadowswings" shown in the video, then go out and try to feel it on a court.
Plz report here if it worked? :)

fwiw
 

kingp1ng

New User
I'm no instructor so I'll link a good video. He explains the whole mindset of why serve pronation is intuitively awkward.

https://youtu.be/t2xJg6wOprc
After you watch that you can watch this. He goes into more detail here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-9cIObcQyME
Don't expect to fix your serve in one week. You're trying to undo 15 years of muscle memory. Keep on practicing. Do ghost serves. Don't worry about looking dumb, only novice players will judge you. No one is born good at serving.
 

SinjinCooper

Hall of Fame
I can't urge anyone strongly enough to ignore all Feel Tennis videos on the serve. Guy has no idea what he's doing, and following his advice puts the rotator cuff at very high risk of injury, with Golfer's Elbow running a strong second.

Every time this topic comes up, I pray that nobody posts links to those videos.
 
2

2HBH-DTL

Guest
if you lead with the edge of your racquet up toward the ball, you have to pronate in order to make contact with the strings and then continuing to pronate after the ball is struck.
 

Lance L

Semi-Pro
It should be unsurprising from my other threads that I've realized I've been serving wrong for the past 15 years. Apparently there's this thing called pronation that I've never done before on my serves.

I tried pronation on slams at the net and they work wonderfully. I get much cleaner, flatter, more powerful strikes that drill the ball into the other side of the court.

I went through 80-some balls today trying to serve with pronation and I don't understand it at all, and I've even watched the videos on YouTube describing it.

I'm a righty. As I'm swinging up to the ball, the face of the racquet that will eventually hit the ball is facing the left side. Through pronation, the racquet face turns to where I want the ball to go, and then on the follow through the racquet face is facing the right side.

So the racquet face goes through an entire 180 degree turn counter-clockwise, if viewed from directly below, during the serve motion.

Uhhhhh... WHAT?!

This kinda makes sense for me on a flat serve, but I'm 5'5" and my flat serves never land in.

If I'm slicing the serve, my intention is to spin the ball clockwise if viewed from below. How can pronating the racquet head counter-clockwise from below possibly accomplish this? On my normal slice serves my racquet face brushes up against the back-right side of the ball and brushes clockwise around it. The racquet face ends up facing the left at the end of the follow through, not the right.

And I don't even know where to begin with a kick serve. I think what I do now is the same thing as the slice, but I brush up more along the back of the ball than the right side. I still end up with the racquet face pointed towards the left though...
First, every time this comes up, there is usually a debate. It is pronation! It is internal shoulder rotation! Doesn't really matter, you do have the concept, that the racquet travels about 180 deg from a split second before contact to a split second after contact.
There are two things going on here.
1. This rotation is a part of ever serve motion. It is simply how the arm and racquet work in order to accelerate and hit the ball. This motion says nothing about what kind of spin you are putting on the ball. This is how the ball is hit.(As an aside, watch slow motion video of a pitcher, and you will see this same 180ish deg rotation.)
2. Now, after that you can look at different ways to contact the ball to cause it to spin. For example if your racquet is moving up when you hit the ball, it is going to cause the forward spin on the ball. But remember, as you are doing this the basic fundamental is still happening the rotation of the racquet!
 

GuyClinch

Legend
My advice - ignore all theory - concentrate on doing.

This video has a click bait title - but covers the idea...


Basic idea of serving is to throw the racquet at the ball..

Top tennis training had a nice video where they train this old guy but I can't find it.

You don't need to worry about pronation, ISR, - any of that crap. Just concentrate on throwing the racquet at the ball. Different angles of throw - up and out - up and across - along with slightly different tosses - create your spins..
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
Serving is hard.....
But the whole idea of gripping the racket with continental, or slight variances, is to get RACKET HEAD SPEED into the ball. Pronation allows racket head speed thru the twisting of the arm, with the racket held at around a 45degree angle to the forearm. It's NOT like a forehand, it's like it's own stroke. The angle of the held racket to the forearm needs pronation to add racket head speed.
 

