Let your body do the work
An effective serve demands a healthy body and a properly functioning kinetic chain that works together to generate maximal energy and force with minimal energy expenditure. Your body works in sequence as a series of links from your foot all the way up through your tennis racquet. When force or energy travels from the ground up through these links during a sequential movement (i.e. a tennis serve) it is referred to as a kinetic chain. The kinetic chain is the coordinated activation of body segments between the legs, trunk, and arm. Analysis of the serve motion can help determine the most efficient sequence to impart the most velocity and spin in the serve. The more velocity and spin you can generate the less time your opponent has to react. An alteration in one or more parts of the kinetic chain may negatively affect serve technique and the performance capabilities of the stroke.
To analyze, the serve motion, specific body positions or nodes are reviewed. The node framework can be used to visually evaluate the service motion directly on the court or by video camera. The framework incorporates both proper and improper body positions.
- Proper positions allow for optimal serve performance because each body segment is being utilized to its fullest potential.
- Improper positions may decrease your ability to generate an effective service motion and may lead to injury.
Breaking Down the Serve: the Node Framework
Bad Mechanics? No Problem
The node framework analysis can identify alterations in the serve motion that can have a negative impact on serve performance. Alterations typically occur from 1 or 2 addressable sources:
- Faulty mechanics
- Weakness or tightness within the muscles or joints of the legs, trunk, or arm.
Inferior positions can be reversed with instruction on proper technique or with flexibility
and strength training exercise that targets specific muscles groups.
- Do you rotate your hips downward and away from the net in order to push off the ground with your back leg and generate more power?
- Or maybe you do not bend your knee enough, which increases the load at both the shoulder and elbow, and may cause injuries, compared to those players who have greater amounts of knee bend.
Identify the Problem and Tackle it
A skilled health care provider or WTA PHCP can help evaluate and identify musculoskeletal flexibility and strength deficits, and prescribe corrective exercises that address your specific needs. If you are interested in having your serve analyzed see a WTA PHCP. Remember that the body works together as a series of links from your foot all the way up to your racquet so be proactive and identify those weak links. Next time you are practicing your serve, record a video, and then sit down with your coach and review the framework to see if you are optimizing the tennis serve nodes to improve your service game. Before you know it you will be severing your next ace.
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