Why all pros bounce the ball before serve?

toth

Professional
It does not seem to be so important.
Rec players often dont do it.

Thank you for your answer
Toth
 

happyandbob

Hall of Fame
It’s for rhythm and timing, the same reason why basketball players bounce the ball before taking free throws.

Many athletes find that they do better with repeatability of stationary actions if they incorporate the action into a practiced routine.
 

toth

Professional
But if it is so important, why do they dont do it
during serving warm-up?
I am a bit confused at this point?
 

socallefty

Legend
It does not seem to be so important.
Rec players often dont do it.

Thank you for your answer
Toth
It is to establish a rhythm and routine in addition to getting into the right, relaxed mindset before serving - coaches recommend it. Most rec players don’t do it because they haven’t been coached. For me, it helps me to make sure that I am standing with the right balance and body tilt before I start my serve motion.
 
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Dartagnan64

G.O.A.T.
It does not seem to be so important.
Rec players often dont do it.

Thank you for your answer
Toth
Pre-shot routines are ubiquitous in sport. You see it before tennis serves, before basketball free throws, before every shot in golf. A lot of it has to do with relaxation by doing simple motions like bouncing a ball or waggling a golf club. The other aspects are visualization and removing extraneous or negative thoughts from your mind.
 

Arak

Hall of Fame
I have seen a few players who do not bounce the ball before serving. I can’t remember who at this moment, but definitely some don’t do it. Some only bounce once. Some only bounce with the racket.
 
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SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
Ball-bouncing with the racket and/or the hand is part of a serving ritual for almost all advanced or elite tennis servers. Even if they do not incorporate a hand bounce, they undoubtedly will still have some sort of serving ritual.

IIRC, Pete Sampras only incorporated one hand bounce for his pre-serve ritual. But Pete employed a # other ritual elements for his serve. One of these was to start his serve stance with his front (left) tilted upward so that the foot rested on the heel with his up toes off the ground. Another ritual element was the placing of the ball against the throat of his racket as he got into position to start his serve motion.

Andy Roddick, as far as I can recall, call several times with his racket. Some of these bounces were between his legs. He then performed several hand bounces prior to starting his motion. Almost all advanced servers will perform a set number of bounces -- often 3 or 4. If they do not feel settled after performing those bounces, they might repeat the same number of bounce again. Novak is an oddball in this respect. He does not appear to have a set number of bounces at all -- or even a multiple of some set number. Sometimes it is only 8 or 9 while other times it is 11, 17, 23 or some other number. His number of ball bounces might be based partly on the score and mostly on how anxious he feels for that serve.

Rafa has one of the busiest serve rituals that includes a lot of face touching and tugging at the back of his shorts (are they too tight?). Maria also has quite an involved ritual that is often emulated by juniors (or parodied by other players). Her ritual starts with her turning her back to the court and walking to the back fence while staring at her racket (often playing with the strings). Bounces the ball with her racket when she is heading back to the baseline.

When she sets herself up at her serving position, part of her ritual had been bouncing herself on her feet/toes and then tucking her hair behind her ears -- even if it is not out of place. But so many players (like ARod & Novak) parodied this part of Maria's motion, she consciously stopped at doing it, late in her career

youtube.com/c4hnxzmARxM

 
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SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
Rec players "often" don't do it? I've never seen a rec player in my life not do it.
Rec players will often bounce the ball prior to serving but often do not have a set ritual like most elite players do. The serving ritual of elite players is utilized to calm the mind, mentally focus and/or establish a rhythm. Some rec players also do it for the same reasons. But, with others, it appears to be a mindless or nervous habit -- that may or may not provide some benefit for them
 
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HuusHould

Hall of Fame
Before the shot clock Novak used to do it to catch his breath/calm his nerves. Lendl was apparently just as slow if not slower on the big points. I think it has something to do with hoping your opponent will eventually fall asleep....
 

stringertom

Bionic Poster
I have seen a few players who do not bounce the ball before serving. I can’t remember who at this moment, but definitely some don’t do it. Some only bounce once. Some only bounce with the racket.
One of the best lefthanded servers currently on tour, Feliciano Lopez, is the most efficient, using only the occasional racquet bounce and then just one hand bounce at most before teeing it up.
 

Arak

Hall of Fame
One of the best lefthanded servers currently on tour, Feliciano Lopez, is the most efficient, using only the occasional racquet bounce and then just one hand bounce at most before teeing it up.
I remember clearly during a recent ATP tournament that commentators said a certain player does not bounce the ball before serving, and curiously I did not notice it until the commentator mentioned it. Now trying very hard to remember who that player was but it’s a total blank.
 

happyandbob

Hall of Fame
One of the best lefthanded servers currently on tour, Feliciano Lopez, is the most efficient, using only the occasional racquet bounce and then just one hand bounce at most before teeing it up.
I'm on board with keeping it short. Too much time to think otherwise. Two bounces -- hand to racquet to hand -- then go. Same with golf, one waggle and go.
 

happyandbob

Hall of Fame
That said, I see a ton of rec players bounce the ball. The most peculiar serve "routine" is Sofia Kenin's no look toss.
Anytime I see an athlete purposely looking away during a practiced action, I assume it's something they are doing to avoid the yips. Many golfers look at the brim of their hat when putting to prevent the yips.
 

SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
I'm on board with keeping it short. Too much time to think otherwise. Two bounces -- hand to racquet to hand -- then go. Same with golf, one waggle and go.
I feel a better rhythm with 3 hand bounces rather than 2. More satisfying as well. I had tried a 2-bounce ritual years ago but it just felt rushed. Not quite as relaxed

I tended to spend less time with my 3-bounce ritual than most that I played with. I also usually wasted less time on serves by getting a higher % of my 1st serves into play -- especially with doubs
 

HuusHould

Hall of Fame
One of the best lefthanded servers currently on tour, Feliciano Lopez, is the most efficient, using only the occasional racquet bounce and then just one hand bounce at most before teeing it up.
Its like golf, some people have an elaborate pre shot routine. But speed golf has to a certain extent posed questions as to the validity/effectiveness of such routines. (The official Guinness record was shot by professional Christopher Smith at the Chicago Speedgolf Classic at Jackson Park Golf Course on October 16, 2005. Smith shot 65 in just 44:06 while carrying six clubs for a speed golf score of 109:06.)
 
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SlvrDragon50

Semi-Pro
Anytime I see an athlete purposely looking away during a practiced action, I assume it's something they are doing to avoid the yips. Many golfers look at the brim of their hat when putting to prevent the yips.
I thought it was interesting that when Kenin was interviewed about it, she actually had tons of issues with consistent tosses when she did look. When her dad suggested to stop looking, her toss issues went away. Would have been interesting to see if there was actually some biomechanical change or if it was psychological.
 

happyandbob

Hall of Fame
I thought it was interesting that when Kenin was interviewed about it, she actually had tons of issues with consistent tosses when she did look. When her dad suggested to stop looking, her toss issues went away. Would have been interesting to see if there was actually some biomechanical change or if it was psychological.
Sounds like the yips to me -- the conscious mind can interfere with automatic muscle memory so looking away focuses your attention on something other than the action
 

SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
https://www.reddit.com/r/tennis/comments/cw6317
That said, I see a ton of rec players bounce the ball. The most peculiar serve "routine" is Sofia Kenin's no look toss.
Interesting. Hadn't watch Sofia play that much so I never noticed that peculiarity. She is looking up even later than Roger F does. He is looking at his opponent up until the point he releases the ball. He pretty much looks up at his ball release whereas Sofia delays her upward gaze even longer

For a player currently ranked at #12, her serving stats are not very impressive. Quite the opposite, in fact. For 2021, she has won only 52.9% of her service games. Compare that to Simona Halep, currently ranked at #20. Simona has won 69.1% of her service games. Simona's 1st serve % is a bit higher at 65.2% compared to 63.6% for Sofia.

But the really telling stats are DFs compared to aces. Sofia has nearly 3x as many DFs as Aces -- 96 DFs to 35 Aces. Simona has 88 DFs to 85 Aces (I do not believe that Simona is known for her serving prowess). Kenin's 96 DFs have come in only 227 service games played. Simona has fewer DFs with far more games served this year. Her 88 DFs have come over the span of 340 service games
 

nyta2

Professional
It does not seem to be so important.
Rec players often dont do it.

Thank you for your answer
Toth
i'm rec, i do it ;)
it's part of my routine..
bounce 3x, then start my motion... if anything in the routine gets disrupted (eg. bad bounce on clay, racquet brushes something on the way, etc...)... i stop, reset, and restart the routine... it's a form of chunking (in learning)...
i try to reproduce the same set of steps over and over, so i don't have to think about it when i'm under pressure at 30-40 or 40-30 match point.

you ever pause in the middle of typing your password...? for me, it's easier to start over, and let muscle memory take over, than to think how to resume from the middle. same kind of thing going on IMO
 

nyta2

Professional
But if it is so important, why do they dont do it
during serving warm-up?
I am a bit confused at this point?
for me, warm up is just about loosening the joints, calibrating the tossing arm and hitting arm,... etc, i'll even intentionally foot fault (vs. loading legs & hips) - because i'm focusing on specific parts of the serve warmup.
i'll also aim at the baseline (the idea to clear the net first by swinging up, then adding more and more spin to bring it back into the court)
 

morten

Hall of Fame
Becker never bounced, well atleast not in the ready position, but before that he did some strange things..
 

onehandbh

Legend
this thread just made me notice that I no longer bounce the ball before serving. I don’t even remember when I stopped bouncing the ball. i’ll try adding the bounces again tomorrow.
 
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