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TENNIS SERVE | “Elbow The Enemy” Tennis Serve Drill


Hello, it’s Jeff Salzenstein, coming to you from beautiful sunny Denver, Colorado, and I’ve got a great tip today to help you with your serve, and this is a tip that has really helped a lot of my students over the years. It’s something that I kind of invented out in the trenches. That’s what makes us unique at Jeff Salzenstein Tennis. We actually get in the trenches with players, and we experiment, we come up with fun terms and names that can really help, and this one’s all about “Elbowing the Enemy”. So first, I want to go over the problem a lot of players struggle with having their arm and their elbow in the wrong place, especially in that trophy position. So, I see a lot of players that when they take the racket back, the elbow is tucked in here, and then from there, you can’t really throw a ball, or throw that racket towards the ball. You can’t really have a natural service motion with the elbow too low. You also can’t do it if the elbow is too high. So, we want to get the elbow in the right place, and one of my favorite cues is “elbow the enemy.” So, the key is that when you get into this trophy position, you want to feel your elbow clear away from your body: you don’t want it here, you don’t want it here. This shows that it’s in line with the body; we want it away. So, you’re going to pretend like you’re “elbowing the enemy,” and let’s assume the enemy is shorter than you, and for one time in your life, you get to pretend to be somewhat violent, but we’ll try to be peaceful out here, just focus on getting the elbow away like this. That’s really going to help this trophy position. We’ve gotten instant results with that concept. I’m going to bring in the student right now to show us how it’s done. Alright, we’ve got Max up to the line, he’s going to show us, again, that low elbow and that high elbow, and then we’re going to elbow that enemy. So Max, go ahead and get into the trophy position with the low elbow, and this is the problem that we see a lot. You see, the racket’s here. We want the racket more close down once we get the elbow in the right place. We also see the arms stay straight, and the elbow stays high like this. It’s in that type of a position there, we want to elbow the enemy. We want that elbow back here, pretending like you’re elbowing your enemy to the side. Go ahead and do that for me. Hold the position, good. So, you can see the elbow is way away from the body, and as soon as people have that visualization, you can relax actually. As soon as they have that visual picture of elbowing the enemy, a lot of times that position gets so much better, and in tennis, it’s so much about position, position, position – how your body feels in space. So Max, go ahead and show us that serve, that great serve you have, and focus on the elbow the enemy concept. Good. So if you can even get it further away with that shoulder turn, feel like the elbow’s going out to the side. Good. Just hit a little bit, because I overcoached him. But the idea is to get that elbow away. Good. So that’s your tip. You’re going to focus on getting the elbow away, Elbow the Enemy. That’s going to help your serve a ton. I really hope you received a ton of value from this lesson today, so you can go take action on the court as soon as possible. If you want to see more in-depth breakdown of this lesson and many others, make sure to join us inside the Total Tennis Training in our circle, where you can get cutting-edge tennis tips and strategies that can fix your weaknesses, and improve your strengths. If you want to be a part of our growing online tennis community and get the best tennis lessons on the planet, go ahead and click the link below, and we’ll help you go to the next level with your tennis. I’m really excited to help you out, and thanks for taking the time to watch this lesson today.

David Frank

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69 COMMENTS

  1. ferit sagiroglu Posted on June 6, 2013 at 9:21 am

    great tip , simple action appreciated

    Reply
  2. SSPeriway Posted on June 6, 2013 at 10:45 am

    Dear Jeff, i tried to see my serve stance in a mirror ( i knew that i was doing something wrong) and i tend to raise my elbow too much.Then I tried to apply your suggestion in some full motions, and i felt two things: my scapulas trying to "touch each other", and a twist on my normal axis, like i was facing my back at the opponent.
    Is it normal? or i "elbowed" too much? thanks for the great advice and for your kindness!

