For many moons I have heard the term "snap your wrist" on the serve. I don't recall being told this by a coach as a youngster but have certainly heard many a pro player mention "wrist snap" when describing how they get pop on their serve.
You might have heard others say that one should NOT snap their wrist on the serve and that wrist snap should rather be a passive action that is produced by the larger muscle groups about the arm. This can lead to confusion for those of you who desire to learn and achieve a more powerful serve.
I think it is important for us as enthusiastic practitioners to try and understand what the top players in the world are actually trying to say with their terminology. Words are very powerful and it should be the "meaning" of the "feeling" that we should try and seek to understand from their words. What is it then exactly that they are trying to convey? This instructional will try to provide this answer in a clear and simple manner.
I played many sports growing up and one sport in particular that I was adamantly taught to "snap my wrist" on was basketball. One my high school coaches taught the technique as such: Set your feet, extend your arm toward the basket and "snap your wrist" through the shot. I did so and it worked well...even made all county :-).
As you can see in the above image of the world's leading 3 point basketball shooter... the last image in the sequence illustrates what most would seem to visually equate "wrist snap" with...I know I did.
It's that unforgettable follow through with the extended arm and arced wrist bent at the hand. This is the standard trademark ending for basketball players when they have just made a shot from downtown...of which they seem to then pose for what seems like an hour so that all the world can acknowledge...yes it was me that just made that glorious shot...Now that I reflect...I think I might have been a bit guilty of that pleasure as well once in a while...especially on a big basket :-).
However, the truth of the matter is that wrist snap, as we know it in basketball, is not the same as when a top pro player speaks of wrist snap...there are indeed some commonalities but also some very different distinctions...
Click the button below to check out my short tennis instructional video to once and forever more understand exactly how to properly use your wrist on the serve in order to get more power...over 30% more serve power is at stake if you choose to skip watching this video! If you have an 80mph serve a 30% increase is 104mph. How cool would that be?!
Increasing flexibility of the chest and shoulders regions of the upper body will aid in improving range of motion. This in turn can help improve one's power on the serve. Improving the strength in the chest, external and internal rotators of the shoulders, and latissimus dorsi can also be helpful if one desires a more powerful serve.
Learning to "Feel" for certain cues during technique is important in understanding triggers that lead to a desired result such as balance, spin, or power etc. In today's instructional we we will focus on one cue "to feel for" that aids in greater external rotation of the shoulder and in turn increases one's internal rotation range of motion, allowing for greater opportunity to generate what everyone craves on the serve...MORE POWER while at the same time reducing injury potential. (Wilk, 2012)
Studies have shown that over half (54.2% based on one study) of your serve racquet speed comes from upper arm internal rotation and over 31% comes from hand flexion which in layman's terms is wrist snap (Elliott, Marshall, Guillermo, 1995) uh...that is 85% of serve racquet speed generation...pretty much the entire ball of wax.. wow...that's some powerful data.
Whether you are a coach, a seasoned player, or a beginner when it is all said and done we all have the same goal. We want to make our serve in the little box on the other side of the net.
One of the most important pressures one can apply to their opponent is consistency. If you make your serve time and time again this in itself puts pressure on your opponent to make their serve.
If you are anything like myself you like facts...you like to see proof, you like to understand so what you learn sticks.