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How to Serve With a Racquet Lag | Tennis Serve Lesson


There are two ways to sync the toss
arm with the hitting arm. You can make them go up together or you can lag the
hitting arm behind the toss arm. Lagging the hitting arm behind the toss
arm is by far the most commonly used technique among the best servers of all
time. On the ATP Tour all-time career aces top 20 list there’s only one player
that has the up together type movement and that’s Andy Roddick. All the other
players in the top 20 greatest servers of all time
serve with a lag. The WTA Tour does not keep all-time career ace statistics, so I
took this year’s top 20 ace leaders and just like the men, there was only one
player that uses the up together type movement and that’s Caroline Garcia. All
the other players use the lag. There are potential problems with the up together
type technique and if a player was to bring both arms up together in an abbreviated take back like this, there has to be a stop. In other words the arms are going
up too fast and while the ball is in the air the racket has to stop and then wait
for the ball to come down and that interrupts the momentum and you
basically have to start from zero from the trophy position. However if a player
has more of a full backswing where the racket goes towards the back fence
before it gets into the trophy phase and the arms are going up together that
indeed would be a more continuous swing ala Stan Wawrinka. And while the up together movement looks simple there are potential problems within this simplicity and there are examples of players who can perform the
up together type movement well. Players such as Andy Roddick, Stan
Wawrinka or Bjorn Borg but issues with timing and rhythm a very frequent among
recreational players who employ an up together type service action. It is no coincidence that the lag is used by the greatest servers in the history of the
game just to give you a few examples on the women tour players such as Brenda
Schultz McCarthy, Sabine Lisicki, Madison Keys, Julia Georges, the Pliskova sisters
and the Williams sisters all use the lag. On the men’s tour players such as
Sampras, Ivanisevic, Becker, Stich, Sam Querrey, Nick Kyrgios, John Isner and
the number one ace leader of all time Ivo Karlovic all use the lag. The lag serve
technique can work with many different styles of serves. So it can work with a
full take back ala Pete Sampras or Goran Ivanisevic where they toss the ball
first while the racket is simultaneously moving all the way back like this. It can
also work with the serve where the racket is pointing down towards the
ground with a full extension of the arm and it can also work with a semi
abbreviated serve ala John Isner where the racket is it’s a pointing towards
the side and with a slight bending of the arm. And you can also have different
amounts of lag among the pro players so players such as Federer and Raonic
have very little lag so that means that the toss arm is just slightly ahead of
the hitting arm just very slightly ahead of the hitting arm. And then you
have the other extreme a player like Ivo Karlovic who tosses first but then
actually waits on the bottom and then once the balls up in the air he starts
to go into his take back and into the trophy phase. When you toss the ball first while the
hitting arm is waiting behind you are guaranteed to have a more continuous
motion in other words the racket arm is chasing the toss. So there’s actually
absolutely no time to stop and that is a big advantage when it comes to swing
momentum. So when you toss the ball first the racket continuously has to move in
order to catch up with the ball The great thing about the lag is that we
actually are separating the toss from the take-back so now you can solely
focus on tossing the ball first and then you can focus on taking the racquet up
as opposed to doing both things simultaneously which can be a big
problem for some players Almost all players who have a pinpoint
stance will also have a lag and it’s because it’s much easier to time the
pulling up of the back foot with the take back and it should look like this
you’re going to toss the ball first and now the ball is already in the air and
now as the racket is going up into the trophy phase you also are pulling the
back foot up and this is a perfect timing when it comes to the power
transfer. I’m going to try now to do two different pinpoint serves one with up
together and pinpoint and then one with the lag and the pinpoint. So first it’s
going to be up together I’m going to try to do a pinpoint stance. So I made
that one but I felt like I lost my balance a little bit and I had that
little pause right in the trophy phase and I didn’t feel like I hit the serve
well. So let me try one where I’m going to lag the racquet behind and then do a
pin point stance. Let’s see what happens. Okay that felt a lot better. I feel like
the weight transfer was seamless everything synced in perfectly together
I didn’t even have to think about it automatically as I was swinging up
towards the trophy phase and pulling the back foot up I just simply exploded into
the serve and it was a very seamless service action. And most importantly the lag will give you more power on the serve. Now it might not be much, might be 5% 10% but it is a more powerful way to serve and all the
record holders on both the WTA Tour and the ATP Tour. if we’re talking about
Venus Williams or Sabine Lisicki or if we’re talking about Sam Groth or Ivo Karlovic they all serve with a lag So there is more power created with a
lag because the racquet is picking up more swing momentum. If you happen to
have a pinpoint stance it syncs with the pinpoint stance perfectly and it results
in a more continuous smooth motion that will give you more power If you happen to have an up together
type serve can you switch to a lag? Yes you can and one pro player who’s done
that switch is Petra Kvitova who used to have an up together type serve and
then switched it to a full lag with a slight pause on the bottom ala Ivo
Karlovic and she’s been serving fantastic ever since, has won Wimbledon
and was ranked number two in the world. The up together serve works well for
some players and if you’re one of those players then of course you shouldn’t
switch your serve, however if you suffer from very common technical deficiencies
on the serve, for example on your toss, your take back or maybe in the racket
drop area, performing both of these problem areas together can only make
things worse So it makes a lot of sense to separate
them and then to work on the toss first while the racket legs behind and then
once you develop a good toss then you can start working on a take back. So
it’s a good idea that if you have problems on your serve to give the lag a
try.

