Tennis Serve – Secret to Serve Over 120 MPH (Top Speed Tennis)

Tennis Serve – Secret to Serve Over 120 MPH (Top Speed Tennis)

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Hi guys, I’m Clay Ballard with Top Speed
Tennis, and today we’re going to talk about the science behind maximizing speed. So if you want to rip those ground strokes,
you want to smash those serves, we’re going to talk about the science of how you’re
actually going to do that, and some great drills to do so. Now I know we’ve all heard we need to accelerate
to the ball, we need to keep everything moving through the shot. In reality, we need to decelerate the body,
we need to decelerate the arm, so that that racket can accelerate. I know it sounds really crazy, we’re going
to take a look at a research project that Stanford University did. We’re going to talk about what actually
happens throughout the body, and then at the end, I know it sounds a little complicated. We’re going to simply that though for you,
I’m going to give you one great drill that anybody can do. Super easy to do, from the comfort of your
own home or out on the tennis court that’s going to help you to boost those serve speeds
and start ripping and getting that snap through contact. So good luck to you guys, let’s go ahead
and get started. I’m really excited for this one. OK, so first let’s talk about where this
comes from, and this applies not only to the serve, but also to your ground strokes, forehand,
backhand, anything you want to hit with a lot of speed, this is going to apply to. I posted a video a while back, and I was talking
about how in a forehand, now I’ll just kind of briefly mention this, because we’re making
contact with a forehand that our body actually slows down to allow the racket to release,
and snap through, and get a lot of speed, and maximize that speed. I got a comment saying that they didn’t
think that was correct. You know, the faster I move my body through,
the faster I’m going to be able to accelerate, and the more speed that I’m going to get. I think that that’s taught, and it got me
thinking about that. I realized that that’s taught a lot. When you’re coming through and you’re
going to make a ground stroke, and I want to hit this really hard, you always hear,
“Swing through the ball, accelerate through the ball, accelerate everything moving on
through.” I think that leads to a little bit of a misrepresentation
of what’s really going on, the real science behind this. And that that’s why I wanted to get a little
more technical in today’s video and talk about what’s truly happening to get maximum
speed. So when we’re making a ground stroke, or
a server, or any of that, what’s really happening is my body is accelerating first. My torso, my hips, my shoulders, my arm, it’s
going to begin to accelerate, and this racket is going to lag behind. Just like the lag and snap forehand video
we talked about. As that racket is lagging behind, now what’s
going to happen as I’m nearing contact, is my body is actually going to slow down. My chest my hips, my arm, is going to slow
down to allow the racket to snap through and have a multiplier effect. So if I don’t ever get that slowing down
of the body, I’m not going to be able to release my racket with maximum speed. It’s going to look something more like this,
where it’s drag everything through as I’m making contact, and everything rotates on
through together. So however fast my chest is rotating is going
to rotate out to the racket. If I want to go even faster with the racket,
I have to get that to release and snap on through, and that’s exactly what we’re
going to see here in a second with a chart from Stanford University. So they mapped out the back, the shoulder,
the arm, with a tennis serve from a top player and they showed how that accelerates and decelerates
to maximize that speed. Let’s go ahead and take a look at that chart
now. Now we’re going to look at research done
by Stanford University. What they do is a motion analysis research
where they map out different pieces of body, and then they test how they accelerate and
decelerate throughout a given motion. We used to use these all the time with golf,
there’s even some mobile phone apps that will test this for your hips and different
parts for golf. Unfortunately, tennis hasn’t gotten that
far along yet, I think you’ll start to see more of this stuff in the next 5 or 10 years. But this is some of the first research I’ve
seen in regards to tennis. Now when we’re looking at this graph you’ll
notice that there’s different color lines. These are all marking different pieces of
the body. We have a purple line here at the bottom,
a blue line for the shoulder, or sorry, that’s the back at the bottom line, the light blue
line’s the shoulder, the red line’s the elbow, green line’s the wrist, and then
we have the racket itself as this blue line. As these lines move upward that means those
pieces are moving faster, and as they move downward, that means that they’re slowing
down or decelerating. So let’s take a look at this from left to
right. Over here on the left side of this chart,
that’s showing time before contact. So this is earlier in the stroke, this is
probably around the trophy pose on the right. This vertical line we see here is contact
with the ball. That’s where you’re making contact on
the serve, and then after anything to the right of the vertical line is after contact. What we’ll notice is around the trophy pose,
there’s not a lot happening. A lot of pieces of the body aren’t moving
or almost pausing as you’re anticipating jumping up for the ball. As we start to move to the right, you’ll
start to see these lines begin to accelerate. So the back, the bottom purple line, that
starts to accelerate a little bit. Then you’ll notice as it moves down it’s
decelerating as you’re getting closer to contact. Same thing with the lighter blue line for
the shoulders, it’s accelerating as you’re moving out of the trophy pose, and then decelerating
as you go into contact. The elbow is accelerating even more as you’re
coming out of the trophy pose, that says your arm’s throwing up toward the ball, your
racket is going up toward the ball. The key thing to notice here though, is that
the elbow is actually slowing down. The wrist, same thing with the green line,
it’s accelerating and then slowing down as you’re coming into contact. The reason for this is so that you can transfer
that energy. If everything just kept on accelerating, the
arms, the wrists, elbows, body, all that kept accelerating, we wouldn’t be able to get
that racket to snap, to snap through. If you’ve been working on pronation, if
you’ve been struggling with the waiter’s tray serve and feeling like you’re really
pulling everything through as hard as you can, it’s actually the opposite of that
that’s going to allow you to snap. A great way to visualize this is we’re going
