Is the 'elbow drop' the most important determining factor in how fast a player can serve?

Is the 'elbow drop' the most important determining factor in how fast a player can serve?

  • Yes

    Votes: 3 27.3%
  • No

    Votes: 8 72.7%

  • Total voters
    11

zill

Professional
By elbow drop I mean in here at 0:09 you can see Stan dropping his elbows down a lot to 'horizontal'.

 

kramer woodie

Professional
Watch your posted video again closely. There is no elbow drop! There is, however, great flexibility. Watch how far back is forearm extends. You will
find that same flexibility with a Pro Major League Baseball Pitcher. In fact, pitchers get so much rotation back with the forearm that the bones in the forearm curve. Which is the main cause of so many pitchers needing Tommy John's surgery.

So watch the vid again. You will find that the amount of shoulder rotation and the forearm extending back level with the upper arm makes it appear that the elbow drops. It doesn't!

Shalom
 

zill

Professional
Watch your posted video again closely. There is no elbow drop! There is, however, great flexibility. Watch how far back is forearm extends. You will
find that same flexibility with a Pro Major League Baseball Pitcher. In fact, pitchers get so much rotation back with the forearm that the bones in the forearm curve. Which is the main cause of so many pitchers needing Tommy John's surgery.

So watch the vid again. You will find that the amount of shoulder rotation and the forearm extending back level with the upper arm makes it appear that the elbow drops. It doesn't!

Shalom
Ok but is this arm drop a genetic feature? Or can be trained?
 

SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
Where did you get the odd notion that "elbow drop" might the most important determining factor in how fast a player can serve?
By elbow drop I mean in here at 0:09 you can see Stan dropping his elbows down a lot to 'horizontal'.
A number of things wrong with this. I really would not emulate Stan's serve mechanics if a bigger serve is your goal. Sure he can serve large with his sub-optimal mechanics. But it appears to have taken its toll on his shoulder. He has been plagued with shoulder problems since 2014... very possibly, earlier.

In the image below, his elbow is actually too high. Not recommended. (Possible impignment after years of this).



From that high, he drops it a bit to almost horizontal... still too high. He gets no shoulder tilt with that elbow and shoulder positions. Contrast that with the elbow position and shoulder tilt that Pete and Roger achieve. They also employ more torso coil, knee bend and leg drive. The direction (baseline parallel) they lift the tossing arm helps to achieve that greater torso coil.

 
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zill

Professional
Where did you get the odd notion that "elbow drop" might the most important determining factor in how fast a player can serve?
There was a YouTube video saying Roddick has the biggest “elbow drop” at the time and he had the fastest serve at the time.

How does Stan generate all that power then?
 

sredna42

Hall of Fame
Where did you get the odd notion that "elbow drop" might the most important determining factor in how fast a player can serve?


A number of things wrong with this. I really would not emulate Stan's serve mechanics if a bigger serve is your goal. Sure he can serve large with his sub-optimal mechanics. But it appears to have taken its toll on his shoulder. He has been plagued with shoulder problems since 2014... very possibly, earlier.

In the image below, his elbow is actually too high. Not recommended. (Possible impignment after years of this).



From that high, he drops it a bit to almost horizontal... still too high. He gets no shoulder tilt with that elbow and shoulder positions. Contrast that with the elbow position and shoulder tilt that Pete and Roger achieve. They also employ more torso coil, knee bend and leg drive. The direction (baseline parallel) they lift the tossing arm helps to achieve that greater torso coil.

Yeah he has a strange serve. I believe he's just worked with what his physiology has to give. And although the high elbow is definitely not ideal it doesn't seem to have caused him issues, i wonder if its because he stays alot more upright, and doesn't lean back deeply. He seems to get his power from an extremely violent shoulder/upper body snap
 

SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
There was a YouTube video saying Roddick has the biggest “elbow drop” at the time and he had the fastest serve at the time.

How does Stan generate all that power then?
What exactly do you mean by "elbow drop" for the serve? Which YouTube video? I have been studying and teaching the serve, in depth, since the 1980s. Have never heard that terminology before. Sure they were not referencing elbow position or alignment? Or maybe racquet head drop.
 

sredna42

Hall of Fame
There was a YouTube video saying Roddick has the biggest “elbow drop” at the time and he had the fastest serve at the time.

