Serve - Technique vs. Power

Which will speed up your serve more, power or technique?

  • Power

    Votes: 7 10.9%
  • Technique

    Votes: 57 89.1%

  • Total voters
    64

Chyeaah

Professional
This common question has to be answered for all of us weaklings vs. hard hitters. On the serve would you get more speed on the ball with more power or better technique.

So the question is. Which will speed up your serve more, power or technique?

And maybe discuss ratios for Technique to Power.
 
Which will speed up your serve more, power or technique?

Both.

Neither is exclusive of the other.

But power with improper technique is often the cause of an overuse injury, explaining the epidemic of shoulder injuries in tennis players.

For your health's sake, don't sacrifice technique for power.
 

Nojoke

Rookie
Which will speed up your serve more, power or technique?

Both.

Neither is exclusive of the other.

But power with improper technique is often the cause of an overuse injury, explaining the epidemic of shoulder injuries in tennis players.

For your health's sake, don't sacrifice technique for power.
One of the sagest answers you will ever find.
 

Chyeaah

Professional
Which will speed up your serve more, power or technique?

Both.

Neither is exclusive of the other.

But power with improper technique is often the cause of an overuse injury, explaining the epidemic of shoulder injuries in tennis players.

For your health's sake, don't sacrifice technique for power.
I'm not. I just played a really athletic person, his much stronger than me but he uses an eastern forehand grip and just smashes down on the ball and it goes over 120 km/h with some reverse slice spin. His technique is terrible but he was able to ace me around 1/2 the time.
 
I'm not. I just played a really athletic person, his much stronger than me but he uses an eastern forehand grip and just smashes down on the ball and it goes over 120 km/h with some reverse slice spin. His technique is terrible but he was able to ace me around 1/2 the time.
It is very unusual for someone to use that technique and have a very high first serve percentage.

And since nothing in that serve forms the basis for a sound second serve, these players usually have to slow the ball way down to get it in consistently.


Demand a rematch, and I'll bet the number of aces is less next time.
 

Chyeaah

Professional
It is very unusual for someone to use that technique and have a very high first serve percentage.

And since nothing in that serve forms the basis for a sound second serve, these players usually have to slow the ball way down to get it in consistently.


Demand a rematch, and I'll bet the number of aces is less next time.
His first serve % is like 80%. When i asked him how he serves so fast, he just says you hit downwards on the ball, although he is 191 cm.
 

Xizel

Professional
His first serve % is like 80%. When i asked him how he serves so fast, he just says you hit downwards on the ball, although he is 191 cm.
I don't doubt that. 120 km is not particularly fast. Perhaps you need to react and return better? A fast serve with acing potential would be at least 145 km, usually higher.
 

Chyeaah

Professional
His second serves are about 120-125 with a left handed kick serve spin. His fastest i would say was 150. average of 130+.

I can usually always return a serve that speed it's just that his left handed and the ball is just unpredictable. He can aim his serve as well, pretty accurately.

But he doesn't even incoporate all the hip and body turn and leading with the edge of the racquet and pronation and all that.

Would Arm Power trump technique (not saying i have good technique or anything) but I've always believed technique can make all your balls go faster, but should i also be concentrating on arm power instead of the power from technique which is usually from the legs and hip.
 

fuzz nation

G.O.A.T.
If anything, I'd say that this opponent with his "gorilla serve" is making a case for hitting the weight room and upping our fitness levels to help stay healthy. He's getting away with bad technique because he's so strong, but he's also probably not serving up at his full potential.

If you've ever seen some of the dudes on the tour up close, some of them are really light, lean, and fast, but some of them are pretty big and strong - what I'd call "really athletic" in terms of their build. That physical power of theirs coupled with very good technique makes for serves that are honestly frightening if I'm watching in very close proximity.

While some power certainly comes from our big strong muscles doing their thing, they can't work together to continually produce our best serves and strokes without decent synchronization. That comes from strong technique. That gorilla serve may work for a well-built athlete over the course of a couple of sets, but a player with less muscles and superior technique will be able to serve quite well and do it all day.
 

