Wrist snap (flexion-extension) on serve

#1
I just realized that the "wrist snap" myth is not really a myth.
I'm convinced that the "snap" is not just supination-pronation but also a little bit of wrist extension-flexion.
At 0:12 you can clearly see the wrist extension, if there wasn't any wrist extension, the angle between the wrist and forearm would have been 180 degree (straight line) and not 90 degree as in the video. At contact point, the angle is 180 degree, which means wrist flexion does happen.
If there's only supination-pronation of the forearm, then the angle between the wrist and forearm should remain 180 deg (straight line) all the time.
However, I think this extension-flexion is probably just a result of a loose arm and wrist and Roger didn't do that on purpose. (just like pronation)
But it is not wrong to say wrist snap does occurs along with supination-pronation.
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
#3
There is no active muscle making the wrist bend.
However, since the wrist is the hinge in the equation, the wrist does start out pulled back, then it does flex to neutral and past to flexed, like a hinge does.
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
#5
"Wrist snap" would imply ACTIVE muscles used to move the wrist from laid back, thru normal, to flexed position, but.....
A hinge can move the same, yet is not "snapped" actively. It's movement is through the actions of it's connecting parts, in human sense, the shoulder's, elbows, lats, legs, torso, and twisting and snapping actions of body parts that do not include the forearms.
 
#6
The immortal topic! If you watch the wrist move from the drop position to contact it goes from laid back to neutral. You'd have a hard time stopping this from happening. The wrist stays neutral thereafter til well out in the followthrough where it may break do to relaxation and gravity. Conscious, forward wrist snap through contact at best simply derails the key driving force of upper arm rotation. At worst it causes loss of control and injury. Does not happen in high level serves. It's the idea that the player "snaps" that causes the most problems for servers at all levels.
 
#8
"Wrist snap" would imply ACTIVE muscles used to move the wrist from laid back, thru normal, to flexed position, but.....
A hinge can move the same, yet is not "snapped" actively. It's movement is through the actions of it's connecting parts, in human sense, the shoulder's, elbows, lats, legs, torso, and twisting and snapping actions of body parts that do not include the forearms.
Yes I already said it's not done actively. I just stated my observation: wrist flexion and wrist extension do occur.
 
#9
Agreed with most of the posters here.

Wrist movement ≠ wrist snap

'Wrist snap' implies an active role of the wrist and the muscles surrounding it.

I've found that in tennis you can drastically reduce errors by minimising the active use of as many minor muscles and joints as possible, because it's these small factors that break down or limit a stroke.

Power comes from using the large muscle groups. Accuracy and adjustment comes from ad hoc use of minor muscle / muscle groups.

So if you want to hit a conventional FH for example, the stroke is 90-95% of the time going to be driven by your legs, hips and shoulders. The remaining 5-10% would be from your arm or your wrist (for example) for when you have to make adjustments to your stroke because the incoming ball possesses properties that put it outside your ideal strike zone--eg a running FH or a ball that lands at your feet.
 
#10
"Wrist snap" is another undefined tennis term, so the debates are perpetual.

You pointed out wrist extension to flexion and called that a "wrist snap". Then are all other rapid joint motions also 'snaps'? Internal shoulder rotation snap? Is the rapid elbow extension that preceded time 0:12 in the video an 'elbow snap'? Is every rapid joint motion a 'snap'? It is clearer to call it a rapid wrist flexion and give the rotation speed in degrees per second.

We have names for all the joint motions as defined in Kinesiology (an academic subject developed over centuries. For clear and unambiguous discussions the terms are defined. Kinesiology is a reasonable system and you can Google the definitions.)

Is there a link that defines what a 'wrist snap' is? Do you have a definition?

[ The wrist action on the serve goes from radial deviation + extension to ulna deviation + flexion. Try bending your wrist as far back and as far forward as possible and you will find that combinations of extension + radial deviation and flexion + ulna deviation work best. If you try slow ISR -with its rotation of the near straight arm - you can see why those wrist motions work well for the follow through to slow the racket after it had reached 100 MPH for impact. You will also find that some of these wrist joint motions stop over a very short distance. Try ulna deviation at the end of its range of motion and compare it to flexion. Ulna deviation is stressful when stopping with speed. Better to use wrist flexion than ulna deviation in the follow through.]

[ Note - the terms "extension", "flexion", "internal shoulder rotation" may be used in two ways:
1) Position - to describe the position of the joint. For example, the wrist joint is at 25 d. of extension. Youtubes show how to measure all joint positions.
2) Motion -to describe the motion of the joint. For example, when a joint moves from a position of extension in the direction of less extension or more flexion, that motion is also referred to as 'flexion'.

Usage, including in research publications, is either for joint position or motion.]
 
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#13
You should prove my argument above is wrong instead of acting that you're always right.
Your argument is wrong, and I'm merely offering advice. I don't give a #### if you think I'm right, but it would be in your best interest to assume I am until you can figure these things out for yourself.

Or, alternatively, just listen to voices that reflect what you want to hear. Maybe try Lee, who will tell you in all sincerity that there's an ab crunch performed in a properly struck serve.
 

SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
#14
Yes I already said it's not done actively. I just stated my observation: wrist flexion and wrist extension do occur.
As mentioned, wrist snap is an ambiguous, undefined term. The problem is that, in the minds of many (possibly, a majority), this term implies an active, rather than a passive, action. Many take this phrase to mean a rather vigorous flexion of the wrist. In a effort to implement said "snap", players tend to finish in an extreme flexed wrist position.

Note that flexion can refer either to a position or to an action (such as movement from extension to neutral). The movement up to contact does move from extension to a neutral position for a proper serve action. The wrist is not in a flexed position at contact. While some elite servers might exhibit a mild flexion (position) after contact, many still have the wrist in a neutral position after contact.

When explaining forearm and wrist actions for the serve, it is best to avoid a confusing term like wrist snap. That said, i have used the terminology to elicit a certain response or action with a few students. However, with most students, I will not use the misleading terminology. When the phrase IS used, it is important to demonstrate the proper action so that the student is not led astray with their own interpretation of what it means.

Bottom Line: There is no dispute that there is wrist movement during the serve. This issue is that labeling that action as "snap" is misleading and often results in an incorrect action.
 
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#16
Your argument is wrong, and I'm merely offering advice. I don't give a #### if you think I'm right, but it would be in your best interest to assume I am until you can figure these things out for yourself.

Or, alternatively, just listen to voices that reflect what you want to hear. Maybe try Lee, who will tell you in all sincerity that there's an ab crunch performed in a properly struck serve.
Then stay the #### out of my threads so I won't have to listen to your voice. I don't like the way you give people your adivce. You pissed me of everytime. I HATE your attitude. Just get out of my face. Period.

@System, Chas, Bender: thanks for the nice explanations.
 

mntlblok

Professional
#17
Agree with JY and SA about going from extension to neutral. Also agree that at contact the "un-extending" sorta stops, at least partly due to ball contact, and then switches to ulnar deviation. I suspect that both the ulnar deviation and the pronation pretty much occur on their own with naturally athletic types.

When serving my best, I am consciously using a thought of rapidly snapping "down" in my racket drop, which seems to lead to a "rebound" snapping "up" towards the ball. The snapping thought works for me (in both directions). I can see how it might be problematic for others.

I may have happened across a bit of insight on the subject, though, due to the fact that I pretty much cannot extend my wrist, anymore. I even wear a brace with metal held over the back of my wrist. But, it *does* still feel like I'm snapping the racket head upward towards the ball. I've concluded that most of that "snap" (for me) comes from my *fingers* manipulating the grip of the racket - primarily, it seems, in the same plane as ulnar deviation. (Ulnar deviation is also a bit painful and limited for me). I wonder if maybe that's so with most of us - the "finger" thing. I might still have a video of that somewhere on YouTube. Nope. Can't find it. But, hold a racket handle and see how much movement you can get just with your fingers manipulating which way the butt of the grip points.

Also, the flatter serve contact, aided by pronation, wants to "extend" my wrist. This pressure against my wrist makes me see stars, so all my serves involve keeping all the action parallel with the string bed. Any pronation that occurs happens after the ball is gone, and isn't such a forceful thing against my wrist.
 
D

Deleted member 120290

Guest
#18
Most tennis players know what wrist snap means and the term is sufficient. Most tennis players do not know or care what flexion, extension, pronation, etc. means.

Most people say Federer has won 18 Grand Slams although he has won 0 Grand Slams and 18 major titles.

Being right or thinking that you are right does not help most people or help them understand any better.
 
#19
TenFan,

Hope you are right but when I watch lessons at clubs, watch tips on the TennisChannel and listen to commentators, speak to teaching pros I find the opposite--wide uncritical belief in the forward "snap" or wrist break.
 
#20
Agree with JY and SA about going from extension to neutral. Also agree that at contact the "un-extending" sorta stops, at least partly due to ball contact, and then switches to ulnar deviation. I suspect that both the ulnar deviation and the pronation pretty much occur on their own with naturally athletic types.
Agree as well. My only caveat (and you touch on this) is that I am not sure it's a useful teaching tool to say x joint should move like this. Why? Well because your joints only allow motion in specific ways and much of their motion is the result of prior forces in the stroke/movement. Coaches seem to get better results with more hollistic approaches - aka throwing a ball versus move this joint like this and this joint like that..
 

SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
#21
Most tennis players know what wrist snap means and the term is sufficient. Most tennis players do not know or care what flexion, extension, pronation, etc. means.

Most people say Federer has won 18 Grand Slams although he has won 0 Grand Slams and 18 major titles.

Being right or thinking that you are right does not help most people or help them understand any better.
Strongly disagree with this. Perhaps most of the ppl that you know or hang with may employ proper serve mechanics despite the directive to snap the wrist. However, it has been my experience that many, if not most, student or players get the wrong idea when told to snap the wrist. Little or No pronation and an exaggerated or excessive flexion = incorrect mechanics. It does really matter if you know those terms or not. The bottom line is: Are correct or optimal mechanics being used? Will incorrect or sub-optimal mechanics result in overuse injuries in just a few years?

