Private lesson: how do you get them to help your serve?

EddieBrock

Semi-Pro
I've done a few private lessons while traveling and the thing I need the most help with is my serve. I tell the pros that it's my primary focus, but as we're warming up they say they want to teach me "pat the dog" or work on other things and I end up doing serves for like 5 minutes at the end of the lesson.

Of course I don't want to just come on the court and hit serves, but I really want help with making sure I have a smooth, repeatable motion with a consistent toss. The toss has been my nemesis for years and I'd like to get some tips on incorporating that with everything else with the serve. Not just standing there tossing.

Knock on wood, but my forehand, volleys, etc aren't going to break down completely, but my serve will. As I've posted for years when I get tight the double faults start rolling in and even when I'm relaxed I can't always count on my toss. So how do I get the most out of the lesson so the serve isn't an afterthought or I'm not just hitting balls from a bucket without any input from the pro?
 

beltsman

Legend
I've done a few private lessons while traveling and the thing I need the most help with is my serve. I tell the pros that it's my primary focus, but as we're warming up they say they want to teach me "pat the dog" or work on other things and I end up doing serves for like 5 minutes at the end of the lesson.

Of course I don't want to just come on the court and hit serves, but I really want help with making sure I have a smooth, repeatable motion with a consistent toss. The toss has been my nemesis for years and I'd like to get some tips on incorporating that with everything else with the serve. Not just standing there tossing.

Knock on wood, but my forehand, volleys, etc aren't going to break down completely, but my serve will. As I've posted for years when I get tight the double faults start rolling in and even when I'm relaxed I can't always count on my toss. So how do I get the most out of the lesson so the serve isn't an afterthought or I'm not just hitting balls from a bucket without any input from the pro?
? Just tell them that you only want to do serve.
 

graycrait

Hall of Fame
Are you willing to put in 150 serves a day every day for a year or more? If not your serve will likely be a liability. People put tons of reps in on ground strokes, volleys, etc. Few are willing to do the same thing with serves.
 
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EddieBrock

Semi-Pro
? Just tell them that you only want to do serve.
That's what I've done before and they still want to do other things. Do you think they'll really do serves for the whole hour? It also seems like I'd eventually get tired. Should I maybe try serve followed by a few shots?
 

beltsman

Legend
That's what I've done before and they still want to do other things. Do you think they'll really do serves for the whole hour? It also seems like I'd eventually get tired. Should I maybe try serve followed by a few shots?
Are you paying them?
 

Johnr

Rookie
Is this really a question? Before you hire them tell them all you want to work on serve, they say yes, you do this, they say no you move on to next pro
 

joffa101

New User
That's what I've done before and they still want to do other things. Do you think they'll really do serves for the whole hour? It also seems like I'd eventually get tired. Should I maybe try serve followed by a few shots?
Just book ½ hour lessons!
 

EddieBrock

Semi-Pro
Is this really a question? Before you hire them tell them all you want to work on serve, they say yes, you do this, they say no you move on to next pro
That's what I should have done.

Seems like when you go to a lesson the pro has a set format ... mini tennis/warmup then groundstrokes, then hitting, then serves at the end. Doesn't seem like it would be wise to walk on the court and just start right with serves and stay with it for the whole hour. Wouldn't that hurt my shoulder?

Aside from getting the pro to agree to do mainly serves what's the right amount of time to spend on it with a single lesson?
 

Kevo

Legend
That's what I've done before and they still want to do other things. Do you think they'll really do serves for the whole hour? It also seems like I'd eventually get tired. Should I maybe try serve followed by a few shots?
I've done serves for an hour with someone many times. The serve is so important and I've seen quite a few coaches teach it poorly over the years. I've also done tossing for probably 30 minutes before. Usually people get the toss quickly enough that it's passable for the first couple of progressions, but I revisit it often if needed. The toss is the most important thing to get right when developing your serve.
 
Also, for what it's worth, serving is one of those few things that you can really practice without a ball machine or hitting partner. Yes, bad practice makes bad play, but you can still make good progress with solid YouTube videos and lots and LOTS of balls on the court.

