Tennis Serve Pronation

By: Will Hamilton

Pronation is a term you’ll here a lot when higher-leveltennis players discuss proper serve technique.?Pronation is a special type of arm movement that allows you toaccelerate your tennis racket through the ball, increasing the amount of powerand spin you can generate.? All advancedplayers pronate when they serve, but very few club-level players pronateproperly.

Let’s start with a basic explanation of what exactly pronationis.? Place your hands out in front ofyour body and point your palms at each other.?Now rotate your forearm and wrist together, as one piece, so that yourpalms are facing the floor.? This simplemotion of your arm is pronation; the act of turning your palm to face away fromyou.? If you rotate in the oppositedirection so that your palms are facing the ceiling, then you are “supinating"your arm, which is the opposite of pronating.

Another good way to understand the motion of pronationinvolves your cell phone.? Take out yourphone and hold it to your ear like you were talking to someone.? Pretend that your computer monitor is aperson and you want to show them who you are talking to.? Without adjusting the position of the phonein your hand, you have to pronate to turn your cell phone screen toward yourcomputer monitor.?? Now that the cellphone’s screen is facing the monitor, you have to supinate to turn your phonescreen back toward you.

Again, to reiterate, this motion requires that you rotateyour forearm and wrist together as one piece.?Pronation is sometimes referred to as a wrist snap.? That is incorrect.

So how do you pronate when serving?? First, you need the correct grip.? Either a continental or eastern backhand willdo.? The continental is the most common,and you can find an explanation of the continental grip here.? To pronate, you start swinging up at thetennis ball on your serve as if you were trying to hammer a nail into theball.? In other words, you would hit theball with the side of your racket, the frame.?But you don’t want to hit the ball with the edge of your frame, you ofcourse want to hit it with your strings! So just before you make contact withthe tennis ball, you need to rotate the racket about 90 degrees to get thestrings facing the correct direction.?That’s where pronation comes in.?Wait until the last second and then pronate as fast as you can to makecontact with the tennis ball in the center of your strings.

Now why exactly do you want to pronate?? What’s the point?? When a high-level player pronates, he’srotating the racket very, very fast.? Ifthe racket were allowed to continue rotating it would spin on its axis at avery high rate of speed.? This spinningracket has a lot of rotational energyScience Articles, just like a spinning figure skater has alot of rotational energy.? When ahigh-level player pronates and makes contact with the tennis ball thatrotational energy is transferred into the ball.?That’s what adds power and spin to your serve.

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