you hi thomas from phil chinese you might have heard of an idea that when we’re serving we’re hitting up on the ball or we’re swinging up towards the ball and that’s a little bit confusing because you might think that if we swing up towards the ball then the ball will go up that’s not really the case and i’m going to give you a simple explanation right now and then we’re going to go a little bit deeper into that so the simple explanation is this if i just simulate my surf and i just say i’m going to pretend I’m going to throw the racket upwards and I do like this so I’m really feeling that my swing you know swing Direction is upward you can see that even though I’m going upwards at some point my racket is pointing forward and it’s even pointing downward at some point so that’s because my arm is attaching my shoulder and even though I’m I’m generating a lot of speed upwards eventually will come around and my racket is going to maintain the speed that I’ve generated so that’s how we actually are able to serve the ball downwards even though we’re swinging upwards it’s because we don’t hit the ball at this point in the swing which would really make the ball go up but we hit the ball a little bit further in front when the racket is starting to point downwards so even though I’m swinging upwards the ball is actually going downwards now you may ask yourself all right why do I need to accelerate upwards then why don’t I just hit the ball downwards the main reason is because we need some distance to generate speed if we have short distance from when we’re starting to accelerate we cannot reach a lot of speed because we have just a little space and we’re going to just start generating speed and then we’re going to make contact so that’s that’s not a good way to generate speed of the racket head if we want to generate more speed we need more distance and so that’s why we’re using this distance that’s actually upwards because it still helps us generate speed and a split second after on going upwards I’m actually going downwards once my racket reaches the top of the swing and so I’ve just used this distance this place that I have to really accelerate the racket fast now if I just think logically which is what most recreational players do they’re thinking very logically what makes sense they’re thinking here’s the ball I need to bring the racket behind the ball or even above the ball and then I need to hit it down very fast so if I’m just thinking that and my serve would probably look like this right and that’s a very familiar sight and what we see here is that you know there’s no drop and so on and so the reason why there is no drop is because you’re just thinking I need to get behind the ball and then generate speed so you’re basically wasting all this space that you have to generate racket head speed so that’s reason number one why we’re accelerating upwards reason number two is because when we’re tossing the ball the ball is actually falling a little bit for most of us the ball is falling and if I just show like this if the ball is falling and it hits my racket even though I’m just going forward the ball is going to go down so somehow I need to counter this gravity this falling of the ball that’s coming to my racket and I’m countering that gravity by going a little bit up on the ball because my swing up even though when I’m tilted slightly I’m still going a little bit up on the ball it helps me lift the ball above the net and then the third reason which is what I just mentioned a little bit why we’re swinging upwards is because even when we’re hitting the ball flat we’re actually not hitting it completely flat we’re still slightly spinning the ball so professionals spin the ball still really fast even when they hit flat but for most of us there is a little element of spinning of the ball and that still gives us much more control of the ball rather than hitting the ball completely flat so when we’re accelerating the racket upwards and even though we’re thinking I’m going to hit the ball flat we still impart a little bit of the topspin or side spin and that gives us better control of the ball I said we’re going to go a little bit deeper into this idea of how we have to hit up to make the ball go down so this is the part where it gets very interesting and so it might seem to you that when we’re hitting the ball and you’re seeing a lot of this you know pronation pictures or you know high elbow and so on you might think that okay the player is approaching the ball they’re swinging upwards alright and then the way to make the ball go down is to actually pronate that’s not the case that just how it looks like the actual case is is very strange and we need reality we’re actually making contact with the ball or at least the pros are they’re making the contact with the ball when the racket has not even reached the straight position I’m just going to call this a straight position so when the racket is aligned with the head so not only they are not hitting the ball on the way down they’re actually hitting the ball on the way up and you might say well how is that possible well it’s possible because we toss the ball in the court so if I’m just standing upright and I mean at this position you will say well you’re if I hit the ball now this ball is going up but if I toss the ball inside the court and I lean into the court on I’m and I’m slightly tilted naima racquet is actually also pointing slightly down so this is the main idea that is how we hit the ball down so we do not hit the ball down with our hand that’s very important to know we do not hit the ball down with our hand when we make contact with the ball it basically feels that we’re hitting slightly upward