You may think that after almost 60 years on court you know all there is to know about the serve but of course that’s not true or at age 70+ we’d all be serving like Djokovic (slow motion):

Even without watching that video you can see in the screen shot the topic of this post, which is the hinge configuration of the legs. In the dance world the term hinge is normally associated with Martha Graham, and it is performed on the floor with knees together, not staggered as in the Djokovic example:

Even so, the motion of a backward lean is quite similar. Recreating the Graham hinge as a strength training exercise to prep for the tennis serve is not for the faint of leg: muscles are engaged that have heretofore not been called upon. It takes while to be able to do anything at all – and my dancer wife cautions that you had better keep your head forward on your chest going back – that’s eight or so pounds of added weight that your neophyte muscles cannot easily manage at first.

But what’s remarkable is how I have missed this detail in all of these years, and It all comes down to foot position on the serve.

In this position you can hinge:

But not in this position, because your knees don’t point in the same direction:

In the latter case you can bend your knees and the body goes straight down, but you don’t get that lovely hinging angled back that Djokovic has.

Not only that, such a deep knee bend is exceptionally hard to do and you are convinced that you are simply too old to do a good deep knee bend on your serve

Not so. Just line up your feet better (even if staggered a bit) and you will get the loveliest Djoker-flavored deep hinging serve prep ever.

It’s never too late to hinge. Just ask Martha.