Serve tips - advanced player

Curious

G.O.A.T.
There was a video of another poster recently and he also looked like he wore ankle weights that prevented him from getting airborne. Can’t remember who it was.
 

SystemicAnomaly

Bionic Poster
Some people don’t have a great vertical jump. I wonder if that’s the case here. Also he’s a big tall guy as far as I can tell from videos, which could be a factor I guess.
Federer & Isner's height don't appear to impair their ability to achieve good leg drive & a decent vert.

I suppose if the OP had little or no fast-twitch muscles in his legs, that might result in a poor vertical. That would probably also mean that his ability to sprint would be very poor.

But I think that something else is going on here. His leg drive looks off. It appears he's sabotaging his leg drive -- it's not as explosive as it should be. It's almost like he's trying to emulate an old school motion from the 1950s -- a time when players were not allowed to jump
 

Curious

G.O.A.T.
Federer & Isner's height don't appear to impair their ability to achieve good leg drive & a decent vert.

I suppose if the OP had little or no fast-twitch muscles in his legs, that might result in a poor vertical. That would probably also mean that his ability to sprint would be very poor.

But I think that something else is going on here. His leg drive looks off. It appears he's sabotaging his leg drive -- it's not as explosive as it should be. It's almost like he's trying to emulate an old school motion from the 1950s -- a time when players were not allowed to jump
I suspect a quick video of the OP showing a simple vertical jump will prove my point.
 

Curious

G.O.A.T.
I’ve found it.
(If there is a thread on here with amateur match videos were everybody is commenting on the videos, please point me to it. Otherwise, feel free to post your own videos.)

A friend tried to tape several points of me during a match in a tournament yesterday. I won the game easily 6:3/6:1. The conditions were tricky because the wind kept changing directions. I felt okay although moved sluggishly. My opponent played slow with a lot of moon balls therefore I moved to the net and hit as many volleys yesterday as in all my single matches this summer combined. I rarely hit my OHBH - I mainly sliced his slow and high balls or played FH inside/out.

I identified some deficiencies in my strokes myself already, but I'm curious about what you are seeing!

Video 1

Video 2

I might add, I'm the lefty in the front.

Hopefully I can add some more videos in the coming weeks.

What I see is perfect timing of leg drive! But for some reason you can’t launch upwards as if you have 10kg tied to your ankles. I’ve never seen something like this from an otherwise athletic young person like you.

There was a video of another poster recently and he also looked like he wore ankle weights that prevented him from getting airborne. Can’t remember who it was.

Sounds rather misguided.
 

chic

Hall of Fame
It still amazes me that your knee bend appears to pretty decent yet you barely get off the ground, especially your right foot. Nor does the right foot land in front of the BL
Look at the way he jumps back on the serve. If seems like rather than use the legs to drive he's bending his body like a bow →( then releasing that tension to snap the arms forward and snapping the legs forward too as a counterbalance →).
Limbs shoot forward, torso shoots back rather than driving up to the contract point and getting weight through the ball.

Not sure if it's you mention it or the full story video but I can't not see it now. This also seems like it's probably the reason I was noticing him but reaching a high enough contact point.
 

Trevor2023

New User
Keep in mind that up till my open "experience", this serve has been relatively effective at the club/recreational level over my return to tennis over the past year or so. Thus my metric for a "good serve" has been lower than what it should be - so I think part of it is not needing to get more pop on it until recently etc..

However, on my first serve, I think there are a few things still going on:
  • lack of forward/direction & tossing arm placement. I finally think I know what I should be doing after reviewing some analysis of pro videos and will try that next time
  • lack of strength conditioning - part of the missing explosiveness could be helped with jump exercises, medicine ball drills & squats - now I think know why pros do these.. (saw some links about it). I am still relatively fast.
  • breaking bad technique is harder than starting fresh.. especially when trying to "place" serve. So I think I have to focus more on technique for a bit.. rather than reinforce bad habits by trying to hit in court and place
tl;dr a great serve doesn't happen overnight - even more appreciation for pro (& high level collegiate) game.
 
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Trevor2023

New User
Look at the way he jumps back on the serve. If seems like rather than use the legs to drive he's bending his body like a bow →( then releasing that tension to snap the arms forward and snapping the legs forward too as a counterbalance →).
Limbs shoot forward, torso shoots back rather than driving up to the contract point and getting weight through the ball.