Manus Domini

Hall of Fame
Honestly, you need both for maximum efficiency. But I'm voting on technique due to my own experience with the serve.

I'm honestly a pretty weak guy. My upper body strength is really low, and since I stopped exercising my core and my legs, they have gotten weaker (bad habits built up after I got a concussion last year). So relying on power would be a mess for me.

Even though my muscles have gotten weaker, though, my serve technique got better after practicing that and my serve sped up considerably.

That being said, power is important. Technique, however, is more important.

In my opinion, technique should be the starting point. It will lend its way to more power, but you should still exercise properly to increase your service speed and weight, too. Mainly relying on power will limit how good your serve can be, as will only focusing on technique. You need both. But without technique, your serve will be less accurate and a good second serve may be non-existent.

Work on both aspects, but remember the importance and limitations of each.

After all, who was a better server in his prime, Tsonga or Federer?
 

sportsfan1

Hall of Fame
Technique all the way, its the correct foundation for power.. As has been said above, power without technique = injury. You could be ripped, but without proper technique, you are perhaps redlining your rotator cuff the way its not designed for.
 

rkelley

Hall of Fame
. . . I just played a really athletic person, his much stronger than me but he uses an eastern forehand grip and just smashes down on the ball and it goes over 120 km/h with some reverse slice spin. His technique is terrible but he was able to ace me around 1/2 the time.
I'm not sure if you meant 120 kph or mph. As others have said, 120 kph = 75 mph and isn't that fast in the grand scheme of things.

More to the point, you can certainly bludgeon the ball with an E. fh grip. I'm sure you could hit one 120 kph. You might even be able to hit it 120 mph, but you'll land it about 10% of the time if you're lucky.

The thing about an E. fh grip serve is that it will be really flat and bounce very consistently. It's also easy to read the direction by watching the racquet face before impact. The face squares up to the ball very early in the swing.

A good, high speed, "flat" serve (like 120 mph) needs to have topspin in order to get it in the box on any kind of regular basis. The only way I'm aware of to do that is to a continental grip and pronate your wrist into the ball. You can still hit huge, get some topspin for margin, and the spin will make the ball kick up on the other side. The spin gives the ball some extra action that makes it harder to hit. Finally this serve is harder to read because the racquet is coming at the ball edge on until right before you pronate your wrist into the ball.

Also, as others have said, you use the same basic motion for your second serve, but you allow the racquet to come up the back of the ball more for some combination of topspin and slice.

So practice the correct technique. The power will come.
 

Limpinhitter

G.O.A.T.
This common question has to be answered for all of us weaklings vs. hard hitters. On the serve would you get more speed on the ball with more power or better technique.

So the question is. Which will speed up your serve more, power or technique?

And maybe discuss ratios for Technique to Power.
Your question contains a false dichotomy. Better technique leads to more power. They are not mutually exclusive.
 

boramiNYC

Hall of Fame
You wanna reexamine your understanding of serving technique. Go back to drawing board and read up and watch think and practice.
 

thug the bunny

Professional
Limp, Larry, and fuzz are correct.

I find that when my serve is funky (spazzy and slow and inaccurate) I back off a bit, and lo and behold, it actually goes faster and goes in. This is because I'm allowing my swing to have correct timing and technique, and I start catching the ball dead center in the sweetspot.

Trying to muscle the ball outside of your abilities only causes ugliness.
 

LuckyR

Legend
This common question has to be answered for all of us weaklings vs. hard hitters. On the serve would you get more speed on the ball with more power or better technique.

So the question is. Which will speed up your serve more, power or technique?

And maybe discuss ratios for Technique to Power.
Do you mean: add pace to the serve? If so, it depends if you have a sound stroke. If you do, then add power. If you don't, then get a better technique.
 
The first mistake players make as amateurs is to think big when serving. You don't need a big serve, just a well placed serve.

