Roger Federer’s serve is known for its strategic placement and not for its sheer power. Federer’s serve is deceptive, graceful and fluid at the same time. Although Federer’s serve can be a powerful weapon, it is not the fastest tennis serve on tour. Roger Federer’s Serve is based around the usage of spins and placements rather than pure power. This deadly combination is unusually effective on the pro tour keeping his opponents off balance on the returns.
The Federer serve is deceptively placed with smart placement and accuracy. Since Roger Federer uses very little variation in between different serve placements, this makes his serve incredibly difficult to read. His serve motion is relatively the same regardless of where Federer serves.
Federer’s Serve Grip
Federer uses some version of Continental grip for the serve. This is the basic tennis serve grip and most widely accepted. This standard grip permits the pronation and allows for maximum potential for power and spin. It’s the traditional grip that allows the best results. Federer’s grip is relatively the same for first and second serves.
Tossing Arm on the Serve
Federer gets full extension of his left tossing arm on the tennis serve. A fully extended arm allows for maximum coil as well as for a consistent tennis serve toss. As Federer begins his serve, the tossing arm is relaxed and rhythmic. As Federer raises his tossing arm, he begins with a fairly straight arm and the release happens when the tossing hand reaches around eye level. This permits for maximum “lift” and for greatest consistency. The release of Federer’s tossing arm is not a flick of the wrist, but rather a slow and deliberate opening of the hand.
Roger Federer’s tossing arm for the serve is a smooth and relaxed action. Initially, Federer holds the tennis ball with his left hand (close to the throat of his racket) as he prepares to serve. As soon as the serve motion begins, his tossing hand comes back inside close to his left hip. This helps with gathering the right momentum for the tossing action as well as toss consistency.
The location of Federer’s toss for the tennis serve is slightly in front of his body and just slightly to the right of his head. For the first serve, the toss is normally further in front than on the second serve. For Federer’s second serve, the toss location may be slightly more to the left, but still in front of the body. This helps with additional spin, which Federer is good at.
Federer Serve is known for his great usage of similar tosses no matter which serve placement he chooses. This is similar to Pete Sampras’s in depth toss deception. Pete Sampras had a very uniform tossing location and was able to execute multiple serve placements with similar tosses. This made it even more difficult to read.
The Federer Serve – Swing Shape
Federer Serve consists of a classical wind-up for the tennis serve. It is an elongated, “C” motion and traces a circular loop. Roger Federer’s serve is a slow gradual wind-up that builds power as the coil occurs. Since the wind-up is fairly large, it takes a respectable amount of time before Federer reaches the top of his motion (the power position)
This slow gradual wind-up makes it easier to sync all of the body parts and kinetic chain into the serve. There is a smooth, exclusive and almost deliberate “slowness” associated with the timing in the Roger Federer Serve. On TV, we see how Roger Federer’s serve is a calm and collected tennis serve that takes a gradual approach to the windup. Typically, Federer’s biggest tennis serves are only used on the most important phases of the tennis match. Most of the time, Federer opts to use more of a serve that neutralizes his opponents returns either through a well placed tennis serve or sharp angled spin serve.
Slow Gradual Wind-Up to the Power Position
At the same time, Federer loads and coils the lower body with a deep knee bend. The momentum of the serve is slowly building up and his center of gravity is preparing to move forward into the tennis court. Meanwhile, the tossing arm is completely extended upwards toward the sky and Federer’s torso and upper body is still fully turned. All of these factors, such as the knee bend, upper body turned (coiled) and the shoulders loaded will help maximize the amount of power and spin available to be generated.As Roger Federer goes through his wind-up he is completely relaxed and is slowly building the racket up to speed as he brings the racket up into the power position. Federer will meet a point at the tip top of his serve, and still at this point he is moving the racket very slowly. It is not a pause, but rather a well-timed movement that slows and then rapidly accelerates producing great racket head speed at contact.
As Federer’s serve nears the top of his wind-up, he reaches the trophy position. This “power position” on the serve is a fundamental key in the amount of power he is able to generate later on in the late phases prior to contact. This is a commonality amongst all elite tennis servers, the power position is an important area in the tennis serve technique.
Finish & Follow through
Federer reaches his contact point in front of his body, and then the follow through begins. Roger Federer’s serve is noted for having pronation similar to the rest of the top servers on tour. Pronation is an important biomechanical consequence that assists in the deceleration of the racket in the follow through. Good pronation on the serve is a sign that everything in the windup and contact point went well. The sign of good pronation is the distinct internal rotation of the arm, where the arm is turned during the follow through. The key aspect of Roger Federer’s serve is that his pronation is a direct consequence and result of his service motion rather than a manual artificially created action.
The Roger Federer Serve – A good Model?
A common question for tennis players looking to improve is which pro players are good models to emulate on the tennis serve. Roger Federer’s Serve is a classical and traditional motion that can be a good model for tennis players at all levels. This is because the tennis serve motion itself is very fluid and adaptable. Tennis players learning the game and wanting to master the elements of the tennis serve should examine the keys of the Roger Federer Serve.
Before a tennis player can successfully accommodate more advanced tennis serve technique into their game, they must master the fundamentals and develop a serve motion that is technically sound. By modeling the Roger Federer Serve, tennis players can develop a smooth and flowing serve into their repertoire before they consider adapting more advanced tennis serve elements into their serve.
A classical “C” shaped circular wind-up is also the most commonly taught serve by tennis coaches at the club and recreational level. This is because this is the traditional windup and this classical serve has been the hallmark of professional tennis of champions that preceded them. This can be positive, because the traditional circular windup can be easier for tennis beginners or intermediate players to learn at first, before they advance into the more trendy modern tennis concepts of pro players today.
The Roger Federer Serve is an ideal model for tennis players at all levels wanting to improve tennis serve.
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