Need advice on serve

tnguyen1500

New User
I feel like I am not transferring energy into my serves properly:
-I am curled up at the point of extension
-Follow through is broken
-idk if I am jumping too early
-it is prone to breaking down when matches get tight (both 1st and 2nd serves)

I would be interested in feedback based on these videos and any drills or mental tips to help out. Thank you!
(I’m the guy with the hat and adidas shirt)

Here are some highlights from my last match:
https://swing.tennis/matches/sw2-4BglBhA
https://swing.tennis/matches/sw2-AMJ4AQk

serves specifically:
https://swing.tennis/matches/sw2-Pldj6Rc
 
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Rosstour

G.O.A.T.
Yes, jumping too early, and not really jumping UP into the ball. I do this too.

Gotta keep your feet grounded until it's time to go. More of your body needs to be moving up into the toss, you are probably hitting too late and closing your body.
 

LOBALOT

Hall of Fame
Land INSIDE the court....forward momentum

And coil / rotation. Watch some Sharapova serving and the way she coils and throws her hips into the court and then explodes into the court with swan landing. The reason I say watch her is that she exaggerated this in her service motion.

I don't see any of that.
 
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eah123

Professional
The arm motion is not bad for a kick serve. You have some bad muscle memory with your lower body that will take a lot of work to fix. Very strange how you lift your right leg up to your chest.

For now, try serving without jumping after the knee bend. Just passively allow your legs to straighten out as you swing up to contact. You might still leave the ground, but it should only be a little.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Tzk6IAH4VQ
 

tnguyen1500

New User
And coil / rotation. Watch some Sharapova serving and the way she coils and throws her hips into the court and then explodes into the court with swan landing. The reason I say watch her is that she exaggerated this in her service motion.

I don't see any of that.
I think that swan landing will help with straightening out of my body. Thanks, I will try to analyze.
 

tnguyen1500

New User
The arm motion is not bad for a kick serve. You have some bad muscle memory with your lower body that will take a lot of work to fix. Very strange how you lift your right leg up to your chest.

For now, try serving without jumping after the knee bend. Just passively allow your legs to straighten out as you swing up to contact. You might still leave the ground, but it should only be a little.

This is a really good callout. I think at one point I was using the right knee up to balance myself but I agree I need to break out of this.

I will try to serve without jumping. Thank you!!
 

Jst21121

Rookie
Do you really believe that all this jumping is being useful for your serves? Learn to walk before jumping.

I think the biggest issue with all this jumping around is the fatigue by second set 4-4 score. All that jumping around will translate to slower forehands, slower serves and less ball retrieval deep into second set.


You need to conserve energy unless you are someone that trains actively for endurance/jumping etc.
 

Dakota C

Rookie
I feel like I am not transferring energy into my serves properly:
-I am curled up at the point of extension
-Follow through is broken
-idk if I am jumping too early
-it is prone to breaking down when matches get tight (both 1st and 2nd serves)

I would be interested in feedback based on these videos and any drills or mental tips to help out. Thank you!
(I’m the guy with the hat and adidas shirt)

Here are some highlights from my last match:
https://swing.tennis/matches/sw2-4BglBhA
https://swing.tennis/matches/sw2-AMJ4AQk

serves specifically:
https://swing.tennis/matches/sw2-Pldj6Rc
I'm curious if you've heard the advice of 'stay sideways' on topspin/kick serve (as most of your serves are not hit flat, I'm going to assume you are typing to hit kick), and are forcing that to happen?
That's definitely an aid to help someone learn the feeling of a topspin serve.
The body (hips) will still be facing mostly sideways at contact, but if you are using your body correctly, you should be able to land comfortably and on balance on your 'front' foot, with both your foot and hips pointing forward upon landing.
If you look at a kick serve of mine (this is a good one to reference), you will see me land comfortably on balance enough to simply just rock backward to get back to the baseline after landing.
Actually, talking about it, I think doing shadow swings where your goal is to land on your front foot facing straight ahead and balance for a few seconds may be a good drill to play around with.
 

