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Tighter low serve -- a small technique change

Discussion in 'Techniques / Training' started by Gollum, Dec 8, 2005.

  1. Gollum

    Gollum Regular Member

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    Background

    In doubles, it is very important to develop an accurate straight low serve. A good serve will help you win many rallies, because it will be difficult for the receiver to attack.

    Of all the strokes in the game, the low serve needs the greatest accuracy. Small improvements in the accuracy of your low serve will make big improvements in your games.

    For the perfect low serve, we want:

    • To be standing right at the front of the court, with the shuttle held out in front.
      Reason: if the shuttle starts closer to the net, the receiver has less time to react.
      [*]
    • The shuttle to pass as low as possible over the net.
      Reason: the higher it goes, the more attacking options for the receiver.
      [*]
    • The shuttle to start falling once it passes the net.
      Reason: as above.
      [*]
    • The shuttle to land on the service line T.
      Reason: the receiver will have to move slightly further to reach the shuttle. It will be harder to attack.

    So the perfect low serve looks something like this (side view; upright line is net, blue curve is shuttle path, small marks indicate service line):

    [​IMG]


    The problem


    The points listed above are not independent.

    If you stand right at the front, then the shuttle will travel slightly upwards after it passes the net (unless you are very tall). It looks like this:

    [​IMG]

    Alternatively you can give the shuttle more height, like this:

    [​IMG]

    If you stand further back, then you can hit the shuttle flatter and it will drop as it passes the net. It looks like this:

    [​IMG]


    "But my serve is already perfect!"

    Are you sure?

    How do you know unless you have filmed yourself from the side? It is very difficult to tell whether your serve is perfect; it may actually be too high or too long.

    You can see easily if it is low when it crosses the net. But afterwards, it is harder to tell what the trajectory looks like.

    Film yourself and see what your serve is really like!


    So is it possible to make a perfect low serve?

    Yes, it is possible. I know two ways to do this: the difficult way, and the easy way.


    Difficult way


    You can spin the shuttle by slicing underneath it. This will make it drop more steeply as it passes the net. It is similar to the effect of a sliced fast drop.

    This method is very hard to get consistent. Slicing the shuttle makes the serve less accurate.

    This method is discussed in another thread: http://www.badmintonforum.com/vb/showthread.php?p=317597#post317597


    Easy way

    You don't need to slice the shuttle so dramatically. Instead, start with a good basic low serve action:

    • Use a soft push hitting action instead of tapping the shuttle.
    • Hold the shuttle so that it points towards your body. It will travel flatter this way. If the shuttle points towards the floor, it will travel higher.

    Once you have a good serve, it's time to make it perfect. Make one small change:

    • As you hit the shuttle, drag the racket upwards slightly so that the strings brush across the shuttle base, from bottom to top.
      [*]
    • You are brushing the shuttle, not slicing it.

    I find this technique much easier than slicing underneath the shuttle. The racket action is much simpler, so there is less chance of making a mistake.

    With the "slicing underneath" method, I find the service variations almost impossible (flick serve and wide serve). I'm sure other people can do them, but I believe it is much easier with a simple racket movement.

    I know that this method works, because I have filmed myself practising the serve on court (side view). When I brush upwards slightly, the serve trajectory can be perfect. When I don't brush it, the serve is always too high or too long.

    Since I started using this method, the quality of serve returns from my doubles opponents has decreased noticeably. Some of them hit the shuttle into the net, which they didn't do before!

    Remember, a slight brushing action will be enough.

    I hope you find this idea beneficial :)
     
    #1 Gollum, Dec 8, 2005
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2005
  2. DarthHowie

    DarthHowie Regular Member

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    great post gollum. I've always been very inconsistent with my short serve for doubles.. I too have been trying to tweak the mechanics of my serve.

    I'll go ahead and try some of the pointers that you have listed.

    DH
     
  3. Hello0

    Hello0 Regular Member

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    A very useful post. Gollum, you're a very contributing member to the badminton community!
     
  4. aquaboi

    aquaboi Regular Member

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    great post..very helpful especially with the illustrations...will try to film myself and see. although on 30-50% of the time, i do hit a perfect low serve as illustrated...or so it seems my from view:D
     
  5. Gollum

    Gollum Regular Member

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    I'm glad people like the idea :)

    By the way, some of the illustrations are a bit exaggerated, to make the differences clearer.
     
  6. aquaboi

    aquaboi Regular Member

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    haha, i know. it's a bit hard to serve the shuttle just above the tape, skimming it almost, then land squarely on the T...usually, it either skims the tape and lands short or flies a couple of inches above the tape and lands a few inches after the service line...
     
  7. DinkAlot

    DinkAlot dcbadminton
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    Good post G. We can always improve our serve.

    One way to tell if your serve is "good enough" is, if you are winning on your serve, then your serve is good but if you are losing your serve constantly, then it needs improvement. :p
     
  8. coops241180

    coops241180 Regular Member

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    sciency / geeky bit

    okay - assume the path of the shuttle is a parabola, if this is the case, and the distance from teh service line to service line is exactly double the distance from service line to net then physically it should be impossible to get the shuttle to travel the perfect path.. unless you can serve from a point on the parabola...

    i believe it is more important from the shuttle to start dropping as it passes the net than it is to reduce the time taken for the shuttle to reach the net

    brushing the shuttle always introduces an element of inconsistency, better to try to serve without it in my opinion.. the key is oodles and oodles of practice..
     
