Trophy Position – 5 Ways to Supercharge Your Serve

hi you know I had a good army loose arm I guess as I get taller and bigger water gets in our well what if you don't have a lose heart what if you have a bad arm in fact what is a live arm even be and what if you're kind of short like 5e is it time to choose mini sport what's going on guys it's coach Steven with 15 points tennis and in the next three videos we're going to be focused on the Serb now it's the most common stroke that I get asked about and one of the reasons being its most complicated they're the most moving parts on the surf compared to any other stroke so there's a lot of things that can go wrong now in theory there's no excuse for you not to have a good serve because you can come out here and practice at your own leisure at any point in time but look I've been there look I've been there guys hitting thousands of serves and only getting just marginally better because of course just like anything if you don't know what you're doing they're gonna be going around in circles and circles and circles so a little bit of backstory for you guys you know when I was young I didn't really have much experience or practice throwing balls are really throwing much so I never developed a natural throwing motion obviously the serve mimics the throwing motion so you see actually a lot of people who do have natural story motion they can learn pretty good serve technique just by feel for me it was the opposite this clunky mechanical alright I've had every problem agile on the serving xiety emotional breakdowns even and so what we're going to show you today is how to execute step by step right where if you do the right things you can manufacture a pretty good serve okay even if your overhead motion and throwing motion isn't very natural alright so before we begin please hit that like and subscribe button lower right-hand corner as usual thanks so much for supporting and what I'm going to do is even more importantly follow my Instagram 15 points of tennis no underscore the link is right down below in the description and for the first handful of people who submit a clip and so just direct messaging me a clip of your serve what I'm going to do is give you personalized feedback and repost your serve back to my Instagram with personalized feedback based on the system and frameworks that we're gonna discuss again no pun intended is first-come first-served guys alright so please go ahead and do that you know when you can now to further preface this video today we're gonna focus on and talk about the loading and uncoiling mechanics on the serve that's very different from timing your contact point rhythm those are very important to and that deserves its own separate video ok but today we're talking about that getting that perfect trophy pose okay and everything loaded properly now there shouldn't be a whole lot of mystery in the serve guys because number one we have great serves of the pasta model number two thinks of sports like baseball which they've literally mastered the throwing of overhead motion everything we talked about should be universal principles that can be applied across all of human body mechanics and across all sports so if you can't find the universal principles across all sports if it doesn't work cross all sports I'm just gonna say straight up it's wrong alright so that and what you also see is my serve now last thing I'm going to mention before we get into the juicy part of the video my serve is by no means a perfect serve now it's gotten astronomically better because I've literally systematically went through each of the checkpoints implemented them in a systematic way and that's how I want you to be thinking about these next few videos okay because if you're doing all the right things in terms of technique really my serve should be the worst case scenario so without further ado all right let's rock into it now when we talk about the serve just like any stroke the kinetic chain right we're talking about the three joints your shoulder elbow and wrist these are the levers that are gonna coil and obviously what I uncoil I'm releasing all that energy into the ball I'm going to culminate that right at contact at the tip okay at the tip of my racket and focus all that energy into the ball obviously I know I always say this shoulder elbow wrist these are joints forearm controls a wrist which is going to be that pronation here we're going to talk about predation maybe another time all right obviously tricep controls this the elbow right here right etcetera so obviously understand muscles joints right that's how it all works in a system but the biggest one for any throwing or overhead motion is a shoulder because it the whole upper body kinetics so let's really focus to start on getting the shoulder coiled and loaded now how are we gonna do this any coach would tell you first and foremost you want to get the elbow as I hit this trophy pose you want to get this elbow up and out of the body so what does this do this engages my shoulder and why is that all right if you ever went to the gym and dished shoulder raises all right for these deltoids its disengaged shoulder engage shoulder right now there's a little bit of tension in my shoulder once I lift that and get that out elbow to my body disengaged engage so you want to get this engaged all right now my shoulder is engaged that's the first step the second step all right the ISEE for more intermediate to advanced players who aren't getting the shoulder right is elbow should have just come up it should also go back and here's what I mean okay I'm gonna show I'm gonna break this down step by step but when I'm talking about back you should almost feel like you're you're elbowing something behind you because a full range of motion for the shoulder is what I'm gonna do right now is kind of you this little chicken arm I tucked my elbow in so I can isolate the shoulder I'm gonna go back up and over so watch carefully back up and over and so you can do this I get it if you kind of a stiff sole or need a warm up or if we just want to isolate the shoulder you're not doing this correctly you're not getting the full range of motion on your shoulder but this right here is a full range of motion if I were if I weren't if I didn't go back and just went kind of to the side and up up and over this is a much smaller circle and obviously when you see it if you like watch sound processor ver and we're gonna break this down sampras thinking he's so strong and so flexible with that upper body you see his elbow getting