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Old 09-16-2009, 03:57 PM   #1
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Default Any Comments on Serve? (Video)

Recorded this yesterday, my best serve of the day, clocking in at around the 85-92mph mark (firmly hitting the back fence.)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rLRTzVSWvck

However there are lots of things I think I am doing wrong, wondered if anyone else had any comments (only been playing about 2 months after 20 years of not playing since I was a junior in the late 80s, never had any coaching either.)

From what I can tell...

Not enough knee bend

Contact point too low

Not enough pronation (not that easy to tell in the vid but I am not edge up enough on the ball just before I hit it.)

No arch in the back

Ball toss to far off the side, should be more over my shoulder

Consistency, you can't tell from one serve but as I keep messing around with my form I can't hit the target that often with my first serve, I don't expect this to improve until I settle on a good action.

Pleased with progress after two months but still a long way to go (would like to get a consistent 100mph+ serve.)

Any comments/tips appreciated.
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Old 09-17-2009, 02:44 AM   #2
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Default Re: Any Comments on Serve? (Video)

I'm not a pro at all but dont you put your left arm down fast ?
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Old 09-17-2009, 09:43 AM   #3
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Default Re: Any Comments on Serve? (Video)

Starting to look good. The biggest problem is the toss. The really short toss is affecting every part of your serve. Toss should much higher than that, however an estimation is difficult to give because some players like the ball higher to really set up under it, but some players like it shorter in order to quickly explode onto the ball. But either way, toss is way too short.

Like I said in the other thread, first thing you should do, is be really calm with your toss. Now realizing that you are a lefty, unless you have the video mirrored, you right moves extremely fast which will produce inconsistent tossing. Remember, the toss IS NOT affected time wise by anything else, you can take as long as you want preparing and tossing which you should do because you want that toss perfect and consistent each time. One problem I see right off the bat is you are letting go of the ball very early, even before your hand points to a 3 o'clock position and then you stop your hand there. You want to let go of the ball at about a 2 or 1 o'clock position and then continue moving your tossing hand till it reaches the 12 o'clock position. Watch this video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n76f2KJ36yA) of Rafael Nadal for example. He starts tossing the ball at about 2 o'clock and then keeps moving his right hand until it is perfectly vertical and right underneath the ball. Notice all that his tossing hand reaches its highest and straightest point when the ball has also reached its highest point. And keep in mind, his ball toss is about a good 4 feet or so above him, and he has relatively one of the lower ball tosses in the game. Again, also notice how steady and straight his arm is the entire time and how relaxed, slow and smooth it is. There is no eblow bend or strange contortion of the arm because all this would lead to bad tosses. Remeber, the toss height is your call, however as a beginner, tossing it as high as Nadal does is very good to start out with. But when you get better, remember that while having a higher ball toss can help you get time to setup better, the higher the ball more difficult it is to be consistent and the more chance it can be affected by the wind.

Your feet and coiling motion actually look quite solid for a beginner. You have the basic idea of coiling as soon as your hand starts going up past the 3 o'clock position. If you notice Nadal, he does the exact same thing. However the biggest problem is that your weight is not going directly into the ball and you are losing quite a bit of power because of it. Since you have been able to actually lift off the ground serving, what you want to do is really aim your body and plant foot, which in your case is your right foot, towards the service box you are aiming. If you watch Nadal's video, he does an excellent job of this even though he starts out quite sideways with his stance and feet. When you land, you will want your plant foot point directly towards the service box. You almost do have this, but the rest of your body is still quite sideways hence it is why you end up "spinning" your other foot in.

So remember these are the key points you should work on-
1. Let loose of the ball at a higher point and be slow/relaxed with the tossing hand
2. Have a higher toss
3. Continue with tossing hand towards straight up to the sky
4. Start all your coiling and such (back is not necessary by the way) while you are just about to start progress with tossing the ball
5. "Scrunch" all your energy right underneath the ball and then when the ball is a split second about to reach that perfect height, start uncoiling everything. This is important, do this too early and you completely whiff the ball because it is probably too high still. Do it too late and your handle hits the ball instead. You want to give yourself a good amount of time to uncoil everything to transfer the weight into your racket and then hit the ball.
6. The tossing hand is very important in all these steps. It starts the whole motion and when it is coming down, everything uncoils up instead.
7. Put your weight up and forward, almost like at a position between 10 and 11 o'clock.