I was told back in the 1970s to employ wrist snap for my tennis serve. I was told the same thing for badminton overhead shots in the early 1980s. In both cases, it resulted in improper mechanics. It took me years to realize and correct my implementation of "wrist snap". A big part of the problem was that most students and players around me were receiving similar instructions and employing similar incorrect mechanics.

In the past 2+ decades, I continue to see this issue with many players and students. I've had many students come to me with nearly the same incorrect mechanics that I had some 35 yrs ago. Another player or coach had instructed them to snap the wrist to get more power, spin or RHS.
 
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D

Deleted member 120290

Guest
#22
Strongly disagree with this. Perhaps most of the ppl that you know or hang with may employ proper serve mechanics despite the directive to snap the wrist. However, it has been my experience that many, if not most, student or players get the wrong idea when told to snap the wrist. Little or No pronation and an exaggerated or excessive flexion = incorrect mechanics. It does really matter if you know those terms or not. The bottom line is: Are correct or optimal mechanics being used? Will incorrect or sub-optimal mechanics result in overuse injuries in just a few years?

I was told back in the 1970s to employ wrist snap for my tennis serve. I was told the same thing for badminton overhead shots in the early 1980s. In both cases, it resulted in improper mechanics. It took me years to realize and correct my implementation of "wrist snap". A big part of the problem was that most students and players around me were also employing these incorrect mechanics.

In the past 2 decades, I continue to see this issue with many players and students. I've had many students come to me with the same incorrect mechanics that I had some 35 yrs ago. Another player or coach had instructed them to snap the wrist to get more power or RHS.
When the guy from Tennis Channel tip said to "snap" the wrist on serve, it clicked for me and my friends. We all gained velocity, spin and higher flat serve percentage.

"Snap" may not be the correct technical term but it worked for me personally. It is a useful, quick tip. Nothing more, nothing less.

"Jump into the serve" is not technically correct either as we are not serving like a basketball jump shot or a volleyball spike but rather launching into the serve. But it is an easy, quick way to explain it and most people get it.
 

mntlblok

Professional
#26
Agree as well. My only caveat (and you touch on this) is that I am not sure it's a useful teaching tool to say x joint should move like this. Why? Well because your joints only allow motion in specific ways and much of their motion is the result of prior forces in the stroke/movement. Coaches seem to get better results with more holistic approaches - aka throwing a ball versus move this joint like this and this joint like that..
I'm not a coach or a teaching pro and, as I've said before, I only try to help some of my tennis buddies. I tend to get very good results, but my "student" population is hugely skewed towards the intelligent and athletic types - as well as being folks who are highly self-motivated.

Whatever mental pictures or ideas that you can get to work are just fine. There are no doubt oodles of ways of getting the ideas across, and different ways work for different people. There's no shortage of folks for whom nothing will work. I've been able to get good athletes (with some brains) hitting nifty drop shots and drop volleys in just a few minutes. Same with topspin serves. Same with knifing, slice volleys. I've also tried working with a few 3.5 ladies who wanted a drop shot. I tried all *kinds* of ways to get the ideas across. It was like beating my head against a wall. Same with teaching them any kind of spin serve. Teaching pros have my sympathy. Don't get me started on unruly little children. :)

Interesting that you bring up "throwing a ball". The little wifey never learnt to throw a ball growing up. In yet another attempt to get her serve up over seven mph, we worked on teaching her to throw a ball. We actually *did* finally get there (the ball throwing, not the serve), but you can't *believe* how much more complicated it is to teach the moves involved to someone who hasn't a clue. AAMOF, I've had multitudes of guys (who've thrown balls well all their lives), claim that I'm crazy for claiming that the throwing elbow is pointing forward as one of the first moves towards starting the forward part of the throw. It matches up nicely with the racket drop position of the serve, with the wrist laid back (that would be a synonym for wrist extension).

OTOH, I've seen tons of lessons given both online and in person with the teacher telling the students things that just ain't so - especially with regards to volleying. I see some of these students continue to miss volleys in the exact same manner, based entirely on this very bad instruction. It saddens me. Get some danged angular momentum going out there!! Take some time to look at slow motion video. JY has lots. Some day he may even take a real look at slice. :)
 
#27
The wrist snaps, that's why term stays around. It starts with radial deviation which generally has some extension for those who care about those things. Is it an active flexion, no! Does it act as a passive hinge, yes ! Telling players to snap their wrist tends to help their serve cause it teaches them to "unlock" their wrist. A big mistake a lot of players make is keeping their wrist rigid when they grip the racquet.

Teaching someone "active" wrist snap at first might allow them to learn how the wrist joint moves. Later when they get better, it won't be an active wrist snap but just a passive hinging. As for injuries, I've never heard of any caused by active wrist extension in the serve. I don't think it's a good idea as you progress because it will kill your racquet speed.
 

mntlblok

Professional
#28
Wrists and serves reminds me of this little YouTube thing I did a while back. A very good 40's player was at the club, visiting and hitting with one of our pros, and I thought I noticed something unusual about his service motion. Posted this:

 
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