How does Stan generate all that power then?
From my understanding a live arm and leg drive cause a deep racquet head drop. I know my serve is going to be a good one when i feel the racquet head drop deep. I guess its important because the deeper the drop the more distance the racquet head has to accelerate into contact.

Edit: i think (though may be wrong) that wawrinka gets his power from a very pronounced snap of his upper body from being side on to the baseline at trophy, to instantly parallel to the baseline at contact. Its real quick.
 

sredna42

Hall of Fame
What exactly do you mean by "elbow drop" for the serve? Which YouTube video? I have been studying and teaching the serve, in depth, since the 1980s. Have never heard that terminology before. Sure they were not referencing elbow position or alignment? Or maybe racquet head drop.
He obviously means racquet head drop but doesn't know the terminology.
 

SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
Yeah he has a strange serve. I believe he's just worked with what his physiology has to give. And although the high elbow is definitely not ideal it doesn't seem to have caused him issues, i wonder if its because he stays alot more upright, and doesn't lean back deeply. He seems to get his power from an extremely violent shoulder/upper body snap
The high elbow, by itself, might not be responsible for his shoulder problems. But it could be a contributing factor. I believe that it might be an over-reliance of his shoulder, as a primary power source, that is causing him grief.
 

sredna42

Hall of Fame
The high elbow, by itself, might not be responsible for his shoulder problems. But it could be a contributing factor. I believe that it might be an over-reliance of his shoulder, as a primary power source, that is causing him grief.
Yeah i saw your post above just yhen saying he struggled with shoulder probs lol shows how clueless i am he never seems to.have shoulder issues. Its usually his knee or fitness i thought.

What i find interesting in that pic above is how his right foot is outside the left, but his upper body rotated back, like he's hitting a semi open forehand using angle of separation almost.
 

SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
Yeah i saw your post above just yhen saying he struggled with shoulder probs lol shows how clueless i am he never seems to.have shoulder issues. Its usually his knee or fitness i thought.

What i find interesting in that pic above is how his right foot is outside the left, but his upper body rotated back, like he's hitting a semi open forehand using angle of separation almost.
Yeah, Stan has been dealing with various injuries. The shoulder has been an issue since 2013/2104. Perhaps earlier. Have come across a number of references to his on going shoulder problems. Refer to post #68 & #69 in this 2018 thread.

https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/index.php?threads/coach-ruined-forehand-now-what.629626/page-2#post-12832921

Stan starts with the right foot back and then moves it and to the right before he gets to his trophy position. A pseudo-pinpoint semi-open stance, if you will. This opens up the hips a bit creating a hip-chest offset (separation angle). This will give him a bit of added power even tho he hasn't coiled the upper body very much. More coil should yield more power and offload demands to the shoulder.

 

SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
How does Stan generate all that power then?
Stan is getting a lot of his power from shoulder... probably too much of it. Stan is undoubtedly a pretty strong guy. More important, he probably get a ton of power (speed strength) from fast-twitch muscles in his shoulder, rotators (and other areas). However, even Stan's shoulder is not bulletproof. The over-reliance of power largely from his shoulder appears to be taking its toll.

Stan gets a bit of a power assist from his core (release of stored energy from the hip/chest separation angle we discussed in the posts above). He should get an even greater power assist from his core if he coiled the upper body more, like Roger and Pete. Stanimal employs a small amount of knee bend and leg drive. This helps a bit to load his shoulder/rotators. But he would get a lot more of this effect if he bent his knees more. Greater leg drive will facilitate ESR (external shoulder rotation) and stretching of the internal shoulder rotators.

Stan gets a a good amount of ESR and ISR on his serve. But he appears to be relying primarily on his shoulder joint and muscles to do this. If he employed more leg drive and more of the other components of a FULL kinetic chain, he could achieve the same(or better) ESR & ISR without putting as much demand on his shoulder muscles.
 
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Wurm

Rookie
How does Stan generate all that power then?
Look at how his shoulders have rotated between these two images.



It's that motion that provides the extra whip that flings the arm forward faster than just having a live arm can manage. How players use their bodies to deliver that varies somewhat. With Stan he's using his off the charts explosive core strength in a way that the typical player can't.
 

zill

Professional
. I know my serve is going to be a good one when i feel the racquet head drop deep.

