ETI 019 | Fire the Extensors


  • ETI 019 Fire the Extensors
    ETI 019 Fire the Extensors

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Many elements are combined to produce the serve – and one of the secrets is to have all the elements firing in the appropriate sequence.

Timing – we have all felt the effortless hits and unfortunately we all have at one time or another, felt the effortful hits.

One of the most important sequence during the serve occurs with regard to the racquet drop and the knee bend.

In general, on the serve, one must fire in quick sequence large muscles first leading to smaller and then smaller muscles, culminating in a whip at the top of the swing.

As regards the racquet drop and knee bend, the best one I heard on this was from Vic Braden, who said, “Fire the extensors baby!”

Check this one out – it makes sense and will help – guaranteed.

 

 

36 Comments

  • Franco

    Reply Reply June 5, 2013

    Coach, I have found in my now month-long practice of your tips, that number 2 in the service “count” is when the ball leaves the tossing hand. Not when it’s already up, just at the moment when it’s separating at eye-level from the tossing hand. At that very moment, Federer and many other “effortless”servers have the racket head down by their side. I have also found that it’s very easy to “feel” this position, whereas it’s very confusing to try and feel the other stages of the motion, which happen too fast. And what’s more, it leads to a perfect bending of the knees in rhythm between 2 and 3, and to a very fast and effortless swing of the arm, without hitching (or pausing) at all in the trophy pose (if the toss is not incredibly high). Another huge checkpoint is a fully stretched up and vertical tossing arm. It forces the proper alignment of the racket shoulder, the proper weighting of both knees, and it initiates the throwing sequence by coming down with the tossing elbow as the throwing elbow naturally goes up as a result. So basically, with those two checkpoints, I don’t have to think about anything else, it all falls into place smoothly and naturally. I hope this helps others who, like I did, might get the wrong idea watching freeze-frames of the serve and trophy poses. As a perfect example, all the pro women who have a weak serve, pause with the racket up in the trophy pose. The ones who don’t (Serena, Venus) have a powerful serve.

  • hans brink

    Reply Reply November 7, 2012

    thanks a lot it makes it a lot easier and effective!

  • Major Dan

    Reply Reply October 31, 2012

    Jim-
    If the serving motion is a whipping action, then the arm/elbow/wrist are the last segments of the whip and the racquet is the ‘tip’ of the whip.
    If you are actively using your triceps, wouldn’t that take away from the looseness of the whipping action? In pitching, pitchers are taught to throw with a rag-loose arm. That sounds a lot different than firing the tricep. Can you clarify?

    Also, quads are leg extensors. Triceps are arm extensors. You didn’t mention the hip extensors – the hamstrings, glutes and lower back muscles that are the most powerful extensors in the body.
    Do they participate in the serve? If so, when do they fire? Or if not, why not?

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply October 31, 2012

      Major Dan – points well taken – I had only considered the tricep and the quadriceps – and hadn’t thought of (nor truly understood) those other muscles – but when the legs extend as the racquet drops down I had and have been emphasizing that particular point – as to the whip and the triceps something does have to get the hand accelerating up – I think the hamstrings cause the knee to bend and not straighten, and I don’t really know about the lower back or glutes – sorry
      Jim

  • Nacho

    Reply Reply October 15, 2012

    Thanks a lot! Excellent tips!

  • Sigurd Vitols

    Reply Reply October 14, 2012

    Hi JIm, nice instruction. But how should the non dominant arm really move during a modern forehand? Some coahes say that you after the unit turn (both arms back) the non dominant arm should go out in front to “tighten up” the large muscle groups befor unwinding? or should the non dominant arm more take part in a rotation? You can se that all pros have a short moment when their non dominant arm is pointing forward to the net during a FH.
    Kind regards,
    Sigurd

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply October 15, 2012

      Sigurd – this tip was about the serve – please scroll thru the podcasts because this may have been covered – that said I believe the non dominant arm is active and moves to initiate the forehand swing
      Jim

  • Joe

    Reply Reply October 14, 2012

    Jim,
    Just want to say thanks for all the help you’ve given me in improving my serve. The serve has always been the weakest part of my game and over the years countless fixes did not take. But your instruction, in particular, swinging without effort and letting the arm rotate have helped me tremendously. Now I’m excited to add “Fire the Extensors” to my already improved serve. I will surely be purchasing “Building the serve from the ground up” in the spring when I can give it my full attention. Thanks again.

