SURVIVING THE COMMUTE

The thought of commuting, especially when relying upon public transport strikes fear into the hearts of workers all across the land, but there are some advantages.

The commute to your place of work can actually be a great opportunity to learn a new skill, brush up on life admin or just observe all the characters lurking around on the train or bus.

Here are some tips and ideas that will definitely improve your commute.

1. Wear comfy shoes

Yep those shiny smart shoes looked great online, and compliment your power outfits for work beautifully, but you realised they have a sinister side to them the moment you have to break out into a power walk for the train.

Leave those shoes at work, and invest in a comfortable pair of trainers. Not only will it make running for transport easier, it will also keep your precious twinkle toes warm.

2. Find good music

Think back to when you were younger and you knew exactly which songs were new and you spent all your time discovering different types of music. And then you started working and became more involved with things like performance reviews and spreadsheets.

Well your commute is the perfect chance to devise the perfect soundtrack for your journey. You’ll be surprised at what you will find.

3. Or an interesting podcast

If music isn’t your thing, then there is a whole range of free podcasts to tune into, covering topics like current affairs, history and sports.

And it will give you something to talk about during lunch with your colleagues, and make you look very cultured and fancy.

4. Plan ahead

There are a whole range of apps to help minimise the risks of being late, encountering a cancelled train and these will help reduce your commuter rage.

Always plan your journey ahead, and it’s a good idea to use an app to map your exact route as soon as you wake up, as they provide live traffic updates.

5. Walk as much as possible

It’s tempting to get on a bus for ten minutes rather than walking for thirty, but just think of what a good exercise opportunity you are passing up.

You’ll end up feeling more fit, saving on travel fare and getting a good dose of fresh air.

6. Life admin

You know all those things like booking a dentist appointment, or doing your online grocery shopping or writing a letter of complaint that you swear you never have time for?

Well the commute is a great time to catch up on life admin and you will be amazed at just how much you can tick off on your to do list.

7. Learn a new skill

Sitting or standing in one spot can get boring, but not if you’re using the time to learn more skills like a new language on an app, or doing an online course on your phone or even knitting a basic design.

8. Finish that reading list

Remember how you have that book collection slowly piling up in the corner of your bedroom? And you’re always maintaining that you will get round to reading it, but then you never do?

Your commute is a decent time to sink into a good book. Not only will it mean being able to avoid all eye contact with everyone else, but you will finally get through that list.

9. Avoid eye contact

It’s just awkward, it invites conversation and it should be avoided at all costs.

Especially if you are commuting in London, because your friendly eye contact will not be appreciated by anyone.

10. Try to keep calm

It can get crowded, it can get pushy and sometimes the hardest part of your day isn’t what happens at work, but actually the ordeal of getting to work and back. Keep in mind it’s only for a short part of your day, and keep some snacks and a bottle of water nearby to keep yourself calm.

11. Umbrella please

Congratulations, you live in the United Kingdom, aka the land of constant grey skies and a lot of rain.

Best invest in a decent strong umbrella, next to headphones it will be your greatest source of comfort during the journey.

12. Invest in appropriate clothing

Think back to that raincoat you got one year for a festival and decided you would never use it again. Or those extra thick wooly gloves that are buried in your drawer.

Dig these out, because they will be your secret weapon to keeping dry and snug at 7am in the freezing cold.

13. Observe and enjoy

And if you really cannot find any joy in the thought of your daily commute well simply look around and observe the eccentric characters all around you.

Like the stressed out parent trying to keep control over three children at 7.30am, or the man with the dog large enough to pass for a pony.

BEST TENNIS RACKETS

Does your current tennis racket look like it’s been on the receiving end of one on court temper tantrum too many? 

An upgrade to a modern player’s racket that is lighter, faster and offers a head size between 96 and 106sq in will mean that, before your next match, you can take advantage of the extra power, control and spin that it can lend your game. 

Whether you consider yourself to be a beginner or an intermediate player you need a racket that will help you develop your stroke, improve your strengths and minimise those unforced errors that keep costing you points. 

The trick to choosing the right racket for you is to analyse your game. Do you have the ability to power your opponent off the court with your shots? Or are you more about touch and control, leaving your opponent stranded with a carefully guided return? 

Once you’ve identified what kind of player you are, it’ll make it easier to decide which one of these shot makers is right for you. 

To help you choose, we took a pro bag’s worth of rackets on court and tested them against a player with more skill to see how each racket performed from baseline to backhand and whether it could help us take a point or three from them. Here are the shot makers that we think can help you raise your game, set and match.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.

