Mystery of pronation on serve

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by FiReFTW, Apr 19, 2018.

  1. FiReFTW

    FiReFTW Hall of Fame

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    Now the pronation on serve is quite a missunderstood concept still i think, however most experts agree it is an end result of a proper swing and mechanics and a loose arm.

    Lately ive been looking at some vids of serves in slow motion and noticed a distinct difference between some servers.

    For example Fed, Isner and some others supinate prior to contact then pronate into contact and then fully pronate after contact so that the racquet face faces the side of the court.



    But some other servers, for example Djokovic or Murray they supinate and pronate into contact but then after contact have almost no more pronation amd the racquet face is more towards the ground.



    I have always throught that this full pronation after serve adds more pace but considering murray can hit 130mph serves and djokovic can hit fast bombs too this is quite and interesting revelation now.

    Not sure what to think of this now.

    @Chas Tennis ur the expert in serves whats ur take?
     
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  2. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Might depend how flexible your arm and how complicated you want your motion. We are NOT all the same.
     
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  3. FiReFTW

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    Its a possibility, tho djokovic seems to be insanely flexible.
     
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  4. FiReFTW

    FiReFTW Hall of Fame

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    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    When taking screenshots of my serve some have full pronation while some similar to djokovic so dont think its flexibility.

    Is it possible its the motion or maybe how much spin you add? If you hit a flat serve u get less full pronation after contact then when u add more spin? But then again djokovic 2nd serve also doesnt have it, but sometimes djokovic also gets full pronation tho rarely.

    Federer seems to always get it, maybe its also because he holds the racquet the loosest?
     
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  5. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Compare Dj with say.. Krygios. A pure stiff in posture but extremely flexible from years of work.
     
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  6. Kevo

    Kevo Hall of Fame

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    I would say in the Djokovic vid he is getting pretty much full pronation or arm rotation. The racquet face does end up looking at the right side fence and the hand comes down with the elbow high.

    I think you are tossing too far to your right side. I keep harping on the toss and how important it is, but without a proper contact location you can't get a perfect swing path. I think if you toss the ball a little bit more over your head, and make sure it's in front of you toward your target that you will be able to keep your racquet from getting so in line with your arm and the "pronation" lever will be more effective and you should be able to utilize it better in your serve.

    It looks to me like if you can get your toss consistently in the right spot you'd probably be bombing some serious firsts pretty quickly. Your motion looks quite good overall.
     
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  7. FiReFTW

    FiReFTW Hall of Fame

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    Yeah my toss is a bit inconsistent for sure! Not always in the perfect spot, that could be the issue for sure!
     
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  8. heninfan99

    heninfan99 G.O.A.T.

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    not sure why people overthink pronation. Once you have a decent grip it's the easiest part of the serve.
     
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  9. Curious

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    If we ask Kyrgios or Karlovic to serve with an Eastern forehand grip with zero pronation how much would they lose in speed? Then apply this to rec tennis. I'm very curious to know what difference it will make.
     
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  10. Hmgraphite1

    Hmgraphite1 Semi-Pro

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    I think this shows some fundamentals really well, and easy to see timing

     
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  11. bitcoinoperated

    bitcoinoperated Professional

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    It was the very last thing to click for me and looking at the essential tennis student vids this seems to be pretty common. It very easy to hit a no real pronation serve with a conti grip and no waiter's tray.

    Concentrating on staying sideways and most crucially, making sure my arm came out to full extension did it for me.
     
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  12. heninfan99

    heninfan99 G.O.A.T.

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    Wow. I'm shocked. I have to adjust my view on this one.
     
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  13. Kevo

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    That must be why almost no one does it well or at all until you get to 4.5s or better. Even then I'd be surprised if it's much better than 50%. A lot of players get away with some basic flaws in their serve just because they are good in other areas and they've learned how to hit spots and read their opponents well.

    Frying pans all day long is what you normally see out of lower levels. Anyone youngish and healthy who isn't serving 100mph+ on their first serve is either not trying or not doing it right.
     
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  14. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Legend

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    Do you distinguish between internal shoulder rotation and pronation, defined joint motions that can be Googled.

    What is your definition of "pronate" ?

    When the arm is straight, as it is during the rapid racket acceleration of the serve, how can you determine if the arm is doing pronation of the forearm (two joints involved) or internal shoulder rotation of the upper arm at the shoulder joint or both together?

