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Ingrid Neel Serve

Analyzed by John Yandell

What is the effect of the reduced hand and arm rotation in the serve of top women compared to top men?

In the January issue of Tennisplayer, two of the world's top tennis scientists speculate on the importance of internal shoulder rotation in explaining the differences in serving speed between men and women. (Click Here.) It's a fascinating issue because many of the best women servers have far less of this hand and arm rotation than the men—one of the major technical divides between the two tours.

We saw this in the analysis I did of Maria Sharapova's serve (Click Here.) Compared to most male players, Maria has only half as much rotation from the racket drop to the followthrough. On many serves her racket face is pointing directly at the court instead of continuing to rotate counter clockwise and finishing on edge like the men. (For more on the shape of the upward swing and the hand and arm or internal shoulder rotation, Click Here.)

Bruce Elliott's research shows that the speed of this rotation of the arm in the upper shoulder by the women—again what I call hand and arm rotation--is not only shorter but it's about 20% slower than the men. This is about the same percentage difference as the difference in ball speed. But is this caused by physical differences in men and women or is it simply a technical factor?

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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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