Upfront, even if your first serve is bellow average in the group of players you play, it's still more annoying to return than their second serve. It's almost certain that it is, so you should enjoy hitting those serves at a very high percentage -- something near 75% of success is like low blowing your opponents with your knee: it hurts big time since it means that you will generally not play more than one ball on your second serve when trying to hold.

That's detail number one. The second one is placement. I can guarantee you that if you can hit dining plates in the corners and at the body, you'll be more efficient than if you could only slam something as big as a 3'x3' square on each, except 10mph faster. The reason is that if you can do it, you stretch the possible angles your opponent has to cover -- it means more movement to hit the ball and it also means he will have to be a lot more fair with his positioning.

At the end of day, this might not give you as many aces, but it will give you a lot more potent serves into the box to start your points and a lot fewer double faults. It makes you a lot harder to break.


What I explained above can't be done, unless you have a good movement. Of course, you can rely on being a tower like your mate who's 6'-3'' and use your advantaging height to hit harder without being rigorous... but if you're like most Joe's out there and measure in between 5'9'' and 6'-0'', it's not an option. And, finally, you risk to hit harder doing it right than not doing it right. Your friend hits hard, but he could hit harder.
 
His second serves are about 120-125 with a left handed kick serve spin. His fastest i would say was 150. average of 130+.

I can usually always return a serve that speed it's just that his left handed and the ball is just unpredictable. He can aim his serve as well, pretty accurately.

But he doesn't even incoporate all the hip and body turn and leading with the edge of the racquet and pronation and all that.

Would Arm Power trump technique (not saying i have good technique or anything) but I've always believed technique can make all your balls go faster, but should i also be concentrating on arm power instead of the power from technique which is usually from the legs and hip.
I think you summed it up, it doesnt sound like he overpowers you, but that his placement and spin is really causing you problems. Unless serves are really powerful, speed alone isnt that devastating, but spin and placement often are what win the day.

I also agree with an earlier poster, those guys tend to be on or off, with lesser second serves. Another day, he may be off and you can get the better of him.
 

pvaudio

Legend
I honestly don't even understand how the question makes sense. Do you mean strength instead of power? Technique leads to faster serves; power is just a label we put on fast serves.
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
I equate "power" to just absolutely trying to serve as fast as you can.
I also advocate hitting all your first flat serves, if you have one, at 90% of your availible swing speed. That's 10% OFF or slower than you can swing!
That's for maximum speed, placement, and replicability, which are equally important.
So, technique. You don't need to swing as fast as you can to hit the ball as fast as you can. Backing off the efforts yields the fastest ball.
 

Chyeaah

Professional
Well I mean strength. I try to go for technique on my second serve, but my first serve is raw strength and it goes in.
 
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Chyeaah

Professional
So basically what this is trying to ask is.

Will Upper body strength beat technique in getting the faster serve.

Tecnhique incorporates your whole body with all the hip turn and external arm rotation etc. Or just raw strength where you're 1.88m tall (my friend) and just jumps and smashes the ball down into the service box with a hard eastern grip.

I know at pro level technique would always be better than power (height is not taken into this...) since they can pull off the kinetic chain well, but at rec 4.0 level wouldn't strength override technique as long as you can get the ball in?
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
Strength....
Not important, but you have to be able to move a 11.5 oz racket, and you need physical conditioning, and you need to be able to throw a ball.
Look at the physique of the top pros. Only Nadal has strength, and he's got the slowest serve.
You need fast twitch muscle, and explosion. That has NOTHING to do with lifting ability.
But LEVERAGE is more important, if you have technique. There are limitations from physical size. But as said, Henin at 5'6" and Chang an inch taller can serve 125, but not get many IN.
 

pvaudio

Legend
So basically what this is trying to ask is.

Will Upper body strength beat technique in getting the faster serve.

Tecnhique incorporates your whole body with all the hip turn and external arm rotation etc. Or just raw strength where you're 1.88m tall (my friend) and just jumps and smashes the ball down into the service box with a hard eastern grip.