Babolat pure aero tennis racket: £120, Pro Direct Tennis

Rafa’s manufacturer of choice have produced this racket that offers a player whose game relies on power and spin a chance to really take things to the next level. The materials used in the construction offer a real dampening effect when you strike the ball, which won’t take such a toll on your forearm – a real bonus if you end up in a five set thriller with your club nemesis. However, what makes the Pure Aero such a versatile weapon is that it’s so easy to swing so it can really power up any one’s game – beginner or intermediate.

Buy now

Head graphene 360 radical S: £153, Pro Direct Tennis

This is a lightweight racket and with its comfortable square grip it’s a good choice if you often end up playing for extended periods over three to five sets. The weight also meant that we found it easier to dig out trickier shots during rallies and swing more aggressively to take control back from an opponent and win points. A good choice for an intermediate player whose game is really progressing and wants to start to work on developing a modern, longer stroke.

Buy now

ProKennex KI Q+ pro: £144.46, Stringers World

Comfortable to play with and well suited to attacking players who find themselves at the net quite a lot in a match because it’s stable and offers up lots of control. We found that even when facing powerful opponents the racket helped take the sting out of the ball, which meant that we were able to redirect the ball back across the net with good accuracy. Good stability also really helped on serve returns.

Buy now

Dunlop CX 200 LS: £145, Pro Direct Tennis

This is a real all rounder that’s light with an excellent combination of power and control so that it won’t let you down at the baseline or the net. It came into its own on high air shots like serves and volleys because we found it easy to get the racquet head to the ball with speed and control which gave us more time to target the ball back to difficult areas of the court so that we had our opponent scrambling. This one really did feel like an extension of our arm and for that reason it’s a good choice for an intermediate player whose game is really starting to benefit from more technique.

Buy now

Volkl V-feel 5 tennis racket: £144.99, Sweatband

We found that the stiffer frame of the Volkl translated into a lot of power on court and the more open string pattern allowed for more string movement on contact which meant that this racquet was set up perfectly for spin. The other advantage of this racquet is that it was well balanced which meant head speed was fast so we were able to get the ball up and down before the baseline with ease, which could be a real advantage if one of your biggest weaknesses is over hitting shots. All of these in-play advantages, lightweight construction and good shock absorption make this an excellent beginner’s choice or an intermediate who wants to amp up the spin in their game.

Buy now

Wilson clash 100: £159.19, Amazon

For any one with shoulder, elbow or wrist conditions this could be a really good choice because it’s set up to be really easy on the arm so you can play longer matches without it impacting on your performance levels. There are good levels of power and we found that it was easy to direct the ball around the court and give your opponent the runaround, but you won’t lose out on touch shots, at or near the net, like drop shots and volleys. A good choice for intermediates because it will give you the confidence to really start to explore your game and take it to another level.

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Head graphene 360 Instinct S: £118.99, Sweatband

We really liked the sweet spot on this racket, which was very easy to hit whether we were serving, volleying or involved in a baseline rally. This is the lightest racket in the Instinct range and over five sets worth of serving we found that it was easy on our shoulder joint and it enabled us to up our first serve success rate during the match. However, even though it’s a light racket we found that it was still really stable, making it good for beginners and intermediates who are starting to lengthen their swing but need help in being able to move the racket around quickly.

Buy now

Head graphene 360 speed pro: £164, Amazon

Unlike the other rackets in this round up this Head model has a very closed string pattern, which means that every time you thwack a serve or return it hits more strings. That translates into a more stable shot, which gives you more directional control when playing. With this racket Head have also allowed more space between the cross strings so that you can get some good spin out of the racket too. It’s quick to swing through the air so that when trying to deal with tricky passing shots it was easy to get the racket head to the ball and redirect it to the corners.

Buy now

Wilson milos tour 100: £80, John Lewis & Partners

Another racket that boasted a generous sweet spot and instant playability. Combining this with a real boost in power for those whose ground strokes are lacking a bit or punch and who need to put away that vital first serve more often. The head size meant that the horrible dull thud of ball hitting frame was hardly heard during longer rallies, but it’s that sweet effortless sweet spot that will be a dream for those inspired to pick up a racket for the first time this summer.

Buy now

Babolat falcon 102: £24.99, John Lewis & Partners

You won’t be able to blast any one off the court with this entry-level racket, however what you lose in power you gain in control making it a good choice for a beginner. It has a lovely feel to it and a large, forgiving sweet spot which does an excellent job of taming wild swings at the ball so that the player can concentrate on becoming comfortable on the court and more confident with each shot.

Buy now

The verdict: Tennis rackets

The Babolat pure aero offered up a great combination of stability and balance for those who want power and head speed without sacrificing control. It’s a real confidence builder for beginners and intermediate players alike that’s also well set up for attacking the ball at aggressive angles for maximum spin.

