In the fourth video in the serve fundamentals section, we talked about getting to what we call the trophy pose by timing your upper body and lower body preparation to complete at the same time. At 0:15 in the video above, you can see a clip of me serving where I time my upper and lower body preparations to complete at the same time. When I get to the trophy pose, my non-hitting hand is extended up, my hitting arm and racket form an L-shape behind me, and my knees are bent with my weight equally distributed on each foot. The reason that we taught timing the trophy pose like this is that from this position it is very easy to get to the correct racket drop position a little later in your service motion.
From the trophy pose position that we taught you need to do three things to get to the racket drop position. First, you need to drop the racket down behind your head and get your hitting arm elbow up above your hitting arm shoulder. Second you need to drop your tossing arm down to your body, and third you must push off your legs so that when your racket drops straight down behind you you are just pushing off your toes. You simply need to time it so that you achieve all three of these things occuring at the same time. Now, we want to make it clear that you don’t necessarily have to prepare exactly how we have taught you. You don’t have to time your upper and lower body preparations to complete at the same time in the trophy pose. We feel that it is very easy to learn in this way, but that is not the most important thing. The most important element of the serve is getting to the correct racket drop position, and if you prepare in a different way that still allows you to get to the correct racket drop position, then that’s fine.
At 1:40 in the video above, we’ve split-screened the trophy poses of Andy Roddick and John Isner, two guys who both have monster serves. The first thing you’ll notice is that their preparations look a little bit different. Andy has his racket angled diagonally back, his tossing arm is extended backwards as well so that his hand is over (or even behind) his head), and his knees are highly bent. John’s tennis racket is pointed more or less straight up, his tossing arm is extended out into the court rather than above his head, and his knees have a little less bend in them. But now let’s look at the these two pros in their racket drop positions. They are identical, and this is critically important. Even though their preparations were slightly different, they have both gotten to the exact same racket drop position on their serves. If we look at Marat Safin and Tim Henman, we can see that those two have identical-looking racket drops as well. So again to reiterate, the purpose of the preparation on the serve is to allow you to get to the proper racket drop position later in your service motion. The racket drop is the real key to the serve.