  9. MarkinJapan

    MarkinJapan Regular Member

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    exactly dinkalot,

    if your serve is being attacked constantly, it's not good enough.
    About 3 years ago I decided to really focus on getting a good low serve. You can explain up and down about shuttle path etc etc but my advice is if you have a bad serve, hit 600+ practice serves per week. Really take your time and focus on making a good stroke. I started doing that and my serve is pretty good if I may say so.
     
  10. Slanter

    Slanter Regular Member

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    I agree that any serve hit perpendicular, rather than sliced in some way, will produce a more reliable hit. The shuttle is not going to produce a perfect parabola anyway as its rate of decelaration is significant, even on a low serve.
     
  11. OTFK

    OTFK Regular Member

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    Good post Gollum. We can all use more accuracy and practice.
    One question though - even with perfect serve, some of my opponents can still time my serve. I vary the serve timing and landing location to counter act that. However, do you have other recommendation on counteract the opponent timing my serve?
    Thanks for the post.
     
  12. Gollum

    Gollum Regular Member

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    That's exactly why I posted this. With an ordinary service motion you can't get both height and distance perfect; but with a slight brush, you can.

    Again, I know this works because I filmed it.

    Again, this assumption is exactly what my post was contradicting.

    The shuttle flight is NOT an exact parabola. It is roughly parabolical, but the method of hitting can influence its shape -- in your favour!

    I agree. My observation here did not come from theorising, or from mathematics (in which I have a degree), but from observation during practice.

    And remember that this brushing action is a small finesse for a low serve that is already good. There is no point trying to add this brushing action to an inaccurate serve.

    You must practice the basics (accurate, simple low serve) before you try the fine-tuning.
     
  13. Gollum

    Gollum Regular Member

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    To begin with, we cannot expect too much from the service. Good players will always attack the serve, and all we can do is to make it harder for them.

    The straight low serve should be used most often, but it helps greatly to use occasional service variations. These are:

    • The wide low serve
    • The straight and wide flick serve
    • The straight and wide drive serves

    To be effective, all serve variations must appear exactly like the straight low serve until the last moment.

    The most useful variation, and the easiest, is the straight flick serve. If you have a good flick serve, your opponent must be ready to move backwards quickly. He will not be able to attack the low serve as effectively.

    The wide low serves are quite difficult on the backhand, especially to the left, but both sides can be done.

    Drive serves are rarely seen at the top level; I believe this is because the professionals are able to intercept them and punish the receiver. For us mere mortals, however, it is extremely difficult to cope with a drive serve if we toe the service line.

    Almost all drive serves break the service laws, but it IS possible to perform effective legal drive serves on the backhand as well as forehand. Be prepared to annoy your opponents if you use these serves! Players are likely to assume that you made an illegal service (even if you didn't).
     
  14. Gollum

    Gollum Regular Member

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    I would like to emphasise that, in my experience, only a very slight brushing action is needed to make the difference.

    You don't need an exaggerated flouncy movement, just a subtle one. If someone is watching, they will never suspect you are brushing the shuttle. Just pull your arm upwards slightly as you push the shuttle.

    A big flouncy movement will cause errors.

    For me, it feels like this small extra upwards movement comes from the shoulder, with everything else (wrist, elbow) moving as normal.

    It's almost enough just to think about dragging the strings across the shuttle!
     
  15. Pball

    Pball Regular Member

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    gollum.. would you elaborate a bit more... can't seem to visualize the brushing... you push the cock and then brush... so its like the racket is running after the cock?? wouldn't this make the shot illegal or inconsistent...

    regards
     
  16. Gollum

    Gollum Regular Member

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    No, it's all one push action. But AS you push, just lift your arm up slightly.

    It's quite hard to illustrate, given that the difference is almost imperceptible. With a really good video camera you could see it in slow motion.

    Here is my sketch of a normal serve. The black line is the racket head, with a red dot in the centre. The blue curve is the path of the racket head, and the white triangle is the shuttle:

    [​IMG]

    And here is the serve with a slight brushing:

    [​IMG]

    Here is another illustration to show how the racket contact with the shuttle starts somewhere near the centre, and then brushes upwards so that the "top" strings of the racket head are in contact with the shuttle:

    [​IMG]
     
  17. DinkAlot

    DinkAlot dcbadminton
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    Gollum: Wow! Hero illustrations. :D
     
  18. raptorman

    raptorman Regular Member

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    Great post Gollum :) I've 2 questions though. Does it works with both plastic and feather shuttles? Second question, would it be possible to post the video of you serving this way?
     
  19. Gollum

    Gollum Regular Member

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    Subjectively, it seems to work with plastics too, but not as effectively. I cannot say for sure, because I don't have a video with plastics. I also find serving with plastics more difficult because I cannot get the "feeling" for the shuttle. I normally play with feathers.

    At the moment I don't know how to convert the video into a file that can be read by a computer. I was using an old analog camera, which I borrowed. I have put it on DVD.

    It is also a little hard to see the net height in the video, because the camera was slightly lower than the net. You can deduce the net height from where the shuttle, on one serve, catches the tape.

    It would be better to show a clearer video.

    I am hoping, however, to get a digital video camera soon :) Then I might be able to upload the video, and hopefully it would be better quality too.
     
  20. Lefty23

    Lefty23 Regular Member

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    Gollum, do you still use this serve? Did you get it to work consistently? Thanks!
     

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