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Platform or Pinpoint, Where do You Stand?
Coach Dan McCain
Players underestimate the importance of how the feet are used on the serve. But executing proper footwork on the serve can foster greater balance before, during, and after contact, and when performed correctly, can enhance power and control.
On the pro tour we see predominately two types of footwork, Platform and Pinpoint stances. While the trend now, especially among the women, seems to be in favor of the pinpoint stance, where the back foot slides up next to the front foot just before jumping up and into the contact, studies seem to indicate that it offers no real advantage. So, whichever method you choose, it is best to maintain consistency in order to have a better chance at perfecting it.
The Pinpoint Stance
Click photo: Andy Murray slides his back foot up behind his front foot just prior to leaping up and into contact.
The first type of footwork, the pinpoint stance, is seen more often on the pro tour. But that doesn't mean it's a better method, just more common. This method begins with the right foot significantly spaced behind the left foot.
Before we begin to describe either of these methods, let's assume that before the jump on the serve, the left foot should never move. While there are exceptions to this rule (Tommy Haas for one), most pros keep the left foot still before jumping into the serve.
The right foot (right-handed servers) starts at least 12 inches behind the left foot, although for some players, it can be as much as 24 to 36 inches behind the left foot. As the player begins the service motion and executes the ball toss, the right foot slides up to the left foot and pauses directly next to it. Once this very brief pause occurs, the player will use both right and left toes to push off the ground, jumping up and into the court while the racquet swings up into the hit.
Click photo: Dominika Cibulkova, like most of the women on tour uses a pinpoint stance. Unlike Murray, however, she slides her right foot in front of her left.
After the jump, the player will land inside the court on the left foot, and kick out and back with the right foot so that the right heel can finish the landing facing up to the sky. Landing on the left foot with the right knee bent and right heel finishing up fosters a good shoulder turn and enables the player to counter balance the force of the swing.
By starting the right foot further back, then bringing it up beside the left before jumping into the hit, players believe this transferring of their weight from the back foot to the front foot creates a more easy and natural movement, and generates maximum forward momentum into the court during contact. Once again, high speed footage seems to indicate that bringing the feet together like this adds very little, if any, additional upward thrust into the ball.
In addition, problems can occur if the right foot moves too far to the right of, or even past the left foot. This can compromise balance as well as shoulder turn, and is a common cause of foot faulting, especially at the club level.
The Platform Stance
Click photo: Federer's serve is beautiful in it's simplicity. There's very little wasted motion in his platform stance.
The second type of footwork is seen a little less often in today's game, but is just as effective. Sampras, Agassi, Federer, and Roddick all use this method. Instead of moving the right foot up to the left, these players simply begin their stance with both feet closer together. While the space between right and left foot may vary in distance for each of these players, the general rule is to begin the service motion with both feet relatively close together. Roddick seems to have his feet only a few inches apart, while Sampras, Agassi, and Federer maintain slightly more spacing, but still, far less space between their feet than users of the first type of serve footwork.
With this method, both feet remain motionless before jumping up as the racquet swings upward to contact.
With the feet beginning closer together, these players transfer their weight not by moving the right foot toward the court, but rather by simply leaning back and forth in a rocking motion. These players land on their left foot with the right knee bent at or near a ninety degree angle and the right heel facing up – essentially the same as players using the pinpoint stance footwork.
Click photo: Agnes Szavay is one of the very few women on the pro tour using a platform stance.
The platform stance is a bit simpler than the pinpoint stance, since less movement is involved, and therefore, less can go wrong. These players have less balance issues and there are fewer chances of their feet inhibiting their shoulder turn.
The majority of the players on the tour have adopted the pinpoint stance. They feel this generates a more natural movement and accelerates their momentum into the court on contact. High-speed analysis of the pinpoint serve, however, doesn't seem to substantiate these advantages, but it obviously can be effective.
The simplicity of the platform serve seems to give it advantages over the pinpoint serve, yet many players feel that this stance inhibits their weight transfer and movement into the court. Which stance should you adopt? Both stances can work, and the only way to decide which type of service is best for you is trial and error. For most, it comes down to "it just feels better." And that reason is as good as any.
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Obtaining Pro Power on the Forehand
The power professional men and women generate on their forehands is impressive to say the least. To the average club player, seeing a professional hit a forehand is like watching a magician conjure up airplanes out of thin air. But generating power on the forehand is not about smoke and mirrors, nor do the pros break all the known laws of physics. Dave Smith show you how it's done.
Those Volleys – What's In Your Footwork?
Frustrated every time you dump that easy volley into the net? Perhaps your footwork is the problem. Alan Margot asks, “How do you move when you hit a volley? What’s in your footwork? Do you run right through it? Do you stop, get set and step in? Do you wait for the ball to come to you?” Here Alan demonstrates the Two-Step Shuffle and the advanced Three-Step Shuffle, with the focus on keeping you centered and balanced as you close on your volleys.
ProStrokes 2.0 – Maria Sharapova's Serve
Maria Sharapova, at a mere 22 years of age, has already amassed a storied career. Over 12 million dollars in prize money, three grand slam titles, and a solid future as a world wide personality, yet she still appears to want more on the tennis court. Her record in 2009 is 31 wins and 9 losses, but this is a long way from the 2008 Australian Open where she captured the title without the loss of one single set. In the spring her shoulder flared up leading to surgery on the labrum. At the Tokyo tournament in September, she captured the title showing she still has game. Check out her strokes, in super slow motion, in the Tennis One ProStrokes gallery. New this issue, Sharapova's serve.
The Etcheberry Experience DVD
For more than twenty years Pat Etcheberry has been providing athletes from around the world with the winning edge. We call this the Etcheberry Experience, and players with an Etcheberry experience have hoisted Championship Trophies at over one hundred major championships, including 28 Australian Opens, 18 Wimbledons, 22 UP Opens, 22 French Opens and 15 Olympic medals.
And now it's your turn! This is your chance to experience the same drills, exercises and words of tennis wisdom that Pat gave to Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, Jennifer Capriati, Martina Hingis, Jim Courier, Justine Henin-Hardenne, and others, that helped launch them on their incredible careers. For the first time, Pat Etcheberry shares his training secrets in a series of DVDs for players of all ages, their coaches, and trainers.
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