Not sure if it's you mention it or the full story video but I can't not see it now. This also seems like it's probably the reason I was noticing him but reaching a high enough contact point.
I think I do that more on the second serve.. on the first serve I'm starting generally to move a little more forward.. but not enough (as in side slo mo above).
 

chic

Hall of Fame
I think I do that more on the second serve.. on the first serve I'm starting generally to move a little more forward.. but not enough (as in side slo mo above).
Yeah the sideways slomo is definitely better, just went back and rewatched. Legs still aren't propelling you forward much but they aren't kicking backwards.

Curious to see what you're looking like after the pro analysis and next rounds of practice/adjust.

FWIW I think any concerns about explosiveness of the serve have to be off base. If you can scramble in 5.0 tennis you can get the vertical you need for a decent serve. (Exercises could still help power/stability and ability to keep it going through a match). But, the implication you don't have the fast twitch for a 6" jump on a tennis serve has to be off base.
 

Trevor2023

New User
Yeah the sideways slomo is definitely better, just went back and rewatched. Legs still aren't propelling you forward much but they aren't kicking backwards.

Curious to see what you're looking like after the pro analysis and next rounds of practice/adjust.

FWIW I think any concerns about explosiveness of the serve have to be off base. If you can scramble in 5.0 tennis you can get the vertical you need for a decent serve. (Exercises could still help power/stability and ability to keep it going through a match). But, the implication you don't have the fast twitch for a 6" jump on a tennis serve has to be off base.
Today was a holiday for me, so decided to give it a go for a bit... think I'm finally starting to make a breakthrough!

I was mostly working on form etc.. but function started to get at least as good "bad motion". I've put up the last two. Interestingly, the last one seemed to have a little more "pop", although the first one looked a bit better. Even if the first serve doesn't come out way faster, I think it's a better a motion and helps me get in the court - I think the technique changes may help the second serve the most (didn't record). Plus, I do think dynamic loading exercises will help with power - hopefully in a month or so will be a bit faster - that's my tentative plan at least.


(last serve with more "pop" that looked not as good"
 
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chic

Hall of Fame
Today was a holiday for

Today was a holiday for me, so decided to give it a go for a bit... think I'm finally starting to make a breakthrough!

I was mostly working on form etc.. but function started to get better. I've put up the last two. Interestingly, the last one seemed to have a little more "pop", although the first one looked a bit better. Even if the first serve doesn't come out way faster, I think it's a better a motion - I think the technique changes may help the second serve the most (didn't record). Plus, I do think dynamic loading exercises will help with power - hopefully in a month or so will be a bit faster - that's my tentative plan at least.


(last serve with more "pop" that looked not as good"
These look way better and it is obvious that you're starting to feel the proper momentum trains.

The one really obvious thing out of these videos is that you hitch your tossing arm on the way down. You are doing a much better job of driving it but instead of letting it flow naturally you stop halfway.

Tried to screenshot but no easy way to upload to imgur or something on mobile.
If you watch Nick and see how his tossing arm comes such that the upper arm is parallel to his body and the lower arm across his body.

You, on the other hand, begin to bring the tossing arm down from but hitch and hold it in place from the 8 to the 10 second marks in the video. Then you clear it out of the way on the same side of your body as the racquet arm.

The initial pull down of the arm is letting you utilize far more of the shoulder tilt to initiate the swing and accelerate, which is great.
This hitch is stiffling you from continuing the acceleration as confidently and is dragging down your contact point a little.

If what I'm saying makes no sense lmk and I'll try to get on my laptop and illustrated w/ screenshots.

Also no one has tagged him yet, but j0lly is a 5.0+ player with a big serve as and is also a coach. He's usually pretty nice and gives lots of feedback, especially to people who actually go practice.

Might be worth DMing him or tagging him here if you want some high quality advice.


In a different vein Chas Tennis usually can point to past threads with really detailed breakdowns of the proper biomechanics.
That helped me a lot in knowing I was doing the right thing but I think it would be overly analytical for most people.
 
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chic

Hall of Fame
Edited the above for grammar/spelling.

Watching again I also think there are some toss changes I would recommend. These are far less important as a lot of the toss is preference based, but simplifying and isolating parts may allow you to have more confidence on the swing.

1. And most highly recommended would be to take a pause when you put your weight on the back foot and toss from this stable position rather than on the move. This will separate the toss from the racquet coming up by half a second as well.

2. If doing the above, keep the arm straight or very slightly bent and toss using just the shoulder to lift the arm then releasing the fingers. I think you tend to over bend here.