nyta2

Hall of Fame
I feel like I am not transferring energy into my serves properly:
-I am curled up at the point of extension
-Follow through is broken
-idk if I am jumping too early
-it is prone to breaking down when matches get tight (both 1st and 2nd serves)

I would be interested in feedback based on these videos and any drills or mental tips to help out. Thank you!
(I’m the guy with the hat and adidas shirt)

Here are some highlights from my last match:
https://swing.tennis/matches/sw2-4BglBhA
https://swing.tennis/matches/sw2-AMJ4AQk

serves specifically:
https://swing.tennis/matches/sw2-Pldj6Rc

check out "pat dougherty serve" in youtube.... and do his progressions.... helped me understand/isolate the different power sources, and put them together properly, and in sync. personally i love the "pole vault" + "coiled spring" + "up the mountain" mental model of the serve.
looks like you have a bunch of "tips" you're applying, but out of sequence... then added the korda "air guitar" finish for flair.
@serve doc
 
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Jonesy

Legend
I think the biggest issue with all this jumping around is the fatigue by second set 4-4 score. All that jumping around will translate to slower forehands, slower serves and less ball retrieval deep into second set.


You need to conserve energy unless you are someone that trains actively for endurance/jumping etc.
Jumping like that creates a lot of moving parts that only overcomplicates the serve motion. It will indeed be a waste of energy. Better to just cut the jumping off.
 

PKorda

Professional
I'm curious if you've heard the advice of 'stay sideways' on topspin/kick serve (as most of your serves are not hit flat, I'm going to assume you are typing to hit kick), and are forcing that to happen?
That's definitely an aid to help someone learn the feeling of a topspin serve.
The body (hips) will still be facing mostly sideways at contact, but if you are using your body correctly, you should be able to land comfortably and on balance on your 'front' foot, with both your foot and hips pointing forward upon landing.
If you look at a kick serve of mine (this is a good one to reference), you will see me land comfortably on balance enough to simply just rock backward to get back to the baseline after landing.
Actually, talking about it, I think doing shadow swings where your goal is to land on your front foot facing straight ahead and balance for a few seconds may be a good drill to play around with.
That is one funky toss you have, surprised you seem to be able to toss and serve effectively
 

ubercat

Hall of Fame
On the flat serve I open the body and then rotate back to power.

If you stay side on for the kick serve.

Does that mean the power only from legs and arm?
 

tnguyen1500

New User
Hey folks, thanks again all for the advice. With my first serve I'm not even thinking about jumping, I'm trying to hit it more out in front.. the hop and the right leg kick out happens naturally. I think with my 2nd serves w/ this video in particular when I went for them, I'm tossing them way too far back.. will try to upload more recent videos of throwing my toss more out in front and that helps more w/ my leg/knee not curl up weirdly.

My serves are at plays [5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 16, 17, 20...]
With 17 + 20 I think my rotation is better and I'm not curling as much.
 
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TennisCJC

Legend
Learn a power slice. Added decent video below explaining slice serve but I don't necessary agree with the ball contact on the "inside" of the racket face. I think your toss is not good for 1st serves because it is not in front of you and it is to your L too far. It looks like a kick toss. Try placing the toss at least 6 to 8 inches in front of your front foot and a little to the R for 1st serve - around 12:30 on a clock face with straight up from your front shoulder being 12 o'clock. Squash the jumping. Do a progression where you keep both feet still and serve only with a pivot of the back foot - keep the back foot on the ground and as you rotate forward to contact, let the back foot pivot on the ball of the foot. Next, try hitting serves and use a step forward. You will step up and into contact with the back foot and then allow the back foot to finish forward by stepping into the court after contact.

 

SystemicAnomaly

Bionic Poster
Hey folks, thanks again all for the advice. With my first serve I'm not even thinking about jumping, I'm trying to hit it more out in front.. the hop and the right leg kick out happens naturally. I think with my 2nd serves w/ this video in particular when I went for them, I'm tossing them way too far back.. will try to upload more recent videos of throwing my toss more out in front and that helps more w/ my leg/knee not curl up weirdly.
Very unusual jumping motion for a tennis serve. A normal (leg drive) motion would have the legs straighten, after the trophy phase, as the racket head drops behind your back. As the legs extend (straighten) you would propel yourself upward and somewhat forward.