back right right here and this is our range of motion again you see that elbow back up and over and it's gonna lead into the next part of the serve now I've seen good players serve with literally the url' elbow here I've even seen good players serve with their elbow here I think there's a pro player who actually literally hit serve like this but if you're hitting a serve like this you're really you're not using this third lever you're only really firing with these with the elbow and wrist so it's gonna be an abbreviated kinetic chain at best right you wouldn't see if I were to throw a ball really far I wouldn't throw from here right I'd get this full coil back here get this bulb to my ear you see that now my shoulder is really loaded like a baseball pitcher that you want this elbow back alright so I know I stress that enough by stressed it a lot because it is very important so looking at a pro baseball player the throwing motion look at how coiled and this is in my mind more of an extreme version of that I just want to show you to really make you hyper aware to it because this element has to be there on your serve so what I'm going to demo next is e half a stroller load where I get yes the elbow is out of my body but it's not back and so I'm gonna call this just an elbow wrist serve using two only two of the three levers and look I can heat up pretty hard right especially if I hit the sweet spot this isn't bad but again it's not optimal now I'm gonna demo me getting the shoulder back with the full upper body coil and look at the difference in power there's really no comparison using three levers compared to two according to that analysis and we'll continue to look at different elements of Stanford's to serve but his serve is looking pretty good now the next thing we're gonna talk about once once you were able to get this full range of motion with the shoulder and guys one thing I like to do to get into this coil position is to think about it like an archer loading a bow and arrow meaning like imagine you're you're stretching back that bow and arrow and look at this right obviously when to keep this elbow in here or to the side I really get that things pulled back here right obviously for a serve we're not shooting it horizontally we're stretching that bow and arrow to the sky but see when I think when you think about it like that it's very easy to get this loaded down up and back right we see this left arm pointing to the sky so I get that length across the chest okay but the next piece okay once you can hit that position properly is to get is elbow right shoulder elbow wrist so once the shoulder comes up and up and around your what we call this is um you caught like a flip that occurs so right now in this trophy pose you see the tip of the racket pointing to the sky and the elbow pointed and kind of down back to the ground diagonally that way but as I push it thrust with my legs this foot and I come around this flip occurs so as I rotate now my elbow is pointing to the sky the tip of the racket is pointing to the ground and this ensures so you want to get this bent at the elbow obviously okay I know guys bear with me these first two parts of the server more rudimentary so I know the you know for advanced players you know but we got to cover this obviously the elbow has to bend in order for it to extend right so I need to get to this point at some point I know people call some coaches call it like back scratch which is position etc it doesn't matter what you want to use but if you want to be able to use this lever to go up with your tricep you got to get here now I see this more for four players just learning the serve I call them water polo serves okay if I were well you see water roll like this and don't bend their elbows if you keep the ball of the ball above the water but if I'm gonna throw up even if I have a good range of motion with my shoulder and even good pronation this is a disconnected kinetic chain if I'm throwing like this you're not gonna get much power right because you got to get that bend with the elbow here you got to get this flip for it to extend I know some players who well the water polo server is the first kind of big mistake I see the second thing is some players with an excessive lag with this racket we're trying to rush your serve and get it around again watch this if I'm here and I don't if I don't get to this point if I'm here you see this is kind of a half-assed load is this I'm not getting the full range of motion with my elbow so again when you get this coil see these three bends Ben Ben Ben right loaded loaded loaded which allows me to uncoil uncoil uncoil I don't want to misrepresent water polo players here because the ones that get really far out of the water can get that full elbow coil but you kind of get what I mean if you have to throw the ball above the water this demo I'm not gonna get my elbow fully bent I don't get that full flip to occur and you can see I called the half-assed kind of elbow Bend and this is if you called a shoulder based serve work I'm guiding the ball in and it feels stable but because there's no elbow remember racket head speed isn't in a tip and so I need to borrow that elbow wrist to get recommend speed instead of just guide the ball in andy roddick had one of the most incredible serves ever he seemed hit that positioned really well and he gets so much racket head speed again those last two elbow and wrist it happened so fast and guys one of the common themes that you're gonna notice on this video of why I tell you you need to get this full range of motion back up and around and on the elbow whether you want to call it the back scratched position to get this flip in this elbow fully bent in order to extend is because obviously on the serve you're tossing the ball so you're able to get a full range of motion and wind up big because obviously like on a ground stroke if the balls coming faster you might have to abbreviate your stroke and you're using the pace but on the serve you don't get any brownie points for shorting your motion right I can technically use shoulder elbow wrist and go and go like that right but that's not going to really give you a great serve obviously you see sound Britt's the reason why Sampras gets into a full loaded position here right with this full coil is because you want to use that full coil to create momentum and range of motion to build up to that contact point right to get all that energy into the contact point if you can't time that contact point because you're using more range of motion well