Limpinhitter

G.O.A.T.
. . . I'm a righty. As I'm swinging up to the ball, the face of the racquet that will eventually hit the ball is facing the left side. Through pronation, the racquet face turns to where I want the ball to go, and then on the follow through the racquet face is facing the right side.

So the racquet face goes through an entire 180 degree turn counter-clockwise, if viewed from directly below, during the serve motion. . . .
That would indicate pronation- the right hand rotating counter clockwise. It operates the same way on all serves. The spin you impart on the ball is determined by the direction of the swingpath at the moment of contact. Pronation before or after contact does not determin spin.
 
It should be unsurprising from my other threads that I've realized I've been serving wrong for the past 15 years. Apparently there's this thing called pronation that I've never done before on my serves.

I tried pronation on slams at the net and they work wonderfully. I get much cleaner, flatter, more powerful strikes that drill the ball into the other side of the court.

I went through 80-some balls today trying to serve with pronation and I don't understand it at all, and I've even watched the videos on YouTube describing it.

I'm a righty. As I'm swinging up to the ball, the face of the racquet that will eventually hit the ball is facing the left side. Through pronation, the racquet face turns to where I want the ball to go, and then on the follow through the racquet face is facing the right side.

So the racquet face goes through an entire 180 degree turn counter-clockwise, if viewed from directly below, during the serve motion.

Uhhhhh... WHAT?!

This kinda makes sense for me on a flat serve, but I'm 5'5" and my flat serves never land in.

If I'm slicing the serve, my intention is to spin the ball clockwise if viewed from below. How can pronating the racquet head counter-clockwise from below possibly accomplish this? On my normal slice serves my racquet face brushes up against the back-right side of the ball and brushes clockwise around it. The racquet face ends up facing the left at the end of the follow through, not the right.

And I don't even know where to begin with a kick serve. I think what I do now is the same thing as the slice, but I brush up more along the back of the ball than the right side. I still end up with the racquet face pointed towards the left though...
Just about everything you say is exactly right. Problem is hitting a continental grip pronated flat serve with some juice on it at 5 foot 5 is a tough proposition. If you were taller it would most likely make a lot more sense to you. Even then it's not an easy thing to learn if you've spent years hitting typical spin serves with a continental grip.
 
I hit mostly slice serves and thought I carved around the ball to hit slice. In fact, I never knew of this pronation thing until I came here and started watching YT videos. I tried, like you to understand it by rationalizing it.

So last year I took some videos of myself serving. And when I watched them later I found out that indeed I did pronate even on my slice serves! And if you hit a non-WT serve it is natural for your racquet to square up at contact by pronation.

Sometimes we are not fully aware of what our bodies are actually doing. BTW, I am 56 years old, and have been serving this way most of my life.
 

KenC

Hall of Fame
I think the best way to learn proper pronation is to not think about pronation. Just do all the elements of a proper serve and the pronation happens naturally. If you aren't pronating naturally you need to get someone to do a videoanalysis of your serve and help you build it correctly.
 
A

Attila_the_gorilla

Guest
I think it's best to practice the slice serve. This is much easier to understand and execute. A properly pronating flat serve should come further down the track. When you look around the recreational courts, most of the decent-ish players hit an OK slice. But very few hit a proper flat serve.
 

Bender

G.O.A.T.
Based on the title, I thought this was yet another TimeToPlaySets thread diary.

Me, pronation came easy because I learned how to throw properly from a young age. Might want to give that a shot if the motion itself doesn't seem natural.
 

kingp1ng

New User
I can't urge anyone strongly enough to ignore all Feel Tennis videos on the serve. Guy has no idea what he's doing, and following his advice puts the rotator cuff at very high risk of injury, with Golfer's Elbow running a strong second.

Every time this topic comes up, I pray that nobody posts links to those videos.
I watched him and it helped me reduce strain on my traps and rhomboids. Many players (including me) have a bad habit of being too robotic and jerky rather than one fluid motion. His advice isn't "do this one motion and gain 60 mph on your serves", since focusing on a single motion on a first serve would probably lead to a strained muscle or sprained ligament. Drills like throwing a ball properly and pronate serving from the service box are classic drills. And yes, I agree there are some videos which are of old school style and don't match modern playstyles.
 
