Serve Critique

Wesley J

Rookie
Working on flat serve. Noticed that I'm falling sideways on my serve, occasionally, which I'm assuming is because of my toss.


3-19

 
Last edited:

S&V-not_dead_yet

Talk Tennis Guru
Around 0:11, your toss location looked good [not too far to the right, which would cause you to chase it and fall to the right]. But look at your contact point: it's well below the apex of your reach. As a result, you have to bend your arm and scrunch down in order to contact the ball, which I think contributes to your leaning.

What you should be aiming for is to make contact at the apex of the toss for maximum extension. This will allow you to straighten your arm out and thus your body also.
 

Wesley J

Rookie
Around 0:11, your toss location looked good [not too far to the right, which would cause you to chase it and fall to the right]. But look at your contact point: it's well below the apex of your reach. As a result, you have to bend your arm and scrunch down in order to contact the ball, which I think contributes to your leaning.

What you should be aiming for is to make contact at the apex of the toss for maximum extension. This will allow you to straighten your arm out and thus your body also.
I see what you mean. However, my toss is fairly high. I think the apex of my toss would be out of my reach. Should I experiment with lowering the toss/jumping?
 

S&V-not_dead_yet

Talk Tennis Guru
I see what you mean. However, my toss is fairly high. I think the apex of my toss would be out of my reach. Should I experiment with lowering the toss/jumping?
Let me refine my statement: you want to hit at the maximum extension of your body, which is mainly your arm but can also include driving up into the ball with your legs.

So contact doesn't have to come at the apex of the toss. Realize, though, that the higher the apex is relative to your contact point, the faster the ball will be dropping. Ideally, you want to minimize this speed as it just adds another variable.

So, no matter how high your toss, you should be trying to straighten out your arm to get max extension. Your current method is robbing you of a foot or more which limits how directly you can target the service box [think Isner vs Schwartzman for an extreme example].
 

Pete Player

Hall of Fame
There seems to be a signifant other power loss to, what @S&V-not_dead_yet pointed out, which also adds to the bent and leaning fashion.

Racket is turning to WT-like orientation way before you reach the point of arm becoming fully straight.

The arm doesn’t rotate late, but early, which change the pivot of your racket and racket face from the wrist to your elbow.

Will look some footage on another thread, which is pretty similar to yours in short.

Ok, here is one on the recent topics on the same.

Serve (HELP!) by Dan.
https://r.tapatalk.com/shareLink?sh...se.com/index.php?posts/12097503/&share_type=t


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 
Last edited:

jz000

Rookie
Try to have one motion... you pause like you are swatting a fly.
Forget about the legs, just stand still and try with 1 motion.
Try everything, all feet positions relative to the line.

On the deuce side (you are a lefty), try feet parallel to the line, 45 degrees to it, etc.
See what the differences are.
Adjust your grips accordingly.
Pick one you are comfortable with.

LATER - Add legs later for power. Swing your hips inside the court, it'll force you to jump into the court.
 

Limpinhitter

G.O.A.T.
Working on flat serve. Noticed that I'm falling sideways on my serve, occasionally, which I'm assuming is because of my toss.

The serve s based on throwing. You toss the ball with one hand and throw the racquet at the ball with the other hand with a full, amooth, gradually accelerating throw. You do not employ a proper throwing motion on your serve. I suspect that you have not played a throwing sport. If you have, you are not transferring that skill to your serve.

I recommend staggering the timing of your serve - when you toss the ball keep the racquet pointing down to the ground and, when the ball is in the air, then throw the racquet at the ball. I have found that separating these motions helps to promote a full, smooth throwing motion.

In the mean time, I recommend working on your throwing motion with a football. Throwing a football with a prpoper spiral promotes the same arm pronation used in serving.
 

Wesley J

Rookie
Ugh...didn't know I was that far off the mark. Thank you for all the advice so far.

Looks like you may have an eastern fh grip, should be continental or ebh.
You might want to try...eastern backhand then.
What is making it look like it isn't continental?

The serve s based on throwing. You toss the ball with one hand and throw the racquet at the ball with the other hand with a full, amooth, gradually accelerating throw. You do not employ a proper throwing motion on your serve. I suspect that you have not played a throwing sport. If you have, you are not transferring that skill to your serve.

I recommend staggering the timing of your serve - when you toss the ball keep the racquet pointing down to the ground and, when the ball is in the air, then throw the racquet at the ball. I have found that separating these motions helps to promote a full, smooth throwing motion.

