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Old 05-18-2013, 01:48 PM   #1
country flag Raidy
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Default [Beginner] Looking for input on my serve

I'm a beginner with about two months of tennis experience under my belt. I think my game has developed well and I'm hoping that in the near future I can play full sets, but I'm having some issues with my serve. I seem to have a pretty decent amount of ball speed, and I can aim my serves OK, but what I seem to lack is consistency. Some of my serves are great, and others are absolutely embarrassing.

I've read a bunch of tutorials on serves, but I can't really learn just from those. Could I get some input on my serve? Be as brutal as you think is necessary!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Q-SHGXx6lM

My first serve was slightly long, second into the net, and third and fourth serves in, but my third and fourth serves were also kind of puny. I'm most interested in improving my accuracy, but any advice on how I can increase ball speed would be wonderful too.
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Old 05-18-2013, 04:20 PM   #2
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Default Re: [Beginner] Looking for input on my serve

You have a solid motion, nothing too complicated which is always great for service motion since you need to replicate it over and over.

Your toss could be slightly higher, but camera angle makes it hard to tell. But if you definitely feel like you can extend your body and arm a little more then I would certainly make that adjustment because it will give you a little more net clearance and more pace. Your feet are used adequately and if you want more pace, just bend your knees a little more to create a stronger springing action into the ball.

The only mid-match adjustment to watch out for is your head. If you feel like the serve is going into the net too often you could be dropping your head too early. At the same time, if the ball is going too long, typically it means your toss is too short.

But I think you're on a good path. Continue practicing and doing exercises and you will eventually become more smooth and you will increase your racket head speed and weight transfer which will increase the pace and spin of your serves.
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Last edited by HKz : 05-18-2013 at 07:05 PM.
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Old 05-18-2013, 06:20 PM   #3
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Default Re: [Beginner] Looking for input on my serve

That's a really impressive serve for someone with only two months of experience.

Agree with HKz that your ball toss should be higher, that way you will be able to extend your entire arm while serving. Also try to get your feet more together before pushing off so your right leg doesn't go that high up in the air.
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Old 05-19-2013, 01:09 AM   #4
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Default Re: [Beginner] Looking for input on my serve

Thank you for the responses.

Yes, I feel that my toss could absolutely use a lot of work. It's all over the place. I only really figured out where to aim the other day, which is about 6 - 10" into the court and between my head and left shoulder. Tossing higher just makes it more difficult for the moment, but it will be a very necessary adjustment it seems. I'll force myself to do it.

@HKz

I go into the net very often. The head dropping thing may very well be my problem. Do you know any verbal cues for avoiding this? I mean, "don't drop your head" works just fine, but I'm wondering if there's any specific thing I should be picturing myself doing.

@Gustavo Kuerten

OK, cool, I'll try it. This was the first time recording my serve and I kind of felt that I was squatting my knees apart, while I've noticed most professionals bunch them together. I was wondering if it was a problem, and after a few times practicing with keeping the legs together to make the body "C" shape, it feels right. I'll try it in my next practice session.
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Old 05-19-2013, 01:34 AM   #5
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Default Re: [Beginner] Looking for input on my serve

Quote:
Originally Posted by Raidy View Post
Thank you for the responses.

Yes, I feel that my toss could absolutely use a lot of work. It's all over the place. I only really figured out where to aim the other day, which is about 6 - 10" into the court and between my head and left shoulder. Tossing higher just makes it more difficult for the moment, but it will be a very necessary adjustment it seems. I'll force myself to do it.

@HKz

I go into the net very often. The head dropping thing may very well be my problem. Do you know any verbal cues for avoiding this? I mean, "don't drop your head" works just fine, but I'm wondering if there's any specific thing I should be picturing myself doing.

@Gustavo Kuerten

OK, cool, I'll try it. This was the first time recording my serve and I kind of felt that I was squatting my knees apart, while I've noticed most professionals bunch them together. I was wondering if it was a problem, and after a few times practicing with keeping the legs together to make the body "C" shape, it feels right. I'll try it in my next practice session.
Well the way to avoid dropping your head too quickly, is to tell yourself you don't need to look at where the ball lands. The reason most players drop the head during a service motion, or move their head incorrectly at all even during a groundstroke, is merely because of the urge to see where your ball lands. This instinctive feeling is hard to train which is a bit of a dilemma for many amateur/junior players since you have to call your own lines so you want to see where the ball lands in order to tell if your opponent is accurately calling the ball out/in. However, after months and years of practice, you'll know where the ball lands and you'll know if you hit the ball well enough for it land, and you will realize that watching the ball is pretty pointless. So by keeping the head still during the serve by staring at the contact point after you've hit the ball you will learn how important it is in order to maintain a good serve (or any tennis shot for that matter) as it is no coincidence that the head is typically regarded as the "heaviest" part of your body.

Go to Youtube and check out any slow motion video showing a great server (Roddick, Raonic, Federer, Janowicz, Karlovic, Isner, etc) and you'll notice they keep their head and eyes directed at the contact point as long as they can until the whole service motion is pretty much completed and they have planted their feet on the ground to prepare for the next shot.

As for your feet, I personally don't feel you should really worry too much about changing the stance especially since you are this new. As long as you are creating kinetic energy from your weight transfer process by springing up towards the ball, then that is all you need. Some players like to use their back heavily like Federer which allows him to have a very conservative ball toss in order to hit virtually any serve with a single toss. Other players, like Roddick get much of their momentum directly from the feet, and this is very noticeable as he exaggerates the feet motion. Basically, you want to have a serve that is most comfortable for you and is something you can replicate over and over in a match. This is why service motions for nearly all professional players are all relatively short and simple. You don't want to be working or thinking too hard about your serve, that is a poor way to start each point.
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Old 05-19-2013, 06:41 AM   #6
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Default Re: [Beginner] Looking for input on my serve

This is all brilliant input for me.

The idea of keeping my eye on the contact point isn't terribly foreign--I've played a lot of ball sports. It's the same idea in baseball and golf as well. I've done well enough in my forehands and backhands in tennis where I'll keep my eye on the contact point for a couple of seconds after hitting it, but in the serve I guess I get so obsessed with where the ball is going that I drop my head down too early. It could be a product of my constant faults.

For now I suppose I should work on keeping my ball toss higher and eyes on the contact point, then. You're right that overcomplicating anything in sports is a bad idea, especially for a beginner. Later on when I'm hitting the ball in consistently I might make a couple more tweaks to squeeze out a few more MPH, but for now accuracy is without question the most urgent issue.

Edit: OK, I've worked on my serve a bit more, and it seems to be getting more consistent little by little.

The only thing I'm curious about now is whether or not my first serve should have top spin on it, or if it should be hit perfectly flatly. I mean, I see a lot of professionals hitting even their first serves with a bit of top spin (are they?), and it just seems that the room for air with a very flat serve is next to nothing. I'm 6'3 so I have a decent trajectory, but can I get away with using this riskier first serve? I loose quite a bit of pace when I try to add top spin to my serves...

Last edited by Raidy : 05-20-2013 at 01:35 PM.
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