This tip is a modification of a suggestion given to me by my instructor. One afternoon, he tied an old overgrip onto the top of his racquet and took some practice swings. The idea was to show that with a smooth swing (no pauses), the overgrip should not fall towards the ground. Same thing with the serve; no pause at the top of the motion means the overgrip should not fall (due to gravity).
I’ve mentioned before that I’m learning to play left-handed while rehabbing my right shoulder. I thought it would be fun to learn how to serve left-handed (kind of a Luke Jensen wannabe). I was really having trouble getting a good ‘snapping’ motion going into the ball. One of the items I had been working on right-handed was getting more wrist motion and arm break right after impact. Look at photos of Sampras just after impact on his serve. The wrist has moved so much through impact that the racquet is pointing downward and this motion is supported by the arm bending at the elbow.
Now, you can naturally achieve that kind of motion by cracking a bullwhip in the air, pointing it to some imaginary point beyond the serve’s anticipated impact point. However, I don’t want to buy an Indiana Jones bullwhip and I’d rather do drills that involve an actual tennis racquet.
I was thinking back to Tom’s tip about the overgrip, so I tried it with the service motion. I treated the racquet as the ‘handle’ of the bullwhip and the overgrip as the actual whip. With that mental visualization, it was easy for me (even left-handed) to get a smooth, natural snapping motion through impact. Just try to hit some imaginary point in the air with my modified ‘bullwhip rig.’
Once I start practicing right-handed again, I’m anxious to try this drill at home and see how it translates to racquet-head speed through impact. Mental visualizations are always tricky; what works for one person may not work for another. It does seem, however, that I’ve found a new use for old overgrips and I am a big fan of recycling. Hope this one might have some benefit for you.
Good luck with the game!