to look at these three figures at the bottom of this chart. This bottom figure, this is well after the
trophy pose, and you’re actually going to see that the body, if we look at the back
and the shoulders, they’re not moving very much in these three figures. So well before contact these shoulders are
already starting to slow down. You can see that they’re roughly in the
same position they were in each three of these frames. The elbow at this point is still firing, so
this, on this first figure we’re probably right around in this area somewhere. The elbow’s still moving forward, but if
you look at the second two figures the elbow is almost in the exact same spot. Same thing with the hand, the hand still has
a long way to go in this first figure, but if you look at the second two figures, the
hand isn’t really moving very much, and what we’re doing here is we’re decelerating
pieces of the body and letting it snap on through. So I know this is getting a bit scientific,
a little too technical, let’s go ahead and look at this with a real tennis serve, and
talk about what we need to do and really simplify this a lot and get a great drill to work on. OK, so let’s go ahead and apply what we
just learned in that study to an actual serve drill. This is going to be super easy, very easy
to follow along with. All we’re going to do is we’re going to
first start out with our continental grip. Now the reason I want you to be sure you’re
using a continental grip, this is a great drill for those of you who maybe you’re
stuck with the forehand grip trying to hit the serve. You’re using that waiter’s tray serve,
you feel like you’re pushing the racket through, this is the absolute best drill in
the world for you guys to break that habit. So we’ve got to make sure that we first
use our correct serve grip with the index finger knuckle on bevel number two, that’s
our continental grip. What we’re going to do here, is we’re
going to go through slow motion, and my body’s going to create some momentum. As I get near contact, I’m going to transfer
that momentum out to the racket. It’s going to look like this, as I’m coming
up I’m going to really slow motion, my body’s accelerating, my arm is accelerating. Then I’m going to pause right here as I
would be at contact. I’m kind of in my contact position, or very
close to my contact position. You’ll note that my arm is extended, notice
my arm is extended. My racket is still angled back at a 90° angle. From here after I pause with my body, I’m
going to get this racket to snap all the way on through. Once it’s come all the way on through, then
I can go ahead and finish my tennis serve motion. So if I look at this from the side, so you
can get a really good idea of what’s going on with the racket. Let’s pretend I’m serving this way. I’m going to go really slow with my body,
as I’m coming up to contact. Now my body’s going to pause, my racket’s
back at a 90, strings are vertical, I’m going to come up, there’s contact, and all
the way through. So I’m going to pause my body and let me
racket do this to get that snap, and then I’m going to follow all the way on through. So this is absolutely a great drill to build
momentum with the body and then decelerate the body and really feel that snap as you’re
doing the serve. So I want you to do 100 repetitions at that
speed. So follow along with me here, we’re going
to go really slow, pausing just before contact, racket snaps through, then I’m going to
come on around into the court. Do 100 repetitions at that pace. So just take a little bit of time to do this. You’re not going to feel a lot of rhythm
with this at first, we’re just building the sequencing, so we’re breaking down these
steps into small pieces here. Now as we build onto this, and we get comfortable,
we’ve done those hundred reps, let’s go ahead and speed it up to about 50 percent
speed. Then we’re going to go ahead, come up, get
the racket to snap, and come on through. That time, starting to look a little bit more
fluid, because I’m used to the sequencing of that motion. Do about 100 reps at 50 percent, and then
we’re going to do 100 reps without a ball 100 percent, and really feeling that snap. You really want to feel that snap as you’re
doing that. Once you’ve done a hundred reps of that,
then you can go ahead and start tossing some balls, hitting some serves. You’re really going to boost your serves
through that. I promise you guys, you’re going to love
the feeling of that snap. Your friends are going to be very impressed
when you get this down, because your serves are going to get boosted up 5 maybe even 10
miles an hour once you really get comfortable with that snap if you’re doing the waiter’s
tray serve. So good luck to you guys, let me know how
it goes with this drill, and I can’t wait to hear about your results. All right, so I hope you guys really enjoyed
this video. If you have any questions on this at all,
I know it’s a fairly complex subject, just go ahead and type them in the comment below. I’ll be more than happy to answer those
for you. And to add on to this, if you really want
to boost that serve speed, I have a great series for you called the Power Serve series. I’m going to play a preview from one of
the videos in that series. And if you want to click the link in the bottom
right-hand side of the screen, or down below in the description if you’re on a mobile
device, you’ll be able to watch that entire series free of charge. So the preview’s going to come up in a minute. Click that link, you’ll be able to see that
entire video plus the entire series. Click the like button if you enjoyed this
video and you want to see more serve speed videos and drills coming forward in the future. And also remember to subscribe so you’ll
be notified when we come out with those new videos. So great to see you guys, good luck with that
serve speed, and I’ll see you all soon. Hi guys, I’m Clay Ballard with Top Speed
Tennis, and today we’re going to talk about how you can get more pronation in your serve
to help bump your speed and do it with very little effort. This is one video out of our entire Power
Serve series, and I’m going to break down pronation into three simple moves that you
can incorporate into your own game. Let’s go and get started. OK, so the first thing we need to understand
is when we’re talking about pronation, how does this add speed to our serve? And when I see many beginner tennis players
when they were very first starting to play tennis, a lot of times what they’ll want
to do when they’re hitting their serve is keep the strings facing the opposing side
of the court. Just imagine that you’re my opponent, I’m
hitting a serve towards you, and I’m trying to keep my strings facing you the entire time. When I reality we want these strings to snap
as we’re coming through to help increase that speed, and that’s what pronation is. As we’re getting…

