The Serve – 004

Roll With the Thumb

‘Make it Go Away!’ – Righting the Wrong Grip

Let’s get to how un-angling the racket face helps our quest for power and spin.
As dictated by the Angle Grip, Novak Djokovic has a racket head with the frame angled edge-on-up towards the (perfectly placed) ball.

If he doesn’t un-angle it in time for his Connect 3, the ball will be contacted with the frame edge, not the strings.

The Three Stage Thumb Roll

Stage 1: In frame 1 Nole’s thumb is facing (let’s pretend his thumb has a face) away from my camera, to the opposite side of the court.

1: South…

Stage 2 In 2 Nole’s thumb is now facing the ball at connect (below).

How so?’

2: …West

Because he has rolled the thumb, which was made possible by a rolling outwards of the inner forearm, which in turn rolls out the inner edge of the racket, thus we instigate the process of in-flight de-angling of the racket face… and all done in time to make a perfect contact.

Phew!repeat after me….’

Stage 3 the third image shows the extent of the outward rolling of the thumb and inner forearm.

3: …North

Thumb Roll – 3 Movements

  • In 1 the hitting surface of the racket faces one side of the court – South.
  • In 2 it meets the ball face on – West.
  • In 3 it is now facing opposite to where it started – North.

Let’s emphasise these 3 movements, with Nole and John McEnroe…

Or would it be more accurate to describe it as one movement, with 3 distinct – and essential – segments within it?
Either way, this next click-thru of Mac couldn’t be clearer, and in the second frame – fractionally after contact – you can see the thumb just keeps on rollin’.

For this process to take place – for it to be successful

  • The grip gives us the angle.
  • The thumb & forearm roll helps unangle the racket face.
  • This speedy, fluid un-angling adds to the head whip – makes possible the head whip, even – for extra power and spin.

Un-angling 2: Smoothly Does It (or Incorporated Un-Angling)

Before moving on from this harnessed un-angling of the racket face, I want to emphasise that the thumb does not – cannot – move independently of the rest of Steffi’s arm in image A.

The thumb & forearm roll is not some separate, stand-alone entity.

Rather, it is a shift within a bigger movement and is incorporated smoothly, seamlessly, and unfurls & extends naturally into a fully thrown service action: no muscular jerks, ticks or grinding of joints necessary.

In this sequence of Steffi Graf (above and below), you can see the thumb roll is part of a fuller service throwing action.

At the start, her racket is angled edge-up towards the ball.

The Tennis Serve 005

%d bloggers like this: