(Re) Building the Serve

Balance Rhythm and Efficiency – your keys to an Effortless Service Delivery
The following materials are suitable for juniors and adults
The primary target are those who are young and developing service habits, or those who are older and are willing to try something different
I will be using Roger Federer and Serena Williams as models – for their motions are simple and similar
  • As regards balance – learn to use the ground, avoid jumping, often coaches have students leap up and over a stick and into the court – this will be just the opposite,
  • As regards rhythm – learn to use a toss just slightly above contact so the racquet motion is continuous, avoid an overly high toss, or to start the racquet resting on the shoulder, both disrupt any chance for fluidity
  • As regards efficiency – pay very close attention to your level of effort and how the serve “FEELS”, far too often this aspect of the serve is overlooked, there is really no need to grunt, avoid an effortful or muscular delivery
  • As regards spin – develop a reliable sidespin serve, go to the kick ONLY when you have a mature service delivery, often coaches introduce the kick serve far too soon, and this can lead to issues in the shoulder or lower back – sidespin will bring the ball down and into the court just fine
  • Though this is a simple warmup motion below, Roger appears grounded, rhythmic, effortless, and the toss location indicates UP-SIDESPIN, meaning he is hitting up and on the side of the ball
Practice copying this model – and over time your serve will have sting, you will avoid injury, and the up side spin will lead to a reliable serve

12 Comments

  • MIke

    Reply Reply September 26, 2020

    Hi Jim, I am constantly returning to this post to try and further understand my serve, and my body. I am having issues with my rotator cuff during my serve. Would I be able to also send you a video of my serve? All the best, Mike

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply September 29, 2020

      Mike – yes but the rotator cuff can be a serious problem – depends on the alignment of the arm with the line of the shoulders – do you hit a flat a sidespin or a kick serve?
      KJim

      • Mike

        Reply Reply September 30, 2020

        I like to think that I can hit all three, but definitely notice the pain in the shoulder the most during a flat serve

        • Jim McLennan

          Reply Reply November 17, 2020

          Mike
          Shoulder injuries can be chronic, and or they create shoulder immobility – and the is about the grip as well as the motion
          Be careful on the serve (and be careful with all the advice you likely get) – best Jim

  • Allan Goodwin

    Reply Reply July 17, 2020

    I am 73 left handed played college tennis

    Want to get a good platform stance serve like Dennis Shapopolov. Can a player in his 70s hit a decent platform stance serve with the front foot entering the court 1st? Have always tended to move my front foot and slid the back foot. How to push off without moving your feet?

    Appreciate your input,

    Allan Goodwin

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply July 18, 2020

      Alan – this is a good question with a tricky answer – it depends on your history, has there been shoulder or elbow problems, and what has been you normal serve – please let me see a short video and I can make a few observations – but in the main, and even with the video of Federer it can be that balance and rhythm can make a difference – please let me see your serve
      best
      Jim

  • Ben

    Reply Reply June 27, 2020

    Hi Jim, Would you review my serve too if I sent you one? You’re a super coach !

  • Steve

    Reply Reply June 25, 2020

    Hi Jim! I’ve followed you for many years and have learned a lot.
    But I have one MAJOR disagreement with you, about which we’ve communicated in the past, and you did it again @ 00:21 when you said, “… at the top, yes, he SNAPS the racquet. This is as good a model …”
    Jim, for all my years helping people who just played tennis become ‘Tennis Players’ one of the first things I teach them is that if they ever hear anyone tell them to “SNAP” the wrist or racquet, to “Block your ears and run from that person as fast and far away as you can because that action will cause you to hurt yourself with a permanent wrist injury which, if ever, may only partially heal, but it will never go away!”
    I know because I followed that very poor and dangerous advice some decades ago. That very painful wrist injury took YEARS of wearing a brace before it finally relaxed enough to where I no longer use it. BUT, every once in a while, the sharp pain from the injury manifests itself just enough to remind me how bad advice like “SNAPPING the wrist or racquet” is.
    I don’t believe for a moment that you mean for people to injure themselves by telling them to do that, because I know you aren’t meaning they literally snap their wrist like snapping a towel. But it’s what people who have little to minimum to no training at all perceive and understand you to mean.
    There are so many correct terms and ways to teach the follow-through motions of the serve that clearly explain its true nature, which has absolutely nothing to do with ‘snapping’ anything, that will help rather than hurt the up and coming players. Please Jim, stop teaching and using that incorrect term, and, as you say in the paragraph just above the video, “… you will avoid injury.”
    In Tennis, Steve

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply June 26, 2020

      Steve – thanks for this note – my words are about how it feels to snap a wet towel – without any reference to how it is done, simply how it feels, and more in the serve I believe the action comes from hitting and swinging up and out – for in my mind the wrist (if snapped) accelerates things forward and down rather than up and out. Please let me see your serve, just for a review.

  • Bob Thurm

    Reply Reply June 23, 2020

    Amazing and spot on! I would be so pumped if you did video review and put people on right track!

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply June 26, 2020

      Bob – the answer is yes – please send me a video for review – my pleasure – Jim

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply June 26, 2020

      Bob – for sure – please send me a video of your serve for review – happy to do it – best
      Jim

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