Men's Versus Women's Serving:
What is the Role of Internal Rotation?

Bruce Elliott and Machar Reid

Could differences in internal rotation of the shoulder help account for the 20 percent difference in the speed of men's versus women's serves?

If we compare the highest service speeds of top players in men's and women's professional tennis, the speed of the female serve is on average approximately 80% that of the male serve.

Milos Raonic, for example, has been recorded at 155 mph and Serena Williams at 129 mph. Sam Groth has hit the fastest the fastest serve on record on the ATP tour at 163mph. Venus Williams has the fastest recorded WTA serve at 130 mph.

Are these differences due purely to strength and physical size, or does technique also play a role?

There are obvious physical differences between men and women, but one movement clearly differentiates male from female players where service speed is concerned. This is shoulder internal rotation. (Click Here for additional explanation of this critical movement.)

Research shows that internal shoulder rotation is the largest contributor (approximately 40%) to the generation of racket velocity at impact in the male high performance serve.

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Machar Reid is the innovation catalyst at Tennis Australia. He established the Sports Science and Medicine Unit there in 2008. He is the coauthor of several books on tennis sports science and coaching.

Bruce Elliott is a senior research fellow in biomechanics at the University of Western Australia. He is the author of the Power Serve articles on Tennisplayer (Click Here) as well as numerous other articles and books on sports biomechanics.

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