VIDEO: Novak Djokovic's Serving Drill with Todd Martin

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by scotus, Mar 22, 2010.

  1. scotus

    scotus Legend

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  2. supineAnimation

    supineAnimation Hall of Fame

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    This is a pretty old and oft-used drill. Coaches use it a lot to eliminate non-helpful leg and lower body habits and also to help players get the feel of swinging up at the ball because you'll never get it over the net from your knees without swinging up and hitting the bottom of the ball. Unless you're Karlovic or Isner and you're still 5'9" on your knees.
     
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  3. Ivan Lendl's Backhand

    Ivan Lendl's Backhand Banned

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    What is the point of that drill? Seems like a gimmick. It's not as if he's going to be hitting that shallow a trajectory during a game. And it's not like he's a beginner learning the serve....
     
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  4. spacediver

    spacediver Hall of Fame

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    you make it sound as if you're supposed to impart energy upwards at the ball. If this were the case, then flat serves would have a loopy parabolic trajectory and would not be able to hit at more than 10-20mph or so without going long.
     
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  5. RunningBeagle

    RunningBeagle New User

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    I think that what you try to visualize yourself doing, versus what actually happens physically at contact, are different things. Forcing someone to swing up at the ball to get it to go over the net does not necessarily translate to imparting upward force on the ball during a flat serve, although the mentality may be the same.

    But I'm not sure that's the point of this drill. I will say that in person, Djokovic has very smooth skin.
     
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  6. supineAnimation

    supineAnimation Hall of Fame

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    Make no mistake: the flat serves the pros hit have significant spin, even Karlovic's. And you always swing up. For a flat serve down the T you often pronate more severely to "cover" the ball more, but you still swing up at the toss.
     
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  7. spacediver

    spacediver Hall of Fame

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    Here's a post from another thread, regarding this issue. How off base am I with these comments?


    I think there is some confusion about what it means to hit upwards. I'm still trying to put this together in my head so this is just my own musings...

    Let's take flat serve - obviously the racquet head is not imparting energy upwards on the ball - rather it is aiming it directly at the target (slightly above if we allow the effects of gravity/air friction). It's not as if you're actually hitting the ball upwards and then allowing a parabolic trajectory to bring it down back to earth - that's simply nonsense, and it's unfortunate that people tend to phrase it in this way when explaining how to hit upwards.

    It's your body that is directing its energy upwards. My understanding is that this upward linear component of momentum gets transfered to the racquet and the racquet then has an angular component of momentum due to the fulcrum created by the wrist.

    If you actually look at the direction that the hand is traveling at the moment of impact, it certainly isn't upwards.
     
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  8. supineAnimation

    supineAnimation Hall of Fame

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    I think you and/or whoever this quote is from may be confusing the fact that the racquet and even the wrist travel downwards after the apex of the snap on every serve, albeit to varying degrees depending on the serve. But the shoulder, elbow, wrist, and racquet are always thrown upward before pronation turns them downwards after the apex.
     
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  9. RunningBeagle

    RunningBeagle New User

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    What's the point of worrying about the minutae here? What you tell yourself to do to help achieve the results you want and what actually happens in a real, physical sense are very rarely the same thing.
     
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  10. spacediver

    spacediver Hall of Fame

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    Yes I understand this. But I've noticed many people who explain upward throwing mechanics make a serious error, and you seem to have made it yourself:

    Yes, the racquet is quite literally thrown upwards.

    No, this does not mean that the vector of energy imparted towards the ball is in an upwards direction.

    Yet, people who explain the upward mechanics motion imply that the vector is actually imparted upwards, and that it is gravity that brings it down. This is absolute nonsense, and confuses the issue!

    I agree that telling people to direct their energy upwards is important and useful, but when you throw in the following false statement:

    "and because you direct your energy upwards, the ball is actually hit in an upward direction, and it is gravity that brings it down"

    will only confuse people, and give them a wholly inaccurate model of what is actually happening.

