Service Relaxation.

Queensryche

New User
Hi again ppl ^^

Err , once again i need some advice on my game.

My service this time round to be specific.



Recently , i've been practising my service ALOT more and refining it.
Many months back , i used to be able to serve with alot more pace when i used to "arm" the ball across.

I used my leg for propulsion with a pretty pronounced shoulder rotation(i used a completely closed stance) , however my grip on a scale of 1-10 was something around 6 to keep the racquet stabilise.

This style starting to hurt my elbow after prolonged practice and i've changed it to a looser relaxed arm for the past months.

Using this style of service , of course took the turn for the better on my elbow.

The issue i have however , is that when i keep such a loose arm and grip (something around 2 on the same aforementioned scale) , i loose a ridiculous amount of power. My guess for my service style long ago is about 80-85mph regions(No idea on exact amount lol , i sure as hell dont think i can hit 110+ Mph service like some of the 6.0 players here) But using this relaxed style and flinging my racquet at the ball , its REALLY much slower.I can see the blasted fuzzy thing flying and bouncing on the court by the time my raised head recovers.

My leg drive/shoulder rotation/relaxed arm has not changed at all , only the grip strength , which when i try a higher grip strength ( something around 4-5)
i can hit much better paced services.

I don't understand how people can blast 100 mph services using such a loose grip ?! , basically my whole arm feels so freakin limp i am simply unable to fling the racquet with decency.

I have been using this style for awhile so its not so much about a new "change" to get used to.


One more thing i would like to ask , is regarding sampras's service.
Of the matches i have watched with him , and the countless times ive seen his service , he seems to have a very very forced follow through on his service , almost like he is arming the poor ball across.

I noticed this especially on 1 particular service in the 1995 US open where it was in slo-mo.

After his ball toss and he was JUST about to make contact with the ball , he looked like he FLUNG his entire arm and threw his right shoulder out very violently and it looked like it would have de-socketed out of his shoulder joint.
His finish was also very very pronounced , his elbow was facing the sky at an almost vertical angle and his racquet was pointing straight down on the same side of the body before pulling across his chest which was much later in the follow through.

The thing is that , the way im looking at it , how on earth does he strike the ball like that with such a loose grip assuming he is using something like 1-2 on the scale ? And is it advisable to strike the ball like he does ?? , throwing the entire right half of your body into the court ?

Sorry for the long post , but i only post once a few weeks when i have prolonged problems , so their like bottled up for release every post :p

And thanks again to all of you for your help to my improvement :)
 

Bungalo Bill

G.O.A.T.
Queensryche said:
Hi again ppl ^^

Err , once again i need some advice on my game.

My service this time round to be specific.



Recently , i've been practising my service ALOT more and refining it.
Many months back , i used to be able to serve with alot more pace when i used to "arm" the ball across.

I used my leg for propulsion with a pretty pronounced shoulder rotation(i used a completely closed stance) , however my grip on a scale of 1-10 was something around 6 to keep the racquet stabilise.

This style starting to hurt my elbow after prolonged practice and i've changed it to a looser relaxed arm for the past months.

Using this style of service , of course took the turn for the better on my elbow.

The issue i have however , is that when i keep such a loose arm and grip (something around 2 on the same aforementioned scale) , i loose a ridiculous amount of power. My guess for my service style long ago is about 80-85mph regions(No idea on exact amount lol , i sure as hell dont think i can hit 110+ Mph service like some of the 6.0 players here) But using this relaxed style and flinging my racquet at the ball , its REALLY much slower.I can see the blasted fuzzy thing flying and bouncing on the court by the time my raised head recovers.

My leg drive/shoulder rotation/relaxed arm has not changed at all , only the grip strength , which when i try a higher grip strength ( something around 4-5)
i can hit much better paced services.

I don't understand how people can blast 100 mph services using such a loose grip ?! , basically my whole arm feels so freakin limp i am simply unable to fling the racquet with decency.

I have been using this style for awhile so its not so much about a new "change" to get used to.


