How the Arm Moves from the Racket Drop to Contact
In this video we’re going to talk more about how the hitting arm moves from the racket drop position up to your contact point on the tennis serve. Behind me in the video I’m shadowing the racket drop position, and what happens first is that my arm swings up towards the tennis ball. I’m swinging up on edge, not with the strings already open to the ball. This is key. I’m also not pronating yet, or using any other part of my body; it’s just my arm.
As you continue to swing up on edge at the tennis ball, your arm and racket will form an L relationship about halfway up to contact. Again, at this point, you still aren’t really pronating. Just after hitting this L relationship is when you begin to pronate to get to your contact point.
At 0:50 in the video above we have a shot of Frank Salazar hitting his tennis serve from above. I want to go through the various steps of the serve in slow motion to see how his arm moves. We’ll start Frank out in the racket drop position, with the tennis racket pointed straight down at the court. As he begins to swing up at the tennis ball you can see that he actually *supinates* his arm. Supination is the opposite of pronation. In effect, supinating early in the upward swing allows him to pronate further/harder because he now has further to “unwind” his arm by pronating. This is a very advanced-level service technique. A lot of tennis pros with big serves will use this technique, and Frank hit about 130mph when he played on tour.
Now from this position, Frank starts to pronate and hits his L position. Again, we note that you pronate a little early if you’ve supinated earlier in the upward swing, but club level players should concentrate on hitting the L and then pronating immediately afterwards. He pronates and his wrist releases up, again because he is swinging up. This release is not something that you should focus on, it should happen naturally as you swing up at the tennis ball.
I want to briefly mention one other thing, and that is to clarify a little bit about the pronation aspect of the upward swing from the racket drop. When I swing up, I reach the L position. But if I only pronate, you can see in the video at 2:20 what happens to the tennis racket. It rotates sideways above my head. Obviously, this isn’t how you should hit a tennis serve! You also have to reach up to the tennis ball to get your wrist to release naturally. Again though, this isn’t something you should ever have to focus on if you keep your arm relaxed. Focus on the pronation and the wrist release will take care of itself.