then that's an issue with timing that's a different issue all right now last thing I want to say before we kind of get off on the shoulder elbow wrist thing okay if you're having a lot of trouble or if your service just a master I mean either one of those two things just really practice your throwing motion get that bowl up to your ear make sure you you can throw in and hit and hit this really coiled leverage position give this left arm out so you get the extension here and just throw throw throw throw throw our targets obviously if you're throwing and throwing just put then just put the racket in your hand and then you have a good upper body throwing motion okay I want to show you some old footage of when I was serving and I was unable to get the elbow back see how the elbow is to the side not getting the corn oil and my serve was weak I was struggling and it was getting pummeled especially if I didn't place my serve well I was starting every point on the defensive and it was just tough to wench points on my serve and a little over a year ago around this time I tweaked my shoulder I was experiencing social more tightness as well I don't know if that contributed to a lack of me not being able to do this even though I understood the concept look at a first serve is again not powerful enough to really even cause damage and give me an advantage of the point and this is about the hardest I can hit a first serve which is pretty pathetic compared to what I can do now where you can see my shore being much more flexible and fluid and so when you go out there and practice keep the technique in mind but also keep in mind your upper body strengthening and flexibility that might be a limiting factor so an actual world class or Rayo niche everything we're talking about guys all the good sirs even though they might different timing rib and rhythm they're all essentially the same in terms of mechanics the next thing I want to go to and these are the more nuanced points guys that we're gonna finish with here number one is I've talked about this before but as you serve is very important that you keep the traps down now I'm gonna have you come around on this side and what do I mean by that so your trap muscles are these right here okay that lift your shoulders up and down so I can raise my shoulders like if I'm doing like shoulder raises these are my shoulders but these are my traps you see right here traps up traps down traps up traps down what's very important is to keep as you rate as you lift your arms up to keep these traps down all right as you as you coil and the question is why do you want to keep the traps down well once I'm where my shoulders are down and locked in I have access to my core strength and I always use the example of pushing a boulder the boulder was rolling down a cliff I'm trying to hold it up alright you see how my shoulders are locked in then press down it might have access to my core strength I'm very strong here I could push that Boulder once it lifts my traps up I'm gonna get knocked over with my bowler because he I lose access to my core strength right when we talk about your swinging your kinetic chain it's always got to stay connected right Wow alright see that core engagement ah through the entire stroke so first of all when we get into this balanced position right see how I mean it's very it's very subtle especially when I tilt between this and this this and this sometimes with people with exaggerated tosses you see this exaggerated toss when I'm tossing it really high and this trap coming up look at my core I'm disengaged in my core how it's very tough with a disengaged court to balance because I've got to hit my center of balance and hold it right here all right if I'm tossing up like this and exaggerating my toss trying to get a too high of a toss that core string goes right right off the window okay so that's the first thing now the hitting arm and I had a issue with this at one point okay keeping this trap down obviously you want to keep it connected and strong okay all the way up to contact what people try to do is on their contact because I know coaches will sometimes say you don't reach as high as you can reach out reach up and that's good at a very low level but think about this alright I don't want to hit I don't want to make contact with the ball at the highest point I want to make contact with the ball at the highest point that I am strong so if I serve right here now watch my core at contact ok watch my body contact if I serve here see how my trap is down see see my core engaged I'm strong right here ok but if I try to get that extra inch of extension ok and try to go like this disengage I'm weak here I mean if you ever seen someone like tip a ball and basketball I'm gonna get a rebound and tip it or like a tip off in basketball you're not very strong at the hide your actual highest point so I don't want to be at my highest point I want to meet again with this trap down the shoulder is up again it takes some shoulder flexibility but here alright that's where that's where I want to be making contact so I want to again put channel all that force into the ball and be in a position of strength that contact so throughout your entire serve or you can keep those traps down and it's gonna actually feel strange to you ok once you get this it's gonna feel strange to you if your core is engaged ok and your serve is it doesn't feel stabilized this one is always hard to identify and I want to look at some old footage where I'm pretty sure that this was happening both on a tossing and hitting arm at contact where he's trying to reach up a little too high and you see the technique isn't bad but it's a little unstable especially when he hits his trophy pose there's a little bit of destabilization that's occurring through contact and it's so subtle but just again lifting that trap up slightly a contact and you lose that core strength now this is a few months later we're trying to shorten the toss to help him naturally keep again that nice tight core than it dary those those traps down so look at the connectedness and the power he gets and how quiet and solid he's able to keep the midsection and to me that looks better and again as coaches we're always looking for I mean I call it connect connectedness and that connectedness you lose sometimes when you're even reaching slightly and in your contact point and that makes a big big difference since then it's been a little bit better the server is looking a little tighter and more compact but again it's always a work in progress and