Can you feel your racket drop?? I can only feel the racquet up to and including at trophy position. After that I cannot feel the racket until upon contacting the ball.
 

SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
Look at how his shoulders have rotated between these two images.



It's that motion that provides the extra whip that flings the arm forward faster than just having a live arm can manage. How players use their bodies to deliver that varies somewhat. With Stan he's using his off the charts explosive core strength in a way that the typical player can't.
Many elite servers will rotate even more than this, particularly on first serves, because they have have coiled quite a bit more thsn Stan does during the trophy phase. Take a closer look at the trophy for Stan, Roger and Pete in the imagea I posted earlier in this thread.
 

SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
Can you feel your racket drop?? I can only feel the racquet up to and including at trophy position. After that I cannot feel the racket until upon contacting the ball.
Perhaps you are gripping the handle tightly, too soon, if you can't feel it after the trophy. Keep the fiingers/grip fairly relaxed for the racket drop. They should not tighten until the upward swing after the drop. Perhaps halfway or so thru the upward swing.
 

sredna42

Hall of Fame
Can you feel your racket drop?? I can only feel the racquet up to and including at trophy position. After that I cannot feel the racket until upon contacting the ball.
I can't at all now as my serve has gone to crap and I'm thinking about a heap of other stuff, but when i was serving well i could definitely feel the racquet drop. When i felt it drop deep you just knew it was gonna slingshot back out if there and put alot of work on the ball
 

zill

Professional
Perhaps you are gripping the handle tightly, too soon, if you can't feel it after the trophy. Keep the fiingers/grip fairly relaxed for the racket drop. They should not tighten until the upward swing after the drop. Perhaps halfway or so thru the upward swing.
Am holding the racquet very loosely. Think it’s because am using a new service motion. Or it could be am just focusing on the racquet acceleration in the hit that I am neglecting the feel of the drop?
 

zill

Professional
What exactly do you mean by "elbow drop" for the serve? Which YouTube video? I have been studying and teaching the serve, in depth, since the 1980s. Have never heard that terminology before. Sure they were not referencing elbow position or alignment? Or maybe racquet head drop.
Now I remember. They used the terminology “elbow separation angle”. Is that more standard?
 

SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
Am holding the racquet very loosely. Think it’s because am using a new service motion. Or it could be am just focusing on the racquet acceleration in the hit that I am neglecting the feel of the drop?
Perhaps you are so focused on the ball (toss), you are no longer aware of the feel or location of the racket head.

Try your serve motion w/o trying to hit the ball. A serve shadow swing... no ball. Or use a ball but purposely toss the ball away from your normal contact point so that you are not tempted to contact it. That way you can perform your serve motion while staying focused on what the racket head is doing.
 

SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
Now I remember. They used the terminology “elbow separation angle”. Is that more standard?
I am not familiar with that term. @Chas Tennis or anyone else, have you come across this terminology? Perhaps you can link us to the exact video that you were referring to.

We have talked about "separation angle" in this forum but this does not directly refer to the elbow. This angle refers to the offset between the hips and the upper torso (shoulders). On an elite serve, the upper torso coils more than the hips. This results in the offset or separation angle that we have discussed.

We can also have a separation angle for groundstrokes. This is easy to achieve with an open stance or a semi-open stance. In these cases the chest (the upper torso) is coiled up much more than the hips. This also can be achieved with a neutral stance by allowing the hips to uncoil key for the upper torso does
 
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sredna42

Hall of Fame
Now I remember. They used the terminology “elbow separation angle”. Is that more standard?
If it's what you're asking, external shoulder rotation is what allows racquet head drop. Pretty sure Roddick achieved an insane angle of ESR at racquet head drop. I think of it like the lag in a forehand.
 

zill

Professional
If it's what you're asking, external shoulder rotation is what allows racquet head drop. Pretty sure Roddick achieved an insane angle of ESR at racquet head drop. I think of it like the lag in a forehand.

So at 0:09 in the link below is that also an insane amount of External Shoulder Rotation? Hence reason for why Wawrinka can hit the serve so hard?

 

zill

Professional
I am not familiar with that term. @chasor anyone else, have you come across this terminology? Perhaps you can link us to the exact video that you were referring to.

