The least practiced and paid attention to aspect of the serve?

It's one of the great contradictions of our sport that arguably the most important stroke, that is also the most easily practiced (just you and a basket of balls), is often the most ignored.  

And more often than not, the efficiency and effectiveness of the serve hinges so often around the contact point area and therefore the ball toss, or ball placement ('toss' conjures up images of a jerky throw, whilst placement suggests something more precise, smoother and controlled).

There are 3 aspects of contact point that relate directly to the location/accuracy of ball toss as shown in this video of world number 67 Taylor Fritz delivering a second serve at the Surbiton 100K last week.

 

1.  Height

Typically most top players contact the ball on the fall (ie: as it's dropping from the apex of the ball placement) so the ball requires a placement high enough to enable this.  Taylor has a relatively low ball toss, but a careful look shows he still makes contact on the fall.

2.  Distance front to back

Contact ideally should be made inside the baseline for both 1st and 2nd serves, though to facilitate more spin a second serve ball toss will be placed further back to encourage more vertical path of the racket (for a top/slice spin).

3.  Distance side to side 

A tricky one.  12 noon (in line with heel of front foot) to 1pm would be considered within a range of acceptability.  Ideally, you are looking for a contact point that enables 'shoulder over shoulder' (cartwheel rotation) rather than shoulder around shoulder as this creates more vertical velocity through the hips, a higher contact point, and promotes greater internal rotation of the hitting shoulder (this action contributes to 40% to the generation of racket velocity at impact in the male high-performance serve).  [Bruce Elliott & Machar Reid, 'Tennis Science']

Elliott and Red however, are keen to point out that 'coaches of young players alike must be careful to appropriately time when they emphasise the importance of internal rotation in the service action.  For example, research has observed that increases in internal rotation velocity occur primarily after puberty.  Therefore, young players should attend to other aspects of the service action and lay the foundations for appropriate internal rotation velocity development prior to puberty, so that they can most effectively use this aspect of the serve when they mature.'

A couple of photos below showing a slight contrast in body position at contact of Fritz to a younger, physically developing 14 year old (albeit it different angles)

Finally, a few keys for an accurate ball placement:

  • A smooth rhythmical service action is helpful, especially when score-board pressure and muscular tension come into the equation
  • Release at eye level
  • Straight arm and lift from the shoulder
  • Imagine holding on to a tube of balls or a plastic cup/ice-cream cone to limit last second wrist flick which can send the ball anywhere!

Above all, have fun getting out there and practicing your serve - no hitting partner required!








 


Beth and Olivia take on top seeds at Surbiton 100K today after wild-card reward

Everyball and PROv3 Beth Grey and partner Olivia Nichollls (Loughborough Tennis) have been awarded a wild-card into the 100K Women's ITF event at Surbiton today, taking on top seeds Laura Robson and Monique Adamczak (not before 2pm centre court).

Best of luck Beth and Olivia!!

Beth is no currently ranked WTA 550 in singles and 236 in doubles.

See her ranking progress over the last few years below.  Great strides this year so far Beth, keep up the great work!

Width of your base foundation for great movement and strokes

An old colleague of mine always used to say: 'You can't fire a canon from a canoe!'

How very true this is.  A good wide base is the foundation for explosive movement and great stroke stroke production.

Look at Eugenie Bouchard (you may remember at Wimbledon 2014 she became the first Canadian-born player to reach the finals of a Grand Slam in singles, finishing runner-up to Petra Kvitova) hit a few balls here.

Pay particular attention to the width of her base as she executes her split step as her hitting partner is striking the ball.  (Video courtesy of Everyballer Amelie Brooks who is currently out competing at the Moratoglou Academy and was able to watch Bouchard training).

Something we can all seek to emulate, whatever level we play at!



Singles & Doubles titles for Joel Good at Chesham Bois Grade 3

Joel Good showcased his improving game with a brace of titles this week at the Chesham Bois LTA Grade 3 tournament this week.

In the Open Mens Singles final against fellow Everyballer and AGS student Dan Dean, Joel came through 7-6, 6-4 and then teamed up with Ben Smith (also of Halton/Everyball & Eton) to win the 18&U Boys doubles.  (See Ben and Joel pictured below)

Well done also to Calum Fairey in reaching the final of the 14&U boys event and for Calum Fairey and Josh Bright getting to the 14&U Boys doubles final.

Congrats to each Everyball player in the event with all competing well and many making good progress within their respective events.  

Everyball's Josh Oakley moves into 1/4 finals of 12&U Grade 2 at Halton

Convincing wins today over Taymur Muhammed (6-0 6-0) and Joseph Mazingham (6-1 6-2) saw Josh Oakley move into the 1/4 finals of Halton's Everyball Grade 2 LTA 12&U event tomorrow.  Great in-between point towel work through both matches Josh, ensuring you are 100% ready to fight for the next point.  

Well done also to Amelie Brooks, Millie Day and Fraser Reeves for your performances today in the same event - lots of learning from matches at this level and all the best in the consolation event.

Miles Groom came up against top seed Louis Maxted in the first round of the 16&U Grade 2 event at Gosling losing by a scoreline that did not reflect the closeness of the match, and Sophia Mezzone went down fighting to the 7th seed Andrea Pineda.

Elsewhere, Everyball has had strong representation at the Chesham Bois Grade 3 event this week - well done all players so far and all the best to the players competing there tomorrow:

Ashton Taank, Jack Feinson, Ben Spencer-Jones, Alexander Pennycooke, Calum Fairey, Joshua Bright, Daniel Mccay-Brown, Emily Ineson, Oliver Mccay-Brown, Joel Good, Ben Smith, Daniel Dean. Finn Lester