Serve questions

Here’s a link from an OnForm clip of my evolving serve.

I was filming two serves at a time hoping to achieve a few little things like:
  1. Align my hitting elbow with my shoulders.
  2. Achieve long axis rotation (shoulder over shoulder)
  3. Maintain balance
  4. Pronate for power
  5. Keep a relaxed grip (power again)
  6. Create more shoulder angle
  7. Follow the ball with my tossing hand
I’ve videoed and served about 250 pairs over two days. I have made some progress with aligning my hitting elbow with my shoulders. The angle of the upper arm with the shoulder line previously was 45°.

My practice swings live up to the ideal. Adding a ball changes all.

Tips I think could help: elbow the enemy, bend the rear leg more (I don’t have a sense that I do), stretch the tossing arm up higher/longer (does that work with the low toss?).
I’d consider a higher toss (the one in the clip peaks about 10” above contact)

Am I on the right track? Contact is right above the baseline. I don’t finish in the court and contact is in front of my head. My hitting elbow doesn’t fully extend before contact. What needs to happen for those things to fall in line?
You can best view the clip using the OnForm app (free. Delete it after viewing if you don’t want to clutter your device). I can also shoot another clip and upload to YouTube on the next dry day (Western Washington).

Thank you.


Overall, I think you have a reasonably good arm motion consistent with an advanced serve. A major issue is your weight transfer. Due to your toss being too close to your body, you are using your back foot as a brake to stop your forward momentum. Instead, you should try for a slower, smoother transfer of weight forward without any braking action until after contacting the ball.

Digital Atheist

Hall of Fame
My practice swings live up to the ideal. Adding a ball changes all
Indeed! So now you understand shadow swings are often best performed outdoors with an actual ball toss to help replicate a real serve (of course, you don't actually hit the ball, but you get the idea). I had to do that to fix my tossing arm, which was woeful at one point and I went through the same frustrations as you.

There are a few issues that just hitting serves won't address, but I am currently downloading the video since frame advance isn't possible in that embedded player and will get back to you later with screenshots.

But what I can say at this time is:
- arm action is decent so everything else is fixable imo
- when you start leg drive your back foot is angled away from the court incorrectly (like duck feet)
- leg drive starts well after your arm swing (you are still bending your legs when the racquet goes into the drop) which is also why the tossing arm looks like it drops too soon
- you make contact too low with legs still bent and behind you, so there is no weight transfer into the ball (observe your finish position).

That looks like a useful app.
Last edited:


Bionic Poster
Keep pointing your tossing arm up and stretch it.
The OP tossing arm stops shortly after release. It never gets close to vertical. There is a moderate shoulder tilt but it could be a bit better if the tossing arm rises to (near) vertical for the trophy phase. The tossing arm also comes down too fast = early

The R elbow is also too high for the trophy phase. It should be more in line with the shoulder tilt line.


Bionic Poster
As mentioned, the R elbow is too high for the trophy phase. And it gets even higher during the drop phase. That elbow is definitely too high at the start of the drop. And it gets even higher above the shoulder line at the bottom of the drop.

The leg drive is off. It appears to be a bit late. The legs (knees) should be fully extended and the feet should start to leave the ground before the upward swing starts (bottom of the loop). OP still has knees bent

Odd scissor-kick action with the legs. The front leg (foot) oddly moves backward after the feet leave the ground. You should try to jump and land over (past) the baseline line with the L foot. The L foot should point in the general direction of the serve when it lands (not pointing off to the left).

The R foot is kicking off to the R side (toward the camera) too much and then swings around such that the body falls off to the left. Instead, the R leg should kick straight back (camera left) as the front foot lands. It is ok for left the R leg come (straight) forward after this to take another step free the serve. But that leg should not kick off toward the camera before stepping forward.

The body appears to be over-rotated at contact. (Stay sideways a bit longer). And it continues to rotate even more such that the body falls off to the left — rather than moving upward and forward — toward the direction of the served ball.
Last edited:


Bionic Poster
L foot lands inside th BL and the R leg kicks back.



Digital Atheist

Hall of Fame
Is this an AI post or does it contain AI generated information?

2. "Achieve long axis rotation (shoulder over shoulder)"
Could you explain where you got the usage of "long axis rotation" or what it means in this context?

What are "pairs" ?
Come on Chas, the dude linked a video of his (?) serve and the text that followed was clearly written by a human. Surely you have the intellect to work that out? Long axis rotation is an often discussed term in relation to the serve,and can be found in many YT videos - Mark Kovacs and some of the papers by Elliot et al that you have referenced also use the phrase.

The pairs are also referenced in this sentence:
"I was filming two serves at a time hoping to achieve a few little things like:" Two serves are a pair. Does that help alleviate your fears?

Mr Kayak, I am doing frames as we speak. BRB!

Digital Atheist

Hall of Fame

Frames 1, 2, and 3 are good. and despite quite a decent arm action the tragedy begins. To me this is a classic case of the lower body messing up the entire motion. You almost do a lasso action over top of your head while falling backwards. You have excellent flexibility in addition to the arm action so there is potential for a good serve here.

Refer to my earlier post for the issues I outlined. Once again, this is the same recommendation I just gave in another thread:
Practice the McCraw demo, eliminate the legs, do half serves and walk-through serve drills, and THEN add some more leg drive once you have all that down. As someone who had to figure this stuff out for themselves wading through so much online crap, that is my personal advice.

Keep at it and good luck!

You can skip the McCraw video and just work on half serves and walk through serves ala Pete (eliminate the legs and get that body and arm action moving FORWARD more). Observe just how far back you are in the last frame. Good luck! Also note in the Pete video how his legs have actually straightened at contact, even during those warmups.
Last edited:

Digital Atheist

Hall of Fame
I asked the OP about "long axis rotation" because I don't understand its usage relative to "shoulder over shoulder". ?

Then I guess I didn't understand the AI reference. That vid talks about cartwheeling (shoulder over shoulder) staying sideways longer, and long axis rotation. I actually think @ballmachineguy will like that video, except it does focus on staying sideways (consciously), which I know he isn't a huge fan of, although I think Jim explains it quite well.

Imo, it is not relevant to OP serve issues.
Last edited: