Looking for feedback on my serve

#1
I’ve been focused on a hybrid topspin/slice as a general catch all serve recently. Goal is to get more balanced and control..but would love to add back more power. I’ve heard from multiple pro’s that I should be extending up more to maximize my height as well as tossing more into court if I’m hitting more flat first serve. However this example serve is more of a second serve with spin.
Any feedback would be appreciated in terms of technical improvements.

 
#2
I’ve been focused on a hybrid topspin/slice as a general catch all serve recently. Goal is to get more balanced and control..but would love to add back more power. I’ve heard from multiple pro’s that I should be extending up more to maximize my height as well as tossing more into court if I’m hitting more flat first serve. However this example serve is more of a second serve with spin.
Any feedback would be appreciated in terms of technical improvements.

Being that you are hitting a 2nd serve, you are opening up you shoulders and chest too much. You should keep the shoulders and chest closed more. The body should be going upward with the path of the hitting arm/racquet swinging up and brushing to the right.
 
#4
Being that you are hitting a 2nd serve, you are opening up you shoulders and chest too much. You should keep the shoulders and chest closed more. The body should be going upward with the path of the hitting arm/racquet swinging up and brushing to the right.
Thank you Mad Dog! Already getting great feedback & something I didn’t realize!
 
#5
Yes..I think my mindset for this particular serve is really a hybrid between first and second serve. I was struggling with juggling completely different serves between 1st & 2nd serve so my mind set was to blend them. On first I might open up more, toss forward more and on second I might think brush up more.
 
#6
I made a mistake in quickly reading the OP and thought that vectorthurm was after a top spin serve. This post addresses the kick and top spin serves.

Some comments on the top spin/slice serve are in post #31. Not much information and videos are available for the top spin/slice serve.

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Three problems when comparing to the high level kick serve:

1) From behind, the angle between the forearm and racket is too large - the racket cannot go up during impact. There is motion blur in your high speed video but I think that the racket should go up a bit more after impact. See first gif below and side view videos of Stosur and Federer.

2) You do not move forward. Watch your head and then compare the toss and impact head positions on overhead pictures shown below for the kick and slice serves. You may have believed the frequent advice to 'Toss the ball over your head for a kick serve'. That's wrong and misleading advice regarding the high level kick serve. Your toss looks as if you believed the advice and tossed the ball over your head. Look at the overhead picture of the kick serve toss release and impact and the head movement. Toss release occurs with the head back and then the head moves forward so that impact occurs over the head.

3) Impact point for a top spin serve is different than for a kick serve. Kick serve impact is on the top half of the ball with a closed racket face tilted at impact by about 15 d.. See Stosur & Federer kick serve videos below. Impact for a top spin serve the racket is probably not closed at impact, hits more on the horizontal diameter of the ball on the back.

(Not a Waiter's Tray.)


Your toss depends on your serving technique. Your serving technique is unknown. There is a lot of variety in poster's 'kick' serves.

First, the Waiter's Tray technique is used by probably over 50% of active tennis players. All servers interested in serving technique should first check their serving techniques.

A tell tale checkpoint for the high level kick serve is the angle of the forearm-to-racket at impact. The angle has to be smaller so that the racket can still be rising as it contacts the ball. The flat and slice serve are seen to impact the ball closer to the highest point that the racket reaches. If you don't know what to look for you will not see it even with high speed videos.

Forearm-to-racket angle for impact of the kick serve. The racket can rise more effectively during impact. For this relatively lower impact location either the ball has to drop lower or the server must jump higher.


Forearm-to-racket angle of slice serve for comparison.


If you do not use the high level kick serve technique, I don't think there is any vetted advice for how an unknown kick serve technique should be performed.

While the ball is impacted more 'over the head' for a high level kick serve the head moves forward from toss release to make that happen. So the often heard advice 'Toss the ball over your head for a kick serve' is not what is seen in videos of most high level kick serves - the head moves forward. Look at the head location at toss release and head location at impact.


For comparison to slice serve
https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/ind...-do-i-hit-a-slice-serve.574777/#post-10708267

To verify a kick serve technique you need high speed video feedback or clear results in the ball's trajectory and a bounce to the side (To the right for a right handed server.) You can use feedback from a well qualified instructor, high speed video feedback or feedback from the ball's trajectory as you serve. If something goes wrong high speed video can show it.

