Swinging up on the ball on serve - question

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by Power Player, Jan 3, 2012.

  1. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    I had some pronation issues on serve due to way too much baseball playing in which I threw sidearm (shortstop), then played lacrosse and shot with some of the same motion.

    This resulted in an unstable wrist on serve and made injury a lot easier. In working past this, I have been retraining myself to use a loose arm and whip through the ball. I find that part easy to grasp, but getting it consistent was tough.

    Anyway, I was working on hitting more of a kick serve..just hitting up on the ball and over it. What I started to notice was that this was allowing me to pronate through the ball properly and finish with the racquet butt end up pointed up. Once I got this part down, I started noticing that I was able to hit some rather big serves and was not just limited to kickers.

    The adjustment I made was visualizing the racquet face facing my back on the racquet drop and leading with the blade. Instead of thinking of chopping the ball in half with the blade, I thought about attacking the ball with the leading edge basically being the 3 o clock area on the racquet face. It is tough to describe, but basically how you would hit a kick serve. I was wiping up the back and through the ball instead of just brushing it with spin.

    My old motion consistent of my racquet coming at the ball with the edge leading, but the racquet was not laying across my back, but more straight behind me. This seemed to make it tough to control the swing up to contact and proper pronation.

    Not sure if this makes sense, but basically the amount of spin and pace plus consistency from this motion seems to really encourage a healthy "snap through" the ball and results in some serious heat and action. Started wondering if this type of service is how many servers hit a flatter ball that still can drop into the box with a lot of pace and accuracy.
     
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2012
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  2. maggmaster

    maggmaster Hall of Fame

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    That is how I hit my topspin serves, not flat though. For flat I use the same approach to the ball but release the wrist earlier and let it snap through the ball. I know you are supposed to hit up into the ball but I really try to get on top of it.
     
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  3. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    Exactly, that is what I am doing now for flats. It seems to allow really clean contact through the ball.

    I believe the approach to the ball was wrong for me and was not resulting in a snapping easy motion. As a result I was trying to correct everything with my wrist and that caused injury.
     
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  4. maggmaster

    maggmaster Hall of Fame

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    When my coach was correcting my serve, he had me serve a whole hopper from the service line. They had to go into the box with pace. It is harder than it sounds. When I moved back to the baseline I was really getting on top of the ball and my pace was much better. Every once in awhile when I am not getting the pop that I want, I go back to the service line. I am only 5' 8 and I don't think I am breaking 100 mph on my serve but still the increase is noticeable.
     
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  5. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    Yeah I am the same size and I am finding that getting a ton of rotation on your first serve is key to getting that heavy pace and dropping action the ball.

    I had a few balls that bounced high and hard enough to have cracked 100, but the consistent pace comes with time.

    Nice to see what I have been working on is actually proper technique. It is very hard to find coaching that can help me with the swing to contact aspect so I had to figure this out with practice.
     
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  6. HunterST

    HunterST Hall of Fame

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    Hmm a lot of times these "feel" epiphanies don't end up bringing lasting change.
     
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  7. maggmaster

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    That is interesting, I have found that as long as I continue to practice the form and rework the drill sequence I can maintain the change.
     
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  8. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    It's not a feel epiphanie, it is a change in technique.
     
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  9. DavaiMarat

    DavaiMarat Professional

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    This would be much easier to visualize with a video power player.

    I've had a few epiphanies of my own in recent years about my serve.
    Yes, there's a very good Jim Mclennan video that describes the sensation you are describing. It's the throwing pronation of the forearm where your palm ends up facing away from you. This allows more for more action and power on the serve and is the natural way to finish. Most rec players believe a slice serve you are suppose to carve around the outside of the ball so they scoop around it, even a slice serve should have the same pronation as a kick but just hit a different part of the ball.

    Another good tip power is letting Slam dunking the serve. What I mean by this is, do you remember seeing Pete in his classic overhead pose? His forearm and hand remained high when his wrist snapped down. This deceleration of the forearm and acceleration of the wrist allowed him to hit his GOAT serve. Try to keep the forearm as high as possible in the serve and let the wrist come through and just watch the results.
     
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  10. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    yep..exactly, and that is what this motion encourages. I was still sometimes doing the "carve outside of ball" thing which is similar to throwing sidearm, and I needed to fix it.

    Basically if you drop your racquet back you want to swing up so the racquet face is coming across your back and then up behind then through the ball on contact. The finish is as you describe.