I know at pro level technique would always be better than power (height is not taken into this...) since they can pull off the kinetic chain well, but at rec 4.0 level wouldn't strength override technique as long as you can get the ball in?
Now I've got it. With that said, technique 100% of the time, every time. The less you need to use any individual part of your body to move the ball, the better. Every single stroke in tennis uses all parts of your body. The serve's prowess depends entirely on how well you excecute this. Knowing how to do so means that you can get away with not being a strong person. Let's use Andy Roddick as the best possible example. He is not above average in height (Federer and Nadal are only an inch shorter), when he was serving his fastest, he was at his skinniest and yet he can serve in the 150+mph range. How? His entire body contributes to send an enormous amount of energy into that ball. On TV, it looks like a hitchy kind of motion. In slow motion, it's actually fascinating to study.
 

Limpinhitter

G.O.A.T.
Limp, Larry, and fuzz are correct.

I find that when my serve is funky (spazzy and slow and inaccurate) I back off a bit, and lo and behold, it actually goes faster and goes in. This is because I'm allowing my swing to have correct timing and technique, and I start catching the ball dead center in the sweetspot.

Trying to muscle the ball outside of your abilities only causes ugliness.
The underlying reason for your experience is that excess muscle tension distorts your swing path on any shot, and actually slows racquet speed.
 

Mick

Legend
Power. ...because power leads to powerful serves. Duh.

How do you get powerful serves? Lead.
i disagree. a 14 year old girl with good service technique will deliver a harder serve than a 25 year old man with bad service technique. A 25 year old man is more powerful than a 14 year old girl but that doesn't help him.
 
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LeeD

Bionic Poster
For a fast swing, you need fast hand speed. Then you need body rotation, forward movement, spring in the legs (maybe to give yourself a higher strikepoint), solid hit, and of course, the ability to whip the head of the racket, which is technique...high hand, high elbow finish.
Pure muscle? Nope. FAST TWITCH muscle, yes.
Long leverage is huge, as is confidence.
 

BMC9670

Hall of Fame
I think guys are overly concerned with power and serve speed. Good technique will allow you to serve with plenty of pace, but it will also allow you to vary the serve in terms of spin and placement.

Who cares if you can serve 100 mph? If it's in the same place with the same spin every time, it's an easy return. Guys need to drop the macho BS and develop a "service game".
 

WildVolley

Legend
Hitting big is technique and timing for most of us. When I hit big (I'd estimate close to 120mph) it is usually when things come together and the swing feels almost effortless - as if the racket is doing a lot of the work. If I'm muscling it, I usually get much less pace.

The only reason a racket moves is because of muscles, but it is fast twitch muscles that are important, and they are driving a big lever in the form of the racket. You want to move as fast as possible while being as relaxed as possible. This means that the kinetic chain is working properly and adding to the final result rather than fighting yourself.

I advise using video to diagnose what you are doing wrong on your serve. If you can stay healthy and improve your technique, your power level is bound to increase.
 
Just as a correction, power is a physical trait... it's not a label we put over fast serve; it's literally a physiological term that describes a specific characteristic of muscles. Power is, in short, "fast strength"; it's the ability to apply a high muscular tension in a very short period of time.

Strength is about maximal tension; power is about how much you can put very quickly. In tennis, we don't need strength... we need power.

I know I am being annoying, but it pisses me off big time when people fool around with words and, at the end of the day, they don't understand what each other are meaning or else end up mixing together incompatible concepts. So, just keep in mind that power is apply it quickly and strength applying as much of it as you can.
 
Power in physics is energy over time; they are watts per second, for instance.

That's why we can also qualify the serve as powerful -- a lot of energy per unit of time is exerted. That's what it means, specifically; but we have to remember that if we qualify the gesture itself, power is then a result of a coordinated physical effort. We could be meaning, with the same word, both that the whole motion is powerful or that the individual has powerful muscles.

