The ability to execute a good serve in percentage and speed terms resides in the head, starting with the image of the shot a remembering (the image is based on past experiences) how much strength (the measurement or intensity of the shot) we have used in the past for a similar serve.The feeling is an acquired ability based on past experiences. It is stored in your memory data bank and plays a key role in generating the image of the shot.There are two types of ‘muscle memory’: riding a bicycle is a good example of long term muscle memory, stored in one’s head and never forgotten.Everyone has a second kind of muscle memory called short term – thoughts and sensations that disappear from our bodies and minds at a rate of about 30% every eight seconds.An example of this type of memory is a pinch: in eight seconds about one third of the feeling is lost. In the next eight seconds another third of what is left goes and on and on until there is nothing left to feel.Most humans operate with this same eight-second clock so it is called the “time constant” of short-term memory.It is also a good measure of one’s loss of awareness acquired in the execution of one’s serve. Both memories, both long and short term, are important in the serve.Once you learn and know the feeling of your shot it will reside in your long-term memory and never be totally forgotten. The feeling will come back just the way it does when riding a bicycle after a long time.Much has been written on what tennis players who are strong servers think. It is a highly subjective matter!Some focus on ‘feeling the rhythm’ as if it were a melody; others try to feel a solid stance with a slight flexion of the front leg. Essentially it is about having a mental image of the movement which includes the control of one’s favorite sensorial channel (the noise of the impact with the ball, a visualization of the perfect movement, a muscular feeling….) and focusing on it in the phase preceding the execution of the serve. Added to this, the most common mental attitude among good servers is an awareness to be playing a conclusive shot; the constant search for that conclusive shot, the winner, with the serve or the following shot.
Such techniques play a role in improving the planning of the phases preceding the serve, such as controlling the best state of psycho-physical energy for the serve, attaining muscular relaxation, planning the game strategy that one intends to deploy, controlling the breathing before and during the execution of the serve…
HOW TO TRAIN
Exercise 1: Try and carry out a series of serves paying attention in particular to the following phases:
A- Together with your coach, choose two technical or technical-tactical objectives, making sure you have a primary and a secondary one;
B- Execute the first serve trying to focus on the primary objective and partially on the secondary one;
C- Maintain the follow through position for one or two seconds in order to try and retain as much as possible of the feeling in your memory;
D- Try to execute the following serve no later than eight seconds after the first;
E- Before executing the second serve, reprogrammed your focus on the primary and secondary objectives;
F- Repeat the cycle.
Exercise 2: Pay particular attention to the management of the time between one serve and another.
A- Take 3-4 seconds to breathe and recover physiologically from the previous point;
B- Take 3-4 seconds to decide how to set up, in broad terms, the point that you are about to play;
C- Make a decision: it is crucial to know what we want to do before executing an action;
D- Check your activation state: check if you are poorly energized or too nervous;
E- If you are too nervous, breathe deeply for 3-4 seconds. Breathe with your stomach, not your chest.
F- If you are too relaxed, hop a few times before serving and breathe with your chest, not your stomach.
G- Execute your serve. It is crucial to have no thoughts in one’s mind that at the moment of execution, except perhaps beginning to prepare for the next shot.