One more thing i would like to ask , is regarding sampras's service.
Of the matches i have watched with him , and the countless times ive seen his service , he seems to have a very very forced follow through on his service , almost like he is arming the poor ball across.

I noticed this especially on 1 particular service in the 1995 US open where it was in slo-mo.

After his ball toss and he was JUST about to make contact with the ball , he looked like he FLUNG his entire arm and threw his right shoulder out very violently and it looked like it would have de-socketed out of his shoulder joint.
His finish was also very very pronounced , his elbow was facing the sky at an almost vertical angle and his racquet was pointing straight down on the same side of the body before pulling across his chest which was much later in the follow through.

The thing is that , the way im looking at it , how on earth does he strike the ball like that with such a loose grip assuming he is using something like 1-2 on the scale ? And is it advisable to strike the ball like he does ?? , throwing the entire right half of your body into the court ?

Sorry for the long post , but i only post once a few weeks when i have prolonged problems , so their like bottled up for release every post :p

And thanks again to all of you for your help to my improvement :)

For players wanting to increase their shoulder rotation and "arm throw" to the ball, you really have to practice tucking in that non-dominant arm. It is a huge key to acceleration and racquet head speed.

You need to feel it fold in and launch a loose shoulder/arm up into the ball. It is sort of whipping the arm in motion. many times you have to exaggerate the movement to eventually allow it to perform on its own.

The relaxed arm is exaclty what you want but you have to be able to transfer energy into to for it to power through the ball. If you watch Roddick in slow motion note the non-dominant arm tucking back in and the hitting arm sling shotting forward.
 

Queensryche

New User
Regarding the non-dominant arm tucking in.

Do i have to conciously force it in for the motion to become 2nd nature.

I think mine just flies off like a 1hbh to my sides.

I think i got the loose/arm shoulder down , my main issue lies with the actually gripping of the racquet. I seems when i keep the grip itself loose , i am physically unable to "hit though" the ball since the racquet feels so limp.

Is it suppose to feel like this BB ?? If so i'll keep at it till i get it down :)
 

Midlife crisis

Hall of Fame
One thing that might help is that a muscle's maximum contraction speed is only about 35 MPH, so to generate more speed than that, you have to use something other than or in addition to muscular contraction.

What you want to try and do is visualize how you would use a whip. You get the whole of the whip moving, and then you stop the handle. Then, the tip snaps through. That's because the energy in the motion of the handle gets transferred through to the tip, but the handle being much heavier than the tip, the energy results in the tip moving much faster than the handle did before it stopped.

The same is true with serving. Your body rotation is really like moving the handle of the whip forward. When you tuck your opposite arm in against your body, that stops your body rotation, transferring energy to your upper arm. When your upper arm stops, that transfers energy to your forearm and racket. With your arm extended like that, the only way to non-injuriously decelerate your forearm and racket is to pronate, or rotate your hand inward like you are looking at a watch on the back of your racket hand.

The key, though, is that the upper arm also comes nearly to a stop along with the body, and all that energy goes into whipping the racket through. That's why the elbow ends up so high, and the resulting pronation of the forearm results in the racket pointing downward, with the hitting surface pointing to the outside.

It's a very complex biomechanical movement and not one learned easily. Baseball pitchers and football quarterbacks who throw a lot and throw well use this same process so if you've done those things, then serving is easy. My son, who has pitched three years in little league, managed to do this within his first month of serving. I'm not sure I'd recommend throwing a baseball or football to learn the serving motion, but it might not hurt to see if doing that might not give you some insights into how it might help your serving biomechanics.
 

Queensryche

New User
Yea i've been studying the bio-mechanics of the serve for awhile now.

More information and reiteration is always welcome though ^^

The pronation and stuff happens naturally when i throw the racquet. The main thing that boggles me so much is the strength of the grip on the racquet.
(And of coz the non-hitting arm coming in which i will incorporate in my service conciously when i go out and practice again ^^ )

As mentioned , i find that with such a loose grip i am unable to hit though the ball at all lol. However when i grip the racquet tighter to increase pace and hitting though , my arm tends to hurt a little in the elbow region.

