How smart is your game❓

Want a faster serve? Here's how I got 20 km/h more in 1 month

My serve last summer, with the elbow very low

Wish you had a fast tennis serve, but don't really know how to get it? Sounds familiar!

I've had a faster tennis serve on my wishlist for what feels like forever (really, couldn't increase my tennis serve speed record of a couple of km/h even if I tried hard as hell πŸ”¨) and felt sooo stuck with it that I was on the verge of giving up on it πŸ₯Ί.

But then, a couple of months ago, after I don't know how many videos I recorded and analyzed of my serve πŸ“Ή, I finally noticed there was something that didn't look quite right.

Yeyyy, couldn't believe it! Such a relief to have something new to try!

After all, I know even too well you cannot keep doing the same things you've been doing and expect to get different results. That's just not how it works!

Since then, my serve hasn't been the same! And even though it's still not where I want it to be, we (me and my serve) are on the right track, that's for sure.

Btw, if you've just hopped on my blog and have no clue about who I am, I'm Elena Margaria πŸ‘‹πŸ» and just like you, I'm on a mission to become the best tennis player I can πŸ₯‡. Even without a fancy team, or too much talent. Just with a huge desire to make it. That's why Tennis Rematch exists: to share everything I learn along the way πŸ€“, so you can get better faster, and together we can prove that we can achieve anything we set our mind to πŸ”₯.

So here I am πŸ™‹πŸΌβ€β™€οΈ, sharing with you all I found out was wrong with my old serve, what I've changed about it and the progress I made so far.

Who knows, maybe the tips I got will work for you too?! That would be awesome 😎.

So... you ready?! Let's get started!

As always, here's the Table of Contents πŸ‘‡πŸ» so you know right from the start what you'll find in this blog. If there's something you don't care about, don't be shy and just skip it! I won't take it personally, I promise πŸ’πŸΌβ€β™€οΈ. Enjoy your read, I hope it helps πŸ’•.

Why I couldn't get a fast tennis serve, no matter how hard I tried

Just as I've told you a few lines above, you and I were on the same boat ⛡️ until not long ago.

You must know indeed that in many of the courts I usually play there's this system called Zenniz, that among other super cool things (like tracking where your shots land, doing line calls etc) also measures the speed of your shots.

So you can imagine how many times I end up practicing my serve maybe a little too much, just because I want to set a new serve speed record 😎 (that never comes πŸ˜‚).

It usually goes like this πŸ‘‡πŸ».

"One more."

"Oh no, wait, cannot finish with this one."

"OMG, one more, I'm sooo close!"

I literally cannot help myself πŸ™ˆ. It's so addicting to be able to see your own tennis serve speed, that you'd go on forever. Especially when you cannot break your old record, no matter how hard you try.

It's also a bit discouraging though. But very very eye-opening πŸ‘€.

In fact, when you get to a point where you put a loooot of effort and still don't get the result you are looking for (in this case a faster serve), then it means your effort is getting lost on the way.

With 4 words: your technique is WRONG.

So guess what?! I started filming my serve with the hope that sooner or later my eye would catch the source of my struggles, and finally, after countless self-made video analysis, it did πŸ₯³.

When in the trophy position, my elbow was waaay too low, with the result that:

🚫 there was no space for the racket to drop and bounce up naturally at high speed (that is the recipe to generate effortless power);

🚫 I had to muscle my serve and put a lot of effort just to see the ball travel at a reasonable (and disappointing) speed.

My biggest limitation in the serve: the low elbow

My first reaction?

"How could I possibly miss something so obvious?!"

And my second, wiser reaction?

"Tennis is really not easy: every shot is like a puzzle of 1000 pieces 🧩🧩, and completing it takes countless hours, unlimited patience and iron will. So no need to be harsh on myself! Just be happy I finally spot what's wrong and start fixing it. After all, better late than never!"

And that's when it all started.

The one technical change I made to increase my tennis serve speed

Needless to say, I started to focus on keeping my elbow high right away, and right away I realized (once again) how hard it is to get rid of old habits.

You remember right when I decided to switch to the Federer forehand? OMG how naive I was! I thought in 3 weeks I'd have the forehand of my dreams, and well... you know how it actually went, don't you?! πŸ™Š

Anyway... once Dominic, the coach I've recently started training with a couple of times a week, heard I was in the process of changing my serve and saw my tiny little progress, immediately told me to get rid of the first part of the serve, and just start with the elbow already high in the right position.

"Make it simple" he said.

What a brilliant advice that was!

Of course, at first I felt weird 🀭 (who doesn't when trying new movements?!) and a bit lost with the toss, but as soon as I got a bit used to it, oh wow 🀩! Such a difference!!

No need to use my muscles anymore to make the ball travel, and that's such a relief!! You know, the stress I was putting on my shoulder was worrying me: sometimes I'd hurt for days because of my serve (that was just another wake-up call ⏰)! But not anymore!! Bye bye shoulder pain πŸ‘‹πŸ», see you never again!

But that's not all. Not only I can now produce the same old serve speed with much less effort and risk of injury than before, but I can also feel very clearly that I'm no longer limited by my technique and there's lots of room for improvement! And that's an awesome feeling 😎!

So if you feel stuck with your serve and no longer know where to bang your head, consider improving or even completely changing your technique. It will be worth it in the long run.

The 3 tips that instantly got me a faster serve

If you're not yet in the mood of turning your serve upside down, I don't judge you, you can be sure of that! How could I?!

I actually feel you instead: I know how much courage it requires to take the decision of starting from scratch or pretty much!

In that case though, at least give a try to these 3 tips I practically constantly get from Dominic when I practice my serve. They work like magic for me ✨, so why shouldn't they for you?

Just think that together with the high elbow they increased my second serve average speed from a pretty sad 105-110 km/h to a very satisfying 125-130 km/h. Not bad eh?! I told you they work!

πŸ’‘ TIP #1 - Snap the wrist!

Thinking of snapping the wrist makes all the difference! It makes me not only have my wrist loose (which is crucial to generate effortless power in any stroke), but also accelerate the racket head twice as fast ⚑️.

Whenever I forget to "snap my wrist" my racket and serve look like in slow-motion 🐌, just ask Dominic πŸ™ˆ.

πŸ’‘ TIP #2 - Throw the racket!

Thinking of throwing the racket is another piece of the puzzle that greatly contributes to the success of my serve and I always keep in mind. It reminds me of the fact that a fast serve doesn't come from the use of force and muscles πŸ’ͺ🏻, but from the acceleration of the racket at its highest point.

Whenever I forget of "throwing my racket" I start muscling my serve just as with the old serve, with the result I put a lot of effort and yet get almost nothing from it 😀.

πŸ’‘ TIP #3 - Jump high!

Thinking of jumping high is the cherry on the cake 🍰. Alone doesn't do much, but together with the other tips works miracles for my serve. Not only it changes my attitude (from doubtful to confident), but the intensity with which I serve as well. Meaning, my serve comes out much more energetic πŸ”‹!

Whenever I forget to "jump high", guess what, I collapse and end up hitting the ball low and a little too late.

I really hope my little case study can help you get the faster serve you wish you already had πŸ’•! Just keep working on it and you'll get it, I believe in you 😊. Practice makes perfect, remember!

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