THE TENNIS SERVE

A tennis serve is a weapon only when the technique is correct. When the serve technique is not correct, then the serve is often more a liability than an asset.

In order to learn correct tennis serve technique, simple serving tips won’t get you there.

Instead you need to follow step-by-step progressions that build the service motion from the ground up.

The following technical progressions of building a proper tennis serve can be used to correct your existing serve techniques if you find your serve ineffective.

These step by step serve lessons can also be used if you’re a total beginner and want to learn correct serving technique from scratch.

Step 1: The Stance

A proper tennis serve stance is when your feet are positioned so that the front foot is pointing towards the right net post (for right-handers) and the back foot is parallel to the baseline.

Basic tennis serve stance

Basic serve stance gives you balance in all directions

The toes of the back foot are also roughly aligned with the heel of the front foot because you need to be stable in all directions once you initiate and execute your full service motion.

This is a basic stance which you adjust depending on which direction you’re serving to.

If you’re a tennis beginner starting to learn correct serve technique, I suggest you start learning the serve from the ad side because there is less difference in the direction of the swing path and the actual ball flight, which makes it easier to master at these early stages of learning.

There are two types of stances on the serve: the platform stance and the pin-point stance.

 

The platform serve stance is where the feet remain in the same position throughout the whole service motion.

 

You simply bend your knees, coil and tilt your body and push off upwards into the serve.

Pin point and platform serve stance

Pin point vs platform stance (Images credit: tennisserver.com)

The pin-point serve stance, on the other hand, is where you initiate the serve from a platform stance, but as you toss the ball up, you bring the back foot closer to the front foot and then push off upwards towards the ball.

 

Both serve stances in tennis are correct, but typically the platform stance is used by more explosive players and the pin-point stance is used by taller players that are not looking for so much explosive power off the ground.

Step 2: The Grip

A proper tennis serve grip technique is to hold a continental grip.

There are many descriptions for how to find this grip. The one I’ll use makes it easy to check if your grip is really a continental grip.

Grip the racquet like a hammer and hold the racquet with the edge perpendicular to the ground, as shown in the picture.

Then place your left index finger in the “valley” between the thumb and the index finger of your right hand (for right-handers), just next to the bone on the thumb.

Now check where your left index finger is pointing on the racquet handle. It should point to the top left edge on the racquet handle.

continental tennis serve grip

One of the ways to check if you hold a continental grip…

The way you hold your racquet determines many things about the final serve technique and its effectiveness.

That’s why it’s crucial that you grip the racquet correctly.

In the ServeUnlocked course, I share two more tips on the grip. First, I explain how to grip the racquet with fingers spread more apart and why that helps with pronation.

Then I describe how to find a loose grip using a little exercise just before you start your serving ritual.

Step 3: The Hitting Part – Loose Drop, Swing Up And Pronation

The hitting part is where the serve happens either correctly or incorrectly.

Think of the backswing elements ‒ like coiling, bending your knees, swinging the racquet back, maintaining the trophy position and so on ‒ simply as ways of gathering energy.

You are simply accumulating energy in order to release it explosively into the contact with the ball.

It is this hitting moment that defines whether the ball is hit correctly (flat, topspin or slice) and cleanly or not.

The elements above are not directly responsible for correct hitting of the ball, although they influence it.

I can, for example, demonstrate incorrect backswing, trophy position, have no coiling in the body, completely straight legs and STILL hit a CLEAN and correct flat or topspin or slice serve – except that it will have less power and I’ll be more uncomfortable.

On the other hand, I can do the elements before the contact correctly and still not hit the ball correctly because I am not using my hand, forearm and arm correctly through the contact phase.

There are smaller parts of the hitting part:

  • loose drop of the racquet and arm
  • swing up & contact
  • pronation

The loose drop before the swing up is achieved by “bouncing” or dangling the racquet behind you.

The serve generates a lot of power because of many body parts dynamically moving when they have to. If we at any moment of the serve stop the movement, we will lose power.

When we teach serve technique in this analytical way of breaking down the whole complex motion into smaller parts since that’s easier to learn, we unfortunately also break down the natural fluid movements of the body.

And the danger in this hitting part of the serve is that we initiate the swing up from a static position which in the long term might become a part of our whole serve technique.

Therefore, I use the “bounce” element to make sure the racquet is moving and that the arm is loosened up before you swing up – because that’s exactly what will happen when you execute the whole tennis service motion.

serve drop drill

The bounce drill

The swing up and pronation parts are best imagined and learned by placing two rows of balls on the ground. The first row of balls is at a roughly 45 degree angle, and the second one is perpendicular to the net.

Two swing paths of a tennis serve

Balls in two rows give you a proper guidance on your serve swing paths.