or generally it feels that we’re hitting the ball straight so to me personally it feels like I’m hitting the ball straight so if I’m not tossing the ball inside the court and I’m just making contact with the ball to me it feels I’m swinging straight so when I toss the ball inside the court I’m not thinking down because now I’m already tilted you can see that you know if my arm is aligned well with my body and I’m about to make contact with the ball you can see that my racket is now tilted already it’s pointing down so if I hit down even more you can see how close the racket now is so this will never cross the net and so that is the main idea which is very confusing when you’re watching the serve because it doesn’t make sense at first glance we’re going to analyze Milosz round each serving slow motion to better illustrate the ideas I just mentioned I’d like to thank Jorge coppice Thani for letting me use one of his slow motion videos for this analysis please check his youtube channel with many more videos of pros hitting in slow motion let’s take a look at Miller’s swing path upwards so that you can see how long it actually is this long distance of the swing allows him to build more speed by the time he hits the ball and you can also clearly see that he’s swinging upwards let’s now try and answer the question of why you don’t trust swinging up towards the ball and I mean really swinging up as if you want to throw the racket really far and high so I’ve stopped Milosz at the contact point from which he now directs the ball down towards the service box the downwards angle is not so obvious but in the next frame it becomes more obvious that this ball is going down the ball has already left the racket though so it was directed down in those five thousandth of a second when it was in contact with the racket in the previous frame since this video is shot at 29 frames per second every frame I show you has a time difference of 3.5 hundredths of a second approximately now let’s take a look at one frame before contact and see where would the ball go if milosz made contact 3.5 hundredths of a second earlier as you can see it would definitely go outside of the tennis court he’s on and if we go one more frame before that which is seven hundredths of a second before contact then this ball would go into outer space so let’s now recap the whole serve from the deepest racquet drop to just before contact first you’re swinging upwards towards the ball and generating a lot of speed going upward and then seven hundredths of a second before contact it feels that the ball would go into outer space and then three point five hundredths of a second it feels it would go over the back fence on the other side of your court and once the racquet aligns properly to the ball three point five hundredths of a second later the ball does actually start to go downwards now wonder you don’t trust this process as we’re not able to tell the difference of a few hundredths of a second it is really true that just a few hundredths of a second before contact it does feel that you’re going to hit up and far over the service box that’s how challenging and demanding a proper high-level service but it gets even more interesting Mila she’s literally serving up at least that’s how it feels to his hand here’s why if we look at his hand position at contact and even one frame after contact when the ball has left the racket his hand is still open he has not even reached the alignment with his forearm not to mention actually closing his hand which to most of us tells that we are directing the ball downwards when he does start to close his hand down the ball is already far away so it is not with his hand that he directs the ball down which is what you’re probably thinking as you see so many pictures of players ending their serves with a high elbow and the racket pointing down so you assume that it is through this movement that we direct the ball downwards but as you can see this move happens way after the ball has left the racket in fact me know she’s making contact with the ball when his hand is open which to most of us feels that the ball is going up I’ve rotated the video to the point where Miller’s body would be upright so that we can see how his arm and hand feel to him at contact point so if Milosh was not leaning into the court but was standing upright and he made contact with the ball in exactly the same way the ball would literally very steeply go up in the sky you can see ramiz open hand that he’s literally hitting up on the ball and not in any way directing it down with his hand that’s how it feels to his hand because his hand does not know that Miller’s body is at an angle when he’s making contact with the ball most of us would like to feel a closed hand being aware that we are directing the ball down with the racket face but that’s not how we will develop a more advanced serving technique which by now you realize is even more mysterious than you thought so how does Miller send the ball down if he’s swinging up and literally hitting the ball up with an open hand he does it by leaning into the court therefore tilting his body which consequently affects the angle of the racket we align the racket downwards not with our hand but with our body to our hand and arm it does feel that we swing up and that we will hit the ball up but that feel is deceiving because the hand is not aware that it’s Foundation which is the body is angled in space so what you need to do is to take a leap of faith first toss the ball inside the court and simply swing up as if you really want to hit up and you will realize that even though it feel you’re heating up the bowl does not go up and in fact does go down