    Reply
  3. Paintedpayload Posted on June 6, 2013 at 8:15 pm

    yea its crazy how much different you actually look compared to how you "think" you look. I'm in a similar situation

    Reply
  4. Miljana Janculovski Posted on June 7, 2013 at 11:31 am

    Great video.
    But,dear Jeff,could you make a video about difference between kick and topspin serve??Are kick and topspin the same?What is the difference??
    So many people are confused about it.
    Thanks in advance.

    Reply
  5. krakou2 Posted on June 7, 2013 at 1:52 pm

    great tip, also noticed @ roland garros players doing it.

    Is there something equivalent with the forehand?

    Reply
  6. SSPeriway Posted on June 7, 2013 at 3:02 pm

    Today i tried this little change…well,the ball went at least 2 or 3 times faster with the same effort! i'm working now to increase the percentage of the first serves, but i'm getting the hang of it.
    Absolutely worth trying it!

    Reply
  7. scrabbleking1965 Posted on June 8, 2013 at 12:15 pm

    Since Jeff hasn't replied, I'll tell you what my coach said and that is the back of the front shoulder SHOULD face the opponent, then untwists/uncoils during the swing, watch Djok. and Fed. in slow motion they do from the start of the serve, Nadal does it, but turns away while getting in the trophy pose. It helped me a LOT! Now I'll try and incorporate Jeff's elbow….

    Reply
  8. kaythamhenway Posted on June 10, 2013 at 12:38 pm

    This tip really helped me serve better. Thanks Jeff!

    Reply
  9. ryanhayn Posted on July 26, 2013 at 2:21 am

    You forgot to mention the proper grip. I'm a noob and would like to know that kind of stuff.

    Reply
  10. Favizzy Posted on July 28, 2013 at 2:05 pm

    hold it like you wanna cut a tree from the middle.

    Reply
  11. Jimmy C Posted on August 4, 2013 at 3:20 am

    thanks, this works really well. but in my mind, i am picturing rubbing a stripper's boobs with my right elbow, that way my upper body stays loose and i serve better. thanks!

    Reply
  12. Chris Chao Posted on August 5, 2013 at 11:08 pm

    Thanks, coach. It's a great tip on the serve.

    Reply
  13. MrMase12 Posted on August 6, 2013 at 1:02 am

    Thanks for the tip, been trying to improve.

    Reply
  14. Mestengo Hidalgo Posted on August 10, 2013 at 10:05 am

    Why do you use a speech pattern at the intellectual level of a guy trying to pass a freshman speech communications course at a community college?

    A for the technique observation, C for the verbal presentation skills.

    Reply
  15. william shorack Posted on August 16, 2013 at 1:03 pm

    What a trite comment!

    Reply
  16. Mestengo Hidalgo Posted on August 17, 2013 at 1:13 am

    What's your point besides an indirect admission that you're probably on the down-low with Jeffie? Does she know?

    Reply
  17. LuminarkHunter Posted on October 2, 2013 at 5:53 pm

    thx that helped a lot.

    Reply
  18. Abolanle Abolanle Abidemi Posted on October 6, 2013 at 1:58 pm

    Ohh my goodness thank you

    Reply
  19. Sotero Trinidad Posted on October 16, 2013 at 4:53 am

    Nice! Thanks!

    Reply
  20. niuniun uhhiuh Posted on October 27, 2013 at 12:03 am

    Great tip, but the student's elbow was too low when hitting the ball.

    Reply
  21. Michel Pellerin Posted on October 31, 2013 at 9:51 am

    I already have problem with my elbow(golf elbow).I am worry that (elbow the enenmy) will put more pressure on my elbow and will amplified my problem. When i do kick serv it hurts less than flat serv. What do you think?

    Reply
  22. Andre Levi Posted on December 4, 2013 at 8:20 am

    Still, don't believe you are 40.  Gotta be late 20's tops 🙂

    Reply
  23. sagatbalrog Posted on December 7, 2013 at 5:55 am

    hey good. im goin to try this

    Reply
  24. ShuXiong Bao Posted on January 26, 2014 at 1:39 pm

    I'm in the 1st category, elbow to ribs, stick pointing sky. Gonna try it next time.