37 thoughts on “Tennis Serve – Secret to Serve Over 120 MPH (Top Speed Tennis)”

  1. Hi Clay. If you have contact with the people who did the research, can you ask if the velocities are measured along a certain direction (for example towards the net), or it is the overall linear velocity towards whichever direction the body part is moving at any point in time? Also, whether all velocities are measured in relation to a fixed point or if different moving points (probably the articulations) are used as reference. Otherwise, if you could post a link to the paper, we can crunch through it. 

  2. Clay, this is so cutting edge. I have not seen this mentioned anywhere else. It totally makes sense. It is like cracking a whip. The reason the whip can break the sound barrier is because a loose flexible lash (the arm in the tennis analogy) is combined with a firm handle (the body in tennis).

    Your demonstration of the serve was awesome. It totally makes sense. You also mentioned the deceleration of the other parts of the body when hitting a forehand. I've seen your other videos for the lag and snap of the forehand. When I watch video of Federer hitting forehands, it does appear his body decelerates and then the arm whips through. How does the body or trunk of the body slow down when decelerating the forehand? Is this something that one needs to consciously think about? Some of my biggest serves and forehands have occurred when I relaxed the arm and let it whip around my body. I don't have a good system in place to consistently achieve the proper way to decelerate. Thanks. this was a very interesting video.

  3. Yet again, you are the man, Clay! What really helps is that you're explaining different aspects of the serve in different ways and that really helps me to really get my mind around the proper technique. Keep up the great work!

  4. I have been rebuilding my serve along these principles for a while, and it is going good. But as I studied the chart I realized that my shoulder is going maybe a little too early and I am losing momentum. This is very helpful.

  5. As a golfer and avid fan of analyzing golf swings this video and many others of yours are just great. Also like the concept of doing 100 reps for everything. Very much like my approach to learning golf and tennis as well.

  6. Thank you for your efforts. Since I started study serve, in way of practice I realise, that so important to create correct mental image for this complex movements, like 'Archer's bow'.

  7. Excellent video Clay!
    Imo, this is also an indication that you don't need too much twist and turn of the core to hit a good groundstroke or a good serve, which can save your back and spine from trouble.

