As I mentioned in a recent post, I’m on a mission to transform my serve from a weakness to a weapon. It’s a process that’s involving a lot of patience: I’m breaking down every aspect of the serve and, in the process, trying to break some deeply ingrained habits.
Last week while out in Denver I had a great private lesson with the awesome Jeff Salzenstein, a former top 100 ATP player and Level 1 USPTA-certified pro whose internet-based instructional videos are outstanding.
Jeff shared a simple philosophy that I think is dead-on:
If your body learns the correct start and end position for every stroke, it will figure out everything in between more naturally
For serve, it all starts with getting the “trophy position” right — that position made famous in the ATP logo.
Stay in Touch!
I only post every few weeks, but I'll be happy to send you a note when there's something new if you sign up below:
You can see what my trophy pose looked like before my lesson in this video shot a week prior:
As always, video helped me see the truth, as I thought my body was doing something very different.
WRONG: Notice especially:
1) Straight arm/ failure to bend the elbow, creating tightness in the shoulder and impeding proper racquet drop and acceleration
2) Shoulders level instead of tilted (right shoulder/hitting arm should be significantly lower) to maximize power potential
3) Chest is too “square to the fence” (perpendicular to net), which also detracts from potential power
Contrast this with what a model trophy pose should look like (Jeff Salzenstein’s) – the image taken from one of Jeff’s incredibly helpful instructional videos I got access to after subscribing to his “Tennis Serve Secrets Program.”
RIGHT: Model trophy position (Jeff Salzenstein)
In our private lesson, Jeff spotted this in about 3 seconds and manually adjusted me until I felt the right position. Here’s a clip of me trying to find the right pose immediately afterwards, with Jeff making some fine-tuning adjustments:
I’ve been practicing hitting this pose every day and it’s starting to become more natural: when I get it right, my serve has so much more pop with so much less effort.
Finally – here’s a collage of photos I’ve taken of top players at the US Open and Wimbledon that I look at every day for inspiration.
* Photo credits: I took all photos, including cover photo of Novak Djokovic, at the US Open and Wimbledon 2011-2012.
By P.J. Simmons Note: I originally posted these tips in 2012 but continue to update them based on new learnings and feedback from readers. At the advice of a fellow tennis fanatic/blog expert (who knows how much I spend on tennis!) I finally created affiliate links...
By P.J. SimmonsLast week my coach said, ”You’ve been on fire the past month... you’re making tremendous progress and executing on everything we’ve been working on.”I sense it too. In fact, I got a little emotional during yesterday’s practice after an hour of hitting...
By P.J. SimmonsEarly this morning, my dear friend and hero Ollie Stephens passed away after a heroic battle with cancer. My heart is aching with sadness and with empathy for all of Ollie's family and friends. All of our lives were forever changed for the better the...