In the mean time, I recommend working on your throwing motion with a football. Throwing a football with a prpoper spiral promotes the same arm pronation used in serving.
You'd win that bet :p unless a throw-in in soccer, passing in basketball, or tee-ball when I was 6 counts lol. I'll try staggering next time I go out.

Waiter's Tray.

Always screen for Waiter's Tray first before anything else.

Search - Waiter's Tray Error Hi Tech Tennis.
Thanks, I'll give it a watch.

There seems to be a signifant other power loss to, what @S&V-not_dead_yet pointed out, which also adds to the bent and leaning fashion.

Racket is turning to WT-like orientation way before you reach the point of arm becoming fully straight.

The arm doesn’t rotate late, but early, which change the pivot of your racket and racket face from the wrist to your elbow.

Will look some footage on another thread, which is pretty similar to yours in short.

Ok, here is one on the recent topics on the same.

Serve (HELP!) by Dan.
https://r.tapatalk.com/shareLink?share_fid=21313&share_tid=612246&share_pid=12097503&url=https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/index.php?posts/12097503/&share_type=t


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
I'll admit that, at the moment, it feels like I have to do too much forcing to put something on my serve. I'll give it a read.

Try to have one motion... you pause like you are swatting a fly.
Forget about the legs, just stand still and try with 1 motion.
Try everything, all feet positions relative to the line.

On the deuce side (you are a lefty), try feet parallel to the line, 45 degrees to it, etc.
See what the differences are.
Adjust your grips accordingly.
Pick one you are comfortable with.

LATER - Add legs later for power. Swing your hips inside the court, it'll force you to jump into the court.
Experimentation. Got it.

You serve like you're swatting a fly - all floppy and slappy. Try to serve like you're throwing a javelin.
Less fly-swatting, more smooth motion. Got it.
 

nvr2old

Hall of Fame
I think the serve is the hardest stroke to master using correct technique (not just lobbing it in) in tennis. Also most important. Mental image I use for warming up and literally also is passing a football with a tight spiral or throwing a curveball (actually a sinker really) where there is very pronounced snapping of wrist and internal shoulder rotation as others have said like throwing. I get sensation that racquet head is mimicking what my hand would be doing in those throws. It’s also a very whiplike motion, slow build up to very quick whipping impact and follow through. Watch Jeff Salzenstein on YouTube. Great teacher IMO.
 

Pete Player

Hall of Fame
I think the serve is the hardest stroke to master using correct technique (not just lobbing it in) in tennis. Also most important. Mental image I use for warming up and literally also is passing a football with a tight spiral or throwing a curveball (actually a sinker really) where there is very pronounced snapping of wrist and internal shoulder rotation as others have said like throwing. I get sensation that racquet head is mimicking what my hand would be doing in those throws. It’s also a very whiplike motion, slow build up to very quick whipping impact and follow through. Watch Jeff Salzenstein on YouTube. Great teacher IMO.
To some extent, I disagree. Yet you need lot of proper, quality reps to master the serve, the hardest part is to understand how you’re supposed to throw the stringbed at the ball properly. The stance and orientation part is the first to get right.

Just like an overhead, virtually impossible to hammer them down niples to the net.


——————————
On pain meds - all contributed matter and anti-matter subject to disclaimer
 

Hmgraphite1

Hall of Fame
also remember that you when you lean back with legs loaded and lookup at the toss, you chop up at the ball, think Peyton manning on a 45 degree tilt throwing football up into the sky. This may feel off but it works and is recommended.
 

nvr2old

Hall of Fame
To some extent, I disagree. Yet you need lot of proper, quality reps to master the serve, the hardest part is to understand how you’re supposed to throw the stringbed at the ball properly. The stance and orientation part is the first to get right.

Just like an overhead, virtually impossible to hammer them down niples to the net.


——————————
On pain meds - all contributed matter and anti-matter subject to disclaimer
Yeah ok. Pics worth a thousand words as they say and I think this aptly applies to the serve. Just trying to help OP since he seems like a nice receptive and genuine guy trying to learn.
 

Dan R

Professional
There seems to be a signifant other power loss to, what @S&V-not_dead_yet pointed out, which also adds to the bent and leaning fashion.

Racket is turning to WT-like orientation way before you reach the point of arm becoming fully straight.

The arm doesn’t rotate late, but early, which change the pivot of your racket and racket face from the wrist to your elbow.

Will look some footage on another thread, which is pretty similar to yours in short.

Ok, here is one on the recent topics on the same.