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Dennis Veasley

100 thoughts on “The Swinging Up On The Serve Mystery Explained”

  1. Looks like you are back in Slovenia. That place in Singapore looked slick, but I like this place. I always look forward to your videos.

  2. Due to that Milos Raonic slow mo video, I am pleased that most players are tossing the ball almost inside the court but not on the right side of the baseline which some tutorials are showing, however all of the pro players are doing that "Elbow up" thing to have a power on that upward swing motion.

  3. Tomaz, you have the most intelligent and creative tennis analysis on the internet. Always look forward to your stuff.

  4. can you make a video for eg with that slow motion video on what phase of the swing what muscle activates. I heard that before the swing you are very loose and on contact your body is very hard so that the counterforce of the ball wont creep back into a joint.

  5. Superb video Tomas! This mystery does make sense now. Can you do one for the top second serve too please?

  6. hey Thomas! I love your videos! You are such a great coach! i wish one day we can work together. Can you please make a video on how to uncoil your body into the ball on the serve. I've been watching Federer doing this, and it seems he generates such a great speed by doing that. I would love you to share your thoughts on this! Big love from Romania

  7. I don't usually comment on videos by this is a very good analysis and makes a lot of sense. This has really opened up my eyes more on the serve. People usually tell me these things and I myself am trying to fix my serve to swing up, but the video makes more sense of this and really makes me trust it more. Thanks!

  8. Thanks for another great video. I too am a recreational player and for years I've never known that this dynamic exists. My serve is the weakest point of my game. Mainly, I can't have a proper backswing on the serve. Meaning I toss the ball up and my elbow is bent and the racket goes up from in front of me, not behind me as its supposed to. I've been doing this for years so I can't seem to correct my service motion. Can you please guide me a bit how to do that and also apply your advice in this video?

  9. The other part of hitting up is the face angle of the racquet at contact. If the head is laid back while swinging up the ball trajectory will be up (instead of down as on a flat or slice serve), but will come back down 'heavily' into the court due to topspin.

  10. Tomaz, thank you so much for this. Sometimes explaining something like your audience is a five year old is what is necessary. I've had four different coaches try to explain serve mechanics to me and still my serve is horribly inconsistent. This places all of the essential information quite literally in reach. You made it click for me and I can't wait to use this! Thank you!!!


  11. Hello, Tomaz, once again you exposed a very interesting point and developed it through very interesting point of view. There are very few tennis coaches that makes audience watch the whole lesson, follow through all the material, understand everything (together making one very proud because of this understanding :)) and put a smile of amazement on the face. You always point out how much natural reason and logic there is around every tennis element. 

    In one of your future lessons maybe you could point out how to develop naturally let me call it "small jump" up trying to reach the ball as high as possible while serving. Thank you.

  12. awesome video as always, but I think you are missing a little detail, which I find important: leaning is a vital factor, but when raonic (and every good server) hits the ball, the ball goes down also because even if the racket is pointing vertical, the racket is actually going down. And what makes the racket go down is pronation. When you hit the ball the racket still has not tilted, but has started going down,

  13. You are in the top 3 of all the coaches on youtube that knows what he is talking about when it comes to tennis.thus far you are 99% correct

  14. Coach, long time viewer, first time commenter from SoFl, This is a difficult, counter intuitive concept.  The video is too much to take in in one bite, but it is very well-done.  I look forward to using it with my students, AND, myself as well.  Curious, how is this concept deployed by tall players. Curious as to what kind of adjustments are made. By virtue of a tall player's height, isn't /she/he hitting in a more downward swing path? Although for a tall player, the length of distance from baseline to beyond net still remains constant.  Thanks again for your excellent insight!!

  15. Tomaz.I never heard the best explanation about serve. Congratulations and thank you for your excellent video.! I try your advices and my serve improved 100 x 100.

  16. Really appreciate you going into the minutiae of physics of a tennis serve. Excellent thing to have an understanding of the real mechanics.

  17. Thnaks Tomaz, I have the same problem of controlling the ball with my arm rather than body. I have one question, what should be the angle b/w our arm and shoulder joint while we are hitting the ball and finishing with our pronation. The reason I am asking is pronation means fair amount twist in the shoulder, so the most comfortable way to do is by putting the arm fairly away from our body. But that doesn't give me direction and power. So can you please explain the right angle at which our arm has to be pronated keeping the camera behind you so that I can understand. Thanks much for your valuable video lessons.