To put it shortly

- Is gripping the racquet tighter ( around 5 on a scale of 10) wrong ?
- Is the "light" feeling when i strike the ball with a loose grip/loose arm correct ?

The latter really feels like a push of the ball to me despite retaining everything of my normal service motion. It doesnt have that flat impact kind of feeling.

Hopefully that made my problems and qualms more specific.

However thanks again for the post on the non-dominant arm and the analogy ^^ .
 

ong1

New User
i've had problems with my serve too for a while now, but recently i've changed my grip on the handle, well not exactly changing it...but holding the handle right at the end where the heel of my palm is out of the handle. this really have improved my serve and i have gained alot of confidence.
believe it or not, im only 15
(176cm still growing rapidly) and my serve is way over 100mph...sometimes i can even ace my coach when practicing. try looking at nicole vaidisova's serve, its a smooth and relaxed motion, but it generates a lot of power because she is holding the handle at the end which acts like al leverage and thus when ur bringing up ur racquet at contact point, this generates a lot of power. try it, it does work. Shes my idol...wat a talented beautiful girl she is, i know cuz i've played her
 

Marius_Hancu

Talk Tennis Guru
ong1 said:
i've had problems with my serve too for a while now, but recently i've changed my grip on the handle, well not exactly changing it...but holding the handle right at the end where the heel of my palm is out of the handle. this really have improved my serve and i have gained alot of confidence.
believe it or not, im only 15
(176cm still growing rapidly) and my serve is way over 100mph...sometimes i can even ace my coach when practicing. try looking at nicole vaidisova's serve, its a smooth and relaxed motion, but it generates a lot of power because she is holding the handle at the end which acts like al leverage and thus when ur bringing up ur racquet at contact point, this generates a lot of power. try it, it does work. Shes my idol...wat a talented beautiful girl she is, i know cuz i've played her

good posting, but read the article above on
waterfall serving
the grip is only a part of the equation
 

ong1

New User
nicole also reminded me that in a serve, u should always bend ur knee's because the springing up motion is what gives the serve it's power, and of course the non-dominant hand tucking in helps a major as well.
she also told me that to play a consistent and powerful first serve u have to stay relaxed, don't think of losing or winning in a match and try not to think of the next point, since every point is diffferent from another. its all in that psychological mind, u have to stay relaxed in a match.
shes a hot girl, very hot...
 

ong1

New User
btw, is a 100mph or over fast for a 15 year old who has only played three years of tennis (i started at 13)? (note: they are accurate as well) u think i have the potential to become pro, my forehand and backhand are also strong on both sides, ripping them crosscourts...
cuz my serve is my biggest weapon, just like nicole vaidisova :p i do like her a lot.
 

Marius_Hancu

Talk Tennis Guru
ong1 said:
btw, is a 100mph or over fast for a 15 year old who has only played three years of tennis (i started at 13)? (note: they are accurate as well) u think i have the potential to become pro, my forehand and backhand are also strong on both sides, ripping them crosscourts...
cuz my serve is my biggest weapon, just like nicole vaidisova :p i do like her a lot.

get into some tournaments, OK? then we talk.
serve isn't everything.
 

Bungalo Bill

G.O.A.T.
Queensryche said:
Regarding the non-dominant arm tucking in.

Do i have to conciously force it in for the motion to become 2nd nature.

I think mine just flies off like a 1hbh to my sides.

I think i got the loose/arm shoulder down , my main issue lies with the actually gripping of the racquet. I seems when i keep the grip itself loose , i am physically unable to "hit though" the ball since the racquet feels so limp.

Is it suppose to feel like this BB ?? If so i'll keep at it till i get it down :)

You should consciously force it so it can become second nature. Especially if you want more acceleration. You will also get the feel of relaxing the shoulder of the hitting arm so you sort of feel like it is "letting go".

The breaking motion of the non-dominant arm will help improve your aim and your power.