There are many areas of my game I suck at but with the vast majority of my training coming from YouTube and a crap ton of reps, my opponents do always mention my "big serve".

Sent from my Pixel 3 using Tapatalk
 

blablavla

Professional
That's what I've done before and they still want to do other things. Do you think they'll really do serves for the whole hour? It also seems like I'd eventually get tired. Should I maybe try serve followed by a few shots?
why not?
1. I guess you pay them same money
2. while for example rallying with you, they need to do some effort. Coaching you on serve, they'll be likely standing around and giving advice.
If you have to rally let's say 8-12 hours a day, or 4 hours rally + 4 hours advice - there might be a difference
 

heninfan99

Talk Tennis Guru
You have to be an aggressive jerk for a few minutes and demand what you want for your money. Then you can revert back to your normal self.

Just had a similar experience with a personal trainer. I had to veer him to deadlift technique though all he wanted to do was stretching.
 

blablavla

Professional
Are you willing to put in 150 serves a day every day for a year or more? If not your serve will likely be a liability. People put tons of reps in on ground strokes, volleys, etc. Few are willing to do the same thing with serves.
straight to the point.
1. practice. You can do it on your own, especially if you have the "feel". Focus on toss till it is all automated like your forehand.
2. there are exercises to improve your toss. Somehting like you need to stand close to a wall, with the wall being virtually the point where your racket has to hit the ball. Toss the ball in that point, so that it only slightly touches the wall. See if you can catch it before bounce.
Rinse & repeat points 1 & 2 till your service works fine.
 

FRV2

Semi-Pro
Are you willing to put in 150 serves a day every day for a year or more? If not your serve will likely be a liability. People put tons of reps in on ground strokes, volleys, etc. Few are willing to do the same thing with serves.
Overkill imo
 

FRV2

Semi-Pro
Haven't you posted videos on here before? What is keeping you from letting us TTW members dissect your serve?
 

sureshs

Bionic Poster
I've done a few private lessons while traveling and the thing I need the most help with is my serve. I tell the pros that it's my primary focus, but as we're warming up they say they want to teach me "pat the dog" or work on other things and I end up doing serves for like 5 minutes at the end of the lesson.
5 minutes is too less, but a certified teaching pro is ethics-bound to make sure you will not be injured by jumping into the serve before a gentle stroke flow has been accomplished. You can tell him that you warmed up before-hand, but it is not his job to police that and verify your claim.
 

Cawlin

Semi-Pro
So it's been said by @J011yroger and others, but it's not easy to teach a serve, especially if you're only getting a single private here or there, rather than engaging a coach for a lesson package or for a regular weekly or semi-weekly deal.

With that said though, yeah, the responsibility is yours to engage a coach that will take a look at your serve and hopefully be able to spot the flaws and work with you on them... not all coaches can do this, it's just that simple.
 

heninfan99

Talk Tennis Guru
5 minutes is too less, but a certified teaching pro is ethics-bound to make sure you will not be injured by jumping into the serve before a gentle stroke flow has been accomplished. You can tell him that you warmed up before-hand, but it is not his job to police that and verify your claim.
how does MTM teach the serve
 

sureshs

Bionic Poster
Adults taking serve lessons is in general a waste of time. Innumerable videos around. And improvement beyond the "acceptable" level is usually impossible for those who did not start tennis young or were otherwise exceptionally gifted in other sports.
 

graycrait

Hall of Fame
Haven't you posted videos on here before? What is keeping you from letting us TTW members dissect your serve?
And what would be gained by you or I if I, a 65yr old stroke survivor who grew up playing on public courts sans lessons with wooden rackets, posted a video? Maybe, "if that old dude can do it so can I sort of thing?" Heck, even the young guys I hit with kid me about my serve practicing. The only reason I practice serves a lot is that a former D1 player I hit around with a bit when he was here on the college team took a look at my serve and told me to hit 150 serves as many days a week as I could fit in. My arm isn't loosened up any more until I have at least 30 practice serves and prefer 50 or so. I sort of liken it to a baseball pitchers bullpen - they don't get called to the mound cold. Serve practice to me is like rifle target practice or even archery. Needs lots of reps and occasional coaching.

In any case if you are ever in the Nashville area pm me, maybe we can have a hit or I can arrange a hit for you with someone. I'll hit with anyone. Yesterday I agreed to hit with a middle aged 3.0 lady who wants me to hit with her as she rehabs from a broken leg she suffered in a car accident. I told her as long as it takes to get her back into the leagues.
 

FRV2

Semi-Pro
And what would be gained by you or I if I, a 65yr old stroke survivor who grew up playing on public courts sans lessons with wooden rackets, posted a video? Maybe, "if that old dude can do it so can I sort of thing?" Heck, even the young guys I hit with kid me about my serve practicing. The only reason I practice serves a lot is that a former D1 player I hit around with a bit when he was here on the college team took a look at my serve and told me to hit 150 serves as many days a week as I could fit in. My arm isn't loosened up any more until I have at least 30 practice serves and prefer 50 or so. I sort of liken it to a baseball pitchers bullpen - they don't get called to the mound cold. Serve practice to me is like rifle target practice or even archery. Needs lots of reps and occasional coaching.

In any case if you are ever in the Nashville area pm me, maybe we can have a hit or I can arrange a hit for you with someone. I'll hit with anyone. Yesterday I agreed to hit with a middle aged 3.0 lady who wants me to hit with her as she rehabs from a broken leg she suffered in a car accident. I told her as long as it takes to get her back into the leagues.
That post was directed at the OP haha. I thought he posted videos of himself before, but I think I was wrong as I can't find it.
 
I am paying $125/hr for my kid tennis lesson with this teaching pro and I told him EXPLICITLY that I want him to teach my son how to hit 1- Flat serve, 2- Slice serve, 3- Kick serve, down the tee, wide out and into the body. For a 60 minutes lesson and the next three lessons, I want him do nothing but that. I want to make that clear to him. My son gets to the tennis court early, does 45 minutes of stretching and 20 minutes of hitting of his own to get himself warm up. For the next 60 minutes, he does nothing but serve get instructions from the teaching pro. It is not that hard to understand.
 

sureshs

Bionic Poster
I am paying $125/hr for my kid tennis lesson with this teaching pro and I told him EXPLICITLY that I want him to teach my son how to hit 1- Flat serve, 2- Slice serve, 3- Kick serve, down the tee, wide out and into the body. For a 60 minutes lesson and the next three lessons, I want him do nothing but that. I want to make that clear to him. My son gets to the tennis court early, does 45 minutes of stretching and 20 minutes of hitting of his own to get himself warm up. For the next 60 minutes, he does nothing but serve get instructions from the teaching pro. It is not that hard to understand.
OK, but in your case you are kind of vouching for your son being prepared. That is not the case for a random adult staying in a tennis resort who strolls into the courts after a heavy buffet breakfast and several drinks the night before and asks for a serve-only lesson. Ethical pro cannot honor that without warm-up.
 

EddieBrock

Semi-Pro
Adults taking serve lessons is in general a waste of time. Innumerable videos around. And improvement beyond the "acceptable" level is usually impossible for those who did not start tennis young or were otherwise exceptionally gifted in other sports.
The thing is I know what you're supposed to do on the serve and I do it sometimes, but my toss is inconsistent making my serve inconsistent.

In lessons they will tell me where to toss the ball, but I've never had a good lesson that shows "how" to toss the ball for the serve that has actually helpee. I've switched from palm facing up, to the side, been told to loosen my left arm, tighten my left arm so it's like a cast, release at eye level, etc. I can toss just fine standing there tossing, but when I bring the rest of my motion into play the toss goes awry. It's especially bad if I'm nervous. So while I'm sure all the YouTube videos and generic advice is fine, what I need is for someone to see what I'm doing on my serve that's causing the toss and serve to fall apart.
 

Raul_SJ

Legend
The thing is I know what you're supposed to do on the serve and I do it sometimes, but my toss is inconsistent making my serve inconsistent.

In lessons they will tell me where to toss the ball, but I've never had a good lesson that shows "how" to toss the ball for the serve that has actually helpee. I've switched from palm facing up, to the side, been told to loosen my left arm, tighten my left arm so it's like a cast, release at eye level, etc. I can toss just fine standing there tossing, but when I bring the rest of my motion into play the toss goes awry.
You say, "I can toss just fine standing there tossing." That is essentially what Serena does.
Her racquet arm does practically nothing until toss leaves her hand. Try that.

 

sureshs

Bionic Poster
The thing is I know what you're supposed to do on the serve and I do it sometimes, but my toss is inconsistent making my serve inconsistent.

In lessons they will tell me where to toss the ball, but I've never had a good lesson that shows "how" to toss the ball for the serve that has actually helpee. I've switched from palm facing up, to the side, been told to loosen my left arm, tighten my left arm so it's like a cast, release at eye level, etc. I can toss just fine standing there tossing, but when I bring the rest of my motion into play the toss goes awry. It's especially bad if I'm nervous. So while I'm sure all the YouTube videos and generic advice is fine, what I need is for someone to see what I'm doing on my serve that's causing the toss and serve to fall apart.
It requires body coordination. It has an upper bound depending on genetics and when you started playing. You will never have a better toss than that no matter how much theory you know

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Raul_SJ

Legend
It requires body coordination. It has an upper bound depending on genetics and when you started playing. You will never have a better toss than that no matter how much theory you know
He says he can toss just fine. "I can toss just fine standing there tossing." Only screws up when the hitting arm is incorporated into the motion. He needs to try the Serena extremely staggered motion where the hitting arm does nothing until toss is released.
 

BallBag

Semi-Pro
Find a coach with a good serve and ask if he is a good serve coach. Find a player with a good serve and ask him who taught him.

It's not rocket science.

J
Considering every other person on the forum thinks they are qualified to teach the serve based on their extensive research of Fed slow mos, why would a professional coach ever think that they are not qualified to teach serve.
 

Kevo

Legend
I am paying $125/hr for my kid tennis lesson with this teaching pro and I told him EXPLICITLY that I want him to teach my son how to hit 1- Flat serve, 2- Slice serve, 3- Kick serve, down the tee, wide out and into the body. For a 60 minutes lesson and the next three lessons, I want him do nothing but that. I want to make that clear to him. My son gets to the tennis court early, does 45 minutes of stretching and 20 minutes of hitting of his own to get himself warm up. For the next 60 minutes, he does nothing but serve get instructions from the teaching pro. It is not that hard to understand.
I'd love to find someone who wanted to pay me $125 an hour just to teach serves. I love serving and teaching serves. I've got to say though, unless your child has some kind of condition I can't see any reason a kid that is regularly active physically needs to stretch 45 minutes before tennis. 5 minutes of stretching and 5 minutes of some kind of warm up is most likely adequate. Too much stretching could actually be detrimental to performance and injury prevention. I think the scientific research might be conflicting on that point, but 45 minutes of stretching seems quite excessive.
 

J011yroger

Talk Tennis Guru
Considering every other person on the forum thinks they are qualified to teach the serve based on their extensive research of Fed slow mos, why would a professional coach ever think that they are not qualified to teach serve.
Every other person on the forum doesn't have a good serve, you conveniently overlooked my primary qualifier.

J
 
I'd love to find someone who wanted to pay me $125 an hour just to teach serves. I love serving and teaching serves. I've got to say though, unless your child has some kind of condition I can't see any reason a kid that is regularly active physically needs to stretch 45 minutes before tennis. 5 minutes of stretching and 5 minutes of some kind of warm up is most likely adequate. Too much stretching could actually be detrimental to performance and injury prevention. I think the scientific research might be conflicting on that point, but 45 minutes of stretching seems quite excessive.
I was watching Djokovic at Rogers Cup in 2012 and Djokovic was doing 60 minutes of stretching and warm up before picking the tennis racquet. Djokovic was doing 21 exercises to increase his flexibility with each one last about 2 minutes. That added up to 42 minutes. The other 18 minutes was kinda warming up stretch the muscle with a foam roller. I timed it and it was 60 minutes before djokovic actually picked the racquet and hit the tennis ball.
 