    Before I was swinging up so the racquet blade was not behind my back but dropped directly behind my serving arm. It is basically like making a fist and turning your hand so the side (curled fingers and thumb) face you...hat was the angle of my wrist on my old racquet drop.

    The new one would show you the back of my hand instead. And the path comes from behind my back more as well.

    It just was one of those things I had to fix because when I properly snap my serve down and am hitting my spots, I am a very good server, and I had to recapture that feel.
     
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  11. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter G.O.A.T.

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    It does make sense. If you want to maximize your pronation, you have to first suppinate the forearm which will tend to cause the hitting face of the racquet to face your back in the racquet drop rather than the trailing edge of the racquet to face your back. That is a lesson Dennis Van Der Meer taught in World Tennis Magazine probably 40 years ago.
     
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  12. user92626

    user92626 Legend

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    For me the swing path and where/how to hit the ball is the easy part. The hardest part always seems to be how to put in great power. This would take a certain body coordination and flexibility degree, and perform the motion really really fast/hard.
     
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  13. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    It's the little things like that that I needed to fix too. Makes it very tough until you figure it out..then you have to groove it. Serving is really an art form. I learn most things very quickly, but serving has always been tough because of years of playing multiple sports, developing a curveball in baseball and playing lacrosse.

    But now when I do the proper racquet drop, I am snapping through the ball pain free and the free power is pretty surprising. I used to work a lot harder for that power because I was not loose and not swinging to contact properly.
     
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  14. HunterST

    HunterST Hall of Fame

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    I've got to disagree with the emphasis that is being put on minutia like supinating prior to pronating and finishing with your arm like Pete Sampras'. People who have trouble with the serve have much more fundamental problems. It sounds like the OP was not pronating on his kick serve, which is a fundamental, and he fixed it. That's a good change. Trying to implement more supination and sampras like motions is going to be harmful, in my opinion.
     
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  15. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    Man you are wrong. I have always pronated, but there are many easy ways to over pronate or not do the motion proprerly. My coach in juniors never taught me any of this stuff.

    This is not really a small thing..it is a very big part of hitting a big serve with a lot of action and pace on the ball. It is not minutia.

    I never was not pronating on a kick serve. I actually was doing that properly, and attached that swing path concept to my flatter first serve which i was overpronating on. That is what this about. Sampras is a very good example to use because he hit extremely huge flat serves that were still loaded with a lot of topspin.
     
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  16. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter G.O.A.T.

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    But, it's not minutia, and the topic is PP's serve, not generic people who have trouble with their serve. PP made a discovery that is working for him and he's sharing it with the rest of us. I don't see how you can disagree with that.
     
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  17. HunterST

    HunterST Hall of Fame

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    I guess I'd need a video to understand what you're talking about. You said you used to carve around the ball which, to me, meant not pronating.

    Well people are giving him advice without seeing his serve, so it can't be too specific to him. I just think anytime we start trying consciously to do something like supinate prior to pronating we're setting ourselves up for trouble. And the sampras thing is minutia because the vast majority of elite servers do not end in that position. That means it is not fundamental to a strong serve. People need to focus on the elements that are crucial to a strong serve, not the specific characteristics of one great server.
     
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  18. Power Player

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    The point is not to consciously pronate, it is just grooving in a proper swingpath for a high powered, heavy serve.
     
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  19. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter G.O.A.T.

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    I don't agree with you. Two of the best servers in the history of tennis, Sampras and Gonzales, employed extreme pronation and had their butt cap facing the ball after contact. Here's a video with a good view of Gonzales' serve beginning at about :25 seconds. If you stop it at just the right moment (it may take a few tries), you'll see the severe pronation and wrist release Gonzales used on his serve. It is really quite remarkable. Perhaps someone knows how to capture a video still of this position and post it here. In fact, I would recommend that you take the time to stop the video at several points and study Gonzales' serve to see what made it so great.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l2rydnvswts

    PS: I don't know if this will work, but, here is the video starting in the position I'm talking about: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=l2rydnvswts#t=26s

    PPS: It didn't work. Sorry.
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2012
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  20. HunterST

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    Well their serves are obviously great and would serve as a good model. However, you have to consider that there are a ton of pros who don't have that motion and STILL have world class serves. My point is, amateur players need to focus on the the things that EVERY pro does and not get caught up trying to copy the differences.
     
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  21. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    Ill be honest hunter, I don't really care what you think I need to focus on. I have been playing a long time and know the aspects of my game I need to fix. I still do not think you really understand what I have been saying either, so this back and forth is basically clutter.

    Anyone else who is having similar issues may find this thread to be a help to them.
     
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  22. HunterST

    HunterST Hall of Fame

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    Okay, but, shockingly, this forum is not all about you. I didn't make my post for you, I made it for the people you mentioned who are having trouble with their serve and read this thread. When struggling servers read this and and start trying to add idiosyncrasies like supination or the Sampras finish, they're going to be much worse off.

    You're right. I'm still unclear on what you're describing, but it doesn't matter because I'm talking about serve improvement strategies in general, not your specific case.
     
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  23. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter G.O.A.T.

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    I still don't agree. IMO, everyone who seeks to be the best player they can be should seek to develop the most effective technique they can. For example, I would prefer to emulate Sampras' serve and have something less, than emulate Federer's serve and have something less. Fed has a great serve, but, not as great as Sampras'. Why would I seek to emulate the lesser serve? That doesn't make sense.
     
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  24. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter G.O.A.T.

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    It seems that Hunter is imputing his personal goals, based on self imposed limitations, to you.
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2012
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  25. Power Player

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    I don't even know why you jumped in this thread. To say someone will be "much worse off" from my advice is ridiculous. So yes, this thread is mine, and it is about me actually.

    It actually does matter that you have some point of reference of what I am talking about before discarding my advice.

    If you want to talk about serve improvements, go make your own thread. Don't hop into mine, start criticizing the info and then admit you don't even know what I'm talking about. You are not the Tennis Tips Mod, no one needs you to clarify to them if info is going to be good or bad. You have a lot of nerve for a guy who has no idea what the thread is even about.
     
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  26. bad_call

    bad_call Legend

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    #26
  27. HunterST

    HunterST Hall of Fame

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    Wow, I thought you would be able to discuss technique and instruction without resorting to personal attacks. Guess I was wrong.

    It's perfectly within my right to question any idea on any thread, no matter who started it. That's the whole point of this board. To discuss tips and instruction. I don't think it's a good idea to focus on small issues that are not common to all great servers. I did it respectfully, and I'm allowed to do so. You're the one taking this to a more personal level.
     
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  28. HunterST

    HunterST Hall of Fame

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    Do you have some weird obsession? that's like the third time you've followed me around and posted that link. I'll wager my serve is on par with yours or PP or LH. That thread is from quite a while ago and I've improved significantly. I have a couple of videos I'll be happy to upload if any of you would like to compare.
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2012
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  29. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    Your serve is as good as BC's? Where do we place our bets right now? LOL.

    I'd love to see this guy play, he sure seems to want to run the place. You came into the thread, failed all over it, and now are challenging us to play a match? Bring it!!!
     
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  30. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    funny to read that thread, and then read this one..lol. seems like the advice I posted actually could help the poor guy out...too bad he took down his vid...sounded bad though.
     
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  31. HunterST

    HunterST Hall of Fame

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    You need to calm down. I never made a personal attack on you or "failed all over" the thread. You ask any qualified coach if players should focus on supination in the backswing and a Sampras finish and they'll tell you no. The only time I offered to show a video was when people started saying "he doesn't agree cuz he sucks!!"
     
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  32. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    Actually you need to top telling people what to do. That is what got you here in the first place. This whole thread is loaded with you telling people how to post or what to do.

    I actually had an ex WTA pro coach me on a slice serve and focused a lot on correcting overpronation..so you are wrong that a "qualified coach" will not focus on specifics.

    Have you ever had a coach before?
     
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  33. bad_call

    bad_call Legend

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    nothing personal...just reality check. :) feel free to post your improved serve. might look better than mine.
     
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  34. HunterST

    HunterST Hall of Fame

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    Go back and read the thread. All I said was that I disagreed that player should focus on copying every detail of a particular server. I didn't tell anyone what to do or try to belittle anyone. I just expressed my opinion. It seemed that you thought I was saying your advice was bad or that it would never work which wasn't the case.

    I assumed you made the thread as advice for people having difficulty with the serve. You weren't, from what I saw, asking for help, so I wasn't trying to help you. I'm sure you don't need my help. However, if the serve WAS for people needing help, I wanted to include my opinion that people often focus on small details when there are still larger problems at work. I really didn't think you guys would take such offense.

    Now, I did try to discourage people from making disrespectful comments towards me, and I don't regret that.
     
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  35. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    No I made this thread to discuss small details I am working on with people who understand them. You jumped in without clearly grasping what I am talking about and decided to tell people not to focus on "minutia".