The reference book Technical Tennis by Rod Cross and Lindsay? has excellent illustrations on the contact points of the racket on the ball to give various spins. That first spot cannot be observed directly with most high speed video. But the first touch location of the racket face on the ball is determined entirely by the angle on the racket, a plane meeting a sphere. There are ball and string distortions, squishing, during impact so it is best to look at the racket face angle just before it touches the ball.

https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/index.php?threads/how-to-toss-for-kick-serve.602364/#post-11726883

Behind Camera View Kick Serve. This Toly gif has one frame before impact, one during and one after. Measure the angle between the forearm and racket with a protractor. This angle is smaller for the kick serve than for the slice ot flat serves. This server's chest faces more to the side than for the slice or kick serves. From this camera view, the arm is held more vertically using uppermost body orientation for the kick serve than for the slice or flat serves. The racket rises more after impact for the kick serve than for the slice or flat serves.



Behind Camera View Slice Serve. Toly gif with one frame before impact, one during and one after. Measure the angle between the forehand and racket with a protractor. The racket head does not rise much after impact. The arm is tilted to the right, farther from the vertical than the kick serve, as seen from this camera view.


In the serves above the kick serve was impacted lower (use net as reference) so that the racket was still rising during impact. There is a similar upward racket motion involving internal shoulder rotation (ISR) for the kick, slice and flat serves. The racket rises for all three type serves. But for the kick serve the ball is impacted before the racket is near its peak height. The time of impact is maybe 5 milliseconds earlier for the kick serve than for the flat or slice serves. Compare the racket rise after impact in the gifs.

The chest is more to the side for the kick serve to compensate for less ISR - less racket head rotation for a lower impact - and direct the ball into the court (side to side control). (I'm having trouble expressing that in words look for it in videos.)

Rare Fuzzy Yellow Balls overhead videos processed by Toly into composite pictures.

Protractor measurements for these 3 pictures:
1) Slice - 70 d. racket head rotation.
2) Flat - 82 d. racket head rotation.
3) Kick - 54 d. racket head rotation.
Note - racket rotation probably began before the first frame shown in the pictures.

Note - you don't 'toss the ball over your head for a kick serve', you toss, move your body and head forward and impact the ball more over your head,


Side Camera View Kick Serve. As seen from the side of the ball's trajectory the racket for the kick serve is closed just before impact more than the for the slice and flat serves.


If you want video feedback for the kick serve high speed video is necessary to observe the racket head orientation just before impact.
 
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#8
Three problems when comparing to the high level kick serve:

1) From behind, the angle between the forearm and racket is too large - the racket cannot go up during impact. There is motion blur in your high speed video but I think that the racket should go up a bit more after impact. See first gif below and side view videos of Stosur and Federer.

2) You do not move forward. Watch your head. Then compare the toss and impact head positions on overhead pictures shown below for the kick and slice serves. You may have believed the frequent advice to 'Toss the ball over your head for a kick serve'. That's wrong and misleading advice regarding the high level kick serve. Your toss looks as if you believed the advice and tossed the ball over your head. Look at the overhead picture of the kick serve toss release and impact and the head movement.

3) Impact point for a top spin serve is different than for a kick serve. Kick serve impact is on the top half of the ball with a closed racket face tilted closed at impact by 15 d or so. See Stosur & Federer kick serve videos below. Impact for a top spin serve the racket is probably not closed at impact, hits more on the horizontal diameter of the ball on the back.

(Not a Waiter's Tray.)
Wow Chas! Very thorough and in depth. Thank you!
 
#13
Echo the leg drive, if you want to make it better, slowly start doing body weight squats, lunges, dead lifts. I say slowly cause you can start with really easy movements where any pain starts stop, redo, repeat eventually there will be no pain and you can work into full movement. Try not to fall off to the left, I still do this. A lot looks real good otherwise.
 
#14
Echo the leg drive, if you want to make it better, slowly start doing body weight squats, lunges, dead lifts. I say slowly cause you can start with really easy movements where any pain starts stop, redo, repeat eventually there will be no pain and you can work into full movement. Try not to fall off to the left, I still do this. A lot looks real good otherwise.

Yes, ..also to be completely truthful I’ve been very careful not to add in elements of explosiveness, legs, etc as of yet as I’ve spent the better part of the last couple years (got back into tennis after long hiatus) building better form on my serve..had lots of explosiveness before but with horrible form. At this point I want to improve form as much as possible and get muscle memory groved in well enough...then perhaps add in leg drive and “explosiveness” however..I have found in match play holding onto the idea of “power” and “explosiveness” can run counter to remaining loose & will kill my serve.

It’s frustrating to me because I do have the athletic ability..I’ve been squatting back up to 275, doing all kinds of work in the gym..but worrying if I start jacking up the intensity my arm action and serve will break down, revert and hitch or open up too early and shoulder it

Thank you so much for your input! I’m definitely going to improve
 
#15
Yes, ..also to be completely truthful I’ve been very careful not to add in elements of explosiveness, legs, etc as of yet as I’ve spent the better part of the last couple years (got back into tennis after long hiatus) building better form on my serve..had lots of explosiveness before but with horrible form. At this point I want to improve form as much as possible and get muscle memory groved in well enough...then perhaps add in leg drive and “explosiveness” however..I have found in match play holding onto the idea of “power” and “explosiveness” can run counter to remaining loose & will kill my serve.