3. On the movement's initiation step where you 'set' the ball on the strings have the tossing arm fully extended.


1. Will just give you a more stable base to toss from preventing breakdown of the motion or low tosses as you fatigue.

2. Will help with stability. I think you're already mostly tossing from the shoulder but getting rid of the arm bend might help you with the initiation of the service motion from the trophy pose since the arm will not be slack.

3. Will just help get the arm to the straightened position early and help eliminate the tendency to bend it.
 

onehandbh

G.O.A.T.
Today was a holiday for

Today was a holiday for me, so decided to give it a go for a bit... think I'm finally starting to make a breakthrough!

I was mostly working on form etc.. but function started to get at least as good "bad motion". I've put up the last two. Interestingly, the last one seemed to have a little more "pop", although the first one looked a bit better. Even if the first serve doesn't come out way faster, I think it's a better a motion and helps me get in the court - I think the technique changes may help the second serve the most (didn't record). Plus, I do think dynamic loading exercises will help with power - hopefully in a month or so will be a bit faster - that's my tentative plan at least.


(last serve with more "pop" that looked not as good"
The serves look much better now!
 

Trevor2023

New User
You, on the other hand, begin to bring the tossing arm down from but hitch and hold it in place from the 8 to the 10 second marks in the video. Then you clear it out of the way on the same side of your body as the racquet arm.

The initial pull down of the arm is letting you utilize far more of the shoulder tilt to initiate the swing and accelerate, which is great.
This hitch is stiffling you from continuing the acceleration as confidently and is dragging down your contact point a little.
yeah - good eye. It's a pretty subtle issue and seems to be a little tricky - as tossing arm seems to have a role in preventing over-rotation (in video below). I think at the apex, the key might be to turn the palm outwards and at worse kind of tuck it in a bit higher like Fed did (next video below).

 

chic

Hall of Fame
yeah - good eye. It's a pretty subtle issue and seems to be a little tricky - as tossing arm seems to have a role in preventing over-rotation (in video below). I think at the apex, the key might be to turn the palm outwards and at worse kind of tuck it in a bit higher like Fed did (next video below).

For myself, I tend not to have an over rotation problem because I'm focused on the racquet face moving straight through the ball → the net and going straight through the shoulders rather than across the chest.

I have played with palm direction and find both palm out and fingers vaguely pointing at the toss to work fine. Palm out definitely helps force the straighter toss arm so it's probably worth trying for you.
In the vein of tossing with the weight back rather than while moving, I would get to the palm out position before begining the forward step.




On the hitch itself there's a 2mintennis video on the 'power X' position. I don't agree with his general thesis (that it adds power) but do think the end result is a good flow for most players. If you can find the vid you're like the perfect example of why it works → getting the arms to the X would clear the toss arm out of the way for a clean swing with the racquet arm.
 

chic

Hall of Fame
For myself, I tend not to have an over rotation problem because I'm focused on the racquet face moving straight through the ball → the net and going straight through the shoulders rather than across the chest.
Meant to finish this thought with - this may be background dependant and different for different people.

I'm not the best with like kinesthetic perception, but my swimming background gave me a pretty good feel for body chains and moving my weight forward.
It can take me a bit to make something feel proper but when it clicks it usually really clicks.
 

SystemicAnomaly

Bionic Poster
The legs make a difference and to more than just power.

What does kinetic chain have to do with anything. Some parts moving lead to other parts moving in every sports movement. Some explanations of it are bs.

With the serve the leg forces move in the opposite direction of the arm. More like a kinetic disconnect that sets the arm up to go fast.
The leg forces moving in the opposite direction of the arm actually makes sense as part of a kinetic chain sequence. The upward drive of the legs facilitates an ESR / racket drop.

The upward leg drive is stretching / loading the internal rotators with this ESR / racket drop. The legs fire first followed by the arm firing with the upward swing.
 

Dansan

Semi-Pro
You've got the fundamentals to build a great serve, but it looks like you're losing forward power/drive. I'd work on focusing momentum a bit more into the court...on some of the second serves it looks like you're prioritizing vertical attack on the ball so much so that you nearly fall laterally with recoil from just how vertical you're going at the ball with not only your racquet angle - but your entire body drive.

You can still attack the ball vertically/upwards even when your body is moving slightly into the court...will def. increase potency to your serve and allow you to follow-up more naturally.
 
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