Serve (HELP!) by Dan.
https://r.tapatalk.com/shareLink?share_fid=21313&share_tid=612246&share_pid=12097503&url=https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/index.php?posts/12097503/&share_type=t


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
I've been working hard on the water tray issue as well. It's not easy to fix. You look good until you start the racket drop and then your wrist extends back, another way to look at it is the palm faces up. I have the same problem. The wrist has to stay in at least a neutral position, don't let it bend back. You can even have it cupped a bit that won't hurt you. Bending the wrist back forces the forearm to pronate early to get the racket face to point at the target. Keeping the wrist neutral will cause a cascade of changes to the serve, which is what I'm working through. It will force you to bring the racket up more on edge, and pronate later as you approach the ball.

I'm going to post more on this tonight, maybe that will help. You look like you can have a really good serve, just some technical issues to work out.
 
Last edited:

Wesley J

Rookie
I think the serve is the hardest stroke to master using correct technique (not just lobbing it in) in tennis. Also most important. Mental image I use for warming up and literally also is passing a football with a tight spiral or throwing a curveball (actually a sinker really) where there is very pronounced snapping of wrist and internal shoulder rotation as others have said like throwing. I get sensation that racquet head is mimicking what my hand would be doing in those throws. It’s also a very whiplike motion, slow build up to very quick whipping impact and follow through. Watch Jeff Salzenstein on YouTube. Great teacher IMO.
also remember that you when you lean back with legs loaded and lookup at the toss, you chop up at the ball, think Peyton manning on a 45 degree tilt throwing football up into the sky. This may feel off but it works and is recommended.
I'll try to think of it like that, but seriously, the last time I even touched a football was 5 years ago and that was just catching it lol.
 

Wesley J

Rookie
So I started working on getting rid of the waiter's tray. I have a grasp now on what I should be doing and can already recognize/feel the difference when I get closer to how it should actually be.

These were the serves I felt were approaching what it should look like even though I'm still opening up to soon. Just the first day though...baby steps.

2:05 | 2:47 | 2:50 | 3:02 | 3:12 | 3:40 | 3:52 | 4:19 | 4:30

 

S&V-not_dead_yet

Talk Tennis Guru
Nice shoulder tilt at 1:01!

The "falling away" at 0:30 is what I'd keep an eye out for. Imagine that you, the ball, and your opponent are along the same line. Try not to deviate too much from that line [ie 90 degrees perpendicular to that line is way too much].

I like that you videod your shadow swings also. Sometimes what looks good in a shadow swing falls apart when a ball and contact are added.
 

Bobby Jr

G.O.A.T.
The new serve is improved but from the point when you get the racquet up behind your back the swing looks like you're thinking too much about the arm, rather than the whole body. If you look at videos of classic servers like Sampras/Federer you see they are coiled at that point and then explode into the swing part. By contrast you sort of roll into the forward/upward swing part like it's a Sunday stroll.

Watch Federer from the trophy/javelin position (call it whatever you want) his body snaps into the forward/upward part of the swing. That is a key thing to eventually get used to doing. (example serve vid below)

Lastly... one small detail when starting your motion. You have your arms a long way from your body. This looks like it starts your prep path wrong - you rotate your torso/arm in a more horizontal motion. If you tried having your arms down by your body (ball hand basically out in front of your right thigh) it might help correct the wind-up part of the serve.


 

Nellie

Hall of Fame
I think it would help you a lot to think of pushing forward with your right (front) hip through the serve, rather than stepping through with the left, rear leg. This left step is causing you to lose balance and, in general, is causing you to have too many moving parts at a time. Also, moving forward with the front leg drives more of you body weight into the ball, whereas using the rear leg to rotate your side forward means that only part of your body weight is moved into the serve. Also, starting with a front step with you left leg means that the first thing you do in you motion is to open you shoulders to square at the net, making it hard not to using a waiter's grip
 

Chas Tennis

G.O.A.T.
This article isolates internal shoulder rotation and shows how it is used during the tennis serve.
https://www.tennisplayer.net/public/biomechanics/chas_stumpfel/internal_shoulder_rotation/

Look particularly at the forearm-to-racket angle and compare it to yours.

In the late 1980s I must have heard about 'pronation' on the tennis serve and had learned what the defined joint motion 'pronation' was. To improve, I would swing up and then 'at the last second' would rotate the racket from edge on so that the face of the racket met the ball. I was using 'pronation' as it was defined as a joint motion. A misconception for the serve..... This looks like what you are now doing in your shadow swings, edge on toward the ball, a late rotation, maybe only pronation of the forearm and little internal shoulder rotation (ISR), angle between forearm and racket not enough to get racket head speed from wrist rotation. Your serves are not like your shadow swing, still looks WT....on the one or two that I looked at.

That is not what is happening in a high level serve as the article above makes clear. First, the word 'pronation' is not correct for the joint motions involved and can be misleading as my 1980s experience proves.

I'm not an instructor. I compare stroke videos and point out differences between high level strokes and poster's strokes.

Recently, I posted about a video by Todd Ellenbecker, "Rotator Cuff Injury". It discusses the proper orientation of the upper arm to the shoulder to minimize the risks of impingement. High level servers almost all display this orientation throughout their service motion.

See posts #28 & 30.
https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/ind...technique-slo-mo-angles.611374/#post-12117548
 
Last edited:

Pete Player

Hall of Fame
Great progress!

One other thing, you might want to consider is the stance. You’re quite an amount more sideways on the ad-court serve, cause the difference in direction.

Looks like you use the baseline as the reference to plant your feet, yet it should be your target.


——————————
On pain meds - all contributed matter and anti-matter subject to disclaimer
 
Wes,

You are not hitting a flat serve.
You have not hit a single flat serve in those videos.
There is a lot of slice.

I have 2 huge tips for you.

1) Toss the ball so far in front of you that it feels like a bad toss.

Many will go into the bottom of the net.
But, eventually, you will crush one, and you will know the feeling of a flat serve.
You have not hit a single flat serve in this videos.
The ball will explode off your racket, and you will be falling forward into the court.

2) Also, you need height.

Your legs need to explode upwards.
They can't do this unless coiled.
Bend the hell out of your knees, then go up for the ball.

You don't wait for the ball to come to you.
You go up and chase the ball.
My old coach used to say, "Go get it..... Go after it...."

You will need to retime the entire serve, and it will take a few sessions.
Bravo for practicing. Go for it!

Here is what a flat serve looks like.
 
Last edited:

Kevo

Legend
All good servers are first, good tossers. :)

Your toss is not in the right location. You need to toss so that the contact point is closer to directly overhead and in front of you towards your target. You will not be able to hit a pro-like serve until you first fix that toss. The toss is the most important part of a high level serve.

When I teach people to serve I always start with the toss. I drill it like it's air and you can't live without it.

The next step in my teaching is the contact. I have people start with their arm stretched out fully extended out above their head and the tip of the racquet pointed toward the back fence. Then we toss and rotate the racquet arm 180 degrees through the ball. It's almost like the racquet is a saloon door swinging above the head. It's not quite level due to the arm being stretched out a little right for a righty. The idea is for the strings to pass overhead and contact the ball slightly in front of the body.

That's all we do until that becomes easy and reliable. You should be able to hit a pretty passable serve with only that. No legs, no swing of the arm, just the toss and turn of the arm.

Once that is good, everything else is added to enhance the speed at which you can deliver that contact. You add one thing at a time and if it hampers the speed or fluidity of the swing you know it's wrong.

Anyway, it's still very difficult to learn a high level serve even with help. I would say more than half of the people I teach end up failing to keep the technique I teach them. Most people have a pretty large gap between what they are doing and what they think they are doing. Many of my students are younger and end up quitting lessons once they join the local high school team. Many of them see what their peers do or try to beef up their serve and lose sight of the fundamentals I teach them. It's very easy to put in a lot more effort and end up with a weaker serve.

Anyway, I could go on and on about serves. Get the toss right first. It's the most important thing. Then work backwards from contact and add one thing in at a time. If you are diligent and always go back and remind yourself of the basics any time adding something becomes detrimental you can progress quickly.
 

Wesley J

Rookie
So, in no specific order, I need to work on the following...

1) Hitting with a straight arm (mine is too bent causing a loss of power)
2) Experiment with foot positioning
3) Think "pushing forward" into the serve
4) Internal Shoulder Rotation
5) Think "go up and chase the ball" (I'm waiting for hit to come down to me)
6) Revisit toss (I'm getting multiple view points on this so not sure what I'm doing incorrectly/should be doing)
 

FiReFTW

Legend
3) Think "pushing forward" into the serve
I didnt read all posts but whoever wrote that is clueless.
You should NEVER EVER think about PUSHING with your serve, that is a recipe for arming the serve.

The serve is more of a throwing your racquet at the ball.
 

Wesley J

Rookie
Did you switch to another racquet, same brand Prince?
Same Prince, different strings (I have 2 of the same racquet).

I didnt read all posts but whoever wrote that is clueless.
You should NEVER EVER think about PUSHING with your serve, that is a recipe for arming the serve.

The serve is more of a throwing your racquet at the ball.
They were talking about leg/hip drive because I mentioned lack of balance and falling to the side.

In regards to progress, I've fixed the falling sideways problem for the most part.
 
Top