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Interactive Forum December 2017: Cici Bellis Serve

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  • Interactive Forum December 2017: Cici Bellis Serve

    Cici Bellis Serve

    Sad to say that I predict Cici Bellis’s serve will be a huge limiting factor in her success. See what you think. The windup is a disaster and the coordination of the timing of the racket drop and upward swing with the legs probably could not be further off. Check out the double pump knee bend. I don’t like super low tosses but hers is a mile too high. As for internal arm rotation, it’s there, partially, sometimes. Other thoughts?


  • #2
    Cici Bellis Serve

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    • #3
      Serve leaves a lot to be desired. 1) Lower and upper body are out of synch. 2) Front foot is too sideways to baseline (maybe even slightly past parallel) at the start. 3) Loading of the legs throws off her balance thru-out the rest of the motion (knees too close to each other) . Notice where her back leg finishes at the end of the stroke (too far to the right). 4) Elbow is too close to the body in "trophy" position. 5) Too open at contact, too much twist rotation of the trunk. (hips are square at contact), due to no loading of rear hip. 6) Contact is too far to the right. 7) End result = less internal rotation of the shoulder.

      I would start to solve the problems with a better starting foundation with the front foot at a 45* angle and a platform stance. Less arm movement and more loading of the rear leg/hip in the take-back. Have her toss closer and in front to promote more shoulder over shoulder rotation. Make sure her shoulders and right elbow are aligned in the "trophy" position. Have her legs exploding up, start the racquet drop.

      How can a top American hopeful, advance thru the ranks, get lots of top coaching and have such a liability at this stage in her career? I know she is still young and needs time to fully develop but? Any idea the speed of her 1st & 2nd serves? Given her size and the power of her competition, it's going to be a struggle to have long term success if her serve is such a liability. Difficult to make the needed corrections while playing on the tour.
      Last edited by seano; 12-02-2017, 09:23 PM.

      Comment


      • #4
        I coached a girl some time ago with not dissimilar problems. She was from out of the area but looking for a second opinion and help on her serve. It was a job to know where to start. In the end I opted for nipping things in the bud...going right to where the problems start.

        I got the girl to focus on starting to bend her knees around the time of the release of the ball toss. This what many of the best male servers do. Roger and Rafa bend slightly before while Novak and Sampras bend slightly after (something I have always put down to pointing their toe up in the stance phase). But on or around the release of the ball toss always seems a good cue for most students.

        It worked well. It nipped a lot of what took place after in the bud and stopped 75% of it happening. I am not saying it would work in Cici's case but it might. It's worth a shot. Things might fall into place if Cici were to rehearse the bending and releasing (and bending just once!) over and over again. With thousands of reps she might be able to eventually translate it in to her serve. It would take considerable commitment. It's the sort of undertaking that sorts the women out from the girls.

        Her alignment is awful of course and this would have to rectified at the same time, but then again, simply adjusting the stance may go along way towards helping.

        Well, if you are going to start somewhere then cancel out all the simple options first.
        Last edited by stotty; 12-03-2017, 11:29 AM.
        Stotty

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        • #5
          Lets not overlook the fact that there are lots of positive pieces in her tennis puzzle. look for the good and I believe we can credit her with some positive serve mechanics. I understand that she has a terrific work ethic. Full disclosure, I am not a serve expect. As coaches/instructors- we know that sometimes it takes just a few modifications.

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          • #6
            The problem is simple in my eyes. Just have her get an American football and teach her to throw.

            Richard Williams was on to something (at least according to Serena).

            I think she needs to stop serving and start throwing. Then record her throwing the ball over the net and see if she can coordinate her body parts in a better way. Then slowly bring those movements into the serve.

            Also, work on her flipping the racket through the contact zone so that she gets pronation.

            I think the Sampras like pretzel ending should be taught explicitly or a lot of different exercises should be used including throwing a football or spiking a volleyball.

            Serving well is not easy. It needs to be taught very well the first time through in progressions with a lot of care.

            I see so many juniors even at the more advanced levels with bad serves.

            The instructors come in and fix this, fix that and fiddle here and talk to kids about what to change.

            They let them persist with forehand grips and patty cake the ball too long.

            The best way is to actually teach the basics on which the serve is built.

            She is trying to create a hard serve and instead of creating a fast smooth serve.

            It's going to be a long tough road back if at all.

            I hate to be negative but I see it every time I go to any junior tournament.

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            • #7
              I have to believe that Cici Bellis and her coaches are working on this every day. While there are definitely a number of areas where her serve could improve, I think there is a lot to work with here.
              There seem to be a couple of different versions of her serve in the video. Maybe, and hopefully, her serve at 8 seconds in (in white) is an earlier version than the one in blue at 57 seconds-a version that shows a much more “modern”, wider, and aggressive stance that is maybe evidence that she is making changes in her serve.
              As seano said, “Difficult to make the needed corrections while playing on the tour.” And especially difficult for a player who has had some professional success. It’s a package deal as any changes in her serve would affect the rhythms of her second shot and the way she sets up her points.