Therefore, if you are going to continue this thread, be specific: what do you mean by power exactly? I think, having read your comment, that you referred to the individual has being powerful -- he can exert a lot of energy very quickly -- and that you weren't so much referring to the quality of his movement. But still, people can be easily confused, as you probably noted on here.
 

Chyeaah

Professional
Also, i've been wondering. The only spin i can put on a flat serve it reverse slice... since then i hit with a conti then pronate it naturallly hits the left side more of the ball. Is this wrong?
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
When you have extreme pronation, ADJUST your grip more to eBackhand to flatten out the ball to hit pace.
When you have weak pronation, adjust your grip more towards conti with a SLIGHT eForehand twist.
Adjust your grip to hit the ball the way you want.
Some big servers serve with almost eBackhand grips. Some big servers use almost a eForehand grip. Pick your poison.
 

Chyeaah

Professional
I think someof the reverse slice spin is caused because i have a loose grip on serve and when i hit it my continental turns abit to the E forehand.
 

tricky

Hall of Fame
Also, i've been wondering. The only spin i can put on a flat serve it reverse slice... since then i hit with a conti then pronate it naturallly hits the left side more of the ball. Is this wrong?

Do you consciously form a trophy pose or feel some compression in your lower back?
 

Chyeaah

Professional
Well i guess, but it isnt very distinct. I guess this is something i need to work on. Im not currently implementing a knee bend when i practice yet to get my upper body turns and external arm rotation and pronation correct first, the knee bend is too hard to perfect the timing of the toss kneebend and explosion.

I think My ball toss should go more left and i think i pronante abit too early. It only becomes a very slight reverse slice on my 100% serves. Maybe i stand abit too side on.


@ Tricky. I don't feel much compression in my lower back. am i not arching my back enough?
 

tricky

Hall of Fame
Going back to your original question, unless they get good coaching, most people will get much worse before they get MUCH better, when going through the transition from "pancake" to "proper." It just takes time.

@ Tricky. I don't feel much compression in my lower back. am i not arching my back enough?
Oh, I was trying to diagnose the symptoms. You actually should not feel your lower back at all in the serve. In service technique, consciously arcing the back is bad technique. Djokovic looks like he's doing a yoga pose, but even he's not consciously arcing the back.

Forming a trophy pose (for the sake of forming one) is also bad technique. It can mess up the timing of the movement, and break the connection between the legs and the upper body.
 

Chyeaah

Professional
Going back to your original question, unless they get good coaching, most people will get much worse before they get MUCH better, when going through the transition from "pancake" to "proper." It just takes time.



Oh, I was trying to diagnose the symptoms. You actually should not feel your lower back at all in the serve. In service technique, consciously arcing the back is bad technique. Djokovic looks like he's doing a yoga pose, but even he's not consciously arcing the back.

Forming a trophy pose (for the sake of forming one) is also bad technique. It can mess up the timing of the movement, and break the connection between the legs and the upper body.
oh. I thought arching your back was good because your back muscle is one of the strongest? and from the jump and explosion from the back muscle gives you your power xD

I guess i was wrong.
 

tricky

Hall of Fame
I thought arching your back was good because your back muscle is one of the strongest?
It's a popular misconception. You should feel a stretch along the abdomen and obliques instead. Many people assume it's the back muscle, basically because their center of gravity is thrown off when they toss the ball. That causes 80% of the hitches you see in service motions.
 

pvaudio

Legend
Power in physics is energy over time; they are watts per second, for instance.

That's why we can also qualify the serve as powerful -- a lot of energy per unit of time is exerted. That's what it means, specifically; but we have to remember that if we qualify the gesture itself, power is then a result of a coordinated physical effort. We could be meaning, with the same word, both that the whole motion is powerful or that the individual has powerful muscles.

Therefore, if you are going to continue this thread, be specific: what do you mean by power exactly? I think, having read your comment, that you referred to the individual has being powerful -- he can exert a lot of energy very quickly -- and that you weren't so much referring to the quality of his movement. But still, people can be easily confused, as you probably noted on here.
Oh no, here we go.
 
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