    What is a "proper swing and mechanics". Links to the experts?

    Does what happens before contact vary more or less than what happens after contact for all players?
     
    Last edited: May 18, 2018 at 8:02 AM
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  15. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Legend

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    For the follow through -

    The racket and arm have momentum in the forward direction that must be slowed down. If the elbow joint is oriented so that when it bends, Dojkovic, the forearm and racket can move forward in the direction of the momentum that is helpful in slowing down. But arm has to rotate to an angle where elbow flexion is in the right direction and within stress limits or comfort.

    If the arm stays more straight, Federer, then maybe it does so because bending the elbow might be stressful given the direction of the momentum.

    But does stopping arm axial rotation so that the elbow can comfortably bend limit the server somehow? Stats on servers that bend the elbow and those that don't might show association of one technique with the stronger servers. All they are doing is slowing down so maybe it does not matter. ? Less than a 5% effect?
     
    Last edited: May 18, 2018 at 8:05 AM
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  16. heninfan99

    heninfan99 G.O.A.T.

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    Nah. I only know of one 4.0 that doesn't pronate.
     
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2018
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  17. Toby14

    Toby14 Rookie

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    IMO players focus too much on pronation. If you film yourself throwing a ball, you will se that pronation happens in a very natural without thinking about it. The same goes for a serve if you have the right grip and body position.

    Your stills looks good, but I would focus more on your body position, you are facing the net at contact point and should have your body in more like a 45 degree angle. If you keep your body more sideways when you hit the ball, and not facing the net, then pronation and arm movement will be more natural.

    Look at the 2nd Karlovic video, look at his body position and you will see my point.

    Good luck with the serve, it is looking good, so only small adjustments. Forget about pronation, but think body position - this would be my 2 cent.

    Cheers, Toby

    Edit: looking at your serve video in another thread, you are actually doing it correct. The stills could have been filmed at an angle, or you changed something. Personally I would have a higher ball toss, and not so much to my right.
     
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2018
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  18. Kevo

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    So every 4.0 you know save one is properly rotating their racquet into the ball on their serve? So what would you say is the avg 1st serve speed for 4.0s in your area? And what area are you in? Is it a big tennis town?
     
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  19. Kevo

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    I'm not buying that players focus too much on pronation. I think maybe on the TT forums there is a lot of focus on it, but I think there are a lot of players out there not focusing on it enough. Of course without some sort of survey to actually collect some data it would be hard to know. In the end, each player is going to have to figure out what they need to focus on individually, so it's probably a moot point anyway.

    As far as facing the net at contact goes, I don't think there is anything wrong with that. If you watch some slow mo of other servers you'll see that it's not so unusual. Roddick had great shoulder over shoulder rotation and his chest would be open to the net at contact. I'd have to study to find out how common it is, but I don't think it makes sense not to use as much rotation as you can in the torso without over rotating before contact.
     
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  20. heninfan99

    heninfan99 G.O.A.T.

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    What I say is that they are pronating and using the conti grip on the serve. The other aspects of the serve are much more difficult, IMO.
     
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2018
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  21. Kevo

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    Maybe we're arguing over degree then. Hard to tell from your statement and I obviously can't judge based on what you've said so far. All I know is I see poor serves almost everywhere I go until I watch 4.5s and better. I have seen some people who manage very well with bad technique though, so it's certainly not required to have proper technique to do well in rec tennis.
     
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  22. Curious

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    I have been thinking about this last few days. I'm not sure if having conti grip is enough to pronate and have a high level serve because the timing of pronation may be important, too, ie if it is too early ( opening the racket face ) pronation has no effect. The proper way of doing it is to pronate ie open the racket face just before contact while the racket is moving edge on before that. Otherwise it' not really much different from having an Eastern forehand grip and maintaining the open racket face all along the swing. Also I think there is such a thing as too late pronation where you get mostly spin but not much forward drive.
     
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  23. heninfan99

    heninfan99 G.O.A.T.

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    This is true but it is not difficult to keep the racquet on edge until just before impact and it is done done by most 4.0s. You can even look at the vid posters here that are 4.0 and most of them do it. You'll see a few non pronaters/waiter tray serves at that level but not many.
     
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  24. Toby14

    Toby14 Rookie

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    Have a look at 0:16
     
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  25. Toby14

    Toby14 Rookie

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    YES I was talking about TT and youtube lessons on pronation. IMO pronation happens naturally if you have the right grip and body position. Often players have too much forehand grip and facing the net when hitting.
     
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  26. Toby14

    Toby14 Rookie

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    Try filming yourself in slow motion throwing a tennis ball up and over the net (or an old broken racquet). You will see that you pronate in the exact right moment without even thinking about it. Pronation is a natural movement of the arm when throwing.
     
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  27. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Legend

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    For a throw, what is the elbow extension angle doing during "pronation"? Bent, straightening, near straight, changing, etc? Are baseball pitchers good examples of "natural" throwing?

    I have a hard time with the elbow angle to ISR relationship during the serve and the throw at first seems different and with variations. I look at videos when I want to know something.

    What does "pronation" mean as you use it?

    Throwing.
    https://ojs.ub.uni-konstanz.de/cpa/article/view/2409/2262
     
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2018
    #27
  28. Toby14

    Toby14 Rookie

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    Imagine the pircher throwing uowards in an angle.
     
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  29. Toby14

    Toby14 Rookie

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    I grew up playing handball so I guess throwing a ball comes natural to me. In handball you pronate less as the ball is larger.

     
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  30. r2473

    r2473 G.O.A.T.

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    #30
  31. FiReFTW

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    #31
  32. r2473

    r2473 G.O.A.T.

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    Hewitt is pronating the wrist. That's just simply what pronation is and what it looks like.

    Beyond that, I have no opinion. What you want to do with my opinion is up to you.

     
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  33. WhiskeyEE

    WhiskeyEE Legend

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    The racquet is an extra lever that you have to gain racquet head speed. Pronation is simply making use of that extra lever.
     
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  34. FiReFTW

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    Pronation is rotating the forearm in a direction opposite of supination, so from a fully supinated position you pronate to contact, some players continue pronating after contact while some don't, thats what I wanted to know about, why the difference.
     
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  35. r2473

    r2473 G.O.A.T.

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    My suggestion is "mess around" with this and see what you think.

    In my personal experience, when I started to pronate / roll my forearm like Sampras, my serving world opened up. To get your wrist / forearm / racquet in this position at this point in the swing is trickier than you might imagine if you aren't used to doing it. It will take time to learn.

    To me, it's the best by far. You can swing as hard / fast as you want and the ball just "shapes" perfectly into the box. AND you can also swing more slowly and it works too.

    If you try it, you'll go through initial stages where you think you are doing this, but you really aren't. It's tricky. Trust me.

    [​IMG]

    Yup. When you get it right, it's "weirdly effortless".
     
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2018
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    #35
  36. Toby14

    Toby14 Rookie

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    Look at the body position - pointing towards the net pole and not facing the net. This is a key element.
     
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  37. FiReFTW

    FiReFTW Hall of Fame

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    Any tips on this, I would really appreciate it.

    I tried playing around with it last time I went out to practice serve, but then my forearm muscles hurt for a few days, and on video I noticed I was not pronating (rolling around) but rather snaping the wrist forward (i thought I was pronating in 1st person, but I guess it was the wrong feeling).
     
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  38. Toby14

    Toby14 Rookie

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    Looking at this video and then looking at the Karlovic video above. This makes a lot of sense.
     
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  39. Toby14

    Toby14 Rookie

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    Body position when making the hit is the key element for this to work. Look at the image r2473 posted and then the Karlovic video with Jim McLennands video in mind. It all makes a lot of sense.

    This is exactly how I am working on my serve together with my coach.
     
    #39
  40. FiReFTW

    FiReFTW Hall of Fame

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    So basically don't overrotate right? I will try to focus on it next time.
     
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  41. Toby14

    Toby14 Rookie

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    Yes but in the learning process try to hit more sideways to get the feeling. Ideal you should face the netpole with your body when hitting, and then follow through to face the net. But in the beginning try to exaggerate with the body position.

    It will take some time, dont give up the reward will come. Hope it will work for you.

    Cheers, Toby
     
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  42. r2473

    r2473 G.O.A.T.