It’s frustrating to me because I do have the athletic ability..I’ve been squatting back up to 275, doing all kinds of work in the gym..but worrying if I start jacking up the intensity my arm action and serve will break down, revert and hitch or open up too early and shoulder it

Thank you so much for your input! I’m definitely going to improve
There's some good threads on leg drive leading to deep esr, then your not really jumping except to slingshot your arm. Definitely good to get the upper body motion grooving even if just for warm up.
 
#16
Haha..yeah 47 year old rec player vs legendary player..not gonna bring the same life or explosiveness but perhaps I can get a little better
My recommendation...Get the toss, swing path and upper body rotation under control first before complicating things by involving the legs. Improving the serve is based on progressions. Very hard to work on everything at the same time.
 
#18
Not a bad motion, vector. More right than wrong with your serve mechanics. I'd go with mad dog's suggestions 1st.

The fall to the left that @Hmgraphite1 mentions is something to work on a some point as well. You want your drive up and forward (in the direction of the serve) rather than off to the left. When you land on your left foot, it would help to have it point in the direction of the target area rather than straight ahead (or off to the left). But more than the landing orientation of your left foot, the action of your hips and right leg probably has more impact on your drive (and follow-thru) direction.

Your hips open up too much and your right leg kicks off to the right and then comes around and steps across to the left. Instead, land the left foot in the serve direction and have the right foot/leg kick backward (toward the back fence) rather than off to the right.


 
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#19
Thank you systematic! I think I knew this on some level but it takes someone else to bring it to the forefront..I hadn’t thought about it other than finishing on better balance but now I have a better goal..well two really. To get deeper leg bend&coil, then drive up towards where I am serving. Of course I need to stay loose and keep kinetic chain and arm whip intact. These visuals really help, thanks all!!
 
#26
Why not just add in leg, core workout routine and reduce tennis. If you stop playing you may put your timing off..but then again taking a break from tennis (1-2 weeks) curiously will improve game many times as it fires you back up for playing
 
#31
I meant the racquet. Meaning the racquet tip was pointing straight up.
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I had made a mistake quickly reading the OP and thought he was after a top spin serve. I presented my video information on pro kick serves and described what I think that a top spin serve is, mostly based on Cross and Lindsey's book Technical Tennis. I have not confirmed a top spin serve in pro videos.

Then I re-read the OP and saw that he is after a top spin/slice serve. I don't know that a top spin/slice serve is described in detail anywhere like the kick, slice and flat serves are described. I can imagine what a "top spin/slice" would be but finding a confirmed pro top spin/slice serve video is uncertain so I don't have good information to post. I believe that the TS/slice serve would appear very similar to a slice serve in high speed videos. It took me a few years to understand the kick and slice serve impacts as shown in post #6. I don't have that for a top spin/slice serve.

For the slice and kick serves detailed in post #6, the kick serve impact occurs about 5+ milliseconds before the racket reaches its peak height after impact - that's necessary for the kick serve racket rise. For the slice serve, impact occurs close to the time that the racket reaches its peak. To get these details with better time resolution requires higher frame rates than 240 fps. 240 fps is a frame every 4.2 milliseconds. A top spin/slice serve impact probably occurs between the height of the kick serve impact and the height of the slice serve impact. 1000 fps video would be required to distinguish between the slice and TS/slice serves. Also, the top spin/slice serve is probably not defined and described in detail.

In other words, finding a confirmed top spin/slice serve on a 1000 fps high speed video that is as clear as the kick serve and slice serve gifs in post #6 is too difficult. I don't know how to identify a top spin/slice serve in a high speed video where you also observe the bounce and know how to identify the type serve from both the racket work and bounce.

As far as your "...12 o'clock.." and "....racket tip was pointing straight up." issue, I thought that you meant a clock face at the ball as usually seen. If you mean the racket, it is never vertical at impact.
1) From the side camera view, for a high level serve the racket appears about vertical at impact but only in 2D.

The OP's racket appears vertical in the side view. OK.

2) But from the behind camera view, for a high level serve, the racket at impact on a slice or flat serve usually tilts to the left and the arm tilts to the right for a right handed server.

The OP's racket has this racket tilt to the left. And we don't have a confirmed top spin/slice serve for detailed comparison. The racket would tilt to the left. OP racket tilt left is OK.
 
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