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The Serve: Twist Versus Forward Rotation

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  • ten1050
    Hello Brian,

    Excellent video on the forward rotation of the body on the serve. The cartwheel or somersault rotation seems somewhat similar to what javelin throwers go through. Javelin throwers spend a good deal of time strengthening their abdominal muscles by throwing a medicine ball overhead using both hands. Do you believe this could help tennis players? Also, do you believe that by leaning the torso back and bringing it forward rapidly, a player can propel his arm and racket into the ball with minimal strain on the arm and shoulder? The player who seems to do this in a pronounced way is Stan Wawrinka.


    Norman Ashbrooke

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  • klacr
    Fantastic series and fantastic video. No one seems to be as well versed in Brian in this biomechanics stuff. I agree with everyone else on the ease of video for Brian. We get the visual. The articles are great as well but tedious to read for someone who is just discovering this site.

    Kyle LaCroix USPTA
    Boca Raton

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  • bman
    I'm really looking forward to this series and its relative simplicity compared to the written articles. Takeaway value should hopefully be high.

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  • arturohernandez
    Very interesting video! I agree with all your points.

    The serve has become my lifelong mission and I have managed to improve mine a lot thanks to all of your articles as well as many videos on and many hours on the court.

    The Sampras serve remains cemented in my mind and it took a while to realize that my body is nothing like his in height, flexibility and strength.

    I noticed that the two junior girls in your video didn't seem to be emphasizing twisting as much as other coaches do. I see so many coaches trying to teach their students serves and failing.

    The one drill that has helped my son and daughter with their serves is the what I call the serve-throw drill. I pulled it off the internet and now cannot find it.

    The idea is a person alternates between serving and throwing the ball over the net from the service line.

    My son still swears by it at 19 and for a while when he was younger he would do shadow throws during matches and then he would get up to the line and serve.

    When you try and throw a tennis ball in the air over the net, it becomes clear that the ball has to go way up in the air.

    Over time this becomes incorporated into the serve itself with a nice cartwheel that seems counterintuitive to most players because they sense the serve as traveling in a straight line from the racket above their heads into the service box.

    I really like your applied approach. I have tried to describe serves to people and now I find that I am not sure what I even do.

    With my daughter I just throw her into a drill immediately and things seem to fix themselves rather quickly.

    If we talk about it, she grows frustrated and then tells me how what I say is nothing like what I am doing or showing her.

    Kids are very bright as clearly you were at age 8 when what you were told made no sense.

    Thanks so much for your video and I look forward to the next one.

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  • BrianGordon
    Thanks seano. Those are all good questions. Pretty sure I addressed most of those issues in the original articles. This series was “off-the-cuff” discussion so I hope the answers will be in there somewhere (memory not really what it once was ). If not I’’’ll be happy to clear up any lingering questions when it is all said and done. Appreciate your input - BG
    Last edited by BrianGordon; 09-04-2018, 05:18 PM.

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  • seano
    The serve is no doubt a VERY complicated motion and greatly misunderstood. Like Brian states in the video, trying to interpret his serve articles from mid-2000's gets very confusing. Very curious about the upcoming video series. Things that I'm interested in finding out are:

    1) Role of back leg - Brian mentions that "minimal input from back leg to initially get the hip started around in twist axis". Also that rear leg/hip is needed for more spin (i.e. kick serve). Other prominent science based teachers (Dr. Mark Kovac & Dr. Bruce Elliot) explain this a little differently. Dr. Kovacs states that the "Loading Stage" is the most important stage and can be responsible for up to 55% of the power on the serve. In particular the loading of the rear leg is VITAL to the serve. Dr. Bruce Elliot emphasizes loading of the rear leg as well but the acceleration of the rear hip over the front hip leads to greater shoulder over shoulder rotation (Brian's somersault motion or the forward rotation). Maybe they're all saying the same thing but in different ways.

    2) Trunk rotations - specifically the role of trunk extension and flexion. The trunk can move around the vertical axis in 3 ways - 1) forward rotation or shoulder over shoulder or somersault. 2) twist rotation 3) trunk extension/flexion. Shoulder over shoulder and twist rotation have been discussed frequently by many people. Trunk extension/flexion isn't discussed much at all, just curious about it's role.

    3) Shoulder external & internal rotation - I know that internal shoulder rotation is one of the fastest movements in the body and is paramount to John's teaching philosophy, it can be responsible for up to 40% of racquet head speed. Is it a natural movement? and if you load the rear leg properly and have the toss in the correct spot, it will occur naturally (as stated by Dr. Kovacs). If it is a natural movement, why do so many people (many top pro's included) NOT get the full 180 degrees of rotation (racquet edge to opposite racquet edge)?

    All these videos by Dr. Brian Gordon are so informative and fascinating. We are very fortunate that we get them on Tennisplayer.
    Last edited by seano; 09-03-2018, 03:18 PM.

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  • doctorhl
    Very clear application! Andy Roddick's serve, for me at least, dramatized the "somersault" part of the serve.

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  • gzhpcu
    Makes a lot if sense. Especially from the hitting up perspective.

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  • johnyandell
    started a topic The Serve: Twist Versus Forward Rotation

    The Serve: Twist Versus Forward Rotation

    Let's discuss Brian Gordon's latest article, "The Serve: Twist Versus Forward Rotation"

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