For More Mph on Your Serve, Shoot Free Throws Like UCONN!

In this year's NCAA Men's Basketball Championship game between the Universities of Connecticut and Kentucky, UConn showed a tremendous advantage in free throw shooting form. They were a perfect 10-10. Had Kentucky gone perfect, they would've won the game by 5 points. The perfect free throw shooting form displayed by the UConn players can serve as a great example for tennis players on all levels on how to add speed to their serves. 

While watching the Uconn and Kentucky players shoot free throws, I noticed there was a huge difference how the ball came off their hands. The Uconn shots had fast ball rotation; Kentucky shots were more in the category of bricks being heaved at the glass. That ball rotation was a result of a kinesiological concept known as the Kinetic Chain. That chain started with the shooter loading weight onto his heels, powering up through the legs, and eventually causing the shooting wrist to flex through the ball at high speed. 

The tennis serve uses the same Kinetic Chain. There are many ways to add speed to a tennis serve, but the end result is always the same: the serving wrist has to be launched as fast as possible towards the ball. It's the same wrist motion (known as pronation) that helped UConn find the mark from the foul line. The trick to making this action to happen is to not force it to happen with wrist muscles. If a tennis server flexes the muscles in their wrist to force the racquet towards the ball, the result is slower racquet speed...and one pretty sore wrist after the match. 

The Uconn shooters did what every great tennis server has to do: build the motion from the ground up. Go to this video featuring the perfect serving motion of Switzerland's Roger Federer:

It can be seen from all angles that his right wrist is snapping up to and through the ball. That's a result of the same Kinetic Chain that snapped Shabazz Napier's wrist under the basketball as he sank clutch free throws. In Roger's serve, you can see the chain start just after he releases the ball and loads weight on his right heel. From there, the major muscles in the legs and core are the power source for launching the arm, and thereby the wrist and racquet, at the ball. 

So take a note from the Huskies! For more speed and spin on the serve, start from the ground up to increase wrist speed and launch your racquet through the ball! 

Robb Julian, USPTR Pro, USPTA Elite Pro, USTA High Performance Certified Coach
Co-Owner, Blue Dragon Tennis Academy, Atlanta, GA
Contact Robb for Questions/Comments at 770-709-8745 or