This gives us a clear mental image of how the racquet and arm must move through the hitting part.

It’s a slight exaggeration at first, which helps the player learn to pronate and to understand that the hitting part of the serve is not one single swing through the ball with the whole arm. That is one of the most common misconceptions and mistakes out there.

The serve might look like that at first glance, which deceives us into interpreting the hitting part of the serve as one straight motion of the arm.

But, as you look closer, especially in slow motion, you realize that the swing towards the ball and movement of the forearm after the contact are not in the same line.

It is the internal rotation of the upper arm and pronation of the forearm that create these two racquet paths before and after contact.

Therefore, imagine swinging towards the ball at a 45 degree angle leading with the edge of the racquet and following the first row of balls.

tennis serve swing path up

The swing path towards the ball

Once you reach the contact, push the racquet head straight towards the net following the second row of balls and finishing on the right side of the body with the buttcap pointing upwards at a roughly 45 degree angle or more and the stringbed pointing towards the back fence.

serve swing path with pronation

Swing path after contact with emphasis on pronation

While you may think that this oversimplifies the hitting part, I can assure you that, once you fluidly merge these two swing paths together, you’ll realize that this is exactly how a flat serve is done.

I personally repeat this part very often with players who are correcting their old serve techniques because it’s exactly here where they get it wrong.

Not only that, if they eventually learn the hitting part well, the dreaded waiter’s serve position of the racquet often disappears because it was simply an indicator of an incorrect hitting part of the serve.

If the waiter’s position persists, then complement the hitting part exercise with additional drills for correcting the waiter’s serve.

Step 4: Backswing & Toss

Now that you have established the hitting part, you need to get to that stage from the initial serving position.

This part combines the backswing with the toss because they happen simultaneously.

The serve toss is often quite tricky to master and is often times practiced on its own. My own view is that it should never be practiced without simulating your backswing.

The very common toss drill where you place a target or even your own racquet in front of you on the ground and try to make the toss hit it is, in my opinion, not very effective if at the same time you are not getting into the same serving position as you would in reality.

That’s because if you just try to toss the ball in the target you won’t move any other body parts in order to be accurate.

But when you initiate your serve, you will immediately start turning your body to the side, your dominant arm will start swinging back, you’ll start leaning and coiling, etc.

All these movements must be present also when you just focus on your toss – hence, I consider backswing & toss as one step in this serving progression tutorial.

tennis serve toss technique

Imagine toss more like “‘lifting” the ball rather than ‘throwing’ it

The key points about the toss:

  • Place the ball in the middle of your hand, meaning exactly where the palm spreads out into fingers.
  • Hold the ball with your thumb on top gently.
  • Always toss with a straight arm using only your shoulder joint.
  • Release the ball at around your eye level and keep lifting the arm up following the ball.

If you’re having troubles mastering the toss, look into my ServeUnlocked course that dedicates an entire module to an integrated toss which happens simultaneously with the backswing.

The backswing should be a relaxed swing backwards, as if your arm and the racquet are a pendulum that you swing backwards.

tennis serve backswing

The backswing and toss sequence from the start (Click to enlarge)

The tossing arm moves simultaneously up as the dominant arm swings up.

The tricky thing here is that the tossing arm is much more stiff as it’s lifting the ball accurately up towards the contact point while the serving arm has to be very relaxed.

This is not natural to our body as it tends to tense or relax both arms in a similar manner.

Just something to keep in mind as you’re working on your toss and the backswing and you’re having some trouble synchronizing both arms, keeping one more stiff and the other one more relaxed…

It may be tricky and therefore takes some repetitions and time to master.

As you swing back, your arm eventually ends up in the trophy position as we like to call it.

I suggest you don’t look for a vertical racquet in the trophy position for two reasons:

  1. When your racquet is vertical in the trophy position, it tends to fall back into the waiter’s tray position as gravity likes to take over your hand’s movement.
  2.  
  3. There is also a much longer loop to be made from that trophy position all the way up until contact. This makes the timing of the toss and the swing up to the ball more difficult, and you may have troubles putting it all together. 
  4.  
  5. The most common mistake that then happens is making a very shallow drop in order to “make it” in time to the contact point but in the process you’re then losing power.

I suggest bringing your racquet into a more diagonal position which you can determine by bringing the racquet closer to your head and touching it. The bottom edge of the racquet should touch the back of your head.

tennis serve trophy position

My suggested trophy position in a tennis serve

Move the racquet then slightly away from your head and you’ll now be in a good trophy position on your serve.

From there, you will drop the racquet into the loop and find it much easier to time this swing with the ball coming down from the toss.