Last edited:

GuyClinch

Legend
And I don't even know where to begin with a kick serve. I think what I do now is the same thing as the slice, but I brush up more along the back of the ball than the right side. I still end up with the racquet face pointed towards the left though...
Seems normal. This sounds like you are on right track. Ignore the people who think pronation is the be all and end all. Your racquet will turn over as your arm extends. End of story.

If you are learning kick or slice just think of the swing path you want to have and don't stress about any pronation. When learning the kicks serve for example you just want to think about swinging up the back side of the ball and catching the ball early in your swing path - before the pronation really kick in.

Just get a pro to demonstrate - and don't worry about pronation. If you REALLY want to here some intellectual stuff about it..


Despite the bad audio - this video might actually be the best. If you just watch him shadow the racquet drop to racquet pointing straight up part of the swing (all of which happen mostly before alot of pronation) that's all you need.

Just skip to about 5:40 and watch that little demo..

ISR/Pronation will still happen - alot of it - but as he explains its just a function of your arm extending and way to save your shoulder.
 
Finally got some time to get back to this thread.

Anyway, I thought that pronation was a 180 degree turn, starting with the contact face pointing left and ending with the contact face pointing right.

But when I look at some pros that's not always the case:

Here Cibulkova is only pronating 90 degrees and finishes with the face pointing to the back of the court.



Kei does the same thing, or even has the face pointing to the left after contact:



And here's me (sorry for the bad quality). My racquet ends up facing to the left after contact. This is how I usually do my kick serves or slice serves. I brush the right side of the ball with my racquet facing to the left and that's the way it stays at the end of my follow through.



Kick serve:



Here's the result - that's the apex height of the ball after bouncing on the other side. That's a kick serve right?

 
Ohhhhhhh.... I think I get pronation now.


I thought that pronation was the 180 degree counter-clockwise rotation of the right wrist. That's wrong. Pronation is *any* counter-clockwise rotation of the right wrist. It doesn't matter how many degrees it is.

So yes, I definitely pronate on all of my serves and all of the examples shown above show pronation in varying degrees.
 

Chas Tennis

G.O.A.T.
Ohhhhhhh.... I think I get pronation now.


I thought that pronation was the 180 degree counter-clockwise rotation of the right wrist. That's wrong. Pronation is *any* counter-clockwise rotation of the right wrist. It doesn't matter how many degrees it is.

So yes, I definitely pronate on all of my serves and all of the examples shown above show pronation in varying degrees.
I can't tell from your post #23 video what you are doing because of the motion blur.

Pronation and internal shoulder rotation (ISR) are defined joint motions. Joint motions are used to describe motion. The part of the serve where the arm rotates around its axis is actually mostly internal shoulder rotation plus pronation at times. The term pronation was applied before people understood that ISR was much stronger than pronation because ISR & pronation produce the same motion at the wrist when the arm is straight. Look up these joint motions and the muscles that drive them.

There are many threads on the forum about ISR.

A lot of misunderstanding can be avoided by getting your information from a reference such as Technique Development for Tennis Stroke Production (2009) B.Elliott, M. Reid and M. Crespo. Available from the ITF Store or Kindle. Readable and what is described is backed up by high speed videos.
 
Last edited:

Limpinhitter

G.O.A.T.
* * *



* * *
If you have a good throwing motion, and maintain a loose, relaxed arm and grip, pronation before and after contact will occur naturally. BTW, your toss in the pic above is too far back. The ball looks like it would land about a foot behind the baseline. Rather, it should land about a foot in front of the baseline, unless you are serving and volleying in which case it should land about 2 feet in front of the baseline.
 

vectorthurm

Rookie
I can't urge anyone strongly enough to ignore all Feel Tennis videos on the serve. Guy has no idea what he's doing, and following his advice puts the rotator cuff at very high risk of injury, with Golfer's Elbow running a strong second.