Good start nonetheless.
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Old 09-17-2009, 12:01 PM   #4
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Default Re: Any Comments on Serve? (Video)

Great stuff HKz, thanks for taking the time to comment, I'll go through all of that before my next practice. I'll post another video if my form improves (agreed about the ball toss, definitely letting go of it too early, not spotted that myself thanks, will work on it.)

Lebeuf, you mean my right arm? (throwing arm?.)

Last edited by SetTheory : 09-17-2009 at 12:13 PM.
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Old 09-17-2009, 01:36 PM   #5
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Default Re: Any Comments on Serve? (Video)

Decent serve for a beginner but don't get too hung up on the speed aspect yet. You need to focus entirely on technique because there is a lot to work on. Move on to accuracy and consistency after that, and only once you've got all that down, start adding the power.

HKz has written his usual essay and I can't be bothered to read it all but I'm sure there are some good tips in there

Other than that, talk to a coach if you haven't already and start on some simple exercises such as tossing the ball and catching it (putting a lot of emphasis on release point as HKz mentions and achieving a straight, vertical arm).
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Old 09-17-2009, 07:38 PM   #6
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Default Re: Any Comments on Serve? (Video)

I'll deffo work on the ball toss, tomorrow probably though I am suffering from a bit of an elbow issue atm so I might take another day off (didn't play today, it's not tennis elbow btw, in a different place I think, been practicing my serves about 2hrs most mornings recently, probably overdone it I think)

Might just work on form over the next few days, slow, high ball toss and a relaxed service action, will try and resist the urge to hit the ball as hard as I can.

Can't afford a coach atm also I don't know any good ones so I'll have to DIY for now (i've overheard coaching sessions a fair bit recently, at two different clubs, not impressed, not sure some of these 'coaches' can play at all.)
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Old 09-17-2009, 08:20 PM   #7
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Default Re: Any Comments on Serve? (Video)



My serve is one of the specialties of my game. Here is what I see...

You have good rhythm and flow to your serve But your right arm is coming down to soon and you are rushing the swing just a touch.

Also, the knee bend is there but you would be amazed at how much more power you could get with a deeper bend and a more explosive jump, which you aren't really doing. To do this, you must have a higher ball toss. Your ball toss is too short, which is the culprit to most of your serve problems. You don't want your toss to high, but it must be high enough to have a relaxed rhythm and an explosive jump. You want your arm extended to give you the most power possible.

Also, your toss to too east and west, not enough north-south motion on it. It is OK having it to the side, but you want to make sure it is out in front of you. This would give yourself the ability to have more tork in your body. I am saying you should turn your shoulders more, which gives you a significant boost of power.

So these things must come with a slightly higher ball toss which allows you do get more power on your serve. One more thing, your back leg is coming around too soon. Your balance looks great, which is the sign of a great server, but your back leg throws off a lot of things.

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Old 09-17-2009, 08:32 PM   #8
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Default Re: Any Comments on Serve? (Video)

Thanks Ozone, I agree that after reading the comments here and looking closely at Nadal's serve (posted by HKz) my ball toss is the main problem. This is what I will focus on now, I'll post more videos as I (hopefully) improve.

One thing that surprises me is how different my serve feels compared to how it looks/is, it feels like I am bending my knees quite a lot but from the video it's clear this isn't the case at all.