    I was mainly looking for insight and opinion from experienced players and coaches. IE : not yourself. Nothing personal, but I am not in this area of the forum looking for HunterST posts.
     
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  36. HunterST

    HunterST Hall of Fame

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    I'll make another thread with the two videos (just one serve per vid with slow-mo). I'm a little hesitant because it seems like some may view it hypercritically out of anger. I have no idea how my serve would look compared to yours, but I'm confident it's better than you guys are imagining.
     
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  37. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    Bc is a very solid 4.5 player. A lot of us TTers get together and hit when we can. Your nemesis Dozu came down and hit with us as well.
     
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  38. HunterST

    HunterST Hall of Fame

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    Alright, I can kind of understand your frustration then. You were looking for feedback from good coaches on your discovery and then I turned the conversation to something else.

    Again, I viewed it as you guys posting advice for other players and just imagined people without good technique trying to think about supinating on their backswing. I wasn't trying to be a jerk or derail the thing.

    I did assist with lessons for 5-10 year olds if that impresses you.
     
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  39. HunterST

    HunterST Hall of Fame

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    So that's why you have all turned against me.
     
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  40. bad_call

    bad_call Legend

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    not imagining anything about how your serve looks today. players improve and that's icing on the cake. i look so different in vids than how i think (not 30 yrs old anymore). so for me it's about putting the ball where i'll receive the least pain. :) (from the opponent)
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2012
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  41. bad_call

    bad_call Legend

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    not me...you can buy me an IPA beer if it makes you feel better. :)
     
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  42. bhupaes

    bhupaes Professional

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    I believe I supinate the same way at the racquet drop as PP has described, especially for topspin/kick serves - with the racquet face parallel to my back. Something about this wrist position seems to take better advantage of upper rotation for spin production by directing the racquet head upwards. For a flat or slice serve, with the racquet edge facing the back (at least, that's how it feels to me), upper arm rotation contributes more towards moving the racquet head in the forward direction. I use both methods for serving... depending on the day, one or the other works better. :)
     
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  43. goeblack

    goeblack Rookie

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    I had to read quite a bit of useless stuff to get here BUT!!!!!!
    The OP has helped me very, very much.

    I too had a long career as a baseball pitcher. As the years went by I found I had two different curve balls that were more affective when thrown a little more sidearm. Then, so as not to telegraph my fast ball I began to throw it with the same sidearm motion. I lost some speed but at least it was the same motion.

    I went and hit serves today, after carefully reading the description from the OP. Yes it was a huge breakthrough for me. A more overhand racket path with natural pronation. I especially benefited from the part about hitting with the blade while hitting down and through. There was almost no effort and the ball were sticking in the back fence higher than ever.

    So, I had a bit of a quirk in my serve that I may never have discovered except for this thread.

    Thank you for the most beneficial tip I have ever received anywhere anytime!!!!!!!!!!!!
     
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  44. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    Glad I could help, thats awesome!
     
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  45. goeblack

    goeblack Rookie

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    Look folks, this tip is worthy of reading. I do not know Power Player. I have no reason to rave about this tip except that is has proven dramatically beneficial for me.

    So, I can not get this off my mind. Scared to death it will slip away like many other things I have tried along the way. So, I go out and revert back to my old swing path. On purpose, just to see what is really going on here. The amazing thing I found is that the old motion requires a vastly more amount of energy. But the old motion has no power compared to this.

    The bottom line for me is that I find I was pronating way to early. For me, because I must have had a distorted vision of what I am really doing. In my effort to pronate for power, I was half way pronated before I needed to be.

    So, not everyone may being doing this but I would venture to guess there are quite a few that are. If anyone finds they are trying harder and harder for power with no real results, go back to the beginning of this thread and pay close attention.
     
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  46. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter G.O.A.T.

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    What personal attack? It was a polite way of saying that you are hijacking PP's thread.
     
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  47. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter G.O.A.T.

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    Dozu came to Orlando? That's a long way for a hit.
     
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  48. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter G.O.A.T.

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    Just because Hunter is paranoid doesn't mean we're NOT out to get him.
     
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  49. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter G.O.A.T.

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    In that case, perhaps some monetary remuneration is in order! ;)
     
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  50. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    Yeah he came to Orlando a year ago. I believe he was on vacation. Very consistent player. We all just hit around, nothing too intense.

    goeblack, it sounds like we had the same issue. I believe it stems from baseball possibly..but I was told I was overpronating by a pro before, and I could not fix it. So this has helped me a lot. And yes, far less effort now..it is a very loose motion and you just snap through to finish.
     
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