The Serve

For a long time I’ve been fascinated by the how the ball moves in the air and what you can do to affect it. Now I’ve come up with a way to explore it through a web browser. I thought I’d share my initial attempts to see what people think.
There are four very simple examples. Three looking at the basic types: flat, topspin and slice. A fourth looking at the advanced topic of serve height.

Basic Serves

There are 3 basic serves: flat, topspin and slice. You use each for different reasons. Their value is that with you can use the different spins to target different areas of the court and ask your opponent different questions each time you start the point. So mastering each type of serve can give you many options to challenge your opponents with.
To demonstrate the differences of each serve we’ll introduce the flat serve and try to hit a target. Then we’ll repeat the scenario for topspin and slice, moving the target for each. 
Try watching each serve from different viewpoints to see what happens throughout. 

Flat

The most basic serve is the flat serve. It has no spin, you just have to get the height and power correct.
Check it out and select flat then Play.

Topspin

The topspin serve brings the ball down quickly into court. For this example you only need set the amount of topspin to apply.

You see that with topspin the ball will bounce closer to the net than a flat serve with the same aim, height and power. This means you can target areas of the court you can’t target with the other types of serve. You can also hit the serve harder but still bring it down into the service box. This is the favoured serve of shorter players like Sara Errani.

Check it out and select topspin then Play.

Slice

The slice serve moves the ball  out to the side of the court. For this example you only need set the amount of slice to apply.

You see that with topspin the ball will bounce closer to the sideline than a flat serve with the same aim, height and power. This means you can target areas of the court you can’t target with the other types of serve. You can also hit the serve harder but still bring it down into the service box. This is because some of the power you use to hit the ball is translated in the spin for slice.

Slice can either move the ball left or right depending on the arm used to serve. The example demonstrates a left handed server where the ball moves to the right. For right handed serves the ball moves to the left.

Check it out and select slice then Play.

Advanced Serves

Once you understand the serve basics you can begin experimenting with the more advanced aspects such as height.

Serve Height

The height you hit the ball in a serve has an effect on all types of serve. The main point is that the higher the ball is when you strike it the more reliable the serve is because you have a greater margin for error. You can also generate more pace without missing the target.
Putting it another way. The harder you hit any shot the more you amplify errors. Your accuracy goes down. You need a larger target. On the serve this means you are more likely to either hit the net or hit long or wide and miss the service box.

Hitting from higher gives you a better angle, the ball has an unbroken line of sight to more of the service box so this gives you the larger target you need when hitting harder.

Check it out and select Serve Height then Play.

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