We have talked about "separation angle" in this forum but this does not directly refer to the elbow. This angle refers to the offset between the hips and the upper torso (shoulders). On an elite serve, the upper torso coils more than the hips. This results in the offset or separation angle that we have discussed.

We can also have a separation angle for groundstrokes. This is easy to achieve with an open stance or a semi-open stance. In these cases the chest (the upper torso) is coiled up much more than the hips. This also can be achieved with a neutral stance by allowing the hips to uncoil key for the upper torso does
Have tried but can't find the original YouTube video. Please see my post above though. It may have been about ESR as sredna42 said.
 
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sredna42

Hall of Fame
So at 0:09 in the link below is that also an insane amount of External Shoulder Rotation? Hence reason for why Wawrinka can hit the serve so hard?

Yep at 9 to 10 seconds that is ESR that allows the racquet head to drop deep behind his back. Its not a static thing, more the racquet dropping deep before sling shotting back up to contact. Like the lag and snap in an atp forehand. I personally get good racquet drop when my leg drive is timed well.
 

zill

Professional
Yep at 9 to 10 seconds that is ESR that allows the racquet head to drop deep behind his back. Its not a static thing, more the racquet dropping deep before sling shotting back up to contact. Like the lag and snap in an atp forehand. I personally get good racquet drop when my leg drive is timed well.
Is this ESR extent determines mainly by one’s genetics or can anyone train to get such a severed drop as Wawrinka’s?
 

sredna42

Hall of Fame
Is this ESR extent determines mainly by one’s genetics or can anyone train to get such a severed drop as Wawrinka’s?
I used to do shoulder stretching to try and improve my ROM as I carry a fair bit of muscle so tend to get tight. I know Roddick did alot of work, but also i believe he had naturally flexible shoulders.

Don't go too full rhetard thinking about this stuff. Like lag in a forehand, racquet drop is something that just happens as a consequence of other things working in the right sequence. Live arm, leg drive etc
 

SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
@sredna42 @Curious
Have tried but can't find the original YouTube video. Please see my post above though. It may have been about ESR as sredna42 said.
As sredna42 said??? I had already suggested and brought up the subject of ESR, in depth, bsck in post #18. But not really sure how he got ESR from "elbow separation angle".

ESR (external shoulder rotation) is actually about stretching the internal rotators for release later as ISR. This ISR release happens during the upward swing to contact.

Sure Stan gets a very good ESR. But the issue is how he gets it. Roddick, Federer, Djokovic and other top players achieve an excellent ESR with the help of their knee bend and leg drive But Stan does not employ as much knee bend and leg drive so he needs to put greater demands (more stress) on his shoulder to do this.




But a big serve is more than just ESR. Novak has served a bit faster than 130 mph but Wawa, Federer, and Roddick have exceeded 140 mph. Maria Sharapova has a pretty big serve 15 yrs ago. But not as big as the guys mentiomed. Lot of knee bend and leg drive on her serve. Looks like even more ESR/racket drop than Stan (and almost as much as Novak).

 
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sredna42

Hall of Fame
Funny thing is, my serve was better before i thought about any of this stuff. Like poking a wound, the more I have thought about it and tinkered with it, the worse it has become. Feelsbadman.jpg
 

zill

Professional
Stan is getting a lot of his power from shoulder... probably too much of it. Stan is undoubtedly a pretty strong guy. More important, he probably get a ton of power (speed strength) from fast-twitch muscles in his shoulder, rotators (and other areas). However, even Stan's shoulder is not bulletproof. The over-reliance of power largely from his shoulder appears to be taking its toll.

Stan gets a bit of a power assist from his core (release of stored energy from the hip/chest separation angle we discussed in the posts above). He should get an even greater power assist from his core if he coiled the upper body more, like Roger and Pete. Stanimal employs a small amount of knee bend and leg drive. This helps a bit to load his shoulder/rotators. But he would get a lot more of this effect if he bent his knees more. Greater leg drive will facilitate ESR (external shoulder rotation) and stretching of the internal shoulder rotators.

Stan gets a a good amount of ESR and ISR on his serve. But he appears to be relying primarily on his shoulder joint and muscles to do this. If he employed more leg drive and more of the other components of a FULL kinetic chain, he could achieve the same(or better) ESR & ISR without putting as much demand on his shoulder muscles.
Which muscles in particular in the shoulder is he most prone to injury due to his serve?
 

zill

Professional
@sredna42 @Curious

As sredna42 said??? I had already suggested and brought up the subject of ESR, in depth, bsck in post #18. But not really sure how he got ESR from "elbow separation angle".