  18. If you look at Milos Raonic's racket head path though, at one point the racket head is going upwards, but it has leveled and is just on the border of a flat motion/going down at the contact point… regardless of the angle/position of the wrist and the racket. In that sense the initial swinging up is due to the overall motion/swing path of creating the most racket head speed, but at the contact point the racket head path is already beyond swinging up, flat/slightly downwards towards the court. Right?

  19. Thank you. Thank you! Thank you!! This clears up why my aggressive serves have tons of spin but go into the middle or bottom of net. I'm trying to do too much with my arm and way, way too much with my hand. As soon as it stops raining here I'm heading out to give it a try. This explains why you were stating, in another serving video, to start practicing at the service line and get the feel of an unrestrained arm motion, and then trying to move backwards while keeping the same throwing action. I did notice the other day when everything felt right and my serve was dead-on with pace, power and spin. I now know what to adjust and can just leave my arm motion alone.

  20. Wow this is the best explanation I ever heard on the serve. I never really understood what was happening until now. You answered all the questions I had and now maybe I can serve the correct way. I will be trying this out today!! Thank you!!!!!

  21. One of the Best explanation about hit-the-ball-up concept! I was struggling to comprehend that for month until now! Thanks a lot!

  22. You do a great service to tennis when you make this lesson available internationally and free on the internet. I can imagine that intelligent players and coaches all over the world can use this as part of their learning to make better players. You might not be able to know how many players you influence over time, especially when you reach to a coach who reaches to players. Thanks for going into to detail.

  23. The best explanation about tennis serves I have ever seen! All the beginners should see this analysis on the first day of their practice so that they do not waste their time repeating wrong swings.

  24. Thank you for your incredibly concise explanation of hitting up to get the ball into the court, and the video demonstration with Milos Raonic. One of the biggest servers today is actually not hitting "over" the ball.
    Like your other segments on "feeling" the technique, you helped me understand how my arm, wrist, and racquet line up at contact. Before, I used to focus on how to get the follow through look of the pros.
    Your approach of progressively getting the feel of the contact/swing to master the technique best suits my way of learning. Thanks.

  25. Hi Tomaz, this the most engineering and most analytical serve related analysis I have ever come across.
    But you said "The reason why the ball then goes down is because HE IS TILTED" and that puzzles me which tilting you were talking about. It is absolutely fine that he (Raonic) is tilted between the arm and upper body, but wonder is the tilt between the upper and lower body necessary or the upper body and lower body should be in straight line at the contact point. In my view that tilt is bigger if the ball is tossed more into the court and it s causing the low contact point. Hence it is really tricky to find the right compromise there. Or that tilt is the natural consequence of swinging up – which I entirely agree is the essence? Hence do we simply have to accept downside of the tilting since swinging up positives outplay the tilting negatives? Please, is it possible to eliminate that tilt between the upper and lower body and still swing up? My impression is that Del Potro is one of only few servers who do that.

  26. You didn't mention one important thing: If you want to serve over the net without hitting upwards, you have to be 2.06 m tall. Let's assume, you can jump another 10 cm while serving, you have to be at least 1.96 m tall if you want to serve right down over the net – which might be the size of Raonic, but certainly is taller than most of us. So, this alone should explain enough, why you have to hit up on the ball when you are serving.

  27. Thanks for the great tips. Thinking and feeling that I'm throwing the racket upward seems to help improve my racket drop significantly.

  28. too coplicated – hit up and over the ball is not helpful and misleading (lot of coaches say that i feel this is often misunderstood instruction).
    also not possible not sure what speed racket head is moving but i think in the short time the ball stays on the strings it is not possible to hit up and down on the ball as is suggested.

  29. Hi Tomaz- I'd love to pick your brain about this. I'm a former higher level player but I now have nerve damage that has caused my left leg to be essentially paralyzed below the knee and my left foot is completely paralyzed. I wear heavy braces, which is the only thing that keeps my ankle from turning when I step with that foot on the court, but I can no longer push off or land on that foot (I'm a righty so it's my front foot… you probably see the problem already).

    So I can't throw the ball into the court because if my body weight is over that front leg too much, I'll either turn the ankle on the push off or I'll turn it when I land on that foot. I used to have a 5.5-level serve and it was my best shot in my pre-disability days, but now it's terrible. Any suggestions? Thanks in advance for your time.

