Tour Strokes:
Kei Nishikori Serve

Analyzed by John Yandell

What does high speed video of his serve show about the potential causes of Kei Nishikori's injuries?

There was some press coverage earlier this year about the changes Kei Nishikori made to his serve motion in response to his chronic wrist and shoulder problems. As one writer put it: "The change to the motion comes in the take back. These days Nishikori's path to the trophy position is more abbreviated. In year's past he would draw the racquet low before looping it up to prepare for contact." (For more on this Click Here.)

I had to laugh when I read that. Over the years I have filmed Kei many times including his serve. My opinion is his shoulder and wrist problems have nothing to do with his take back.

If there is one thing we can say about pro service motions it's that there is a wide disparity in the shape of the backswings, ranging from classic semi-circular wind ups to highly abbreviated and everything in between. None of them have associated with injury.

But regardless of backswing shape, all the great servers do share one common element. This element is missing from Kei's serve. It's the rotation of the arm and racket extending into the followthrough after contact.

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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.

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