The Slow-Mo Swing

This piece reveals a surprising secret how to hit your drive serves harder (and also be able to smoke the ball when you have a setup and the time-is-your-own)

More Racquet Head Speed
It’s time to add (more) power to your ball striking.
Deep Court Bounce
And it’s time to even go for a deeper court bounce. It’s a tactical trick to bounce the ball right in either rear corner, with your drive serve. That bounce, although inspired by outdoor play, can also tactically be successful for you indoors, as well. There look to bounce the ball right in the corner, missing the sidewall. Then ideally your served ball will rebound off the back wall and jet out right along the sidewall.
…but HOW?…How do you add more power…increasing your racquet head speed…and resulting in greater ball pace?
It’s Simple…
With a surprising tweak, there’s a simple way to just plain hit the ball harder. And there’s a way to even go for that longer first bounce, too. Yes, pace makes haste required of the service receiver, which is always a good goal when you hit your first serve.
The Need for Speed
Of all your racquetball aspirations, THE noblest pursuit (after, of course, accuracy in your shot and serve placement)…it’s racquet head speed and speedy serves.
An easy way to get better is to hit the ball flatter, with full control. There you virtually hit the ball on a rope consistently hard, while fully controlling your shot’s sideways angle. Mastering hitting the ball straight or into multiple horizontal angles means you have full control over of your sideways placements. That means you can go straight, cross-court, into faced sidewall or into less faced sidewall. Your goal is to rule your sideways-control. So both height control and sideways command matter. This technique helps you do both, better.
Keep Your Form Tight
Know a caveat in your overriding pursuit of ball speed is it CAN come at the expense of your best in swing basics. Trying to rip the ball, you may end up forfeiting fundamental stroke elements, if you don’t keep your form tight…so…
Angle Concerns
If you develop an unintended miss angled shot when you attempt to…
(a) go down the line (but you under cut your inside out swing)…or
(b) you go cross-court (but you short-arm your swing across your body) and the ball doesn’t bounce as wide as you’d planned…
Mishit Warning…
—> If you mishit, your shotmaking can go kablooey in a hurry. You could angle the ball short off placing it out along the sidewall you chose. That could possibly cause a screen ball—as explained in the rules…“Any ball rebounding from the front wall so close to the body of the defensive player that it prevents the offensive player from having a clear view of the ball”. Almost certainly it’ll give the receiver a better chance to return your more narrowly angled shot (or serve), if they see your ball.
Also, if as you hit straight-in-ish (down the wall) or as you hit cross-court (looking for your 45 degree angle to place the ball over in the far, rear corner), you instead overcook your angle and cause the ball to go tooooo wide, it could deflect off the sidewall into the center. There the ball could angle into the middle behind you, when you serve. Or in the midst of a rally, when shooting from the center at 2/3’s court, over-cooked ball could angle off the sidewall and go right into you…argh…not good…
…placing the ball too narrow or too wide and YOU can NOT be THERE!…in the center, shot blocking… You must move to the side or possibly elevate (jump).
Swing Errors for Angle
Common swing errors occur you when …
(1) you extend your racquet arm too early;
(2) you overcrowd the ball; or
(3) you yo-yo your contact point (moving it around in your stance or leg positioning).
—> Those are all anti-basics you want to guard against, hard…
Go Slow –> Finish Fast
The surprising key for getting faster swing speed without sacrificing your stroking fundamentals or your command over sideways angles is to focus ONLY on a faster racquet head at the very end right as swing thru before and thru contact…post prep, with stabilized feet…
Deep First Bounce
There are times when you want to serve the ball so it bounces deeper going faster. There it’s simple…make the racquet go faster, but still master your angle control…
—> However, it’s NOT done by swinging with just your arm (not just yet). It’s not done with faster legs. It’s not done with a quicker core twist. It’s not even done with a quicker mind.
The Secret…
At the very last, after every thing has worked in sequence below, it’s how you let go of your racquet head you’ve wound back by that side’s ear, with full commitment, and proper form, building upon the foundational work below…
Slow Start…Fast Ending
It may seem wholly counterintuitive to view a faster racquet head as separate from a slower building body turn with your lower body up thru your torso out thru your shoulders…
Control Your Feet
The natural tendency when you want to hit the ball harder is to swing faster all at once. That tendency often exhibits itself in flailing from the ground up, while hitting off your back foot and coming completely out of your tennis shoes.