Every time this topic comes up, I pray that nobody posts links to those videos.
I just came upon this and I’m curious why you do not like Tomaz’ advice on serve and pronation. I’ve been struggling with trying to improve my serve ESR/ISR with zero gains but I have picked up a nice case of golfers elbow‍♂Can’t say I was following Tomaz so much recently but I have in the past. Frustratingly I’m thinking about just quitting the whole process because when it comes to match time I just hit stupid low speed spin serves as I get so stupidly tight. That’s probably the reason for my elbow
 

Chas Tennis

G.O.A.T.
I just came upon this and I’m curious why you do not like Tomaz’ advice on serve and pronation. I’ve been struggling with trying to improve my serve ESR/ISR with zero gains but I have picked up a nice case of golfers elbow‍♂Can’t say I was following Tomaz so much recently but I have in the past. Frustratingly I’m thinking about just quitting the whole process because when it comes to match time I just hit stupid low speed spin serves as I get so stupidly tight. That’s probably the reason for my elbow
What use did you make of high speed video of your serve?

Look for the elbow to be bent at impact and other differences that might be related.

Golfer's Elbow is an tear in the tendon. If so you should not stress it, especially with more tennis. See Tendon Injury Nuthouse, especially post #1 Tendinitis (with inflammation and post #15 Tendinosis (with defective healing). See a Dr.
 
Last edited:

5263

G.O.A.T.
It should be unsurprising from my other threads that I've realized I've been serving wrong for the past 15 years. Apparently there's this thing called pronation that I've never done before on my serves.

I tried pronation on slams at the net and they work wonderfully. I get much cleaner, flatter, more powerful strikes that drill the ball into the other side of the court.
here is something I use to help people to understand the serving "pronation" type action...

stand like you are serving and use the pointing finger on the hitting hand (try with and without the racket in hand)...point behind you over your shoulder like in racket drop with bent elbow
...the finger should point down about 45 degr from level.
From there bring the hand forward on an upward slant of 45 degr and now point forward and up about 45 degrees with arm straight

that movement of the hand from front to back gives you a good idea of what this "so-called Pronation" serve action should be like
 
Last edited:

user92626

G.O.A.T.
I can't urge anyone strongly enough to ignore all Feel Tennis videos on the serve. Guy has no idea what he's doing, and following his advice puts the rotator cuff at very high risk of injury, with Golfer's Elbow running a strong second.

Every time this topic comes up, I pray that nobody posts links to those videos.
Are you kidding me? Tomaz is great. I didn't understand his instruction in the past but after I got it from another coach, Tomaz's instruction is perfect and right on.

This is a great explanation and demo:



The instruction video in GC's post 22 is BAD. You do not power your server by "a function of your arm extending" at the elbow. As Tomaz and this coach explain, you twist your arm, which is the pronation that the OP was looking for:

 

Chas Tennis

G.O.A.T.
Are you kidding me? Tomaz is great. I didn't understand his instruction in the past but after I got it from another coach, Tomaz's instruction is perfect and right on.

This is a great explanation and demo:



The instruction video in GC's post 22 is BAD. You do not power your server by "a function of your arm extending" at the elbow. As Tomaz and this coach explain, you twist your arm, which is the pronation that the OP was looking for:

Before believing words or demos check out every thing that is said by learning to view high speed videos of ATP pros - yourself.
 

Chas Tennis

G.O.A.T.
I have done that, sir. I have verified it with pro clips. It's checked out!
"Can you stop now? the orientation of the pros at the moment of contact and you will see that they are all at roughly 45 degrees at the moment of contact." (I cannot hear the beginning of what is said in the video. Can anyone else?)

Stop the video on 9:47.

What is oriented 45 degrees to what? Something to the baseline? Swing path, chest or what? These were selected as examples to show something is oriented to the baseline and 'all are the same'? The baseline orientation shows in all 4 frames. What is oriented to the baseline in all four frames? In what regard are they the same?

The "moment of contact" should have the ball on the racket shown in each frame. I see the ball only in the Federer and Raonic frames. Also, the racket from the side view appears vertical for two, as usual, but the ball is not clear on the other two and the racket is tilted forward, probably after impact or maybe a kick serve. ?

Were these frames selected because the bodies were tilted to the right in a similar way? Or the chests were tilted to the camera at about 45 degrees? Or what?

What type of serves were these?

