Analysis: Turning Opportunities Into Points & Modern Serving Mechanics

Hover over any picture below to get detailed analysis of what is shown.

One thing that strong players are good at is taking advantage of their opportunities to score. While beginning and novice players will have multiple chances to put away the ball, as players advance they will have fewer of these chances. Failing to convert that opportunity is how points can quickly slip away. See the images below for shot-by-shot analysis.

 

Using a conventional ‘bowling’ serve, the player in green appears to use her serve merely to start the point. This makes it more likely a difficult, deep return will be sent. Her late set-up leads to a third shot that is high and without clear purpose.

The player on the far side fails to cause trouble with this volley. The women play two good neutralizing drops , which gives them a relatively safe opportunity to move forward. Note that both drops were crosscourt, which makes successful dropping more likely.

The woman in green’s forehand volley does not cause trouble for her opponents. The problem is exacerbated by misreading the return volley as she is unsure whether to take the ball in the air or off the bounce. This indecisiveness causes her to panic and play a lob which gets smashed. This is an example of how a missed opportunity (her first volley) can come back to haunt you.

Like a snowball rolling down a hill, a bad situation gets worse. While she does a good job to get the smash back in play (the is helped by backing up when she realized she was in trouble), the woman in greeen is merely reacting to the ball being hit at her, not looking to play a defensive shot. This is commoon for intermediate players — they are trying to survive.

In this case, learning to take speed off the ball and to play a drop would have relieved the pressure. Using the larger crosscourt target may have helped.

 

Modern Serving Mechanics (featuring Abbie David)

Effective servers in the modern game use technique that allows them to hit hard, with control, while following all serving rules. See the images below for a technical breakdown of Abbie David’s serve.

Effective servers in the modern game use technique that allows them to hit hard, with control, while following all serving rules. See the images below for a technical breakdown of Abbie David’s serve.

The sideways body position will make it easy to rotate through the serve, thus generating power. This is similar to other sports that involve ball striking: golf, baseball, hockey. Notice the minimal, relaxed movement of the left hand. The ball rests easily in the fingers.

The sideways body position will make it easy to rotate through the serve, thus generating power. This is similar to other sports that involve ball striking: golf, baseball, hockey. Notice the minimal, relaxed movement of the left hand. The ball rests easily in the fingers.

A gentle ball release (not throw) makes timing the serve easier. And by releasing the ball at waist height, the player guarantees that she will follow the rule of making contact below her waist.

A gentle ball release (not throw) makes timing the serve easier. And by releasing the ball at waist height, the player guarantees that she will follow the rule of making contact below her waist.

The left hip initiates the rotation as the paddle ‘lags’ behind. The separation of the hips and arm movement produces tension in the core which, when released, allows for easy power. Notice how stable the paddle face is through contact.

The left hip initiates the rotation as the paddle ‘lags’ behind. The separation of the hips and arm movement produces tension in the core which, when released, allows for easy power. Notice how stable the paddle face is through contact.

A forward impact point is critical to a solid serve. The paddle accelerates through contact and the relaxed upward followthrough is the result of very little muscle tension as well as a low-to-high swing path.

A forward impact point is critical to a solid serve. The paddle accelerates through contact and the relaxed upward followthrough is the result of very little muscle tension as well as a low-to-high swing path.

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