How To Generate More Power In Your Serves Through a Connected Body
There is a source of power in a tennis serve that may not be obvious at first glance, and it may not even make much sense—but if you analyze the best servers in the professional tennis circuit, you’ll see that all of them use this source of power.
The video below explains the difference between the “broken body” and the “connected body”. It shows you the drills to help you feel the connected body and thus generate more power on your tennis serves.
Why Do We Break the Body in the First Place?
I believe tennis players break their body at the waist because they feel that they need to push and steer the ball in a downward path. Leaning forward with their upper body will help them find the angle under which they need to serve, but also give them additional power.
They are mistakenly looking for the source of strength, since they believe that in order to hit a hard tennis serve, you need to be strong and hit the ball hard.
Imagine how you would approach hitting a tennis serve if you read the above sentence before serving. Would you tense your muscles before and during the point of contact with the ball?
In order to hit fast tennis serves, we must look for smooth and fluid throwing action, through which we accelerate the racquet head and swing through the point of contact as if there is no ball.
Now imagine how you would approach hitting a tennis serve after reading the above instruction…
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below…
So in order to develop a connected body and incorporate it into the tennis serve technique, we first need to change our perception and mental image of how to hit a tennis serve.
Do not look for “strength” but rather for speed.
(I devote a whole section to this topic in my Serve Unlocked video course, and show you additional drills on how to serve with speed rather than with muscling the ball.)
Tennis Serve Technique of the Pros
If you analyze the serving technique of professional tennis players and know what to look for, you will quickly see that all good servers “connect” their body at the point of contact.
Connecting the body means that their body is aligned in almost a straight line that goes from their feet to the contact point.
The less straight this line is, the more it is broken, and the weaker the serve is going to be, even though the player feels that with their forward movement of the trunk, they add power.
You can see this in the case of David Ferrer—he is not as straight to the contact point as Roger Federer, Andy Murray, Andy Roddick, or Marin Cilic are.
If you look at Dinara Safina’s serve at the point of contact, you can see that her body is even more broken, and that was definitely one of the reasons for her very erratic serve.
(Images credit: All images are taken from the videos of the TennisOne Youtube channel.)
So the key to more power and consistency in your serves is being more upright through the point of contact, and trying to feel the connectedness of the whole body.
How to Feel the Connected Body
The most effective exercise that helps you get the feel for hitting up and connecting your body in the point of contact is “hitting a fly on the fence” with a towel.
Just imagine a fly high up on the fence, and try to hit it with a towel. Pay attention to what muscles you use to do that.
In most cases, you’ll feel this firming up that goes through your arm, shoulder, back, and buttocks, and ends up in your calves.
The right tension in this diagonal line will help you connect the body and transfer more energy into your hand, and thus the racquet head as well.
The second exercise is with the racquet.
Just push the racquet into the fence with the top edge and stand on your toes. You will feel this diagonal line going from your left calf to your right hand if you’re right-handed.
Press a few times so that you get a better feel for this firmness, and then hit a few serves in which you try to recreate that feel.
Don’t aim into the court, because that will probably make you lean forward again with your trunk.
Just hit the ball straight ahead, parallel to the ground, and try to connect your body in the way described above.
With some practice, you should be able to incorporate this technique into your tennis serve.
Let me know how it goes!
(In the video above I am wearing a shirt from Advantage Tennis Wear.)