    Reply
  25. Isaac 976 Posted on April 19, 2014 at 2:51 am

    Good stuff, but how come he didnt open up but instead went to elbow the enemy straight away, is that ok ?

    Reply
  26. Isaac 976 Posted on April 19, 2014 at 4:40 am

    Hi Jeff, do comment at my serve, any comments of tips to improve ? http://youtu.be/DteX6clgNLs

    Reply
  27. Tom Holmes Posted on April 26, 2014 at 6:31 am

    http://tennislessonsscheduling.com

    Reply
  28. Matthew Trotman Posted on August 29, 2014 at 12:44 am

    Well I do this a EVERYTIME now for my serve . I've seen

    Reply
  29. Matthew Trotman Posted on August 29, 2014 at 12:45 am

    A pro have his Elbow face down when he serves , like south . Where as this is more east or west ( depending if lefty or righty)

    Reply
  30. Matthew Trotman Posted on August 29, 2014 at 12:46 am

    I feel I do everything right but I only serve at about 60 to early 70s MPH .

    Reply
  31. praveen kumar Posted on September 15, 2014 at 11:30 am

    elbow the enemy the gr concept : my 12 yr old son should know

    Reply
  32. Steve Kahle Posted on September 18, 2014 at 9:10 pm

    What a power tip, Jeff!  I saw immediate results with my serve.  Thank you for sharing the knowledge.

    Reply
  33. Daouadji Hassaine Posted on October 20, 2014 at 9:50 pm

    Hello Coach , Please I have a fundamental question
    In the trophy position how should the racket strings be , sideways or frontal ?

    Reply
  34. dctrex Posted on November 15, 2014 at 4:56 am

    Fantastic! Very helpful. Thank you, Jeff!

    Reply
  35. Timothy McGlynn Posted on December 9, 2014 at 9:55 pm

    Just tried the elbow position and i really works, Thanks

    Reply
  36. B-Progressive Tennis Posted on January 4, 2015 at 10:01 pm

    this is good advice Jeff! 

    Reply
  37. manas arora Posted on January 24, 2015 at 5:06 pm

    Can you help me with my backhand? Can you tell me the grip of Novak Djokovic's backhand grip

    Reply
  38. vic lam Posted on February 17, 2015 at 5:34 am

    he made 1 out 3 serves 

    Reply
  39. lagunaseca21 Posted on March 21, 2015 at 8:52 am

    Great tip, it worked for me. Thanks Jeff!

    Reply
  40. Tennis Fitness Training Posted on April 8, 2015 at 11:55 am

    Good tricks

    Reply
  41. KennyG Ariza Posted on April 14, 2015 at 2:46 am

    Those serves that Max hit seemed to have reached easily over 100 mph. Have you ever clocked his fastest serve?

    Reply
  42. Limitlessstate Posted on May 3, 2015 at 2:26 am

    What racquet is the coach using? looks like pure drive or roddick racquet

    Reply
  43. Vijay Kumar Posted on May 4, 2015 at 9:40 am

    i want picture and explantion for the key

    Reply
  44. John L Posted on May 30, 2015 at 10:57 am

    Just want to tell you that this tip helped me immensely. I'm able to serve now with less strain in the joints and muscle, as well as being more accurate and more powerful. Many thanks!

    Reply
  45. kumar Pavan Posted on June 19, 2015 at 4:24 pm

    Thanks a lot for the wonderful technique as this helped me a lot, i also added one more tip to this to watch the ball till it reaches the racket. This has really helped a lot. Thanks a ton.

    Reply
  46. Enita Lee Posted on September 4, 2015 at 5:49 am

    Thank you for the valuale tip, 'Elbow the Enemy. But, I think it'll take a lot of time and practice  to be intnalized.

