Serve bending backwards?

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by Bergboy123, Jan 4, 2012.

  1. Bergboy123

    Bergboy123 Semi-Pro

    Jul 27, 2011
    In a serve, is it better to sort of twist the upper body and get your back facing the opponent, in order to untwist for power? Or is it better to extremely arch your back, like Cilic?

    I'm trying to put together what all the parts of my body should be doing so I can get the most pop out of my serve as possible, and I'm a little stumped on this one.
  2. ARON

    ARON New User

    Jul 7, 2011
    Uncoiling motion would provide more power while arching the back would provide more spin. If you just had to choose one, I would say use the uncoiling motion. Cilic isn't exactly renowned for his serve. The deep arch also seems really hard on the body.
  3. charliefedererer

    charliefedererer Legend

    Feb 13, 2009
    Note that Cilic's back is actually fairly straight. He is bending from the knees, getting his heels well off the ground, and "aiming his chest" up at the ball (don't bend your back if you want to avoid back problems:


    As his tossing arm goes up, he is "turning away from the ball" or coiling, and beginning to form a "bow shape" as viewed from the side by pic 3 below as he releases the ball:


    He continues to bring his arm up and up until it is straight overhead as he forms a more complete bow shape and continues to bend his knees to his trophy position, pic 4.

    So as ARON advises, both coil and form a bow shape to use both elements to help power your serve.

    Note the similarities to Federer and Sampras (among many others):



    You may find the following video helpful:
    Nick Bolletieri: Sonic Serve
  4. anchorage

    anchorage Rookie

    Dec 29, 2007
    The above post is correct; the back isn't bent. The image of Cilic is a good one; get the knees in front of the feet and the heels off the ground & you can only go one way, forward & up in to the ball.

    The crucial thing is balance; with the lower part of the body forward, the head must not be allowed to move behind the line of the feet (again, if the heels are off the ground, you'll pretty much achieve this balance).
  5. fuzz nation

    fuzz nation G.O.A.T.

    Oct 20, 2006
    Agree with our pals above concerning the move on the ball with bent knees more than an arched back. While a mild arch of the back might be okay if you're healthy and flexible, a pronounced arching of the back is a very bad idea.

    Nick Saviano ran an on-court presentation on the serve at a USPTA meeting I got to attend a few years ago. He's been developing high caliber kids for decades and has a keen understanding of the long term health considerations that come into play when building their serving mechanics.

    Kids in serious development programs are typically more elastic than adults, but smart coaches steer those kids away from building a significant back arch into their service motions. Eventually those kids will lose some flexibility as they mature, so they need a service motion that will work for them over the long term. Otherwise, that contortion will eventually make for injuries as the back loses flexibility over time while still arching and torquing over and over again.

    Cilic looks as though he's taken very deliberate steps to build a serve with more active legs and a less active back. Great example for analysis here.
  6. andry16

    andry16 Banned

    Dec 8, 2011
    you should only bend your back for second serves (spin serves) and dont worry about back problems because if you are fit enough you should not worry about that and if you are not fit start doing some back raises, there is no better feeling than knowing you can do everything you want on the court withouth worrying about your body

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