  8. Clay, definitely like the science to explain the game. It would be great as an addendum to go over some details on the different types of serves (flat, kick, slice) techniques and how this fits (with some physics maybe)

  9. Dear Clay,
         I have 2 questions.  First where on the ball do you aim to hit it?  The center, just below center, just above center.  I am have a good deal of success.  But I need to know where to focus the serve impact.
         Second, how do I change the strike point to move the ball from the center of the service box to the right and the left.  I am excited about learning to place this new power and speed.

  10. This video was an amazing help! Thanks for the video clay… I am young but experienced with tennis and I was having trouble with the power in my serve, thanks for the help!

  11. I originally though you had a voice over during your slow demonstration of the serve. Haha Dude, your slow-mo was on point.

  12. Hi Clay, is that lead you have on your Steam 99S going from 7 to 5? I cant tell if it's the light hitting the frame or 1/4 in lead strips. I am a racquet cutomizer and love new technology and new ideas in customization.Thanks, Billy

  13. What you're actually doing is shortening the length of the weight (arm & racquet) being spun which accelerates the racquet at point of contact with the ball. Kind of like the crack of a whip.

  14. Hi Clay, what i dont understand is why the speed of our wrist slows down just before impact. i thougt our wrist has not much movement and then  snaps through at the end of our movement

  15. I finally found great tips on the hardest part of tennis – the serve!!!! Thanks much again Clay!!!!!

  16. i have been working on my continental grip on serve. I think I have been using more of a semi-continental grip for my serve. I seem to be slicing my serve now and am not able to get a flat serve. I also am feeling more strain in my forearm. I don't think I was doing a waiter serve as I learned technique when I was young to come at it with a hammer motion. What could be causing this issue?

  17. Clay I have really been struggling with my second serve what do you suggest I do to improve it and make it pretty hard for my opponent to return it

  18. This is a great video. One question: In one of your other videos about the forehand you talk about applying pressure with your bottom two fingers rather than your pointer for greater leverage – should this be applied to the serve grip as well? Thanks!

  19. Clay I've got a question for you. I've noticed that when Federer or another top pro hits a ball, in slow motion, the racquet head twist a little bit. Is it normal, or they don't hold the racquet sufficiently tight? Thanks for your answer Claudio

  20. Clay, could I use this serving 'shadowing' drill as a progression ecercise following doing 4-5 rotator cuff resistance band exercises? In order to help add speed to my athletes serveserve

  21. Great stuff. Great find with this Stanford study. Reaffirms a lot of things I found myself doing in my game and I'm sure a lot of things in others' games as well.

  22. Here's a phrase for you to look up on google; transfer of angular momentum.
    Your advice may sound good to the uninitiated, (as the dozens of comments of praise confirm) but if you are proposing any sort of focus on stopping or slowing of your shoulders/elbow/back etc through a swing, you are confusing cause for effect.

    In a simple example, if you start spinning on a chair with your arm stretched behind you, then suddenly swing your arm forward, your spin slows down. The slowing of the spin did not cause your arm to swing forward, your arm swinging forward caused you to stop spinning. If you were not spinning you would actually go backwards as a result of the arm going forward. Well, the two kind of happen together, I guess you could argue that if your arm were detached from a body and the muscles contracted it would simply bend, without spin.

    Now for a more detailed explanation.
    It is described in newtonian physics, an object in motion tends to stay in motion unless a force acts upon it.
    The force acting upon your rotating body is the arm swinging, contraction of the pectorals applying a force both to the arm and torso, on the arm to accelerate it forward, on the torso to accelerate it backwards. The amount of energy transferred to the torso is proportional to the force applied to the arm. (F=ma)

    The set up for the serve builds up energy in the torso so that when you do swing with great force it does not send your body back in the opposite direction, but slows it down. The faster you are moving the more force you can apply with the arm and still maintain forward momentum or approach static equilibrium.

  23. Well. The graphs clearly show what is happening in terms of velocity. Interpretation of the graphs in the video is slightly questionable though. I'm getting impression that intentional deceleration is involved, which almost certainly should not be the case. Interesting topic nevertheless, thanks for the video!

  24. Clay! Thanks for a great video. 

    Do you think after the Trophy Pose, you could be letting your racquet drop way much more?

    Some people have a deep racquet drop. Others, like you I would say, rely more on shoulder external rotation, letting the forearm lag behind like in a baseball pitch throw.

    What are the benefits of each way?

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