  • Neil

    Reply Reply October 14, 2012

    Hi Jim I have been using your BTS course (2x weeks) and this gem as well, I aced my tennis coach twice in the one game this week with half the effort, for me relaxation in the arm is the key I can feel the power kick in the more I relax. My question is this, how do you play aggressive but stay relaxed, they are at odds somewhat?? Keep up the good work mate!!

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply October 14, 2012

      Nell – aggressive but relaxed – perhaps only Roger Federer truly knows how to do that
      Jim

  • j mansfield

    Reply Reply October 14, 2012

    I am following your `firing the extensors` keenly. The whipping action & pronation you have advised before have improved my serve `consistency`. The extra confidence these ideas(concepts) has me moving in the right direction. Thank you. Watch this space!

  • clive kileff

    Reply Reply October 13, 2012

    Today on my serve I said REACH at the top of my swing .A bit like saying UP.

  • Nico

    Reply Reply October 13, 2012

    Right! Very good demonstration. going to practice it during the winter on our outside courts.
    We even play after snow. Courts cleared, snow along the net and the borders. Great fun.
    nico

  • Rodger Schuester

    Reply Reply October 13, 2012

    I think there is something one can feel whether it is a groundstroke or a serve, when we use our legs to add pace. A lag, a whip, a linkage, a feeling when moving through the volley.

  • Gordon Ripley

    Reply Reply October 13, 2012

    Hi Jim

    As always, superb communication. I’ve been endorsing your ‘snap and pull’ technique with my club mates as it works so well for me. It’s become quite rare for me to hit a serve out, or put it in the net these days. Remarkable tutoring.

    Keep up the innovative work.

    Best wishes
    Gordon

  • Noushin Kananian

    Reply Reply October 13, 2012

    Dear Jim

    Many thanks for sharing your invaluable knowledge and experience with us.
    Wish to see you soon.

    Noushin

  • Ravi

    Reply Reply October 13, 2012

    Good video Jim… I also think it would be useful to know how much does the knee bend contribute to the serve power?

    Given that some wheelchair players can serve over 100mph, I would say that the legs contribute about 5%, and most of the power is coming from the arm extensors.

    Correct?

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply October 13, 2012

      Ravi – yes and no, the legs create the greatest amount of force (against the ground) but the arm action and snap create the greatest amount of racquet speed – so the guys in the chairs could get even more speed from the ground – presently I am playing with a guy in a wheel chair – he is (and they are) remarkable
      Jim

  • LIsa

    Reply Reply October 12, 2012

    Hi

    It sounds like a very clever advise. I can make that throwing motion, maybe because I am used to throwing a ball, since I have been playing handball since I was a kid. Just like you show in the video.. But how do I am a relatively new player and every time I do the throwing motion/serve with a ball, it tends to land all over the place. Can’t control it. How do I get to there… to combine the correct motion with a ball also?

    Thanks

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply October 13, 2012

      Lisa this sounds (I am guessing) all about your toss – both the location and the relative height – watch Federer who tosses much lower than many of the others, somehow he doesnt swing at the toss but rather he tosses the ball into the swing
      Jim

  • Dave

    Reply Reply October 12, 2012

    As usual Jim,you have simlified a rather complicated skill- serving. Keep up the great work. Enjoyed it ! Dave

  • Kathy Koch

    Reply Reply October 12, 2012

    Great stuff. Can’t wait to fire the extensors, Baby.