    Reply
  47. Rocket Man Posted on October 28, 2015 at 1:49 pm

    Jeff – At 02.05, the elbow is high. If you serve from that high elbow, I get a huge amount of top spin. Tomic and Wawrinka normally keep elbow quite high.

    Changing to a lower elbow (like elbow the enemy demo) screws up the timing and top spin. I use pin point serve.

    Reply
  48. Erny Sanchez Posted on February 25, 2016 at 10:56 am

    Great tip and works great. Got the elbow ready, the stance, the works…now I need an enemy, jajajaja….thanks Jeff

    Reply
  49. Sergio Martín Vega Posted on March 28, 2016 at 2:48 pm

    If you are interested in treating tennis elbow at home the greatest results that i've had was by following the Freds Elbow Helper (just google it) – I found it themost useful info that I've seen.

    Reply
  50. Daniel Gomez Posted on July 5, 2016 at 8:30 pm

    Absolutely a Great Tip !!!!!! Thank you so much !!!!

    Reply
  51. Rudy Lara Posted on July 20, 2016 at 3:11 am

    Jeff! You nailed it. I have been stuck on that soo called "Trophy" pose since birth. This "ETT" goes into effect immediately! Thanks 🙂

    Reply
  52. Deepak Bajaj Posted on September 23, 2016 at 1:21 am

    This actually helped, THANKS!

    Reply
  53. Steven Garfield Posted on December 8, 2016 at 4:33 am

    Is it the same technique for a flat serve and a top spin serve?

    Reply
  54. Tennis Conditioning Posted on December 28, 2016 at 12:16 am

    great video – thank you for sharing!

    Reply
  55. Joseph Gregory Posted on May 15, 2017 at 3:06 pm

    Thx Jeff … well done easy checkpoint

    Reply
  56. TheAmazeer Posted on May 24, 2017 at 4:10 pm

    from this position you want to wip the ball

    Reply
  57. Brent Waterbury Posted on July 23, 2017 at 2:21 pm

    Thx Jeff!! I once watched u play a match in Palm Springs. Close match!

    Reply
  58. Javi LS Posted on November 1, 2017 at 9:34 pm

    Thanks to share it!.

    Reply
  59. Shanmuga Sundaram Posted on November 13, 2017 at 9:08 pm

    elbow the wife

    Reply
  60. BenBen2351 Posted on December 31, 2017 at 3:56 pm

    That video completely changed my serve , for the best. Thanks a lot, this is a game changer for me.

    Reply
  61. Diana Scoccia Posted on April 28, 2018 at 6:35 pm

    Thank you, great tip, but it would also be helpful to know where does it go from there to get into the proper supinated position.

    Reply
  62. Tennis Evolution - Online Tennis Lessons Posted on July 6, 2018 at 4:41 pm

    Serve myths debunked: Former Top 100 ATP Pro, Jeff Salzenstein, is exposing 3 common myths that could be crippling your serve potential. Most players make at least 1 of these 3 mistakes… Do you? https://goo.gl/sYqQQe

    Reply
  63. yohan Urban Posted on August 18, 2018 at 4:01 pm

    thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Reply
  64. Abderrezak Boukazouha Posted on October 31, 2018 at 8:45 pm

    it works, it really works, i was serving bombs from nowhere, but you have to train the mouvment , because it's a bit of a change

    Reply
  65. andy iswandy Posted on December 25, 2018 at 5:52 pm

    Absolutly Right!

    Reply
  66. Olcayto Keskinkan Posted on January 26, 2019 at 4:01 pm

    Thank you Mr.Salzenstein. Thanks to this technique I have got a lot of benefits. I also got the same benefit in the forehand shot. Because if we keep the elbow away from the body in the forehand stroke, we get very good momentum. I got a lot of training in this video from the teacher can not give.

    Reply
  67. Bouzid S Posted on February 15, 2019 at 8:10 am

    Daim…your advice looks very good. I will test it next week because my serve is very bad (no time to get lesson), I am just playing sometimes with collegues!!! Regards. Bouzid From Paris France.

    Reply
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