              Comment


              • #8
                I recorded Bellis's match with a player from my park on 2/25/2013. Sadly, there is not much change in the motion. It would take a major commitment and probably a little time away from competition for Cici to correct the problems with her serve at this point. It would also require someone who actually knew what he was doing. With a current WTA ranking of 61, it is unlikely that she will have the time or come under the direction of a developmental coach.

                You can see the video at

                https://youtu.be/GcuwfKEPzUM

                You can use the controls on youtube to follow the video in 1/4 speed if you want to slow it down a bit.

                don
                Last edited by tennis_chiro; 12-05-2017, 12:09 AM. Reason: I put down 2017 instead of 2013 which misses the whole point. This was over 4 years ago.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by tennis_chiro View Post
                  I recorded Bellis's match with a player from my park on 2/25/2017. Sadly, there is not much change in the motion. It would take a major commitment and probably a little time away from competition for Cici to correct the problems with her serve at this point. It would also require someone who actually knew what he was doing. With a current WTA ranking of 61, it is unlikely that she will have the time or come under the direction of a developmental coach.

                  You can see the video at

                  https://youtu.be/GcuwfKEPzUM

                  You can use the controls on youtube to follow the video in 1/4 speed if you want to slow it down a bit.

                  don
                  I deleted my post after watching the service motion one time. More or less it was...scrap it and start from scratch. It doesn't make any sense to try and "fix" this. I deleted it because...now I'm not certain why I did. But I'm glad I did. tennis_chiro says..."it would also require someone who actually knew what he was doing." It saves me from having to say it.
                  don_budge
                  Performance Analysthttps://www.tennisplayer.net/bulleti...ilies/cool.png

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    There is no doubting Cici's serve is a mess and could have, should have, been better. But I don't like to be too critical without knowing history.

                    https://www.tennisplayer.net/members...ing_serve.html

                    The question I would put to any coach is how many girls have you been able to develop a foundation like the girl in the first video of this Tennisplayer article? I'd wager not many. If it were that easy, there would be girls littered across the globe with good service motions and perfectly synced leg drives.

                    tennis_chiro raises a good point. Cici's problems had to be taken care of in her early development years. This is where club coaches are so vital. Now Cici's is at performance level it's probably to late. Has anyone on the forum been able to completely rewire a serve like Cici's? I have tried many times in the past to start over with serves but in the end not succeeded, at least not in the sense of a complete rewire followed by resounding success.

                    Another scenario is this one. How many times have you coached an at first uncoordinated girl who later then developed better coordination and became a good player? I have, many times. Some good players aren't that good straight out of the box. I posted a 23 year-old girl a year or two ago on the forum. She was a uncoordinated beginner for the first two years of her development. Then out of the blue, through sheer determination I might add, she got suddenly better an better. She finished up nationally ranked. Her strokes did come good in the end but that was as much down to her receptiveness as anything. Players have to be receptive and be able to tune in to the journey.

                    With girls who are uncoordinated at the outset, it can be incredibly tricky for coaches to build the service foundation they want. I suspect Cici's early years were like this. We don't know Cici either. She might be stubborn, bloody-minded and downright resistant to change for all we know. There are perhaps too many red flags here to put the blame firmly at the door of bad coaching.
                    Stotty

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Player who made a major change

                      I had one player who listened to me and did the work I asked him to do. Greg was going into his senior year of high school and was already a tournament player albeit not a very good one. He had the problem with the dropped elbow on the backswing that comes partly from trying to get into the "backscratch" early in his development. It's very hard to correct and is part of Cici's problem.

                      I told Greg that he was going to have to hit 100 to 150 baskets of serves with deliberate practice to have a chance to correct this. Not only did he hit those serves, he used the "Hiccup Drill" to help to correct the faulty position. What you want is a straight line from left shoulder to right elbow in the trophy position before you drop the racket and really start to go up. This showed up really well in the video of Rafa working with Oscar Boras in the summer before he won his first US Open.

                      Anyway, Greg did the work and even used the Hiccup Drill in match play for a couple of months to change the habit and he was able to make the change. The later video shows he still needed a lot more Internal Shoulder Rotation (maybe another 90 degrees of racket face rotation), but he had no chance of ever develping that out of the previous position.

                      Comparison video of Greg
                      https://youtu.be/MvWCc4dQN9k

                      The Stances for these drills and the "Hiccup"
                      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2NCiPeTzdw4


                      The Oscar Boras and Rafael Nadal serve lesson. I've forgotten the name of Magicone who is doing the narration.
                      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oyNEC3gXHL8

                      don
                      Last edited by tennis_chiro; 12-05-2017, 12:15 PM.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Great work, tennis_chiro, and backed up sound with evidence. That's a tough change to make and both Greg and you have done so well to achieve it.