    Better to say:


    "Direct your energy upwards. Throw the racquet up at the ball. Don't worry about the ball being hit towards the sky - it won't. Because of some cool wrist mechanics that you don't need to worry about, the racquet will actually hit the ball at a downward angle"


    But to say that the ball is actually being hit into the freaking sky and then drops down like a stone is ridiculous.
     
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  11. supineAnimation

    supineAnimation Hall of Fame

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    No, I meant what I wrote. You still swing upwards and you don't hit the top of the ball with the strings to hit the ball down into the court. You hit the back and a small portion of the bottom of the ball and the pronation drives the strings over the ball and to the right to impart the necessary spin and trajectory. But you cannot hit the bottom of the ball without swinging up.

    I don't know anyone who knows what they're talking about that would suggest that you rely on gravity (beyond that fact that we and the ball are always affected by gravity here on earth) to bring the ball down into the court. Maybe for pancake or granny serves, but nearly all serves have some degree of topspin on them and in order to produce that topspin you need to hit the ball from low to high on the serve, and that is why you need to swing upward and hit the bottom or at least the lower back side of the ball.
     
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  12. spacediver

    spacediver Hall of Fame

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    perhaps I misunderstood you - if that's the case I apologize for my strong words :p

    I'm still not convinced though:



    By pronation, you are referring to actual pronation of the wrist, and not flexion of the wrist, right? I can see how wrist flexion allows the racquet face to "cover over" the ball and help guide it downwards, but am having difficulty seeing how pronation could achieve the same thing.


    Notice the pronation at the 9 second mark in this video:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8xbC31AQqSg&NR=1

    Its primary function seems to be to impart more energy at the moment of impact (which by the way is directing energy at the ball downwards).
     
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  13. supineAnimation

    supineAnimation Hall of Fame

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    While pronation, which involves the elbow and forearm, can be used to hit the ball downward on a short overhead, you are too far from the net to hit the ball downward on the serve and still get it to clear the net and land in the service box with any acceptable margin. So while pronation drives the strings over the ball, the strings contact the ball at the bottom, or at least the lower back, of the ball before brushing up and over the ball to produce the necessary spin to get the ball over the net consistently and down into the box. But you swing upward and the energy of the swing is largely upward and you snap upward at the ball, even on flat serves. On the flat serve the pronation of the arm will cause the strings to cover the ball more than on a slice or kicker, but the strings contact the ball and travel upwards over the ball.
     
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  14. spacediver

    spacediver Hall of Fame

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    Are you implying that the moment the ball leaves contact with the racquet during a (relatively flat) serve, the trajectory of the ball starts out at an upward angle?

    and i'm still confused about how pronation allows racquet to brush over ball. I can understand how wrist flexion would achieve that, but not pronation.
     
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  15. supineAnimation

    supineAnimation Hall of Fame

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    The strings don't contact the ball at a single tangent, right? The strings contact the ball, the strings pocket the ball, the ball compresses, and as these two actions occur the strings are in motion because the racquet is moving, right? So the strings brush up and over the ball as the ball remains in contact with the strings. Does that make sense? The wrist flexes to a small degree, it abducts and the forearm rotates (towards the thumb). It is this action that allows the strings to brush up and to the right and over the ball.
     
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  16. spacediver

    spacediver Hall of Fame

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    Right - the collision is an extended and complex one.

    I just find it hard to believe that initial impulse is directed from below the midline of the tennis ball, and in those few milliseconds of pocketing and brushing, the impulse is then directed from above the midline.
     
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  17. supineAnimation

    supineAnimation Hall of Fame

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    It does, though. In those few milliseconds the strings brush as a result of a combination of both the movement of the racquet in the swing and the rotation of the racquet-head over the ball as a result of pronation. A guy named John Yandell has done some amazing research about these kinds of issues and you can read a brief explanation from him about how the flat serve is anything but flat and necessitates both topspin and side-spin: http://advancedtennis.com/findings/findservespin.htm
     
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  18. spacediver

    spacediver Hall of Fame

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    I have no doubt that due to the fact that the collision isn't instantaneous + the fact that the racquet head is moving/rotating during this collision that there inevitably be a significant component of spin on the ball and that a flat service is a thing of platonic ideals (even if you're 7 foot tall).