On the grip, maybe you are holding it too loose. Haul it back in a little until you find that balance of pressure and relaxation.

But I beleive the braking mechanism the non-dominant arm provides will help you gain the feel of how loose your arm can and needs to be to propel it.

You can also practice the motion in your living room. The same is true for the forehand and pulling in the non-dominant arm. It is a little secret to many hitters.
 

Galactus

Banned
Queensryche

You problem is similar to that of my own - but a bit topsy-turvey: when I try and consciously 'arm' the ball, I find that my elbow takes the strain and the ball doesn't travel that quickly.
When I relax (and I relax my entire body: legs, torso, arm and to a smaller degree, my grip) I find that my entire body is behind the ball and it really does shoot.
The downsides to this: it very rarely happens during a service-game! (perhaps once or twice per game) and second, I can't seem to put any spin on this serve so it ends up being flat and easier to return.

My big problem is that I can't put any 'heaviness' on my first-serve....is that due to grip, racquet=head speed or follow-through???
 

Marius_Hancu

Talk Tennis Guru
Galactus said:
My big problem is that I can't put any 'heaviness' on my first-serve....is that due to grip, racquet=head speed or follow-through???

To me, that came with more pronation.
 

Midlife crisis

Hall of Fame
ong1 said:
nicole also reminded me that in a serve, u should always bend ur knee's because the springing up motion is what gives the serve it's power, and of course the non-dominant hand tucking in helps a major as well.

Springing up actually puts you in a mechanically inferior position to hit a serve, because you have nothing other than your body's inertia to brace against the forces of accelerating the racket. It has been well documented on this forum that some pro managed to hit a serve from their knees that was within three or four MPH of the speed they generated normally, so springing up doesn't help generating any ball speed. It does, however, give you a much taller position to hit the ball from, and that's probably the main benefit.
 

Queensryche

New User
Thank you all so much so the replies ^^

So i'll give the new info a shot.

Basically i need
- Tuck my left arm in
- Use a grip where i can just about hit though the ball
- keep a loose an relaxed arm and basically feel the upper section of my body catapult lol ? - covulated as that sounds :p

My main prob is with the grip strength and BB has just addressed it in 1 of the post ^^


Hmm regarding the service threads and videos Marius.
I've read just about all of them including BB's old article on the Wave Theory quite some time ago.
(I religiously come to these boards everyday for R & D :)

And ong1 , i already hold my racquet at the end of its handle with a portion of my palm passing the racquet ( kinda like banging the buttcap on a table , my heel of the hand will hit the table 1st before the buttcap) , not for leverage but i just feel its the most comfortable grip ^^

galactus , regading the "heaviness" which im pretty much obsessed about
( i am an advocate of slighty-slower HEAVY serves ala sampras rather than the bullet-type lighter services ala Roddick)
And is was one of my reason for making the topic was due to drop in pace of my service which made them lighter.

- Try imparting a tad bit of topspin to the service but really grind and hit though the ball on the service. I find when i hit through the ball it produces a much heavier service.

Anyway once again.

THANK YOU EVERYONE ^^
 

Galactus

Banned
Queensryche said:
Thank you all so much so the replies ^^
galactus , regading the "heaviness" which im pretty much obsessed about
( i am an advocate of slighty-slower HEAVY serves ala sampras rather than the bullet-type lighter services ala Roddick)
And is was one of my reason for making the topic was due to drop in pace of my service which made them lighter.

- Try imparting a tad bit of topspin to the service but really grind and hit though the ball on the service. I find when i hit through the ball it produces a much heavier service.
Me too....all-out speed seems to be easier for my opponents to return unless Ive placed ta right down the 'T' or out-wide and this is something that also needs tons of practice: placement).

You might have read in a thread I started about a guy I work with who used to play for the UK Junior squad back in the early 90s - he faced both Rusdeski and Sampras on grass courts for about 10 mins each. He remembers Rusdeski being distinctly quicker but Sampras' serves always pushing him back beyond the baseline due to the 'heaviness' caused by the spin and kick of the ball off the court.
 
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