Swing to Contact
The eight part of the serve is to swing from the racket drop up to your contact point. We start the video with me in my racket drop. The tennis racket is pointed straight down at the court and I’ve fully pushed off my legs. I start by swinging up at the tennis ball with the edge of my frame. I kind of looks like I am trying to frame the ball — hit it with the side of my racket. At 15 seconds in the video we freeze it during my upward swing. Well into my swing the racket is still on edge. We, the viewer, can still see the strings of the tennis racket from this perspective. A key to the body position I’m in at this moment is that my tennis racket and hitting-arm form a “L” shape. Every good server gets to this position.
To get to contact from the “L” shape that my tennis racket and hitting-arm form I’m going to “pronate.” I’m going to twist the tennis racket from on edge to opening the strings to the tennis ball. At 57 seconds in the video I get to contact by pronating. The next video focuses exclusively on pronation so we’re not going to spend too much time on it here.
If we go back to the racket drop at 1:10 in the video, as I swing up at the tennis ball my upper body rotates back toward the net. Remember, in the racket drop I’m sideways to the net. But at contact my upper body is more or less facing the net.
To recap, from the racket drop I swing up on edge, rotate back toward the net, and at the very last second I pronate to make contact with the tennis ball.
At 1:40 in the video we watch some high-speed footage of Oliver Akli swinging from the racket drop up to contact. He starts by swinging up on edge at the tennis ball, like he is trying to frame it. Freezing the clip during his upward swing you’ll see his tennis racket and hitting arm for that “L” shape I talked about above. From here, he pronates so that he makes contact with the tennis ball with the strings of his racket. Let’s go back to Oliver in his racket drop to focus on the other element of his swing, the body rotation. In the racket drop Oliver is sideways to the net. As he swings up at the tennis ball, he rotates his body back toward the net so that, at contact, he is more or less facing the net.
At 2:36 in the video we jump in the FYB time machine and look at some pictures of John McEnroe swinging from the racket drop to contact. We start with a picture of McEnroe in his racket drop. In the next picture, McEnroe is in the process of swinging up at the tennis ball. His tennis racket is still on edge — it still looks like he trying to frame the ball — and his racket and hitting arm form an “L” shape. In the following picture McEnroe is at contact. He’s pronated to hit the tennis ball. He’s also rotated his body so that he is facing the net. At 3:15 in the video we split screen McEnroe’s racket drop and contact point to demonstrate how he has rotated back toward the net during the course of his swing up at the tennis ball.
To sum up one more time, from the racket drop you need to swing up on edge, rotate your body back toward the net, and pronate to get to your contact point.