David Frank

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21 COMMENTS

  1. iKarla Posted on June 28, 2019 at 11:50 am

    Another amazing video, thanks again Nick for the all helpful insight!!

    Reply
  2. Milton A Skeyer Posted on June 28, 2019 at 12:02 pm

    Loving those shoes Nikola👌. Thanks for the insight on that area of serving, I'm going to work towards shifting to lag from the up together motion.

    Reply
  3. Intuitive Tennis Posted on June 28, 2019 at 12:08 pm

    If you serve with the “up together” technique and it’s working well, it’s all good. However, if you have problems on your serve and want a little more pop, give “the lag” a try.

    Check out my free “The Croatian Serve” course. The small country of Croatia has three players inside the top 10 all time aces rankings. I break down the technical elements that make their serves so efficient.

    👉 bit.ly/tcs1977

    Reply
  4. ron greco Posted on June 28, 2019 at 1:25 pm

    Explained very well.

    Reply
  5. Ernest Lin Posted on June 28, 2019 at 2:21 pm

    This is how Djokovic serves

    Reply
  6. LaBambaC Posted on June 28, 2019 at 3:07 pm

    more lag=higher toss?

    interesting, so many lag variations. once again, i like the technique correlation you do with top pros.

    Reply
  7. andy iswandy Posted on June 28, 2019 at 3:18 pm

    Thanks, i like you , Sir!

    Reply
  8. Sapient Budgie Posted on June 28, 2019 at 5:07 pm

    A video about the chest position, shoulder position. Feeling in the arm/wrist would be helpful. Looking up how much knee bend. Your chest is facing the side fence. Pros all have their chest and head up. Do you normally do that?

    Reply
  9. manuel solaberrieta Posted on June 28, 2019 at 5:12 pm

    you are the best internet tennis coach!

    Reply
  10. JK Lee Posted on June 28, 2019 at 5:54 pm

    Thank you so much

    Reply
  11. ripleygordon Posted on June 28, 2019 at 6:25 pm

    Nik, I've been undecided as to whether the 'in sinc' or delayed serve technique is best, you've now convinced me of the one to use. Thank you, Gordon.

    Reply
  12. Don R. Mueller, Ph.D. Posted on June 28, 2019 at 8:14 pm

    There is another way to serve: that is to have a longer swing: starting the swing motion as the arm moves back after which the toss is initiated as the arm starts to move from back to front.

    Reply
  13. catalin simescu Posted on June 29, 2019 at 4:18 pm

    Nice video,Nick.All the best !

    Reply
  14. roddickfan90 Posted on June 29, 2019 at 8:20 pm

    Always struggled with my serve, really looking forward to practicing this. Thanks for the tip!

    Reply
  15. Blu 180 Posted on June 30, 2019 at 2:40 pm

    Hi Nik and thanks for the vid. I whish you could address the correlation between the type of toss and the hight, and the take back. Federer and Karlovich being the best examples, I have noticed they both shift the weight first going back and initiate with the right arm and full take back and swing pronation for fed and half take-back and slot pronation for Ivo , then shifting forward and toss ( Federer lower and side toss, Ivo higher and forward) then shift back to center and up for Fed and step and up for Ivo. I agree the the Ivo style is faster but generally speaking is less precise ( more moving parts) readable and flat , the Fed style more dependable, less readable and spinning. Lastly I found that the no lag and up toghether with a low toss can be fast and precise see Fognini. Do you think it make sense?

    Reply
  16. Naga Sai Jonnavithula Posted on July 5, 2019 at 7:55 am

    Having a lag helped my serve. I can totally relate what you meant to say from this video. It is a huge transformation. Loving it now !

    Reply
  17. Jeff Lewis Posted on July 7, 2019 at 5:22 am

    The lag definitely helps people keep that racquet moving!

    Reply
  18. Zain Ashraf Posted on July 10, 2019 at 3:10 am

    In your Croatian serve course, I see that all of them use a pin-point stance. Will the serves be effective with a platform stance?

    Reply
  19. Vid Kovačiček Posted on August 11, 2019 at 7:00 pm

    The best tennis channel out there. Great work!

    Reply
  20. Joakim Øster Posted on August 20, 2019 at 8:08 pm

    Nick, you're the man!
    Your videos on toss types and takeback types made me change my serve, I moved away from tossing along the baseline, I now toss into the court instead, makes it a lot easier for me to control the toss. 
    What it also means, though, is that the shoulder turn now comes after the toss, making it a little difficult for me to sync the racket arm motion with the shoulder turn. 
    I now realize I should just have a bigger lag, so I keep the racket down till after the shoulder turn, to simplify things 🙂
    So that means for the next months I´ll work on my serve being: 1 Short racket takeback 2 Toss, keeping the racket down 3 Left arm continuing up, weight shift, body rotation, hip rotation, STILL KEEPING RACKET DOWN, 4 lift up racket swing left to right, and KA-BOOM!

    Reply
  21. 최천수 Posted on October 14, 2019 at 12:02 am

    Well. I think up together serve is much better than lag.. because there are enough time to swing and heat the ball. It means better contact timing .

    Reply
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