Serve Technique/Form Practice

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by Andyroo10567, May 3, 2013.

  1. Andyroo10567

    Andyroo10567 Professional

    Nov 24, 2011
    So, I'm currently undergoing a change in my serve form. What i've been trying to start with is more of a lazy serve. With that lazy serve, I'm trying to accomplish getting my arm motion correct. ( No legs used during this. ) Once my "lazy serves" are getting consistent, I'm planning on incorporating my legs into my lazy serve. When this gets consistent, I'm going to start focusing on working on my flat serves leading into my second serve ( kick serve )
    My question is that is this the right approach to change my serve? Just a yes/no question. Comments would be nice.

    EDIT : Should have made this a poll....
  2. moopie

    moopie Rookie

    Apr 4, 2006
    San Jose, CA
    A resounding YES from me. After 7 years of serve struggles trying to imitate the full pro serve motion, this is how I finally figured out what a real serve is suppose to be.

    Don't even think of it as a lazy serve. It's logically the way to learn... it's how we learn everything else. We learn to walk before we learn to run.
  3. rkelley

    rkelley Hall of Fame

    Sep 28, 2010
    I warm up and practice my serve this way. Nice loose arm at first, not much leg. Get the arm loose, then get more shoulder happening, then get some leg bending. Not hitting hard - just trying to feel the racquet whip a bit. Depending on how I feel I might do this for a few serves to a few minutes. Eventually I start getting the form more correct while keeping the nice loose arm and adding power.

    I find that if I start with hyper-correct form I can be very tight in my shoulders and arm - takes away from the power.
  4. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Legend

    Feb 17, 2011
    Baltimore, MD
    "Lazy serves" probably means using stretched muscles

    That 'lazy arm' feeling, I believe, results from using muscle stretch forces to axially rotate the arm using mostly internal shoulder rotation (ISR). The largest muscle that drives ISR is the lat (latissimus dorsi). In my opinion, the lazy arm feeling occurs because you don't need to send nerve signals or feel effort to shorten a stretched muscle - unlike when you deliberately send signals to shorten a muscle without stretch. It's like using the stretched muscles - the spring - in your legs when you run.

    To stretch the ISR muscles external shoulder rotation is used. The leg thrust helps stretch the lat because when the legs thrust the racket & forearm are about at a 90° angle to the upper arm - when the legs thrust up, it externally rotates the shoulder joint thereby stretching the ISR muscles.

    This Raonic video shows the external shoulder rotation that occurs when the legs thrust up with the elbow bent so that the racket & forearm are at about 90° to the upper arm. Leg thrust is not shown in the frame but it causes the head to rise up so that you know when it occurs. In addition, raising the hitting shoulder and dropping the other also stretches the lat & pec.

    Several other videos in the collection show the ISR leading up to impact.

    If you try to piece the serve together and practice for too long without using stretch forces you might pick up some bad muscle memory.

    The serve is too fast to see or record with ordinary video. This video shows all that goes on in the 0.02 second before the ball impact.

    The video shows the motion from the semi-straight arm up, the racket about at 90° to the forearm with the racket head 'edge-on' to the ball. ( To clarify, this 90° angle is at the wrist, the one above was at the elbow.)

    The only way to be sure what you are doing when you hit the ball is by using high speed video. Without HS video, a list of check points for the service motion that you want is useful.

    You can search the terms & related illustrations for - internal shoulder rotation, external shoulder rotation, stretch shortening cycle,
    Last edited: May 5, 2013
  5. HughJars

    HughJars Banned

    Jan 7, 2013
    Umm, what the hell just happened ^
  6. Relinquis

    Relinquis Hall of Fame

    Dec 12, 2012
    On the courts; hard & clay ...
    i serve better when i try the full motion, but manage to stay loose...
  7. TennisCJC

    TennisCJC Legend

    Apr 20, 2010
    A couple of suggestions

    I think preferred type of serves would be 1. top/slice where you toss the ball a bit in front and swing 8 to 2 o'c rather than flat serve, 2. Kick as you need a good 2nd serve, and 3. flat. You had flat as the 1st in the sequence. I am not a bit fan of "flat" serves because unless you are very, very tall there is no margin of error and it pretty much a worthless serve. Isner, Federer, and Sampras all have high RPM numbers on their typical 1st serve. So, the power top/slice is the "money" serve in my view and should be the one you work on first.

    Another thought is if you use just hips and shoulder rotation without any or much leg input, you really cannot toss the ball too far in front. I have a friend who serves like this and he has a fairly decent serve - he serves with very little leg motion almost from a stable base. But, as an alternative, you can try a step in serve like Boris Becker hit. Basically, he walked into the serve with his R leg as he rotated the shoulders into the hit. Your R foot will end up about .5 to 1 foot length in front of you lead L foot. This will also allow you to place the toss about a foot out front for the top/slice serve.

    Personally, I would do the fix feet "lazy" serve as a drill and then use the step in serve as my actual serve. Then, work on more knee bend and more push up from the legs.
  8. boramiNYC

    boramiNYC Hall of Fame

    Jun 29, 2011
    it's a great way. make sure turn your body towards the net more when you take out jumping and legs. otherwise you can't get the right arm motion.
  9. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

    Dec 28, 2008
    East side of San Francisco Bay
    Depends if you learn by A B C, or do you learn by mimicking a full motion.
    We don't all learn the same way.
  10. GoudX

    GoudX Professional

    Aug 17, 2012
    You can't learn to serve big consistently by swinging slowly, the different timing needed the different spin and trajectory required are completely different for a 100mph flat serve, a 80mph kick serve or a 70mph flat serve.

    If I were to hit my second serve with just my arm it probably wouldn't reach the net, as the topspin would bring it straight into the floor without the upward and forward force imparted by the uncoiling of the legs and torso.

    Equally, if you suddenly start using the whole body on a technique designed for slow sings, the ball will always go long, as the trajectory and timing will be wrong.

    So while it helps to practice the elements separately, make sure you are practising to hit the type of serve you want to hit. If you are hitting with the right trajectory for an arm only serve, you are practising the wrong trajectory for a whole body serve.

    One trick that works for some people, try practising the serve technique without a tennis ball or court. Focusing on the correct positioning and timing of the stages. This helps a lot of people with the timing of the kinetic chain, as it teaches you how the shot should feel. Then you try the exact same swing for real, and pay attention to how you are moving differently to the 'ideal' practice swings.

    Also, I would recommend working on a technically simple, moderate pace kick serve first, then learn an extreme kick as a second, then learn the flat serve as a lower percentage variation serve.
  11. charliefedererer

    charliefedererer Legend

    Feb 13, 2009
    I would second the suggestion of GoudX above.

    Rehearsing the Serve:

    It is a lot faster to learn a nice serve motion without having to learn how to time the toss at the same time.

    Once you feel you have a nice rhythmic swing, time your toss to the serve motion (rather than have a hitch trying to time your serve motion to how high you are tossing the ball).

    Coach McCraw has some tips for a nice swing:
    McCraw Serve Fundamentals
  12. Andyroo10567

    Andyroo10567 Professional

    Nov 24, 2011
    Okay, I'll instead change my first serve to a Kick Serve.
    Thanks for the advices y'all have given! :D
    I'll post back with a video when my serve is completely adjusted. :)
    Will take some time with it.
  13. mbm0912

    mbm0912 Hall of Fame

    Nov 28, 2012
    someplace else unknown
    How's it coming along Andyroo?

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