    What I have a hard time believing is that during this very small window of time, the vector of impulse energy can undergo such a massive change in direction.

    You seem to be saying the following:

    If we were to magically make the racquet disappear from existence 1 nanosecond after the moment of impact, the ball would fly at an angle above the horizontal.
     
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  19. supineAnimation

    supineAnimation Hall of Fame

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    Yes, I believe it would.

    Like I said, it's not just a single factor that imparts the topspin and side-spin. The rotation of the racquet-face alone, because it's a rotation rather than a movement, results in the strings moving over the ball a relatively-great distance (in terms of the amount of the ball's surface area) very quickly.

    Think of a line that rotates from its bottom pole. The line rotates 180° from flat left to flat right, but if you imagine the line pointing straight up at 90° and it rotates only a small amount, let's say 5°, from 87.5° to 92.5°, the amount of distance traveled by the tip of the line in those 5° is comparatively large. So you can see why just the rotation of the strings resulting from just the racquet-face turning as the forearm pronates (and that pronation is significantly more than 5°), even without the movement of the strings resulting from the swing, results in the strings covering a significant distance across the surface of the ball in a very short timespan.
     
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  20. spacediver

    spacediver Hall of Fame

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    perhaps my intuitions do not capture the reality of the situation.

    But I'll play along:

    Let's suppose the angle of the racquet face (with respect to ball) changes by 15 degrees.

    I've read that a ballpark figure for duration of impact of tennis ball on strings is about 5 milliseconds.

    That means that the racquet has to rotate 15 degrees in 5 milliseconds.

    that's equivalent to a rotational speed of one full 360 rotation of the racquet in 120 ms.

    Which would mean about 8 rotations a second (and that's about an origin at the hand, not the centre of the racquet).


    hmm that actually seems reasonable now that I think about it.

    let's see... assuming radius of rotation is 25 inches (coz fulcrum isn't right at butt of racquet) that comes out to a circumference of about 4 metres.

    so 8 rotations a second = 32 metres a second = 71.5 mph.

    guess I was wrong.

    Given that the racquet head speed can easily double this with pro players, that means that they can traverse double the angle (30 degrees) in that period of time (although the radius is smaller because they don't hit at the top of hoop).


    Let's say 20 degrees is the max change in impulse direction during impact.



    Ok now for the second question:

    what angle is the ball actually going at the moment it leaves contact with the racquet head (during a relatively flat serve by a non-giant)?
     
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  21. djokovicgonzalez2010

    djokovicgonzalez2010 G.O.A.T.

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    he looks humiliated and is getting like 1/5 in (still better than his real serve)
     
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  22. supineAnimation

    supineAnimation Hall of Fame

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    I'm not sure I understand you correctly, but I'd guess the ball rotates, for the average right-handed pro player, from about 8:30 to 2:30, and it's roughly at a trajectory close to parallel with the ground. But, due to the spin it begin to drop quickly after leaving the racquet. Here's a good video to watch, even if the resolution isn't great: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aenQubfCND0
     
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  23. spacediver

    spacediver Hall of Fame

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    ok so about 0 degrees of trajectory. Given my armchair calculations that means that that the racquet initially hits up at the ball at an angle of about 20 degrees.

    thanks for that video - very instructive.
     
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  24. autumn_leaf

    autumn_leaf Hall of Fame

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    wow i would definitely like to know more details about this drill. seems like a similar version of learning the kick serve by hitting the ball over the fence at a close distance.

    all through-out this clip i bet novak was thinking "i need to hire Trump to fire this fool. He's making me look like an idiot!"
     
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  25. ttbrowne

    ttbrowne Hall of Fame

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    When I concentrate on swing UP at the ball...I can shank it a million miles off the frame.
    I cannot serve thinking of that term SWINGING UP.
     
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  26. supineAnimation

    supineAnimation Hall of Fame

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    You may be swinging up unconsciously and it's some other component that you need to be actively cognizant of, but if not, it's really impossible to serve properly without swinging up at the ball and hitting the bottom/lower back of the ball to get it over the net with top and side-spin.
     
