Three months later, any progression on my serve (videos)?

Pctopcool

Rookie
Three months ago, I posted a video on this forum, seeking advice on my serve (link). I got tons of great tips as well as well as kind words that helped and motivated me to work on that. I want to first say thank you to everyone who has helped me!

Since then, I have been practicing serve regularly, trying to implement the suggestions I got here. Three months later, I guess it's a good time to check back with you, and see if I'm in a correct direction.

This is my serve now (2018/08/18)


I do see some progression, especially in the speed of the serve (could be the balls are fresher ;)). However, there are still many known issues remain, such as racquet face being too open during back swing, the tossing arm is bending in trophy pose, the tossing arm not tucked away when hitting the ball and so on. Among these issues, the one bothers me the most, is that I tend to open up the racquet face (pronate?) too early, which makes the serve more like a pushing motion. I actually do better in shadow swings, but always go back whenever the ball is involved. I'm wondering if you can share some tips on how to correct this. Please also shed some light on other issues that you noticed. Your advice will be really appreciated!


BTW, as a comparison, this was how my serve looked like three months ago (2018/05/19)


Many thanks
Mike
 

rrortiz5

Rookie
I gotta say all the essentials are there and it is progressing nicely. Good work man! In all honestly I really would worry less about the intracacies if timing and hips/legs/shoulders and work more on your comfort in the throwing motion. Loose arm helps a lot and I know people don’t like when it’s mentioned but I think throwing a baseball helps a ton. Nevertheless great work and keep doing what you’re doing.
 

S&V-not_dead_yet

Talk Tennis Guru
@Pctopcool

- Toss: do you have any accuracy issues? If so, you might try keeping your tossing arm more in front of you vs to the side
- You bring down your tossing arm too soon
- You have a mostly level shoulder tilt [check out the high-level servers: they are at a much steeper angle]
- I noticed the early pronation also
- You have good rotation and leg drive
- How is your shoulder flexibility? Your shoulder motion looks a little bit constrained
- Your swing path [racquet moving out to the right, almost parallel to the BL] was more akin to a 2nd serve spin than a 1st serve flat. What was your intent?

I'm working on more or less the same things. I think you're definitely on the right path.
 

Keendog

Professional
What do you feel you are doing better now?

They look pretty much the same to me. The only thing I can really notice is 3 months ago your body weight fell to the left, now it still does but less so. In both the toss was way over your head to the left of screen. I suggest either bending knees more to lean back or shifting the toss to your right a bit.

One tip that resonated with me was "don't throw the ball up and try to hit it, instead throw the ball into your swing". I.e. Do some shadow swings, see where your racquet wants to go, look at that spot and toss the ball into it. Then let the magic happen.
 

Dragy

Legend
- Your swing path [racquet moving out to the right, almost parallel to the BL] was more akin to a 2nd serve spin than a 1st serve flat. What was your intent?
How you see this? As for me, he's 100% straight forward. Nowhere close to proper in-to-out swingpath for heavy-spin serve. Even more outstanding for me, not enough upward swing - deliberate forward swing/push.
@Pctopcool, I second @rrortiz5 and suggest that you concentrate on throwing motion. You should trust your upward-outward "throw" swing. Throw the racquet edge-on towards the ball. Do not try to flatten out the contact - get a slicy contact first, it's basic and comes more natural. Make proper swing and good contact your primary concern - the ball flight will take care of itself, maybe after some latter minor adjustments with body alignment and toss location. Once you get the basic top/slice serve down with up-and-accross swing, it's much easier to develop both flatter stroke and spinnier 2nd-serve, get more leg drive involved, etc.
 

Pctopcool

Rookie
I gotta say all the essentials are there and it is progressing nicely. Good work man! In all honestly I really would worry less about the intracacies if timing and hips/legs/shoulders and work more on your comfort in the throwing motion. Loose arm helps a lot and I know people don’t like when it’s mentioned but I think throwing a baseball helps a ton. Nevertheless great work and keep doing what you’re doing.
Thanks a lot for the advice! I'll definitely think about the throwing motion. I do believe the two have many similarities.


@Pctopcool

- Toss: do you have any accuracy issues? If so, you might try keeping your tossing arm more in front of you vs to the side
- You bring down your tossing arm too soon
- You have a mostly level shoulder tilt [check out the high-level servers: they are at a much steeper angle]
- I noticed the early pronation also
- You have good rotation and leg drive
- How is your shoulder flexibility? Your shoulder motion looks a little bit constrained
- Your swing path [racquet moving out to the right, almost parallel to the BL] was more akin to a 2nd serve spin than a 1st serve flat. What was your intent?

I'm working on more or less the same things. I think you're definitely on the right path.
Thanks for the advice! I guess you are spot on about my tossing arm issues (accuracy, bring it down too soon and shoulder tilt), which I will work on the next. And as you noticed, my flexibility is really poor for my age. I've been trying to improve it, but haven't made any substantial progress. Guess this is more genetic, or age related. Also I was trying to do a flat serve in the video. I'm a little confused by your comment about 2nd serve swing path. I will be smiling even during sleep, if I'm able to do a good 2nd serve swing.


What do you feel you are doing better now?

They look pretty much the same to me. The only thing I can really notice is 3 months ago your body weight fell to the left, now it still does but less so. In both the toss was way over your head to the left of screen. I suggest either bending knees more to lean back or shifting the toss to your right a bit.

One tip that resonated with me was "don't throw the ball up and try to hit it, instead throw the ball into your swing". I.e. Do some shadow swings, see where your racquet wants to go, look at that spot and toss the ball into it. Then let the magic happen.
Thanks for the comment!

I have to admit that these two videos do look quite similar. The main difference I felt is my grip and arm are looser in the second video, which helps me to generate much more power (finally, the ball hits the back fence w/ one bounce). But overall, as you said, I'm still making similar mistakes as before. That's why I want to check back to see if I'm on a right track.

I like your tips about tossing into swing. Really a new way to think about it. Will definitely give it a try!
 

Chas Tennis

G.O.A.T.
I posted in your earlier thread. Still a Waiter's Tray.

The problem is not simply 'opening up early'; the problem is that you don't have the motion of internal shoulder rotation in your service motion. This serving technique is very common and the majority of active tennis players have a Waiter's Tray technique. You need to study this issue and learn to evaluate it in your videos.

You should find a well qualified instructor for learning the serve.

internal shoulder rotation is the rotation of the upper arm bone at the shoulder joint. (between the shoulder joint and the elbow).

If the upper arm is too high relative to the shoulder the risk of shoulder impingement and injury increases. I've posted on this issue many times. Search: impingement Ellenbecker Chas
 
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Keendog

Professional
To Chas' point it may be worth videoing your shadow swings and then hitting a serve to see if you do the same motion on both. In fact throw a tennis ball, shadow swing, and then serve consecutively in one video to see how different the motions are.

Ideally they should be the same but mentally once there's a ball there we want to push at it and stiffen our arm subconciously to control it. It's like when you are teeing off in golf, your practice swings are nice and smooth, then when you go to hit the ball you try and really club it and it bounces 4m in front of you embarrassingly. It could be a mental hurdle you need to overcome. Alternatively if your shadow swings are no good then you just don't have the feel for the right motion.
 

5263

G.O.A.T.
Three months ago, I posted a video on this forum, seeking advice on my serve (link). I got tons of great tips as well as well as kind words that helped and motivated me to work on that. I want to first say thank you to everyone who has helped me!

Since then, I have been practicing serve regularly, trying to implement the suggestions I got here. Three months later, I guess it's a good time to check back with you, and see if I'm in a correct direction.

This is my serve now (2018/08/18)


I do see some progression, especially in the speed of the serve (could be the balls are fresher ;)). However, there are still many known issues remain, such as racquet face being too open during back swing, the tossing arm is bending in trophy pose, the tossing arm not tucked away when hitting the ball and so on. Among these issues, the one bothers me the most, is that I tend to open up the racquet face (pronate?) too early, which makes the serve more like a pushing motion. I actually do better in shadow swings, but always go back whenever the ball is involved. I'm wondering if you can share some tips on how to correct this. Please also shed some light on other issues that you noticed. Your advice will be really appreciated!


BTW, as a comparison, this was how my serve looked like three months ago (2018/05/19)


Many thanks
Mike
good improvement, but I saw a couple things. You have a bend in the elbow at contact due to low toss (maybe?) and the wrist is wrong, putting the racket too vertical at contact.....on your launch upward (which is actually sort of good!) your arm start up to the ball early, maybe also due to low toss.
 

S&V-not_dead_yet

Talk Tennis Guru
Also I was trying to do a flat serve in the video. I'm a little confused by your comment about 2nd serve swing path. I will be smiling even during sleep, if I'm able to do a good 2nd serve swing.
Adding @Dragy

When I looked at the frame just after contact, the racquet was moving to the right, not towards the target. That's why I thought you might be trying a 2nd serve.
 

user92626

G.O.A.T.
OP,

Listen to @Chas Tennis . He's right on about your lack of ISR as the problem for "opening up early"

I'm practically having the same issue. It's extremely difficult to change. The weird thing is...even without ISR my serve is still relatively powerful. I think you're thinking the same, but wanting to get the form right.

Anyway, I believe the ISR motion is the same motion of arm wrestling. You'll need that to pound your serve. Good luck.
 

Pctopcool

Rookie
I posted in your earlier thread. Still a Waiter's Tray.

The problem is not simply 'opening up early'; the problem is that you don't have the motion of internal shoulder rotation in your service motion. This serving technique is very common and the majority of active tennis players have a Waiter's Tray technique. You need to study this issue and learn to evaluate it in your videos.

You should find a well qualified instructor for learning the serve.

internal shoulder rotation is the rotation of the upper arm bone at the shoulder joint. (between the shoulder joint and the elbow).

If the upper arm is too high relative to the shoulder the risk of shoulder impingement and injury increases. I've posted on this issue many times. Search: impingement Ellenbecker Chas
Thanks for the suggestion. I'll do some reading about internal shoulder rotation, and implement that in my serve.


To Chas' point it may be worth videoing your shadow swings and then hitting a serve to see if you do the same motion on both. In fact throw a tennis ball, shadow swing, and then serve consecutively in one video to see how different the motions are.

Ideally they should be the same but mentally once there's a ball there we want to push at it and stiffen our arm subconciously to control it. It's like when you are teeing off in golf, your practice swings are nice and smooth, then when you go to hit the ball you try and really club it and it bounces 4m in front of you embarrassingly. It could be a mental hurdle you need to overcome. Alternatively if your shadow swings are no good then you just don't have the feel for the right motion.
Thanks a lot! Among tens of hours of video of my practice, I could find a single shadow swing! Will do the shadow swing and real serve drill as you mentioned.


good improvement, but I saw a couple things. You have a bend in the elbow at contact due to low toss (maybe?) and the wrist is wrong, putting the racket too vertical at contact.....on your launch upward (which is actually sort of good!) your arm start up to the ball early, maybe also due to low toss.
I share similar conclusion as yours that my toss may be too low, which causes several issues as you mentioned. Guess my current problem with tossing height is the rhythm. My entire motion is programmed for fast rhythm. Changing that appears to be difficult. But I'll work on it.
Thanks a lot!


Adding @Dragy

When I looked at the frame just after contact, the racquet was moving to the right, not towards the target. That's why I thought you might be trying a 2nd serve.
Now I see you were referring to. I actually didn't realize that until you pointed out. It's definitely not intentional. Will try to figure out why I did this. Thanks for the comment!


OP,

Listen to @Chas Tennis . He's right on about your lack of ISR as the problem for "opening up early"

I'm practically having the same issue. It's extremely difficult to change. The weird thing is...even without ISR my serve is still relatively powerful. I think you're thinking the same, but wanting to get the form right.

Anyway, I believe the ISR motion is the same motion of arm wrestling. You'll need that to pound your serve. Good luck.
I would be really happy if I can have a powerful serve, even it still looks bad. But it probably won't happen based on my natural fitness ;).
Thanks for your comment!
 
Looking good, keep practicing and it will slowly come together. It looks like you are pulling your arm down as opposed to swinging up. I'd take some time off court with no ball and get your shadow swing right. With no ball, you'll notice how fast you can swing and whip the racket, it'll feel effortless. The trick is to retain this exact same feeling of effortless whipping when you use a ball, however that's the hard part and takes a while to learn.

One way you can make this easier is by using a foam ball, which has almost no impact feeling when you hit it because it's so light. You'll find you won't be "afraid" to whip at it because you're not bracing for impact, and not worried about the outcome because you won't be on a court - you'll just be hitting a ball.

Also watch how the pros warm up their serve, you can try to simplify and slow down your stroke as if in warmup. Then slowly start upping the speed when your contact is feeling good.
 
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