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Thread: Drive serves -- a puzzle!
09-14-2005, 07:23 AM #1
Drive serves -- a puzzle!
For a long time, I have believed that drive serves are illegal. To be more precise, I believed that it was impossible to perform a legal and effective drive serve from a serving position just behind the T.
And so I have advised players not to attempt drive serves, because they will almost certainly break the service laws. This is confirmed by observing that, of all the (effective) drive serves I see in club play, none are legal.
Drive serves tend to bring the racket head up too high, which violates a service law:
9.1.6 the shaft of the server's racket at the instant of hitting the shuttle shall be pointing in a downward direction to such an extent that the whole of the head of the racket is discernably below the whole of the server's hand holding the racket
Now for the puzzle:
Yesterday, I practised serving. I found that I could produce effective drive serves that were clearly legal. Details:
- I stood right at the front of the service court, and served backhand
- I did not need to bring the racket head up towards my hand. I was even able to produce the serve with the racket pointing vertically down.
- The serve flew low and flat, dropping as it went. It landed near the back doubles service line
- Both straight and wide drives serves were possible with the same motion
The technique for this serve is very simple: tap the racket sharply forwards (but not upwards) using power from the fingers. The wrist is not used at all, and forearm supination is kept to an absolute minimum to avoid breaking law 9.1.6.
So, how can one respond to such a serve? I'd like to think it was illegal, but I cannot fault it in any way.
If it is legal, why do we not see it performed at the professional level? They stand right at the front of the court; how would they be able to react quickly enough to attack this serve?
I know that the pros have extraordinary reactions, but there are limits.
What do you think? Is it legal? If it is, how can one respond to it, when receiving serve at the very front of the service box?
Last edited by Gollum; 09-14-2005 at 07:26 AM.
09-14-2005, 08:18 AM #2
If you are not very fast or dont have very fast reactions then you can stand about 1 feet or 2 away from the T when recieving the shuttle.
Also standing in an aggressive stance, making sure you can see the shuttle clearly and having rackethead above the net.
When they do a drive serve you jus need to push with ur racket head forward like you are doing a drive back.
09-15-2005, 10:01 PM #3
intent of service rule 9.1.6 is to prevent any forearm supination
Yes you can make a legal drive serve (not break rule 9.1.6) by using finger power, however if any forearm supination is used during a backhand service then the racket head will be raised above the legal limit. Wrist extension is ok but not forearm supination. This point is very important because a backhand serve can be struck much harder using forearm supination instead of wrist extension.
09-17-2005, 09:25 PM #4
Is this serve a forehand or a backhand?
09-17-2005, 09:51 PM #5
Originally Posted by keith_aquino
You can see the drive serve being performed rarely. I think 1997 WC mens doubles final. It was used by the M'sians but didn't work.
2000 Thomas cup s/final Jesper Larsen used it against Candra/Sigit to win their match (great game!)
To answer the question, I think doubles players position themselves to receive serve in such a way that they can receive the drive serve without too much trouble.
09-18-2005, 01:10 AM #6
hmmmm? I can backhand drive serve pretty well, right at the T. but i kinda gotta go on my tippee toes... sure i look stupid when i do it, maybe a bit girlish, but at least i get the point . And yes i do it legally (i think) the racquet head is below my waist.
Oh yeah, in case your wondering, im not that tall, im 5'5 but i only weigh 97-100 lbs... im so underweight . Also i know alot of tall people that can forehand drive serve legally, it isnt all about serving you know, players that are tall and can drive serve well are heavyier and move around alot slower. ex for me, im short, 5'5 but i can move around quickly since im only 100lbs.
Last edited by __Lam; 09-18-2005 at 01:14 AM.
09-18-2005, 01:10 AM #7
Originally Posted by Cheung
09-18-2005, 03:45 AM #8
not meant to discredit gollum findings, this is my findings:
1. drive serve can be perform legally both b/h and f/h style
2. drive serve works well against C and lower players. For B players, just the first one or so. For A and above players, only work if that player wasn't playing the game seriously AND not paying attention.
09-19-2005, 08:32 AM #9
Originally Posted by cooler
What sort of response do you observe the better players making? Are they able to intercept the serve immediately, or does it go behind them?
Assuming that one wishes to "toe the service line", what preparation is required to respond well? Must the racket face be pointing forwards, towards the shuttle, so that one can hit it down immediately? Must one use a panhandle grip (rather than, say, a neutral grip)?
If you need to use a panhandle grip to return drive serves, it makes receiving low serves on the backhand side more difficult, because changing from panhandle to backhand takes longer than changing from a loose neutral grip to backhand. But if you start with a neutral grip, you cannot change grip in time to return a drive serve.
Thoughts on this, anyone?
09-19-2005, 09:27 AM #10
At an international level if the receiver is concentrating and prepared they will intercept the shuttle very early and play a smash/ drive so little advantage is gained.
At a lower level (i.e. lower county /good club) ,most drive serves are illegal. They often result in aces. I often say to people "since every time you use that serve you score why don't you use it all the time , in fact why doesn't everyone use it?" Generally they don't reply because the answer is the serve is a fault and they feel they can put one in occassionally but not get away with it every point.
This problem is compounded by service judges who need a few looks at a serve before calling a fault. I can think of one guy who serves bhand then switches occasionally to a fhand drive serve which he hits from above the waist with topspin to get an outragous ace, even with service judges, they often dont call a fault because they need a couple of looks at it!
I agree in theory it is possible for someone of average height to hit a fairly flat serve but in practice really penetrating drive serves are often faults.
09-19-2005, 11:00 AM #11
Originally Posted by dlp
09-20-2005, 04:50 AM #12
Originally Posted by Gollum
The only time you move backwards is if it's a flick serve. Being at the T, directly opposite from your opponent, also limits the angles they can play. Straight or wide, you can pick it up at the net.
09-20-2005, 06:50 AM #13
hmmm, a lot of pro doubles players have quite a low stance, drive serves come more at head height rather than chest height.
i agree tho - it is almost impossible to get a penetrating drive serve without making a fault of some sort.. forehand or backhand..
at best you can push it a little harder so that it crosses the net before your opponent can get there to attack it.. i hardly see any drive serves, apart from one guy i know - his racquet usually gets somewhere up near his chest..
the best serves are usually low flick serves up the bh.. , the girl i play with does this brilliantly, altho she does stand a little further back.
maybe that is the key to a good drive serve - contact the shuttle further away from the net..
prolly more acheivable in mixed for the man..
09-20-2005, 09:15 AM #14
well, if you can get it right, it's a matter of time.
Basically the pros are trained with traditional serve.
Lets see if there are innovators who dares to try at international levels. Not many dares to risk it. Definitely gets more attention from the umpires.
09-20-2005, 09:20 AM #15
If you watch top under 13 boys (national level) they often go through a phase of hitting a lot of drive serves, usually by about 16 you hardly see any drive serves. Clearly if they were successful at it and weren't getting service faulted by umpires they would continue with it up to senior level.
Pros will cut off a drive serve without having to move back , but if a drive serve gets past, or a good flick for that matter they are fast enough to get back and either play a good attacking shot or failing that to lift to the back line.
09-20-2005, 01:24 PM #16
Originally Posted by Gollum
I don't think it's that hard to change grips. Unless you are using lots of layering on your racquet handle.
See how some pros are waving the shuttle up and down when receiving serve? (Sigit especially). I think they are doing this to partly keep their muscles relaxed and therefore their arms/hands can move faster.
09-21-2005, 07:18 AM #17
Originally Posted by Cheung
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