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  27. scotus

    scotus Legend

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    Humiliated ... you mean like this?

    [​IMG]
     
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  28. nhat8121

    nhat8121 Semi-Pro

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    almost hit the fence from his knees...
     
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  29. Mike Cottrill

    Mike Cottrill Hall of Fame

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    Great drill,
    Makes you think about pronation, angle of attack on the ball and balance including ball toss. Few other things too. Notice how joker had problems with his balance when he first tried the drill. Most of the guys on this board would smash their stick on the ground.

    Martin has/had one of the best serves for this era. Here is an example:
    http://www.hi-techtennis.com/serve/martin_serve_open.php

    He knows what he is doing…
     
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  30. scotus

    scotus Legend

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    Thanks for the link.

    Yes, Martin always had a great serve.
     
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  31. Djokovicfan4life

    Djokovicfan4life Legend

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    This is great. I'm going to make this drill one of my staples once I get back into it. That box will seem huge after 15 minutes of this.
     
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  32. Djokovicfan4life

    Djokovicfan4life Legend

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    Absolutely. Djokovic wouldn't have hired him if he didn't respect his opinions/methods. And I must say, he doesn't look like a total berk every time he comes into net now, so job well done there.
     
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  33. scotus

    scotus Legend

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    IMO Todd Martin is one of the most complete players of all times.

    He's got the serve, volley, groundies, returns, everything. He really should have won the US Open ... was it against Agassi?
     
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  34. charliefedererer

    charliefedererer Legend

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    In 1999 US Open final, Agassi eventually won 6–4, 6–7, 6–7, 6–3, 6–2. Martin had injured his leg in a 4th round terrific comeback agains Rusedski. He still plays well in the Outback Series. He always seemed a great student of the game, getting as much out of his himself as possible but lacking the raw athletic talent of a Sampras.
     
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  35. Xenakis

    Xenakis Hall of Fame

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    Lol great pic. Add it to the large and ever growing collection of silly Nole photos.
     
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  36. scotus

    scotus Legend

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    Ah, thanks for this info. Brings back memories.
     
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  37. pabletion

    pabletion Professional

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    I think the main point of this "basic" drill (as some have reffered to it) is to change Djokovic's racket path during his toss. I've been watching some slow motion vids of him in the past, and he used to have a very long set up with his racquet pointing down during the start of the toss, and then sets up during the toss. I serve similar to that, pointing the head down during the toss, and Ive bee told that I should try to have a shorter setup, trying something similar to what Novak's doing.

    I feel fine with my serve motion, but Im aware that a long motion like that robs you of time, and on a not so good day it can really throw your timing off. During IW, I heard some commentators talking about why was Djokovic changing his motion when he had a more than decent serve. Im pretty sure one of the things T. Martin is trying to accomplish is to have Djoker serve with a shorter, more compact windup.

    Im definitely gonna try this drill myself.
     
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  38. split-step

    split-step Professional

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    Martin can't have been using this drill to get Novak to hit up on the ball. That's a useless drill for a player of Novak's calibre.

    Must be something else.
     
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  39. thebuffman

    thebuffman Professional

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    yeah, i wish we could actually hear with martin is teaching. i am going to keep a towel in my bag specifically for this drill. good stuff. i just wish i knew what it is suppose to teach me. i will still practice it nonetheless.

    i plan to do whatever it takes to get my serve to 115mph. i am currently topping out at 90. wish me luck LOL.
     
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  40. pvaudio

    pvaudio Legend

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    That, as said, is a classic drill. It's the drill that taught me how to snap through my serve instead of push it over like a pancake. The point of the drill is to show that legs are there just to generate extra pace, but the actual service movement is due to upper body mechanics only. It makes you focus on pronation, and dropping your rear shoulder, and rotating your shoulders around instead of relying on your legs to generate pace. They are there to generate extra pace. The mechanics of the motion are 80% of the serve, the legs the final 20%. You can stand at the line and just toss and pronate a serve in with incredible pace if your upper body mechanics are sound.

    That drill, and serving from the service line are two incredibly underrated drills.
     
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