we shall see let's take another look at our baseball player those traps down but those shoulders raised that again gives him access to his core strength all the way through his release point same exact thing on the serve and we're gonna watch speed Sampras now it's hard to always tell if that trout comes up on the tossing arm but the hitting arm you see how compact he keeps it he is not reaching up and trying to hit it at its highest point but keeping that trap down look at how compact again the follow-through is right there and strong where his core is very stable one thing about Maria's serve she does so many things well just I get this feeling as a coach every now and then she starts to reach a little too much in the court just reach for that extra inch and throws her a little bit off balance it seems and that long follow-through it's not as compact not quite as stable sometimes all right so now the last piece we're gonna add again as you can see we've went for the upper body now we're coming down to the midsection alright the last part I want to talk about for this midsection is it is a tilt back alright in the next video we're gonna be covering the legs the lower body but when you bend your knees if I want to keep my center of balance I die till to counterbalance so that's obvious but when we do the tilt back and I've talked about this and I've covered it prior but I want to really unpack this even more when you tilt back it's important that you're actually tilting back instead of bending back okay cuz once you've been back you can really hurt this spine and so you have to understand like your spine your verdict okay what can makes consists of your vertebras all these individual discs in your spine that's stack on top of each other now technically your spine isn't straight because there's a natural curve like in the look like obviously legally there's a natural curve you know at the bottom of my spine etc so it's not necessarily straight but when it's stacked correctly it will feel straight because it will actually allow your body to be relaxed and strong alright if I'm if that's why if I start bending my spine like this then all my other upper body muscles need a counterbalance and they tighten up right obviously on your server you don't want them to tighten up because then you lose relaxation and you lose speed and power okay you want your spine all those discs in your spine to stack correctly but what happens is when you guys are serving and this is the cause for back issues okay when people start arching especially for kick serves arching their back like this those discs are crunching up in their spine okay plus your team all this excess muscle to hold yourself in to keep yourself from hurting yourself okay so if I actually if I pull up from here I'm actually losing power and it's gonna be hard to transfer the power from my lower body to my upper body there goes a kinetic chain so when we talk about the tilt and the spine is very important see obviously my head my my neck my head is pointed out because I'm looking at the ball but see this tilt back right here this is the trophy pose you want you to tilt back with the upper body loaded this isn't tilt back position you want to hit and so with the spine straight what this allows you to do is straight all right it's gonna again it's going to feel straight again it's not technically straight like it when we do the slow-mo cat it's not technically straight but it's gonna feel straight and it's gonna feel very strong again we always talk about position of strength okay as you rotate here what this allows me to do is is to rotate on a clean axis what do you think about your spine being straight right it's that correctly it's gonna rotate on a clean axis same with the forehead when I hit a four and I want to rotate on a clean access once they start to bend my spine like this I can't rotate on that axis anymore so think about this I can rotate on axis if it's straight up right here if I tilt like this I can still rotate on the clean axis you see golf right so they hit the driver it's further away they hit the pitching wedge it's closer to their body because I'm bent at the hips I can still rotate on a clean axis you see I can still get that rotation once I bend my spine I can't wrote you on a clean axis and instead of rotating for power I have to once they start bending my spine I have to start pulling for power you see this start pulling for power so that's why the big thing on the off with the spine thing is by tilting back I can still give that rotation and it feels easy and clean as opposed to once I start bending my spine out to start pulling for power all right and looked at see this I don't want this chest and my ribs moving around because I'm at the pole for powers we're gonna look at a few serves starting with the grey pete sampras notice there's not a whole lot of bend in his spine but a whole lot of tilt back alright to get an angle to the ball I know we're gonna in the next video we're gonna talk about what I call the bend and snap concept I know that head snaps forward at the end of the serve and there are few more dynamics going on but here I want you to look at and notice the clean rotation from the head to the base of the spine there's a very clean rotation that occurs that's unobstructed and we go the rest of the body rotating around so an ironic serve we're gonna see Federer serve next but notice how the head move around a whole ton again because it's just so heavy so when we're talking about the tilt back and keeping that clean access this is a concept here that's so that sort of recaps everything we talked about okay again this trophy coil pose just knock off one thing at a time get the shoulder the elbow okay the tilt back the left arm right just make sure just go down the checklist and make sure you have everything in place I think this is pretty good to get you started now remember in the next video we're gonna be talking about coiling the lower body and this is we're gonna see that the serve really come together right all the pieces it does work together but I do want to say when we talk about the upper body the the muscles and the joints closest to the point of contact in the ball or the most important okay because if you don't have a good contact point and in culminating the power right here even if you add legs it's not going to do quite as much okay so before we launch that next video I don't know whether it's a week or two weeks out really go and hit the courts and get this stuff down all right we'll see you

