Section 01 – The Serve Unit Turn (Salute) Explained

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The serve unit turn varies to a degree from a groundstroke unit turn in that the racquet will be raising up as the body turns instead of staying level. Also, the serve unit turn is a very slow motion from start to finish. Other elements of the unit turn are similar to a groundstroke unit turn. The body will rotate in unison. The left hand stays on the racquet at the start of the unit turn. The weight will shift from the front foot to the back foot.

Shoulders

The first motion of the serve is done by the shoulders. To start the serve just start rotating the shoulders in a clockwise motion. The shoulders should rotate in a very similar fashion to if you where a pitcher in baseball.

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The shoulders should rotate in a lateral fashion, and should stay relatively level with each other as they turn. Hover over the below image to see the shoulders stay level.

The shoulders should rotate between 30 and 45 degrees. Hover over the below image to see the full rotation.

Feet

As the shoulders rotate, the weight of the body will move from the front foot to the back foot. Hover over the below image to see the weight shift onto the back foot.

As this happens the front foot will come up. Some players will bring the toes of the front foot up as they shift the weight onto their back foot. Hover over the below image to see the front toes point up.

Lots of professional players bring their front toes up as they rotate their shoulders and shift the weight onto their back foot. I prefer players to raise their heel and leave their toes on the ground when rotating the shoulders. Hover over the below image to see the heel come up as the shoulders rotate.

The reason to keep the toes on the ground vs toes up is simple, better balance. The toes on the ground keeps more of the foots surface area on the ground, plus the toes, or ball of your feet are flat. This leads to a much more stable base than if the toes are up. The heel of the foot is not flat, its round. Being round will lead to a more likely chance of players balance being off some as the shoulders rotate. Which is easier to maintain your balance while standing on balls of your feet or standing on the heels of your feet?

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Obviously its easier to maintain balance while on your toes. This is the reason to keep you toes down as the shoulders rotate.

Hand Position

As the shoulders rotate and the weight shifts onto the back foot the hands will start to separate. Initially the hands stay together on the racquet as the shoulders rotate. This will help the whole body to rotate in unison which leads to better balance and more power. Hover over the below image to see both hands staying on the racquet as the shoulders start to rotate.

Once the left hand is slightly past the front of the left leg the hands can start to separate.

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Its very important that as the hands start to separate the toss arm stays level with the racquet arm or above the racquet arm.

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Many players end up with the racquet above the toss arm.

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There are numerous issues that arise from the racquet being above the ball during the unit turn. The most glaring issue is that the racquet will not be able to have smooth acceleration from start to finish. Since the racquet is moving too fast during the unit turn, the racquet will need to be slowed down somewhere soon in order to hit the ball after it is tossed. If it is not slowed down, the racquet will reach the supposed contact point well before the ball unless the ball is tossed really low. Slowing down the racquet will bring the racquet out of unison with the body leading to a loss of power and balance.

Racquet Position

After the hands separate, slowly start to raise the racquet making sure the palm of the racquet hand stays pointing towards the ground while the knuckles point up.

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This must be done slow as it is impossible to keep control of the racquet if the racquet is brought up too quick. Hover over the below image to see he palm stay down as the racquet rises.

If the racquet is brought up too fast it will force the palm up and cause a loss of power, control and balance.

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This will make it impossible to pronate which will lead to a lack of power and spin.

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At the end of the unit turn the racquet should be slightly over the head, but still on the right hand side of the body. It will end up looking like someone is saluting.

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Hitting Arm

As the racquet raises the hitting arm should stay bent.

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Many players (including professional players) will keep their hitting arm straight.

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It is not wrong to keep the hitting arm straight, I just prefer to have players keep their hitting arm bent so that the elbow can stay bent and high. Dropping the elbow can get the racquet out of sync with the body and also lead to bending the back. Bending the back at best will lead to getting the body out of sync with the racquet and at worse lead to an injury. Plus the arm just needs to bend again anyway at the racquet drop phase. So its a wasted movement to straighten out the arm. Hover over the below image to see this happen.

Toss Arm

The toss arm needs to stay straight throughout the unit turn and until the arm needs to start coming down. This helps to maintain a consistent toss. Hover over the below image to see the toss arm stay straight.

The movement of the arm is not a straight up and down movement since the shoulders are rotating. Many players will try and have the arm just go down and up. This makes it virtually impossible to rotate the shoulders thus limiting the power of the serve.

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This type of movement can also facilitate a movement of the arm from right to left which can lead to the ball going ether too far to the right or too far to the left. Too far to the left can lead to bending of the back.

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Bending of the back can lead to back injuries or if the back isn’t bent and the ball is still tossed to the left the arm or shoulder can be injuried.

The movement of the arm is an out and up movement. The arm should move from the belly button to way out in front of the body.

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Elbow

Back

The back should stay straight throughout the unit turn.

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