I recently had my tennis strokes filmed by high speed camera.  It was very interesting.  You know what I learned?  I’m pretty good, and have lots of room for improvement if I play more (which is impossible because I’m old and am hurt all the time).  Regardless, especially on my groundstrokes, I am fundamentally very sound (thanks to my parents for all the lessons).

What was my worst stroke?  My serve.

I still win my serve most of the time.  It isn’t devastating, but I have a big kick, I’m consistent, and I can control it pretty well.  How hard do I hit it?  About 100 MPH throwing my arm out.  To put that in perspective, the best guys can serve near 140; the best women near 115.

How can the women serve faster?  Good question.  I can certainly beat them in arm wrestling.  Its technique, at least a lot of it.

Additionally, how hard to you need to serve?  Not 100+ MPH.  If you serve at the edges of the box with some spin, most people won’t even return a serve in the low 90s.  If they do, it’s popped up.

Here is my serve versus the serve of Mark Philippoussis…the most dominant server whose footage I have available (and one of the great servers of all time).

So you get these “key positions”, and here is my worst, the “Power Position”:

This is when you’re loaded and cocked.  After this its all racquet speed…how fast can I get my arm moving before I strike the ball?

So what’ wrong…3 things.

1)  Ball toss:  You can’t see it well, but my ball toss is not as far into the court/out in front.  This one is tough to change, because I am not tall.  I need the net clearance I wouldn’t get it threw it farther forward.

2)  Shoulder rotation:  We definitely look different in the shoulders, but the difference is not in elbow/racquet position….its in the shoulder rotation.  He’s dropped his shoulder perpendicular to the ground (180 degrees).  Mine is about at 115 degrees.  He has 65 more degrees of power.  He’s more loaded.

3)  Hip rotation:  This is single biggest mistake I make, and the most fundamental.  This is the only completely bad/wrong thing I do.  His right hip is cocked.  My right hip is already released (it is turned into the court).  Mark’s right hip doesn’t look like mine until after he hits the ball.  In essence, I’ve already unloaded.

So what about Andy Roddick (world record holder)?

Well…Andy is a freak, since he can get his arm moving faster than anyone on the planet other than major league pitchers….however, there is something to learn.

Mark P. has better mechanics, but Andy isn’t far behind.  His power position shows a tremendous load on the legs.  He seems poised to explode up into the ball.

In my defense, I had a knee injury during filming that kept me from a deep knee bend (but even a deeper knee bend would not change the fact I unload my hips before contact); however, the point remains valid:  Andy is generating a ton of power from his legs.

I need Mark’s shoulder rotation and Andy’s leg explosion.  I reality I would just like to be able to hit it harder than the women.

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