  • as clear as crystal. I'm gonna watch this video every time I struggle with my serve, to revise my technique. Thanks a lot!

  • I compare you pose with Federer, seems the distance between this front foot and back foot is 2, 3 inch narrower than you. I know it is small difference, but sometimes small difference is what matters. It may save your some energy, or let you jump a bit higher.

  • Excellent break down of the serve, and like the reference to the kinetic chain and 'position of strength'. Very sensible and easy to follow instructions, and I find the information will help correct and improve my serve. Well done.

  • Coach, your explanations are so detailed and very helpful. I love how you explain things to us with different sports motions and what each muscle, joint, limb is supposed to be doing. I will go practice ASAP, thank you!

  • Such a good video, thank you!
    Love the bit about not raising the traps, probably why Sharapova has shoulder issues….

  • Dude, no disrespect but has anyone ever told you that your toss is totally messed up?

    You need to "toss", not throw the ball up by fully extending your left arm and "lifting" the ball up. If you are properly executing your toss, your left arm would end up at 12 o'clock. It's hard to explain in words but if I ever meet you in person, the first thing I would fix would be your toss.

    Your toss needs to be fixed. If not, your serve will never be consistent enough for you to enjoy playing tennis.

    Your ground strokes seem good enough to play 4.0 or even 4.5 tennis if you ever learn to properly toss & serve.

  • very impressive…you speak with the knowledge and experience of someone much older than you. its actually kind of amazing how you are able to speak with such authority on the nuances of the game most all other coaches (both online and in person) omit. You obviously have a God given talent that you have cultivated. Bravo!

  • Wow! You are such a good instructor! You nailed the problem on the head. After I watched this video and hit the court, I instantly improved my serve.

  • I seldom write comments. I must do. what a talented instructor! excellence in scientific analysis and explanations/delivery. one of the best tennis serves instruction. phenomenal! so helpful….

  • As a past college player and now a physician, your technique on shoulder is excellent. If your service swing without taking the elbow back, and just hit with the elbow/wrist, you will cause the head of the humerus to actually sublux, rotate to edge of rotator cuff, and cause damage and potential rotator cuff muscle and rim tear. Great stuff. God knew what He was doing!! Serve like you point out!

  • Steven, in order to maintain a straight spine on the tilt-back, I try to thrust my pelvis forward and upward, so as to move the hinge point from the waist (top of the pelvis) down to the ball and socket joints of the legs/pelvis, thus shifting the load of the upper body from the lower back muscles down to the obviously much stronger quadriceps. Try it in a stationary position, and you will see how much further back you can tilt before you begin to feel any stress in the spine. Great tips. Thanks for all you do.

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