Glad my mobile phone has a decent FPS for video (full NTSC rate.)
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Old 09-18-2009, 01:31 AM   #9
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Default Re: Any Comments on Serve? (Video)

Yeah, examining that video of Nadal will really help. It is one few aspects of his game where he doesn't have an unconventional form, in fact form is pretty good. One thing you will want to remember is that he is very content with spinning the serve in which is why he has one of the shorter ball tosses. If you watch players like Kiefer or Federer, they toss the ball much higher but they end up reaching a bit higher which helps them achieve a better chance to hit a consistent flat serve because physically it is impossible and/or very difficult to hit a flat serve with a short toss because gravity will bring it down too quickly.
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Old 09-18-2009, 11:42 AM   #10
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Default Re: Any Comments on Serve? (Video)

I'm not even considering adding spin at this stage, will just try and get a decent flat serve working first if possible.
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Old 09-18-2009, 07:20 PM   #11
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Default Re: Any Comments on Serve? (Video)

Quote:
Originally Posted by SetTheory View Post
I'm not even considering adding spin at this stage, will just try and get a decent flat serve working first if possible.
I was just trying to emphasize the need to have a higher toss because once you get decent at it, you may find that tossing the ball or hitting the ball even higher will benefit you with flat serves.
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Old 09-19-2009, 11:38 AM   #12
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Default Re: Any Comments on Serve? (Video)

Quote:
Originally Posted by HKz View Post
I was just trying to emphasize the need to have a higher toss because once you get decent at it, you may find that tossing the ball or hitting the ball even higher will benefit you with flat serves.
Sorry, I wasn't being critical, just underlining my current noob-ness.

Did a couple of hours practice this morning, worked mostly on the ball toss, slowing it down, releasing it higher. When I get a good one it's definitely better, gives me more time to wind up, to get it all going will take some time though. So be it.
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Old 09-21-2009, 07:25 PM   #13
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Default Re: Any Comments on Serve? (Video)

Ok, did some more practice this morning and managed to grab some video on my phone. I think my ball toss is better in terms of my arm being slower and straighter but perhaps it still isn't high enough, also I think my contact point is still a bit low. And perhaps my arm pronation could be better, might be flattening it out too early (and I am not even considering 'wrist snap' at the moment, will get to that later hopefully.) Bending my knees more though which is probably good.

Accuracy has been thrown off again but that seems to happen every time I update my service action, such is life, won't get any better if I play safe. Hopefully when I get a reasonable form and can settle into it I can work on making it consistent then.

Shot it from a side angle this time so the form is more visable. Would be interested in some comments if anyone gets the time to watch it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jCDVt1XMIVU
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Old 09-21-2009, 08:06 PM   #14
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Default Re: Any Comments on Serve? (Video)

Massive improvement, well done.
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Old 09-21-2009, 08:26 PM   #15
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Default Re: Any Comments on Serve? (Video)

Toss release and hand movement has improved greatly, form looks more fluid and less stressed. However, you are still moving your toss hand I think much too fast. Check this other video of Nadal serving. Quality is not good, but it is in real time so you get a sense of how fast he pulls his tossing hand up. Remember, why rush? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fmU2-...eature=related While the toss has improved, contact point unfortunately has not. You let the ball drop back much too low, probably even as low as when you were originally hitting the serve in the other video. It is very difficult trying to hit flat serves that low, or any serve for that matter. Always the higher the better, and in this case, you definately need to hit the ball at a higher contact point consistency wise. If you notice during the slow motion phase of your new video, if you pause the video right to when your racket makes contact with the ball, you will notice that you are compensating the low height by bending your elbow which in turn loses much of your uncoiling power. You want to think of your dominant hand like a gun. Your coil action is like cocking the gun and then when the ball is at that position, you shoot at it by extending your arm like a snake. Watch the original slow motion Nadal service and you will notice that if you pause it right when he makes contact, his arm and racket are completely stretched towards the sky. As a general rule, to find your contact point, just stretch your arm completely straight up and point your racket towards the sky as well and wherever the top head of the racket is in terms of height, should be the general area you may want to make contact. Also, you might actually want it higher than that because it seems as though you have the uncoiling of the legs part down and you will probably soon end up lifting off the ground due to that motion.

Good progress nonetheless. Work on the contact point right now.
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