Like many tennis players, I wondered how fast the balls were coming off my tennis racquet. We’ve all seen the 135+ mph serves of Andy Roddick, John Isner, Ivo Karlovic, and many other touring professionals. So just how fast do the average Joe’s serve or hit their forehands? There’s finally an affordable and consistent way to measure these speeds.
First, a little about my serve speed background; I’m 32, 5’11”, a little bit soft in all the wrong places, athletic, and I like to hit hard. I’ve attended many professional tennis tournament, and many of them offer a “Serve Speed Cage.” Where there’s a professional grade radar guy in front of you (the radar guns are in the thousands of dollars) about 10 feet from where to hit and you hit as hard as you possible can into a net. After a few warm up serves, I was hitting serves in the 117-120 mph range. That couldn’t be correct, could it? The problem is, this method is not likely accurate.
With the Pocket Radar, measuring the speed of strokes is now easier than ever, at an affordable price too!
What is the Pocket Radar?
As you can see in the video, there are two buttons: 1 big red one and one little black one. The red button is to start the reading process; the little black one is to recall the previous 10 readings. Super simple!
Using the Pocket Radar on serves
In this video, I am serving and my friend is taking the readings. You can hear him say the speeds of each serve from the Pocket Radar:
1. 87 mph
2. 98 mph
3. 49 mph (misread)
4. 46 mph (misread)
5. 85 mph
6. No Reading
7. 84 mph
8. 52 mph (misread)
9. 81 mph
10. No Reading
The low readings are likely from my friend pushing the red button either late or early. Like I’ve said, it does take some getting used to the timing, that was my only challenge.
Where to stand when using the Pocket Radar?
Stand about 4-6 feet behind a fence to measure serve or groundstroke ball speed. Note that standing too close to the fence can cause interference and result in false readings. Be sure to press the button just as or just after the server contacts the ball. You can also use the Pocket Radar by standing behind a player on the baseline to measure the ball speed of groundstrokes. The unique thing to keep in mind is that, while pressing the red button on the unit is all you have to do, you need to press it at the RIGHT TIME! The Pocket Radar has a measurement window of 4/10th of a second. So be sure to time pressing the button as the player is striking the ball and not before. Also note that if you get an unexpectedly slow ball speed reading, such as 5-15 miles per hour, it is probably just measuring the arm speed of the hitter. In that case, just point the unit more at the ball itself by stepping a few feet to one side or the other.
Who is the Pocket Radar for exactly?
Every tennis coach should have a device like this in their bag of training equipment. It is essential to measure the progress of a tennis players’ strokes. If a player changes something about his or her game, the Pocket Radar helps tremendously to compare the difference between old and new game. It’s also a good tool for the tennis parent to have. This way a parent can keep a log of what his or her tennis child is doing during practices and tournaments.
So do I really hit 126 mph?
Not a chance! Those serve cages are definitely something that are skewed some and I don’t think a hack like myself could hit a ball that big. I’ll leave those kinds of speeds for the pros and I’ll work hard to perfecting my technique to get a few extra mphs.