The whole backswing & toss sequence then consists of swinging both arms simultaneously where the tossing arm lifts the ball up (which you catch again in your hand!) and the hitting arm reaches the trophy position.

Here, the racquet is slightly tilted with the bottom edge of the racquet aligning with the back of your head.

There is one more important part of the backswing & toss sequence, and that’s turning your body parallel to the baseline as you initiate the whole sequence.

You need to initiate everything first through your body rotation, which creates the first impulse from which the arms swing.

coiling on a tennis serve

Initiate your backswing & toss from the body turn

This also starts the coiling phase from which you will generate a lot of power once you start uncoiling.

If you toss the ball up before you start coiling, you’ll probably do much less of a coiling because you’ll be running out of time since your ball will be already in the air. As such, there’s not much time left for you to complete your whole serve up until contact.

I agree that turning the body first and then starting your toss and the backswing makes it more difficult for you to place the ball accurately in your ideal contact point.

However, with some practice, you will surely master it and gain many more benefits from having enough time for your whole serving motion and more power from having more torque in your body.

Step 5: Serve In Two Parts

The serve in two parts consists of step 4 and step 3, meaning we’ll do the backswing & toss first (step 4) and then the hitting part (part 3) in sequence.

Complete first your backswing & toss phase and catch the ball back in your hand while holding your trophy position.

serve backswing into trophy

Part 1: Backswing and toss and catching the ball in your hand

Toss again from this position and complete the hitting part which consists of the drop (bounce) and two swing paths.

serve technique with pronation

Part 2: Hitting action with pronation

You can still keep the balls on the ground in two lines in order to get proper guidance on how to move your racquet in the swing up and pronation phases.

Repeat this process of serving in two parts until you are quite successful with two key points:

  • tossing the ball so accurately that you can catch it back in your hand without moving your feet, and
  • finding your trophy position where the bottom edge is just behind your head without much correcting when you check for it.

When you can toss the ball well and find your trophy position easily through a relaxed backswing, you’re ready to put your serve together.

But before we do that, let’s focus for a little while on a key move that generates a lot of power…

Step 6: The Power Move

The power move is initiated from the trophy position, and two things must happen simultaneously:

  • your racquet starts to drop, and
  • your body starts to rotate/turn forward.

If these two movements happen at the same time, the hitting arm and the racquet will start to lag behind.

whip effect on a tennis serve

Creating lag of the racquet or whip effect which generates effortless power

You will create a stretch through your body going across your shoulder, chest and core all the way down to the left hip (for right-handers).

Imagine it like a giant rubber band that you just stretched fully.

As you can imagine, this rubber band wants to snap back to its original state, and that’s exactly what we want to achieve with our body.

Most tennis players make the mistake of tensing their muscles in this phase of the serve thinking that “strong” muscles will help them hit a “strong” serve.

Sure, you can hit a serve this way and the ball will leave your racquet with some speed, but if you really want to know how the serve works and how the pros do it, then realize that the pros use a different principle of generating power.

The principle of stretching your body and allowing it to snap back generates much more racquet head speed than the principle of tense muscles and thinking you want to be “strong” as you hit your serve.

The tricky thing about the stretch principle is that you must actually RELAX in order to allow your muscles to stretch, which is a very counter-intuitive thing to do just as you’re about to hit a fast serve.

And that’s why most tennis players get the serve wrong and reach their speed plateau very quickly and cannot move beyond it.

That’s also why I am including the power move in these fundamentals of the serve technique in tennis, even though it seems like an advanced technique that only the pros should practice.

The power move has to be practiced often in order to feel the lag of the racquet and how we create a whip effect with it. This effect creates a lot of racquet head speed with little effort.

We initiate the body turn through our hips and then use our trunk and shoulders to rotate forwards while we let the racquet lag or trail behind.

technique for a powerful serve

The power move from the side: drop and turn happening at the same time

This only happens when we relax our arm so that the muscles in the shoulders and chest get stretched.

Since this is a feel-based exercise, we can exaggerate the rotation of the body in order to really feel how the racquet lags and then shoots out from our backswing through the contact zone.

So we can actually turn our body all the way up to the point where we face the net with it.

But keep in mind that, when it comes to correct serve technique, we actually decelerate and stop the body rotation at around a 45 degree angle between the baseline and the net.

In both cases, though, we are using the principle of transfer of momentum which happens only when we decelerate the body.

At that moment, the momentum built in the body is then transferred to the arm.

Since the arm is much lighter than the body and momentum has to be maintained, the arm has to accelerate.

Step 7: Serve With The Follow-Through

The best way to start serving correctly is to do a few serves in two parts and then take a leap of faith and do the complete serve from start to finish.

This is also the stage where I’d like to clarify the follow-through on the serve.