…instead Build Into It
Actually make a very conscious effort to swing slowly at first. Give yourself all the time in the world for all those positive moves below with your legs up thru your hips and core to build into your final move. Actually allow your arm windup to max out -during- your lower body’s initial move forward onto your front foot…as you first set your front foot and wind back…
Finish with a Heavy Racquet
After the building body parts do their thing, they set up your arm for your swing Climax. That build up is the way to get your racquet-head moving much faster. Your racquet head actually acts like it’s much heavier than it really is right as you swing thru the ball.
in Your Slow Build-up Swing
Once you focus on swinging your lower body slowly, there’s a few key areas of the swing that help you see greater racquet head speed results. Here they are…
Set Front Foot and Wind Back
1- First, as you make your initial lower body move forward onto your just set front foot, also complete your arm prep, as you kick start your leg drive…
2- Move initially sideways.
Leg Drive
3- Then add in knee swing (i.e., knee drive).
…Ground Up
…note lower body drive creates as much leverage as you possibly can by building your swing from the ground up into releasing your racquet-head thru the ball…
Hold Arm Back
5- Arm delay makes your racquet-head come into the ball much faster when swinging thru the ball.
Turn Triangle
…allow your legs to turn your upper body’s upside down triangle. Your triangle (or diamond) is formed by your waist up thru your wider shoulders.
6- …Allow your knee drive to turn into bridging your hips up thru your lower core, stopping their twist, which then flows powerful rotation up thru your core into firing your dual shoulders projecting your arm, elbow first.
Catapult Arm
7- Like a catapult being released, hurl your still bent arm with the force of your shoulders spinning inwards.
Focus on Contact
8- Right as the ball is about to arrive off shoulder at your contact point, jump-on-it! Attack by extending your arm and rolling over your wrist, driving your racquet head thru the ball.
Exaggerate Your Follow-through
Make sure you extend and rollover your arm and lastly add in and rollover to snap your wrist into a long finish. After contact, keep your racquet-head initially flowing right along your shot’s flight path. Don’t ever stop your racquet-head in your hitting area or brake before contact. You may call your hitting area your wheel-house…Or you may think of contact at the spot where you swing your racquet head platform thru the ball at a universal off shoulder contact point. That contact point is right out in front of your racquet arm shoulder. That’s where you can really wallop the ball with your forehand, your backhand or your overhead.
Progressive Build-Up
When your swing mental thought is “slow” and your build-up motion is really good, you slowly build to a peak. Technique-wise employ YOUR proper stroke mechanics. Right when the ball is just about to enter that contact point, COMMIT. By flowing thru “there” with your weighted racquet head, you find your drive serves roaring faster and they can soar deeper and straighter under your full angle control –> That’s your combined vertical and sideways-control.
Bottoms Up
When you slow it all down, you’re going to find that not only are you going to hit the ball hard, you can control its angle to bounce back deeper (when desired). You’re also able to control your sideways shot angle better with the slow buildup. That’s much better than just taking a wild arm-only swing at the ball from the get-go, when starting from the top down, and just walking thru the ball.
Power Your Set-ups, Too
Other than when serving…in situations when you’re playing a tasty floater or a bunny off the back wall or when one of your opponent’s left up sidewall shots is hanging, knowing you can light it up…although granted usually a rally ball you’re playing doesn’t lend itself well to this consciously “slow-mo swing”…When the ball hovers invitingly for you, slowly build up to smash it. …one option then is to go for your first bounce right in a back corner.
Indoor Rear Corner Bullseye
If you bounce your drive serve right in one rear corner, it’ll fly off the back wall and scoot right along the sidewall. Although that’s not always Plan A; that’s a considered Plan B.
…When Playin’ Outdoors
With your slow delivery, you can make the ball bounce deeper right by the back line. Note that the ball can’t bounce outside the sideline on a short wall court (with its sidewalls 20 feet or 30 feet long). And, on a long wall court (a 40-footer), you don’t want the ball catchin’ the sidewall in the center (or just past center) where it’ll then deflect off into the waiting arms of the receiver, when you’re serving from right in front of them. Also, you don’t wanna lift the ball too high so your drive serve’s first bounce would occur past that 40’ line that’s always there on any sidewall length.
Outdoor Placements
Your deep court placement, when looking to paint the back line with your deep corner bounce with your serve or shot …(a) straight in; (b) cross-court rear corner serve; or (3) when you strike a wide angle pass off the far sidewall more centrally so the ball angles around ‘um…All those serves (or shots) are meant to bounce back behind the opponent (and beside them) touching down before the back line, as you tactically visualize your ball’s placement, while swinging starting slow and ending fast.