BallBag

Semi-Pro
Every other person on the forum doesn't have a good serve, you conveniently overlooked my primary qualifier.

J
"Dear Mr Club Pro,
My name is Ballbag and I am looking for a coach to help me improve my serve. Before I can secure your services, please submit a video of you hitting a flat, slice and kick serves. Each serve should go wide, middle and tee. The video must be uninterrupted and all serves should be 90 MPH minimum with the exception of the flat serves, which should be 110 MPH minimum. Alternatively, you may submit your ATP or WTA ranking or the previously described video from 3 of your students. Thank you and I look forward to reviewing your submission.

Best regards,
Ballbag"
 

J011yroger

Talk Tennis Guru
"Dear Mr Club Pro,
My name is Ballbag and I am looking for a coach to help me improve my serve. Before I can secure your services, please submit a video of you hitting a flat, slice and kick serves. Each serve should go wide, middle and tee. The video must be uninterrupted and all serves should be 90 MPH minimum with the exception of the flat serves, which should be 110 MPH minimum. Alternatively, you may submit your ATP or WTA ranking or the previously described video from 3 of your students. Thank you and I look forward to reviewing your submission.

Best regards,
Ballbag"

J
 

joffa101

New User
Adults taking serve lessons is in general a waste of time. Innumerable videos around. And improvement beyond the "acceptable" level is usually impossible for those who did not start tennis young or were otherwise exceptionally gifted in other sports.
What complete rubbish!

I would almost say improvement in serving is very hard without a pro/advice/lessons. Improvement can be made at any age by any level!

Our club has group coaching. There are 4 of us that have been doing them for a few years now every week with the same coach. EVERY week we spend the last 15 mins working on a serve with supervised progressions and drills(we rotate between 1st & topspin each term). We always finish with tie break points to serve under pressure. As you can imagine, our serves have improved an incredible amount!
 

Dim Sim

Rookie
Are you willing to put in 150 serves a day every day for a year or more? If not your serve will likely be a liability. People put tons of reps in on ground strokes, volleys, etc. Few are willing to do the same thing with serves.
Do you mean every day of the year? 365? That’s nuts, excessive and would likely lead to injury. It should not need that amount of practice to learn a decent and reliable serve. Or do you mean every time you hit the court? If so, agreed.
 

Dim Sim

Rookie
Adults taking serve lessons is in general a waste of time. Innumerable videos around. And improvement beyond the "acceptable" level is usually impossible for those who did not start tennis young or were otherwise exceptionally gifted in other sports.
Rubbish. Assuming average athleticism, fitness and coordination combined with diligence in practice there’s no reason why the serve can’t be learned. It’s not that hard. The biggest factor seems to be coordination and those who struggle look to be those who never spent time as kids playing ball games that involved throwing. Nobody needs to be gifted to throw a ball correctly.
 

Kevo

Legend
I was watching Djokovic at Rogers Cup in 2012 and Djokovic was doing 60 minutes of stretching and warm up before picking the tennis racquet. Djokovic was doing 21 exercises to increase his flexibility with each one last about 2 minutes. That added up to 42 minutes. The other 18 minutes was kinda warming up stretch the muscle with a foam roller. I timed it and it was 60 minutes before djokovic actually picked the racquet and hit the tennis ball.
Well, that's one example. Is there another example? Also, the data is conflicting at this point as far as I can tell. It could very well be that some people benefit and some don't, so trust your own judgement on it. Just go into it with open eyes and don't be dogmatic if there are signs in the other direction. If you're going to do that much stretching it may be better to do it after the workout. You can probably google a bit and find some actual studies on it if you're interested.
 
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