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The Serve Mystery:
Hit Up or Hit Down?

John Yandell

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A slight downward angle off the racket, but what does that mean in terms of intention?

You hear it both ways. Hit up on the serve. Hit down on the serve. If this question has puzzled you, here is the reality.

What's that reality? The reality is both. The motion is upward but also has a small downward component. But the most important question is what should your intention be?

Downward Flight

As Jim Fawcette's Amazing Tour Portraits showed last month (Click Here), the flight of the ball off the racket face is without dispute at a slight downward angle. This is also obvious in the High Speed Archives, and it's the same for both first and second serves. Check out the sideviews of any of the servers there. (Click Here.)

So if the flight is downward, the racket face must also be angled slightly downward. So does this mean the correct explanation is you have to hit down? It's not that simple and that idea overlooks most of the critical elements in a good motion.

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John Yandell is widely acknowledged as one of the leading videographers and students of the modern game of professional tennis. His high speed filming for Advanced Tennis and Tennisplayer have provided new visual resources that have changed the way the game is studied and understood by both players and coaches. He has done personal video analysis for hundreds of high level competitive players, including Justine Henin-Hardenne, Taylor Dent and John McEnroe, among others.

In addition to his role as Editor of Tennisplayer he is the author of the critically acclaimed book Visual Tennis. The John Yandell Tennis School is located in San Francisco, California.