Instead of straightening, you are lifting your bent knees upward -- so that your feet & lower legs are rising much more that the rest of your body. (Your upper body is hardly rising at all it appears)

Try practicing a proper leg drive with a shadow motion (no ball). Assume a "salute" position or a trophy position with your knees bent. Now, unflex your knees (straighten your legs) as you execute a racquet drop. The legs should be fully extended as you complete your racquet drop and are about to start your upward swing.

I suggest you first try the proper leg drive fairly slowly with these shadow motions. With this slow leg extension, your body will become taller but you will not leave the ground (no jump). As you continue your practice, increase the speed of your leg drive. When the leg drive is fast enuff, you will leave the ground.

Remember, you want to drive a little bit forward as well as upward -- so that you land on your left foot a bit in front of the baseline. (The right foot will land a bit later)

 

mac-1210

Rookie
i'm somewhat fascinated by your service motion. what type of serve are you trying to hit?


I think you are going to have to stop playing matches for a while if you want to fix your serve.

I agree with both of these statements. Frankly, I'm surprised people are focussing on your leg drive in this thread when you haven't got the basic arm motion correct.

You haven't got the fundamental throwing motion going on there. You need to go back to basics here, figure 8 "infinity swings" with feet on the ground.



 
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Chas Tennis

G.O.A.T.
Forum Search: Waiter's Tray serve
Member: Chas Tennis

Forum Search: Internal Shoulder Rotation
Member: Chas Tennis

ISR is Internal Shoulder Rotation

Search for posts comparing the Waiter's Tray to high level serves.

Your video is OK for this much analysis because the racket face faces the sky, as the many posts show. For serve analysis, you need high speed video recording (~ 240 fps)and single frame analysis.
 
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mac-1210

Rookie
To help with the arm motion, I think you could really benefit from doing exercises with the TotalServe.

These exercises are exactly what I think OP needs to master, however you can accomplish it without buying this. Tennis balls in a bag work, alternatively, you can use a ball tube. I would really recommend following Tom Allsop's teaching....3:25 onwards in this video...

 

ppma

Professional
I do not think your jump is helping with the serve. You are not jumping either to reach the ball higher nor to help and support the swing.
Also, your body stays in a lateral position during and after the shot.
Also, at least to me, from that perspective you are tossing just above you (even somewhat behind your hitting shoulder), while you should be tossing in front of the baseline.
 

tnguyen1500

New User
Thanks all for the videos and continued critical feedback, really appreciate it.
Going to watch through them this week and try to incorporate the better throwing mechanisms [w/o an axe].

It is slightly tricky/$$$-consuming not being a member at any of the indoor tennis-clubs to just get some serve-reps and no match-play in.
At bare minimum, I'll be able to do the shadow motions described above (w/o the axe ;)). Will follow-up w/ some questions/comments on the videos shared.
 

mac-1210

Rookie
Thanks all for the videos and continued critical feedback, really appreciate it.
Going to watch through them this week and try to incorporate the better throwing mechanisms [w/o an axe].

It is slightly tricky/$$$-consuming not being a member at any of the indoor tennis-clubs to just get some serve-reps and no match-play in.
At bare minimum, I'll be able to do the shadow motions described above (w/o the axe ;)). Will follow-up w/ some questions/comments on the videos shared.

I have tackled similar issues on the serve relatively successfully. My biggest tip would be to totally ignore the outcome when making changes. It's really hard to break free of incorrect technique if you are also trying to put the ball in the service box...which stands to reason as you've successfully done that thousands of times before with the old motion! Practice the motion without a ball, then do it with a ball and then revert to without one again. Do this at the service line and don't give a damn where the ball goes.

You'll also need to be constantly recording this and analysing the footage. What you think you are doing versus what you actually are doing can be wildly different things.

I'd also advise you to limit your sessions. Maximum half hour at a time. Any more tends to be unproductive for me and risks repetition injury...the best progression happens just after you've got warmed up.

I'm a serve obsessive and I've found it's like anything in tennis...nothing happens quickly and its only when you look back over a longer period you realise you have made progress.

