Maxime Cressy serve

ANALYSIS: How Maxime Cressy’s unique serve belies a mastery of the basics

Respected coach David Sammel expertly breaks down the serve of Maxime Cressy and shows how even the most unique of actions relies on mastery of the basics. 

Cressy’s serve is a great example of developing an individual style once the key fundamentals are in place. His success shows that if the player gets results, then the shot is right – whether traditional coaching agrees or not.

Let’s break it down, frame by frame.


Maxime Cressy serve analysis shot 1

The way Cressy cocks his head to the side in anticipation of the ball toss is part of his unique take on the key fundamentals of serving. His ball toss has to be higher than most players’ because of his towering 6ft 6in height and associated limb length.

His weight is mostly on his front leg, while his racket arm has barely moved – but note that his body is still well balanced.


Maxime Cressy serve analysis shot 2

It’s clear that Cressy knows that good balance is critical. In this photo, his weight is still mostly on his front leg, but his back leg is now in support as his racket arm starts its trajectory into the throwing position.

You can almost feel the curled-up power in his legs as he prepares to launch upwards. Also, his heels are perfectly poised in the air, ready to jump.


Maxime Cressy serve analysis shot 3

Cressy certainly mastered the basics of serving technique before making any personalised adjustments. With the high ball toss, his racket arm is in the traditional type of position all good servers would be in at this point.

This position is pure tennis magic: the perfect symmetry of the arms, the balance of the heels and the visible power driving up through the legs.


Maxime Cressy serve analysis shot 4

If you ever want a picture of the perfect bow during a serve, this is it. Balletic, almost, the easy power of his movement comes from the pre-stretched chest muscle and fully stretched bow.

Although Cressy’s wind-up at the start is unique to him, when it comes to the business end of the serve, he’s in the same position that any great server would be. That’s the lesson to learn here.


Maxime Cressy serve analysis shot 5

This shot is very interesting. Traditional advice tells you it’s imperative to keep your head up, so your body doesn’t collapse when the head drops. Most players follow this tip and only begin to roll their head forward with their bodies.

Cressy, however, is already looking forward. This shows that you can take a different approach here – if your body is strong enough to resist collapsing.


Maxime Cressy serve analysis shot 6

On landing, Cressy again demonstrates that he mastered the key fundamentals of technique before making any changes. He’s back in the standard head-up position, beautifully balanced with a straight back; the only bend in his upper body is at the hip.

This demonstrates the importance of good core strength: it’s how he is able to maintain balance while holding these tough positions.

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About David Sammel

David has more than 30 years’ experience coaching pros to career high rankings, many of whom have represented their countries in the Davis Cup and at the Olympics.

David, who became an official ATP coach in 2014, regularly contributes to the UK’s tennis media, including BBC Radio 5 Live, The Times newspaper and Sky Sports. In 2014, he released a psychology and coaching book – Locker Room Power: Building an Athlete’s Mind. You can find out more at

David now runs Mindset College, “the only mental skills programme that provides you with cutting-edge, tried and tested tools from the coal-face of elite sports performance.”


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Michael Graham, Editor, has been a professional sports journalist for his whole career and is especially passionate about tennis. He's been the Editor of for over 5 years and loves watching live tennis by visiting as many tournaments as possible. Michael specialises in writing in-depth features about the ATP & WTA tours.