Fire the Extensors (when serving) !!

Having lunch with the famous Vic Braden at a USPTA conference in Carmel Valley 1989, someone walked by and asked Vic to give a tip on the serve, to which he (famously) replied, “FIRE THE EXTENSORS BABY”

It may be that Vic called many “baby” but the memory has stayed with me.

As regards extensors, the quadriceps extend the legs, and the tricep extends the arm.

And for sure, whether in stages of a rocket or sequencing on the serve, the quads should fire just before the tricep such that as the body is going up the tricep stretches and then fires a moment later.

The sequence below shows Roger with knees bent, preparing to launch up and into the ball

The second photo shows his elbow bent, preparing to accelerate the hand arm and racquet up and into the ball


















  • Eugenio ovalle

    Reply Reply August 5, 2019


    Sorry to say the video is missing
    One point
    The face of the racket should be pointing to the
    ground on the take back
    Please take a look at Federer’s serve video


    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply August 7, 2019

      Eugene – yes I see the photo, but sometimes I am now thinking we (coaches) may be too precise in our comments or observations, for certainly McEnroe may have had his racquet in a different position – I am sure it makes a difference but I cannot say how or why

  • Thomas Curran

    Reply Reply July 20, 2019

    Hello Jim, I’ve been a member of your Essential Tennis since 2012. I’ve also purchased videos from you as well. With improved health, I’ve decided to resurrect my game again. In a recent You Tube clip about Madison Keys, you referenced the push and the sling, the former an impediment, the latter a plus or what’s absolutely essential to hit a good serve with adequate pace and spin. Never having thrown a ball correctly as a kid, I’ve always had difficulty with a fluid and powerful service motion. My club level instructors never picked up on it either, despite having a USTA teaching certification. In the Madison video, you referenced a link to further see the difference between the push and the sling. I could not find that link anywhere. Would you kindly provide me with access to the link? I’m in my 60’s and determined to develop the sling service motion before I put the racquet down for good. You’re so right about the importance of the sling. I think it’s the reason the Sampras and Federer serve are amongst the best in the history of the sport. So many instructors talk about the importance of pronation. And they’re correct. However, I think your sling analysis will better explain and demonstrate pronation and how to develop the proper and the best service technique. While serve techniques vary amongst the pros, I believe the “sling” to which you refer is at the core of all of them. You have my email address. I hope you can help me eradicate whatever “push” remains in my service motion. Thanks Jim.

  • Jim Robbins

    Reply Reply July 19, 2019

    I’m 82. When I was in my 50’s I could hit a 115 mph flat Serve, and a nice speedy slice serve. After shoulder and knee replacements, I can’t seem to drive my legs into the service motion. So, I rely on a not so speedy slice serve and top spin serve. I do hit up and out, but maybe I’m not rotating my trunk like I used to.

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply July 19, 2019

      Jim – I am 71 and can feel that some things I did once are more difficult – and somehow I imagine in another 11 years that will be even more an issue for me – that said my question is whether your motion was fluid or muscular and how the passage of time would effect either style – shoot me a video – let me see

  • Adrian

    Reply Reply July 19, 2019

    Jim, great point, as usual.
    The illustration shows clearly what you say and the kid has a pretty good firing sequence. Here’s my twopence observation.
    I don’t see the corkscrewing motion in the hips that would result in a right leg kickback (you see that in all good servers, Roger of course) similar to all baseball pitchers, shotput throwers, etc. (Yes, it is in a different plane, but the same). I would suggest to the junior a toss slightly more into the court with the screwing rotation of the entire body at the impact. Right now he takes his right leg along – as he looks to see the serve result – because he lacks the mentioned component. I believe it would be easily integrated by the player given his advanced coordination in the essentials he demonstrates for you so well.

  • Albert Wise

    Reply Reply July 19, 2019

    I wish Roger’s extensors had fired big-time at 40-30 match point against Joker at the big W this year..

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