Years ago, it dawned on me that there was an element of the serve that was extremely important – an essential link in the fluid chain of events – yet I’d never heard it mentioned or seen it written about.
The Elbow Surge
Roll the animation below and you’ll see 3 serves in one image.
And as the players drop the racket loosely down their back, en route to the throw, you’ll see elbows kind of lead the racket into the throw.
I call this the elbow surge.
Basically, there is a dual action going on – as the arm breaks (or bends), the racket head loops down the back as the elbow surges.
This combination of drop and surge can be seen in each of the players here, and every other world class tennis serve.
The elbow surge is not a thing in its own right, rather, it is a linking of elements, and, like much technical tennis, it is one identifiable section of a seamless, smooth, continuous, fluid stroke – in this case a service action.
But its good to be aware of such elements when practicing, and also to get a second pair of eyes to confirm and oversee your stroke development, like the Surge of Jim Courier, below.
If your placement is too low, the elbow will be jammed in and a successful upward surge of the elbow cannot take place.