  30. Wow! I didn't realize how much the pro's toss the ball into the court til I saw this Raonic's slow mo serve clip.

  31. good video but he looks pretty tall, just saying, angles. rec players also don't trust the height of the toss, hard to judge ball against blue sky background.optical illusion, they think ball is too high and their swing wont hit it…

  32. Finally I understand why it feels like I'm swinging up, yet the ball is always going into the net. I get that feeling of swinging up, so then I try to compensate by snapping my wrist down! One question: In this serve you are showing which is not a kick serve, can you still get topspin on it, by brushing the low to high with the wrist (as he pronates)? (It Doesn't look like Milos uses any wrist upward motion at contact during his pronation. It looks like it all the upward wrist motion happens before contact as if he is just trying to reach higher with wrist).

  33. What an incredible video I thought, as I watched this. Really mind blowing analysis. I have lots of trouble tossing the ball such that I end up farther behind the court. How can I prepare to serve such that I land inside the court, that seems to be the key to nailing a great first serve

  34. Very interesting video but because Milos is in a rotation motion there is a sling shot reaction from the strings which literally forces the ball in a downward trajectory by sling shot effect and also causing topspin.

  35. Awesome Thomaz 👍 you are amazing at explaining bio mechanics and logic in all your videos. Your way of explanation always fascinates my thought process and helped me with to develop technique with consistency.
    Thank you very much 😀

  36. a 10.50 when Milos makes contact during the serve his hand is descending. That is why even with the racquet face open the ball is dragged down. Its not the angle of the raquet that brings the ball down it is the overall direction of travel of racquet

  37. Thank you for this video. My flat serves are generally inconsistent. Yesterday, we did drills where each person serves a game. When I was serving, I thought about this video, and I went to 40-0 before my opponent was even able to return a serve into play, and I never had to take a second serve. Turns out all I had to do was throw the ball into the court more instead of straight up.

  38. also not mentioned is watch the ball….it is quickly on its way down as milos hits it…NOT ON THE WAY UP!!!

  39. My resident physicist tennis instructor. Always easily explains the bio mechanics of tennis as it should be. Great job again Tomaz!!!

  40. But in your previous video 2012? you state that because your arm is attach to shoulder that the arm cannot go any higher so it starts to come down angle down and at that point you make contact with ball and that there is pronation in every serve. So this video sounds contradicting.

  41. This video is truly crazy. That Tomaz could break the swing down to this degree so an amateur like me can understand how to learn the advanced serve. I always wondered why my serve was arching. It's because my toss is on the baseline and not slightly inside the court so I can lean into the serve. I get it now. I get it now!!!

  42. Thanks for sharing your lessons. Wondering how to do second serve With power and consistency. Some coach’s talk about slice /spin serve. What’s it? How to do it. Can you please share your opinions? Thanks

  43. Watching it for the third time so it sinks in !
    "Take a leap of faith"
    "Swing up"
    "Toss inside the court"
    "Lean in"

    Thank you so so so so much !

  44. I once saw a VHS tape of the Williams practice “serving” with the picture of a heap of rackets or a dune of rackets thrown up by Venus in their home base in Florida. I practice throwing racket up when serving for years and your lesson confirms my theory but better in detail explanation.
    Thank you for your insight

  45. good explanation. however, i think the thing that influences beginners in the worst way is to mention words like "up" or "around the ball". they dont understand this and will create a mental picture of it and then execute based on that mental picture. i think coaches should instead just focus on telling their students that the direction of the hit is forward. always have been and always will be. the limitation of the arm movement because of its attachment to the shoulder is what gives the illusion of upward and downward movement. imagine if you tell a beginner that he should focus on having his racket move forward. everything else would be easy to learn. at least for a beginner this should be the first lesson in my opinion. how do i know this? i have wasted 5 years of tennis life having a faulty serve because of these words that were fed to me as i was learning to play. i discovered on my own that serve is really just hitting the ball forward.

  46. The master delivers THE WISDOM. I love these videos and only learned about hitting up recently and this addressed EVERY question I had.

  47. YOU ARE AMAZING, basically perfect, intricate, cohesive yet masterfully broken down and explained. Thank you so very much, God bless, Peace out ! 😀

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