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Dear Parents!
Hope all of you are doing well out there. Today we are going to touch base on one aspect of Rafa’s serve which at times goes overlooked.
In the men’s tour, his serve is considered to be weak as it lacks the punch. Not too many aces come from that racket of his. In difficult times you won’t very often see Rafael Nadal hitting one ace after another. However, you might have seen him constructing the points well and winning.
Did you also notice his ability to surprise his opponents by placing the serves where he wants to and get an edge over the next shot? Just opposite to what probably the opponent was maybe expecting in terms of his serve. In RG while everyone is amazed by what he has accomplished, we were looking at this serves closely and especially against Dominic Thiem. Here are some quick facts.
In Madrid 2018 where Rafa lost to Thiem, his first serve direction % were as follows-
Wide: 25 (56%) Body:7 (16%) T:13 (29%)
Rafa made some adjustments, and in RG finals it shows as below-
Wide:14 (25%) Body:19 (34%) T:23 (41%)
What did you notice?
Imagine your child’s coach telling him/her to serve more on the body and T against a particular opponent for some good reasons. Will your child be able to do it? This sort of stuff matters. A lot. Sooner or later. When our kids go and face the ITF world, you will witness this happening. You need to be a keen observer for that. Do you know some coach urge their kids to chart Rafa’s matches to learn these aspects and to recognize these patterns? Sometimes this sort of details goes unnoticed.
Serve directions needs to be conducted on the practice courts while building some of the serve strategies. When our children are growing (U12 to U18), we need to make sure that these 6 years of training & match play has this vital factor of serve directions baked in. It is years of reliable hard work that can make your child’s serve reach to this stage. Serve direction is a tricky subject as the ball toss should not reveal much. In one of our previous article, we did analyse 75000 serves from D court, and 66000 serves from the Ad court to check the direction of these serves. These are ATP serves. Rafael Nadal did not serve the way the ATP players serve in some crucial matches at RG 2018. Can our child if not earlier but at 18 serve at will for their advantage? Are they getting trained for that?
Parents should be aware enough and do talk to your child’s team. Understand if the team is hardening these elements in your child’s game, slowly but surely. Yes, but don’t forget to ask them how. Furthermore, the best way to see if your team has this ability to build serve directions is to check the seniors of the academy who are at U-14/U-16 level and observe how they serve.

Note: At TuPA we have a team of experts and an ex-head coach Nick Bollettieri academy with us. They are based out of FL, US. Read more about her here
We at TuPA can help you to evaluate your child’s serve and where it has reached so far in their tennis journey. In this journey, you too will get educated and will have more control over your child’s progress. Contact us to know more about our TuPA Check and TuPA Elite programs which can help your growing child’s tennis skills. Some of the critical skills improvement recommendations come free of cost!