ESR (external shoulder rotation) is actually about stretching the internal rotators for release later as ISR. This ISR release happens during the upward swing to contact.

Sure Stan gets a very good ESR. But the issue is how he gets it. Roddick, Federer, Djokovic and other top players achieve an excellent ESR with the help of their knee bend and leg drive But Stan does not employ as much knee bend and leg drive so he needs to put greater demands (more stress) on his shoulder to do this.




But a big serve is more than just ESR. Novak has served a bit faster than 130 mph but Wawa, Federer, and Roddick have exceeded 140 mph. Maria Sharapova has a pretty big serve 15 yrs ago. But not as big as the guys mentiomed. Lot of knee bend and leg drive on her serve. Looks like even more ESR/racket drop than Stan (and almost as much as Novak).

In practicing serves myself I found that it seems the wrist snap is the most important determining factor in a fast serve. I found that since am not even conscious about the racquet drop can't do much about it. But if I consciously think to myself to snap my wrists at contact it makes quite a difference to the speed of my serve.
 

zill

Professional
I used to do shoulder stretching to try and improve my ROM as I carry a fair bit of muscle so tend to get tight. I know Roddick did alot of work, but also i believe he had naturally flexible shoulders.

Don't go too full rhetard thinking about this stuff. Like lag in a forehand, racquet drop is something that just happens as a consequence of other things working in the right sequence. Live arm, leg drive etc
What about wrist snap in the serve???
 

SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
@sredna42
Which muscles in particular in the shoulder is he most prone to injury due to his serve?
The rotator cuff muscles. There are 4 groups in each shoulder. Fairly small muscles -- smaller than the deltoids, I believe. Responsible for ESR, ISR and other actions of the shoulder. Rotator cuff tears are possible. Shoulder impingement is also a possibility.

What about wrist snap in the serve???
Absolutely NOT. There is definitely some actions of the wrist (moderate extension, flexion, radial deviation & ulnar deviation). But these actions are not what should be characterized as a "snap".

When coaches or players refer to a wrist snap it is actually rotations of the shoulder (ESR & ISR) and rotations of the forearm (supination & pronation). These action play a much more prominent role than the wrist actions. Coaches sometimes mistakenly refer to these shoulder and forearm rotation as wrist snap. This is incorrect.
 
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zill

Professional
@sredna42

The rotator cuff muscles. There are 4 groups in each shoulder. Fairly small muscles -- smallwr than the deltiods, I brlieve. Responsible for ESR, ISR and other actions of the shoulder. Rotator cuff tears are pissible. Shoulder impingement is also a possibility.


Absolutely NOT. There is definitely some actions of the wrist (moderate extension, flexion, radial deviation & ulnar deviation). But these actions are not what should be characterized as a "snap".

When coaches or players refer to a wrist snap it is actually rotations of the shoulder (ESR & ISR) and rotations of the forearm (supination & pronation). These action play a much more prominent role than the wrist actions. Coaches sometimes mistakenly refer to these shoulder and forearm rotation as wrist snap. This is incorrect.
Ok good point. How important is the last acceleration of the racquet due to the forearm rotation in determining the speed of the serve?
 

SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
The instruction to "snap the wrist" is very misleading. It often leads to an (uneccesary & ineffective) exaggerated flexion of the wrist. Take a listen to what Ian W says about the wrist snap myth.



The TTT guys (below) discuss what coaches really mean when they refer to wrist snap. However, they talk primarily about the rotations of the forearm. I don't believe they mention the very important rotations of the shoulder.

 
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SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
Ok good point. How important is the last acceleration of the racquet due to the forearm rotation in determining the speed of the serve?
Again, not just forearm rotation. While many coaches refer to forearm pronation, they neglect to mention shoulder rotations (ESR followed by ISR).

For the final increase of RHS (racket head speed), ISR and pronation are both important. Some even argue that ISR might be even more important than forearm pronation. Wrist devistion and flexion are also a factor but play a somewhat secondary role.

Keep in mind, when coaches refer to pronation, it is really both forearm pronation and ISR that is happening
 
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