Because the baseline has different orientations to the camera, the racket tilts are of two types, the serves are of unknown types, impact only appears for two servers, I could not possibly understand what is being shown "the same" to what.

Here is an example of where you can observe the baseline, the angle of the chest to the baseline and what type of serve is being struck and several other things. I see the general path of the racket is roughly different to the baseline clearly because of the overhead camera view and the Toly composite picture showing several different racket positions. Keep looking and you can find in two dimensions: hand path, racket path, ball location, different racket tilts and arm tilts........



You can clearly see that the chest is more oriented to the side on the kick serve. About 45 degrees to the baseline in this serve. But that would be different for a serve to the other side of the court.

(I'm embarrassed that I don't know to what side of the court these serves are directed to. That may be in the videos of these serves which are available. From the racket face orientation, if before impact, to the ad court. Face looks to ad court for slice and kick serves. How do those look for serves down the T?)
 
Last edited:

user92626

G.O.A.T.
"In seeing? ...the orientation pros at the moment of contact and you will see that they are all at roughly 45 degrees at the moment of contact." (I cannot hear the beginning of what is said in the video. Can anyone else?)

Stop the video on 9:47.

What is oriented 45 degrees to what? Something to the baseline? Swing path, chest or what? These were selected as examples to show something is oriented to the baseline and are 'all the same'? The baseline orientation shows in all 4 frames. What is oriented to the baseline in all four frames? In what regard are they the same?


What type of serves were these?



You can clearly see that the chest is more oriented to the side on the kick serve. About 45 degrees to the court. But that would be different for a serve to the other side of the court.

(I'm embarrassed that I don't know to what side of the court these serves are directed to. It may be in the videos of these serves which are available.)
Tomaz said "WE now have to orient like this..." along with demo'ing clearly in the video. That is, his face and body is now facing the right side. It may appear to be "over-orientation" bc Tomaz intends to serve to the ad side.


What type of serves? A generic, simple one as this is only a basic instruction going from not knowing how to serve, serving via a patty cake, to using the correct pronation swing. It's clear.
 

Chas Tennis

G.O.A.T.
Tomaz said "WE now have to orient like this..." along with demo'ing clearly in the video. That is, his face and body is now facing the right side. It may appear to be "over-orientation" bc Tomaz intends to serve to the ad side.


What type of serves? A generic, simple one as this is only a basic instruction going from not knowing how to serve, serving via a patty cake, to using the correct pronation swing. It's clear.
What do you see in those four frames that is the same?
 

TennisDawg

Professional
Finally got some time to get back to this thread.

Anyway, I thought that pronation was a 180 degree turn, starting with the contact face pointing left and ending with the contact face pointing right.

But when I look at some pros that's not always the case:

Here Cibulkova is only pronating 90 degrees and finishes with the face pointing to the back of the court.



Kei does the same thing, or even has the face pointing to the left after contact:



And here's me (sorry for the bad quality). My racquet ends up facing to the left after contact. This is how I usually do my kick serves or slice serves. I brush the right side of the ball with my racquet facing to the left and that's the way it stays at the end of my follow through.



Kick serve:



Here's the result - that's the apex height of the ball after bouncing on the other side. That's a kick serve right?

Cibolkova is hitting what looks to be a flat serve. Some players mainly on the Women’s Tour finish with their racquet face pointing towards the net, not pointing to the right. I don’t know why, maybe due to strength. Kei seems to be hitting a kick serve and I have seen other players finish their kick serve the same way. But, I can guarantee they were pronating when they struck the ball.
 
Are you kidding me? Tomaz is great. I didn't understand his instruction in the past but after I got it from another coach, Tomaz's instruction is perfect and right on.

This is a great explanation and demo:



The instruction video in GC's post 22 is BAD. You do not power your server by "a function of your arm extending" at the elbow. As Tomaz and this coach explain, you twist your arm, which is the pronation that the OP was looking for:

Thank you for posting these videos. I have never been able to get pronation and for some reason these just clicked for me. I practiced this at home for a few days then today put it in action on the court and what a difference in power. One thing i noticed though was that almost all my serves were pretty flat. But for the first outing I'm pleased.
 
Top