Roger Spinning the Serve

On Court Exercises

The exercises identify specific elements of the serve. Do not attempt all exercises at once, but rather, start with the first exercise, and take as much time as needed until you feel comfortable, then progress in sequence to the next one and so forth.

Swing Off-Line to Create Sidespin

To create sidespin the hitting action must be from 15 to 60 degrees offline to the right of the target, providing you are using some version of the continental grip.  Far too often players use a swing path directly to the target which creates a flat if not pushing serve.  Swing to the right to hit the ball to the left

 

 

Certainly the overhead diagram below is an eye opener from The Fundamentals of Tennis by Stanley Plagenhoef, truly an excellent book – but the diagram below on the second serve shows the swing path from

 

15 Comments

  • Paul

    Reply Reply February 16, 2018

    I noticed that when his serve is more to the left, his swing to the ball is a little earlier than the normal rhythm. This works for me as well.

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply February 17, 2018

      Paul – perhaps, I have not noticed that but it may be so – tossing to the left for a righty helps with the upward swinging action
      Jim

  • greg byrne

    Reply Reply February 16, 2018

    Jim,
    I’ve learned a lot from your website. Keep it up.
    I grew up mostly as a baseball player and had what they call a strong, natural arm. When my kids were young, I went to a “baseball coaches clinic” and the instructor was going through the steps to throwing a baseball. I remember having an out of body experience thinking, “Do I do that? I never thought of that? I just threw the baseball.” Apparently, I did throw the ball properly but could not have ever instructed someone how to do it because I never thought of it. Like so many things in life, I learned it sub-consciously — probably the same way early humans learned to throw spears, i.e., they watched elders do it and they practiced it unknowingly while they played.

    Well, I’ve been playing tennis as an adult for 30 years now but only in the last few years have I really tried to understand the mechanics behind the strokes — forehand, serve, etc. I like your frequent references to throwing a baseball and to thinking about the chain of events (snake-like). But things can be very subtle and it takes a while to really see what’s happening, which is made so much more possible with high-speed video. Anyway, part of this is a long of saying that I think your most recent demonstration by Patrick (?) and snapping the wrist is just slightly wrong. The way Patrick serves is the way my dad use to serve. Nothing wrong with it, but he’s cutting the ball, much like a pitcher who’s cutting a ball (slider). He’s sort of “rounding it.” Yes, it goes in and, because Patrick’s swing is still athletic, it has some speed, but nothing like what the top players produce. That’s because (at least as far as I can tell) he’s not doing what a pitcher does in baseball, i.e., he’s not finishing his chain with the outward turn of the forehand and the wrist — pronation! You can’t pronate the way he is attempting to snap the wrist. One of the things that was such a shocker for me when I started trying to understand how I throw a baseball was that, while my right arm follows through across my body (decelerates), my wrist turns out as I release the ball (same thing in football/Tom Brady, etc.). And, if you look really, really closely at both Sampras and Federer, they are doing the same thing. It doesn’t look it at real time speed, but it’s definitely there in slow-mo. Moreover, as part of that chain, you’ll see that, in their deep drop just after the trophy-pose stage, both Federer and Sampras have their inside forearm turned out such that the forehand racket face is facing to the right fence. This position appears to create more of the necessary torque or tension to generate the last phase of the swing.

    I don’t have the technology to actually slice the precise elements of each phase of the serve, but I really think there’s something to this…and something that we’re missing when we talk about the Sampras Snap. I just don’t think its the type of snap you are suggesting. It’s more a snap out than a snap over, if that makes any sense to you. But I think that you’re on the right path about trying to compare with throwing a baseball. It’s just that there’s something not quite right in how you’re describing and demonstrating it.
    Greg

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply February 17, 2018

      Greg – thanks for your detailed note and yes many similarities to overhand throwing – I will say that Patrick can totally pop the serve but was trying to demonstrate sidespin – as to the Sampras snap it is a lateral snap not snapping over and hopefully I have not recommended snapping over the ball – if I did that was a mistake
      Jim

  • Bill

    Reply Reply January 29, 2018

    The word is not snap wrist, sorry .. look at Roger’s contact point, his wrist is straight in line with forearm. Old school calls this a pronation of fore arm, not a snap which causes most students to 1.hurt wrist or 2. miss hit, and not build power, spin or a good serve motion. I agree with balance, smooth, proper weight transfer, reaching up, pronate, reach up and out, allow natural follow thru. For student that hits ball to left of court, simply address the fore arm pronation. it has not turned the racket to the ball.

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply January 29, 2018

      Bill – unless I am wrong – I did not use the word wrist in any part of the article – simply to snap the racquet much like a whip – some do use the wrist, others internal rotation of the forearm and upper arm – but snap was just my simple word to talk about racquet acceleration – go to my site and search for the Pete Sampras Snap – best Jim

  • kenny wong

    Reply Reply January 28, 2018

    Jim,

    This presentation is the best explaination that I have seen on how to hit a serve with spin by swinging “off line”. I have had many students come to saying that despite a loose grip, fluid swing, etcetera, when attempting to hit a spin serve, the ball nose dives to the left into the net. You clearly explain the reason and the fix!

    Fantastic!!

    Kenny Wong PTR Professional

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply January 28, 2018

      Kenny – thank you very much – the diagram from Stanley Plagenhoef has helped me as well
      best
      Jim

  • Ed Ghiorso

    Reply Reply January 22, 2018

    I started playing tennis at age 64-1/2, and developed a spin serve that drives most of my opponents “crazy”. I find that the key is to simple hit the ball at 3 o’clock for a right hander, and 9 o’clock for a left hander. But, do not try to guide the racket. Rather, swing the racket with a snap of the wrist (as if you were going to throw the racket away) a merely let the ball get in the way.

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply January 22, 2018

      Ed – very well said “do not guide the racquet” which for better or worse occurs when players are unable to swing with confidence on this serve – and for sure “3” is on the side of the ball and is very much like “english” when striking a cue ball
      best
      Jim

  • brownlobster

    Reply Reply January 21, 2018

    I am trying to make my 2nd serve “kick” or wickedly spin sideways, but find that often when I try to swing “harder”. the serve merely sits up for my opponent. Is it possible that in trying to increase racket speed I am:
    a) losing “effortlessness” b) getting too much racket face on the ball instead of “skimming it”
    c) too old (age 65) to try to substantially improve my serve d) none of these e) all of these

    P.S. As a retired school teacher, kudos to you Jim for you habit of slowly repeating the most valuable parts of your lessons verbally such that even the poorest of listeners cannot help but understand you. I appreciate your love of tennis that seeks to help others get even more enjoyment out of the great game.

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply January 21, 2018

      I am guessing that you are opening the face too early and hitting the ball “flush’ and second that you may use your wrist to “curl” around the ball rather than a forceful swing coming at the ball from the side (instead of the back) – for sidespin is hitting the side of the ball – why not shoot me a video of your serve from the rear or side and let me look and opine
      And thanks for your nice comments
      Jim

  • Robert Gomez

    Reply Reply January 21, 2018

    I thought my lifetime membership that I purchased about five years ago would give me access to this. Please reply; thank you and have a great day!

  • Noushin

    Reply Reply January 21, 2018

    Many thanks for sharing your invaluable experience and knowledge.

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