                        Actually, one thing that struck me was, despite the big changes in Greg's motion, we still get the same two-footed landing in both clips. Why is that? What is causing that two-footed landing? I notice he has no kick back. Usually when players drive up, the reach up to the ball with the racket arm ensures the right side of the body is going elevate more than the left and thus ensure the left foot will hit the deck first, at least with this type of motion.

                        I will import the clip into Analyzr and take a closer look.
                        Stotty

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by stotty View Post
                          Great work, tennis_chiro, and backed up sound with evidence. That's a tough change to make and both Greg and you have done so well to achieve it.

                          Actually, one thing that struck me was, despite the big changes in Greg's motion, we still get the same two-footed landing in both clips. Why is that? What is causing that two-footed landing? I notice he has no kick back. Usually when players drive up, the reach up to the ball with the racket arm ensures the right side of the body is going elevate more than the left and thus ensure the left foot will hit the deck first, at least with this type of motion.

                          I will import the clip into Analyzr and take a closer look.
                          You've caught me again, Stotty! Trying to maintain the old serve and volley patterns.

                          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Y6Tu5HxU_o

                          Actually, I've never been a big fan of that kickback. I think it is part of staying back in the court. But perhaps I just missed it. I was really just trying to calm down his leg action so he could get more serves in the court. And it worked. He appears to have a stronger leg drive in the 2014 clip, but it didn't produce results.

                          don

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            The hiccup drill is very nice. I never taught it that way but I did have my daughter end with her arm more twisted at the end. Greg has a very flexible shoulder as far as I can tell. This makes it possible to get into a reasonable drop even with somewhat bad mechanics. The better mechanics leads to a very nice serve indeed.

                            Did you try having him serve with the hand halfway off the bottom of the grip or releasing the last two fingers entirely from the racket?

                            He still seems to finish like Andy Murray rather than like Sampras.

                            This worked really well for my son and in fact on video I have caught him holding the racket with two fingers and his thumb. The top and bottom are completely off the racket at windup.

                            I have told him that he starts missing when I cannot see his pinky off the racket completely. This looseness allowed him to really accelerate into the serve and not think at all about it going in.

                            If only the rest of his game were as good as his serve...

                            https://drive.google.com/file/d/1J0W...ew?usp=sharing

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by arturohernandez View Post
                              The hiccup drill is very nice. I never taught it that way but I did have my daughter end with her arm more twisted at the end. Greg has a very flexible shoulder as far as I can tell. This makes it possible to get into a reasonable drop even with somewhat bad mechanics. The better mechanics leads to a very nice serve indeed.

                              Did you try having him serve with the hand halfway off the bottom of the grip or releasing the last two fingers entirely from the racket?

                              He still seems to finish like Andy Murray rather than like Sampras.

                              This worked really well for my son and in fact on video I have caught him holding the racket with two fingers and his thumb. The top and bottom are completely off the racket at windup.

                              I have told him that he starts missing when I cannot see his pinky off the racket completely. This looseness allowed him to really accelerate into the serve and not think at all about it going in.

                              If only the rest of his game were as good as his serve...

                              https://drive.google.com/file/d/1J0W...ew?usp=sharing
                              Pretty good action on your son's serve, Arturo. I think he, like Greg, is a little light on ISR. Great leg action, but the basic snap could be improved. He looks a lot like Rafa does in the beginning of that Boras video. I'm a big believer in getting that straight line established from front shoulder (right for your son) to hitting arm elbow before you go up to the ball. Your son gets that elbow well above that line.

                              As for the HIccup, one of the reasons I use that is I think it is absolutely essential to a consistent toss and serve that the weight goes forward as the toss is made. To me this is the lynchpin that holds your rhythm together. There is a big change the last few years with the emphasis on platform stance and shoulder over shoulder or hip over hip that the weight is kept back until the toss is completed; I consider this a big mistake and a primary source of reduced first serve percentages and increased incidence of double faults....So for the Hiccup, I don't want the student to just set the racket in the trophy position and then hit from there; I want them to feel the rhythm of the "rock" integrated with the backswing and especially the toss. So in the first move of the HIccup, the server swings the racket to the correct trophy position at the same time they are moving their weight. The "hiccup" nature of the drill is then rocking back to the starting position for the weight while the now perfectly positioned hitting arm is maintained, then the weight is moved forward as the toss is made and it is simple to drop the racket into the "pro drop" position after the toss is completed; and all of this with a definite rhythm. If you have a front to back to front weight transfer, it becomes complicated, but it works.

                              I've never been a fan of letting the bottom of the hand off the racket. I know you can release someone who is a little tight with that, but I want a "snug" hand on the racket. Your son will get more ISR when he holds on to the racket with more of his hand and this will provide more speed that the flip he gets from the "two-finger grip". And it will be controllable power.

                              don

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