Hope that general advice helps you avoid some of the pitfalls. Good luck.
 

Chas Tennis

G.O.A.T.
If you post on Youtube you can do frame by frame comparisons using

To single frame on Youtube, stop video and use the period & comma keys.
 

Digital Atheist

Hall of Fame
It is slightly tricky/$$$-consuming not being a member at any of the indoor tennis-clubs to just get some serve-reps and no match-play in.
I understand. So maybe you can head down with another tennis enthusiast who is willing to work with you and do drills (and not just hit) in order to improve certain areas. For example, while you're practicing the serve, they could be working on split step timing and returns. However, it's best not to serve into the tennis court when making changes due to the brain seeing the court and wanting to get the ball in, so find a fence or something you can serve into when you're by yourself.

To reiterate @Jonesy's point, you have to either eliminate that jump all together while reworking it (and that's how I'd start going about this process), or at least find a way to reduce/fix it (I don't think that's the best way). Currently your jump is disconnected from the rest of your serve and you only use it to get extra height, but that breaks the kinetic chain and forces you to swing fast with your arm in mid-air and that's not easy. A large (and often overlooked) part of what lifts a server off the ground is the upper body/core rising up through the swing to make contact. The legs add additional height at contact, and assist with racquet acceleration when leg drive is timed correctly. RIght now you have none of that happening because you are jumping and then swinging. You need to learn to push with the legs at the same time you start to go at the ball with your swing but that won't happen until you take them out of the equation initially.

This is actually the drill I would start with:


Until you can hit serves like Fed warming up, or Kyrgios here:


Only then add the legs back in. You will still be using legs a little and loading off them as both do above, but as you can clearly see there is no jumping and they are both hitting fast serves. The walk through serve drill is what I would recommend, and once again, I would practice against a fence AND continue to video myself or have someone watch who knows what to look for (so you don't regress without noticing).

My 2c.
 

mac-1210

Rookie
Good advice from Digital Athiest....totally agree with that.

I had a real problem with the kinetic chain in the serve with a really disconnected jump and hit...often hitting the ball as my feet came back down to touch the ground. I think my problem was that when teaching myself the serve as a junior, I imagined jumping was an absolute necessity in order to get height rather than the way to impart extra energy into the ball. As a result, I'd taught myself a jump, hit rather than a serve. No matter how much my coach said I had to "delay the jump" I couldn't correct it. We are talking split second actions here so trying to consciously "delay a jump" is definitely not the right way to tackle it.

It seemed to work itself out when I went back to basics and took the jump out completely. Gradually I let myself come off the ground but this time in the way you'd drive as if you were throwing a ball at 45 degrees in an effort to get it as far as you could. Also, being conscious to keep the back leg back helped me.

Looking at your serves from the last link, I think number 6 actually looks the best..this is where you rotate a bit into contact and don't actually get off the ground.
 

eah123

Professional
You don’t need indoor courts to practice serve. As long as there is no snow/ice you can practice serve on outdoor courts during the winter.
 

TennisDawg

Hall of Fame
Which player are you in the video. If it’s player that n black, work on your take back, coil your upper body, racquet drop is way to the side. Start with the take back first
 

TennisDawg

Hall of Fame
Learn a power slice. Added decent video below explaining slice serve but I don't necessary agree with the ball contact on the "inside" of the racket face. I think your toss is not good for 1st serves because it is not in front of you and it is to your L too far. It looks like a kick toss. Try placing the toss at least 6 to 8 inches in front of your front foot and a little to the R for 1st serve - around 12:30 on a clock face with straight up from your front shoulder being 12 o'clock. Squash the jumping. Do a progression where you keep both feet still and serve only with a pivot of the back foot - keep the back foot on the ground and as you rotate forward to contact, let the back foot pivot on the ball of the foot. Next, try hitting serves and use a step forward. You will step up and into contact with the back foot and then allow the back foot to finish forward by stepping into the court after contact.

This is a difficult technique to learn. There’s a lot of subtleties. I couldn’t master it so I modified it using a video from Top Tennis Training.
 
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