Training Journal

Those of you who have played with or against A.J. may not even be aware of this but from time to time he has a problem with his serve. Irony intended? Yes. In reality he is willing to bet he has had as many problems with his serve as anyone out there for the number of years he has played (about 7 at this point). He has lost his serve completely as many as three times in one season and at one point it took him more than a month to get a reliable serve going again. At this point he has several serves he can count on to at least get the ball in play, but unfortunately what he wants out of the serve is not yet there. The conventional wisdom is “just get the ball in play, and maybe deeper is better.” Well, sure. But really, at a certain level, a deep, moderately well-paced serve with top-spin on it is simply harder for the opponent to completely control. Anybody can get almost any serve back, we agree…but if you are consistently serving shorter, rather than deeper, you are in trouble. And if you have no particular pace on the ball, and no particular top- or perhaps back-spin, you simply turn control of the shot over to your opponent. Thus he would like to have a very consistent, top-spinning, deep serve that he can hit under any conditions….recreational play for sure, but also during tournaments or heavier competition.

Monday, March 31

Hitting my normal backhand serve weakly, without good contact and way too shallow. First third of the court. Actually getting points like I was trying to short-serve but I am not. Hit about 100 serves with Irene as coach utilizing her coaching on a classic forehand. Worked on foot placement, drop of ball, position of paddle, alignment. Most success came utilizing following cues:

1. Paddle near right leg, concentrate on having it only slightly behind right leg, paddle angle in “cocked” position so that I can snap up on the ball. Concentrate on allowing the paddle to stay in that position…don’t have to consciously snap through it. Strong upward stroke, extended towards target, is enough and snap occurs naturally towards the end.

2.  Toss ball out in front of paddle a bit. Toss is important.

3.  Begin with right foot slightly forward; step with left. Stay WAY back of line as I seem to step in quite a bit and was faulting a number of times.

4.  Need to keep eyes on ball, watch contact with paddle.

5.  Snap upward, same confident stroke as with top-spin ground stroke.

6.  Paddle needs to come up over my head no more than slightly left of center of my head. If it gets out over my left ear, way too much.

7.  Take breath, hold it, relax, exhale on stroke.

result: of 100 serves, about 20 went in, which is a big improvement from my normal absence of a forehand serve. A number of others were close. Towards the end I could see most shots moving from right to left (draw), indicating a good top spin and a slight side-spin into the court. Most of my bad shots involved slicing across the ball, a product,  I think, of my many backhand serve attempts.

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A. J. Fraties
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