  • Jim Fox

    Reply Reply October 12, 2012

    As usual, Jim, right on! I’ve found that there are two types of students I teach — those who have a feeling for how to throw overhand and those who don’t. For those who know how to throw, the timing of the leg thrust is natural. So for these students, I just have to say, “put your legs into it,” and they do the timing naturally. For those many who don’t throw naturally, it’s very helpful to be able to describe for them such details as lead with the hitting elbow up and teaching them the timing of the leg thrust. Thanks again, Jim.

  • Joe DeRosa

    Reply Reply October 12, 2012

    Jim,

    as always, simple and essential.

    Joe

  • Tylor

    Reply Reply October 12, 2012

    hi Jim great video again but a tad too advanced for me. Could you demonstrate the frying pan serve in this format so us less advanced players can get out on the courts and wallop that ball as well

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply October 12, 2012

      Tylor – sorry, these are podcasts I do twice a month, but I don’t have anything in the queue on the frying pan – and truly that is much harder on the arm and elbow than a smoother motion
      JIm

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply October 12, 2012

      Sorry i don’t have that one in the queue
      Jim

  • Ray Konchalski

    Reply Reply October 12, 2012

    Very logical and without debate. The sequence is a must for energy transfer, exploiting the body weight and strength available. Adding the trunk rotation provides even more energy transfer. Get everything in as smooth a sequence as possible and you got a serve.

  • Matt Scott

    Reply Reply October 12, 2012

    This is interesting – I’ve seen many Youtube video tips on the service action; this is something new to me which I haven’t heard before and worth researching. I coach tennis and am always looking for more useful things to teach. Years ago I was given a book ‘The Future of Tennis’ by Vic Braden and Bill Bruns by one of my students who was having a clear-out – this was the first technical book I had ever seen on tennis and had not been shown anything similar from any LTA course I had been on. It has only been in recent years that I have learned a substantial amount from Oscar Wegner’s modern tennis teaching method’s and took an MTI course (formerly MTCA). As a result I can discern when teaching is poor and tennis ‘myths’ are being propagated, especially by LTA coaches who are churned out by the LTA system and actually keep beginners looking like beginners. Occasionally I find sensible teaching tips which are really worthwhile – this video is one of them.

  • Glenn Beinfest

    Reply Reply October 12, 2012

    I have been working on precisely this combination of racquet drop coordinated with knee bend for the past few weeks. When I get the timing right, and remember to look up, it works great. Once again, you are “spot on ” and as always, I enjoy your approach to explaining the serve and am pleased that you mention this particular aspect of the serve at this stage of my practice.

  • rf

    Reply Reply October 12, 2012

    This is clearly done, Jim. I am working through your building the serve from the ground up lesson material. superb. I have watched you tube slow motions of the best servers and videoed them myself at tournaments. But you are unlocking the secrets of their power and spin and how to do it as effortlessly as possible. Love the picture of Sampras with only three fingers on the racket.

    best,

    rf.

  • Donald Whyte

    Reply Reply October 12, 2012

    Amazingly simple and enlightening. I’ve been playing tennis for years and never thought of the movement as pulling the racket – it makes so much sense and has added more power to my serve.
    Thank you

  • Mark R

    Reply Reply October 12, 2012

    Jim: you are so right! When I’m serving well I’m “firing” just as you show in the video. When the legs extend (after a good knee bend), you can just “fire” yourself into the ball and get it to go 10-20 mph faster than ever before. When I put together a perfect ball toss, the “firing” of the legs, and a good wrist snap, my serves just “pop”!

  • Bill

    Reply Reply October 12, 2012

    As usual excellent advice reinforced by your video. I’m not big on words. To me it’s all in seeing how to hit the ball by watching someone who “knows” how to do it. When we were children learning to toss a football or baseball, we watched good examples and we imitated.

    I love the fact that you don’t over analyze …

    Thanks again,
    Bill

  • John

    Reply Reply October 12, 2012

    This is one of the best tips I have ever heard. I have always struggled with the timing thing. The One, Two and a Half, Three thing is awesome. I think most teachers forget or don’t know it. Thanks so much.

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