Athletics and Recreation

Does Throwing Racquets Improve the Tennis Serve?

Does Throwing Racquets Improve the Tennis Serve?


Throwing the tennis racket over the
fence is used by some players to improve their serve. Venus and Serena did this as
kids and they have amazing serves so it’s logical to think that throwing a tennis
racket over a fence will help your serve because on the surface these two actions
seem identical but to really answer the question whether this will help your
service motion we must take a look at the biomechanical differences between
throwing a tennis racket versus serving a tennis ball. So the key biomechanical difference
between a throwing motion and a service motion is the timing of the torso
rotation. It’s is irrelevant whether you’re throwing the ball or actually
throwing a tennis racket the timing of the torso rotation on the throw will
always happen before the release of the forearm. So in order to throw the racket
we must rotate first and then release the forearm while on a tennis serve
we’re not doing that. We’re delaying the torso rotation and we are going to hold
the body position sideways and then we’re going to extend the arm pronate
and rotate into the contact. Even if you throw a ball or a racket at
a higher trajectory the release point might change but the timing of the torso
rotation will not. You are still propelling the object that is thrown
forward and the torso rotation will happen early as a result of that. If you throwing a football for example
or even throwing your racket over the fence in order to warm up your shoulder
there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact many high level players will often throw
a football in order to loosen up and warm up their shoulder before a match.
However, if you have technical deficiencies on your serve and are
throwing in order to improve your serve this will not work because the very
unique timing of the torso rotation on a tennis serve and this includes throwing a
tennis racket over the fence. While throwing a racket over the fence and
serving might look identical on the surface the key difference is the timing
of the torso rotation and that’s what makes a tennis serve very unique. Only on a tennis serve will you rotate
into the contact extend the arm and pronate simultaneously. So in order to
learn that you must practice a serve within the context of the entire service
motion.


Reader Comments

  1. Very insightful! I used to throw balls and racquets in adolescent coaching and I've noticed that I have a problem with too early hip/torso rotation preventing me from hitting a consistent kick serve. Do you have any advice how to fix that?

  2. I love your videos. Since you mentioned all 3 actions are performed at the same time, it got me thinking: am I doing something wrong if after the "trophy pose" I simply relax my racquet arm and let it drop & move into the swing sequence on its own as a result of initially driving with the legs? It always felt to me more like a chain of sequences, rather than the arm action & torso rotation starting simultaneously, but maybe that's just because it's so hard to accurately feel what happens in that split of a second.

    In short: do you have to consciously do something with the racquet arm, during/after the trophy pose, to make it sync with the torso rotation?

  3. Great coaching video about tennis service motion. I have never realized these kinds of nuances between throwing and serving.

  4. Staying sideways when serving helps transfer what power was developed from the ground because once you open the shoulders this power disapates. In watching tapes of Milos Raonic he seems to be able to hold this power generated from the ground until the very last second. Is there a transition point from the racquet acceleration until contact with the ball. It seems Raonic and Sampras also are so smooth and effortless with their stroke it appears the racquet wraps around the ball and it is slung out. In looking at videos the racquet does spend a lot of time at the point of contact instead of being pulled down.

  5. You can still invert this interesting if tentative observation as follows: If you cannot serve as you throw you can nevertheless learn to throw the way you serve (how you serve biomechanically correctly). Actually, you should learn to serve (effortlessly and correctly) by learning to throw the way you should serve.

  6. Does the motion need to be 100% identical to create improvement? You do a nice job proving they are slightly different. But that doesn't invalidate it as a teaching aid. How about Olympic lifts for wrestlers – for an extreme example..

  7. Wow, that was seriously good. You are one of the most technical and high-level tennis instructors on the Internet. Keep up the good work, Nick!

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