June 23, 2011
During my time off this week, I took advantage of a local tennis expert for some helpful tips on my serve. I was able to take a lesson with Frank Inn Jr., a multiple-time winner of the USTA National Coach of the Year award and coach of Medford natives Jonathan Starke (former #1 player in the world in doubles) and Nate Schnugg (recent University of Georgia standout). I have been struggling with my serve in recent weeks and felt the technique guru could give me some helpful hints for improving.
Lately, I’ve been struggling snapping the ball down into the court on my serve. Sometimes it would be working, but more often than not it felt like I was pushing my serve, missing almost all of the time long. I wasn’t sure whether it had to do with my contact point, my wrist snap, my ball toss, my leg usage…as you can tell I really couldn’t figure it out myself. So I let Frank take a look, and I think we fixed what was the problem.
He noticed that my right shoulder was not getting over the top on my motion, and thus the snapping action of my wrist was a push when I made contact with the ball, instead of snapping the ball down into the court. I wasn’t getting the classic back shoulder dip like all the great servers have before contact (picture Pete Sampras, or even just the old ATP logo, where the back shoulder is below the front shoulder before impact). I wasn’t loading my back side, and thus had no explosiveness in my right shoulder to get it up over the ball. Instead, my shoulders were more or less flat through my service motion, and I couldn’t get that slam dunk feeling on my serve where I was snapping it down into the court.
We worked for the entire hour on this, hitting an entire basket full of serves. We focused on getting a good coil and loading my back hip (kind of how you picture Roddick before contact), dropping my back shoulder, and really being explosive up to the ball with a high contact point. It took me a few minutes to really get the feel for what Frank was saying, but I think it’s fixing the problem! My serve now has more pop on it because of the added coil and loading of my back hip, and I’m snapping the ball down into the court, erasing a lot of the “long” misses I’ve been having. I’m continuing to work on it through the course of this week, and it’s feeling a lot more natural and comfortable. I’m anxious to see how the serve holds up this weekend.
I’m driving up today for an afternoon practice up in Roseburg, and then play starts tomorrow morning at 9 am for me. I’m pumped and eager! Stay tuned for Roseburg results, and thanks for reading!