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    ^^Toby's got it. He understands.
    It's tough because it will feel SO unnatural at first. I hesitate to say anything, because the "tips" I keep in my head for my serve, might be disastrous for you. With that caveat, here you go:

    1. Make sure you have a continental grip. You may think you do and really not.
    2. Make sure you aren't shifting the grip as you go through the serve motion. Lot's of people start in a continental but end up closer to an Eastern.
    3. Stand sideways (or at least facing the net post) as @Toby14 says. Because....
    4. You will feel like you are swinging straight sideways. Straight toward the fence. Obviously you aren't (the ball will go forward toward the box), but it will feel like you are. This is what Coach McLennan is saying in the video in post #32 at 2:20. You don't go "through" the ball.
    5. Feel like the front of the racquet is moving sideways ahead of the butt. Try to make contact with the front of the racquet leading. Really, you want to feel like the racquet is impacting the ball sideways, but it's easy to get lazy with pronation. This is just a way to get the forearm rolling sooner/faster so you can achieve the "Isner position" in post #35 as soon as he does. While your racquet is still at eye level (this will be very hard to do at first).
    6. Why should you do what I say in 5 above. Because this feeling will give you the fastest and most "violent" pronation you can. It will get you in the position you see in post #35 with Isner (I edited and changed point #5, so this is kind of repetitive).
    7. BE CAREFUL. If your forearm / elbow starts to hurt, STOP SERVE PRACTICE IMMEDIATELY. If it hurts later that night or the next morning, something is wrong. Rest. Rethink what you are doing. But under no circumstances should this hurt or stress your arm. I'd err on the cautious side if I were you starting out and serve no more than 25 balls or something and see how it feels the next day. Getting hurt is no fun.
    8. Good luck!!!! It's a hard motion to learn for most people. Be patient but persistent.


     
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2018
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  43. FiReFTW

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    @r2473 good explanation, I will for sure play around with it and try to see if it works and if it adds alot of power to my serve.
     
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  44. r2473

    r2473 G.O.A.T.

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    Power is easy. Power with accuracy / direction / shape is hard. I can serve harder with other motions / techniques if I want to hit the fence / net on most of my serves. But if you want it in the box, this is the best way I've found.
     
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  45. JohnYandell

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    I think we all know what so-called pronation looks like--even though that's the wrong term. Pronation is forearm rotation from the elbow. Not much if any factor. What turns the racket over in the followthrough is the rotation of the hand, arm, racket from the shoulder, more or less as a unit. This is driven by the upper arm rotation in the shoulder joint--so called internal shoulder rotation.
     
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  46. Kevo

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    In two of those he was open and one slightly less so. Might have something to do with the direction he was serving to, which we can't see in those shots, but I don't think it's something you have to train specifically either. I think if you are properly rotating the trunk, shoulders, and arm (pronating) into contact, and getting your toss in a good location that the openness of your chest will be a non issue.
     
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  47. Kevo

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    Some players are better at it than others and can rotate more fully through contact. And there is a lot of variation as well. Some players might rotate more fully on certain serves and not others.
     
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  48. Kevo

    Kevo Hall of Fame

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    [​IMG]

    I think that's a kick serve out wide. He doesn't always look like that. I would disagree that the angle of his body there is a key element. I think it's going to vary from serve to serve. In this case I would argue that it's the braking of the shoulders to keep the racquet accelerating more along the baseline for spin which is why he's holding his hips more sideways.

    I think he's more open on flat serves. Maybe not fully open in the hips, but again, this is going to vary from player to player and serve to serve. I think it also could be different depending on how you measure open. It probably is more accurate to measure it based on the target and not the baseline or net. That's something that people struggle with a lot but really the lines are there just so you know when the ball is in. We shouldn't really be using them for reference points for stroke mechanics.
     
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  49. r2473

    r2473 G.O.A.T.

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    I think as many explanations, pictures, videos and “feel tips” as to what you should be trying to do is helpful. Some things click better than others with different people. We all learn a little differently.
     
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  50. Kevo

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    The rotation you should worry about the most in my opinion is the shoulder over shoulder rotation. If you sequence your swing properly this rotation should peak naturally just as your arm unfolds and before it rotates the strings into the ball. If the toss is properly located relative to your body and you are swinging correctly then you shouldn't have any issues with over rotation as you'll be "reaching up" to the ball. It would make no sense to over rotate and reach back to the ball.

    This is why I always harp on the toss. If you don't get the toss right you are forcing yourself to do a lot of things wrong to make contact with the ball. Toss, toss, toss is the boss. :)
     
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