Keyframing the Tennis Serve

Styrling Strother is the founder of and the Director of USATennisCoach – a series of coaching development workshops designed to inspire tennis coaches to push the boundaries of player development. He was doing just that when he called PowerChalk tech support and asked how he would use ‘keyframes’ to codify the tennis serve.

In one short session we showed him how to use the keyframe tools and he went away. We knew he’d be back.

In this session, PowerChalk founder Chaz Henry talks to Styrling while he demonstrates his serve template – a set of freeze frame tags that he’s applied to the kinetic chain of movements that is the tennis serve. As Styrling told us, the goal was to create a vocabulary for his players and parents but also to provide video bookmarks that lets him put videos side by side and better discover and convey the differences.

In this 30 minute video Styrling defines the following keyframes for the tennis serve:

  • Stance: first engagement of the serve process
  • HighHand: highest point of the toss hand
  • Squat: bottom of the downward coil
  • RacquetBack: furthest back, lowest down of the racquet backstroke
  • Contact: point where ball meets racquet
  • Land: lead foot lands and accepts full body weight
  • OppLand: trailing foot lands and accepts weight
  • SplitHop: top of the split-hop bounce
  • Ready: set for return

With those frames marked in a slow motion video, Chaz and Styrling compare two serves using his template and method.