When you watch the pros serve, you’ll see that they finish their serve on the left side of the body (for right-handers) and you may want to copy that.

proper serve technique in tennis

You can see the racquet finishing on the left side of the body but did Ljubicic actually swing that way?

But what happens is that they do not actually swing or forcefully push their racquet to the left side. Instead, it’s simply the inertia and relaxation of their body and the serving arm that swings the racquet in that direction.

In other words, the follow-through on the left side happens. We don’t do it.

What we do, meaning the direction of our swing and force, is that we swing outwards towards the ball. For right-handers, that’s forward and right, roughly at 45 degrees which then changes as pronation takes place.

As soon as we finish the pronation, we start to relax our body and arm (since all the work is done and the ball is on the way), which eventually brings the arm to the left side.

tennis serve follow-through

The follow-through on the left side of the body happens, we ‘don’t do it.’

So, keep in mind that some parts of the serve are done by an intentional swing and applying force and some parts of the serve just happen because of relaxation and inertia.

Therefore, you shouldn’t try to “do” the parts of the serve that just happen.

Finding Flow – How To Generate Effortless Power From Step-by-Step Mechanics

Because we have been breaking down the serve into smaller parts so that they are easier to learn, we have unfortunately also broken down the natural flow of the body.

We stopped moving our body fluidly, making our movements now very mechanical.

Therefore, we must re-establish the natural flow of the body which is another key element of generating effortless power on the serve.

We find flow through drills that make us move our body continuously without stopping or any jerky movements.

One the best tennis training aids to do that is the Serve Master by Lisa Dodson. (affiliate link)

You use the Serve Master by swinging it in a continuous manner that simulates the whole service motion. That exercise helps you re-establish the flow of your body and feel the effects of it as you realize that you can accelerate the balls at the end of the Serve Master quite effortlessly.

ServeMaster tennis training aid

Swinging the ServeMaster helps you re-establish the natural flow of the body

You can of course also use the ball on the string or the famous trick with a couple of tennis balls in a long sock. Either of these will also help you feel the fluidity of the service motion.

Another good exercise that you can do with the racquet is the three-finger drill where you hold the racquet with only your thumb, index and middle finger.

This prevents you from holding the racquet tight as you go through your service motion and therefore creates a very fluid movement.

You can also work on one technical element while you do the above exercise. Namely, you can do the “Edges exercise” in which you always lead with the edge in any direction that you move your racquet.

tennis serve drill

The ‘Edges drill’ where you always lead with the edge as you swing your racquet

That helps you prevent the waiter’s tray mistake that happens often and also trains your arm and forearm how to be positioned throughout the service motion.

Summary

A tennis serve is the most challenging stroke to master.

Here are just some of the key reasons:

  1. A relaxed and loose way of accelerating the racquet gives you more power than tensing your body and arm and hitting the ball “hard” even though the latter approach seems to make more sense at first glance.
  2. There are two swing paths of the racquet where we transition into pronation just before contact rather than the one straight swing path with no pronation that we often perceive as we look at serves of professional tennis players.
  3. We get more power by decelerating the body before contact than if we keep rotating our body through contact, which is a very counter-intuitive thing to do.
  4. We must swing up towards the ball instead of down, even though the target is down in relation to the ball ‒ which again doesn’t make sense at first.
  5. We swing the racquet initially in the other direction than in the direction of the target, and this difference is even bigger when it comes to topspin and slice serves.

The 7 steps of building a proper advanced tennis serve technique described in this article build a solid foundation from which you can then progress to more advanced elements of the serve.

This article also addresses all of the above challenges of a tennis serve that are tricky to understand at first and often lead tennis players in the wrong direction.

In my work with tennis players of all levels, I keep coming back to these fundamentals even when I work on more advanced skills like coiling the body more, jumping into the court, learning the kick and slice serve and so on.

There are of course many drills and exercises that help you address various sticking points that you may have as you’re working on your serve.

I’ve shared many of them for free on this blog, and there are some that you can access only in my ServeUnlocked video course that goes much more in-depth on:

  • unlocking the mental locks that hold you back from hitting your best serves,
  • unlocking the body by showing you drills on how to loosen up your wrist,
  • understanding the difference between speed and “strength” and how to learn a fast, effortless serve, and
  • understanding how to integrate the toss into your service motion and how to troubleshoot it.

The ServeUnlocked video course also includes the extended version of these 7 Steps To Proper Serve Technique where I share additional tips on the grip, racquet acceleration, coordination of both arms and even how to use your shadow on a sunny day to correct your serve technique! 😉

 

tennis serve video course

The extended version also includes clips of regular tennis players where I point out their mistakes and how to correct them.

But, as I mentioned before, you really need to master the fundamentals of the serve technique which are crucial for learning how to hit a correct tennis serve with good power and consistency.

You can see a big change in the serve technique of Andrea in the video below which compares the “before and after” service motions.

All his progress, which took only a few days, was thanks to continuous repetition of the fundamental drills and techniques described in this article.

I hope this points you in the right direction of taming the most challenging tennis stroke.

But keep in mind that really mastering a tennis serve technique takes years of dedicated practice – which, by the way, is definitely attainable even by recreational tennis players as long as they follow proper progressions and are willing to dig deep into the mysteries of a tennis serve.

CHEESEBOARDS

Ever wondered how to put together your own perfect cheese board? It’s actually quite easy!

Learn how to assemble a cheese board from start to finish with these simple step by step instructions.

Perfect for holidays, ladies nights, or everyday entertaining, cheese boards are a fun, versatile, delicious addition to any gathering!

Is it just me…or is there something about a good cheese board? It’s the perfect appetizer for any occasion!

Not only are they beautiful to look at…and delicious to eat…(who doesn’t love all things cheese?)…but they’re also incredibly fun to put together.

And best of all, they have something for everyone. From different types of cheese to sweet and savory snacks to crackers and cured meats, the best cheese boards leave no one behind.

Of course, having access to quality cheese board ingredients is key. Which is why I’m SO excited about the new Murray’s Cheese Shop open at Metro Market. I recently had the opportunity to visit the shop and learn all about the delicious cheeses, meats, and other products they carry.

And let’s just say…my visit inspired me to create this cheese board to share with all of you! With the holidays fast approaching, it’s the perfect time to brush up on our cheese board ideas and refresh our charcuterie skills.

Ready to get started?

HOW TO ASSEMBLE A CHEESE BOARD:

  1. Start with the board. Cheese boards are typically assembled on a slate or wooden tray, which may be square, rectangular, or round. But if you don’t already own one, don’t feel like you need to go out and buy one. You can also use a plate, a cutting board, or even a baking sheet. Any flat surface will work.
  2. Select the cheeses. Try to include a variety of flavors and textures by selecting cheeses from different families (see below).
  3. Add some charcuterie…aka cured meats. Prosciutto, salami, sopressata, chorizo, or mortadella are all good options.
  4. Add some savory. Think olives, pickles, roasted peppers, artichokes, tapenades, almonds, cashews, or spicy mustards.
  5. Add some sweet. Think seasonal and dried fruits, candied nuts, preserves, honey, chutney, or even chocolate.
  6. Offer a variety of breads. Sliced baguette, bread sticks, and a variety of crackers in different shapes, sizes, and flavors.
  7. Finish it off with some garnishes. This is a great way to give your cheese board a seasonal touch. Use edible flowers, fresh herbs, or additional fruits to give your board the look and feel you want.

WHAT ARE THE BEST CHEESES TO INCLUDE ON A CHEESE BOARD?

A good rule of thumb is to include cheeses from a variety of different families. Some basic families include:

  • Aged: Aged Cheddar, Gruyere, Gouda.
  • Soft: Brie, Camembert, Goat.
  • Firm: Manchego, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Edam.
  • Blue: Gorgonzola, Roquefort, Stilton.

TIPS FOR MAKING THE BEST CHEESE BOARD:

  1. Offer a variety of savory and sweet ingredients. The truth is everyone likes their cheese a little different. Some like it savory, some like it sweet, and some like a combination of both. The best cheese boards have something for everyone.
  2. Offer a variety of textures. Because eating is such a sensory experience, a variety of textures makes any cheeese board more interesting.  Consider ingredients with various textures such as creamy, crunchy, crumbly, gooey, and crisp.
  3. Use cheese markers to label cheese so everyone knows what they’re getting.
  4. Bring cheeses to room temperature before serving in order to bring out their true flavor.
  5. Don’t forget the knives, spoons, toothpicks, etc.

WHAT I INCLUDED ON THIS CHEESE BOARD:

CHEESE: Roth Kase Raw Private Reserve, Sartori Merlot Bellavitano, Wisconsin 5-Year Cheddar, St. Mark’s Bloomy Rind, Bri Du Pommier, Bayley Hazen Blue

MEATS: Murray’s Prosciutto di Parma, Murray’s Genoa Salami

FRESH FRUITS: Snapdragon apple slices, red grapes

DRIED FRUITS: Mariani Dried Apricots, Cherry Bay Orchards Dried Montmorency Cherries

NUTS: Blue Diamond Honey Roasted Almonds, Fisher Roasted Cashews, Roundy’s Pecan Halves

SAVORY: Murray’s Garlic Stuffed Olives, Trois Petits Cochons Cornichons

DIPS: Private Selection Whole Grain Garlic Mustard, Local Hive Honey, Divina Fig Spread

BREADS: Alessi Breadsticks, Private Selection Peppercorn & Poppy Water Crisps, Back to Nature Multigrain Flax Seeded Flatbread

HOW TO BUY ART

How to Figure Out “Your Style” 

Setting the intention to discover and educate yourself about artists and their work is a key starting point. Even with a busy schedule, I always make time to visit artist studios, attend openings and visit local exhibitions—this is the most inspiring and rewarding part of my job! To keep informed about exhibitions in LA, I subscribe to ForYourArt’s weekly newsletter. The app See Sawincludes more major cities in the US and abroad, and categorizes current and upcoming shows by neighborhood. Visit museums and galleries in your own city and when you are traveling, explore innovative online platforms, and understand the context behind what you are looking at. Don’t be afraid to meet and engage with artists, and seek advice from art industry experts. It may seem daunting to approach a gallerist with questions, but rest assured they will enjoy engaging with you and sharing insight into their artists’ work.

Where to Find Art to Buy

In addition to buying art directly from galleries, art fairs like Frieze, Basel and Paris Photo are great opportunities to discover a lot of new artwork in a short period of time. If you are looking to build a substantial collection, creating a relationship with an art advisor to help you navigate the industry can be extremely helpful. Online platforms can also be great resources. At Tappan, we look to cover all of the above, so while our e-commerce platform allows our artists work to reach a wider audience, our exhibitions offer buyers the opportunity to physically engage with the work while our in house advisory team offers one on one guidance. 

How to Determine an Art Budget

When setting an art budget for yourself, do set a number that you’d like to stay under. But know that if you really fall for a piece that you can’t live without, you may have to stretch your budget just that once. Seeking advice of knowledgeable friends in the industry can help you understand why something is priced the way it is, and make sure that you’re investing in the right work. 

Start Building Your Gallery Wall

Large scale artworks can be expensive. Creating a unique and dynamic gallery wall is a great way to get started with a collection of smaller pieces. We recommended sticking to a consistent color palette for a strong aesthetic and playing with a mixture of mediums, such as works on paper, small paintings, photography and prints, to achieve something that evolves with you over time. (Check back next week for a step-by-step guide on building your gallery wall!)

Lean Towards Photography

If your space really does call for a large anchor piece, landscape photography is a great option, and tends to be more affordable than a work on canvas of the same size. Photographs of nature and distant horizon lines are not only meditative but also particularly powerful in helping small living spaces appear much larger. 

Patience Is Key

Finding art that you love can take time, whether in person or online. Don’t rush to fill every empty wall at once. Start with one or two key pieces, live with them for a bit, and build one by one from there. Enjoy the process of discovery and allow your collection to develop naturally.

The Matte Is Your Friend

Framing a smaller-sized photograph in a matte border essentially acts as a window around an artwork and can give a smaller piece more impact. We’ve used this technique when framing Polaroids by Tappan artist Travis Schneider, to elevate something quite small into a mid sized piece. Online framing companies tend to offer better prices, but depending on the value of the piece, you may want to consult a local framer first about using archival materials and UV plexi glass to protect against long-term exposure to direct and indirect light. 

Love, Not Like

Whatever your budget, your collection should be focused on pieces that truly speak to you. Get to know the artists behind the work by reading about their practice and even following them on social media. We believe that any investment in art, however small or large, should be fueled by love for the work first and foremost. 

THE CORNER KICK

On average, there are 11 corners during a 90-minute football match. They present excellent attacking options for the team on the attack and can prove a nightmare for those trying to defend. Whatever position you play, it’s crucial you’re aware of your role when it comes to the inevitable corner. If you and your team are on the attack, you really need to be on the ball

Corners are perfect goal-scoring opportunities. They require you to use your initiative, communicate and above all, work as a team. Without practice, you’ll struggle to succeed. But with persistence and the right attitude, corners can become as lucrative as penalties. So we’ve come up with some top tips for pulling off the perfect corner.


Preparation

First thing’s first, preparation. Understand who’s going to be taking the corner and what set-play you’re going to try and pull off. Every player on the team should known their role and their position. Spend plenty of time on the training-field practising set-pieces and work out what works best for you and your team.  

Signal to your teammates

You’ve stepped up to the corner flag. Your teammates are counting on you to deliver an accurate, well-placed ball. But before you take the corner you need to make sure your teammates know the intended target and intended outcome of the corner. Your teammates positioning in the box will depend on the style of corner you’re going for, but it’s always a good idea to have a player positioned on each post. It’s your job to signal to your teammates what tactic you’re going for. When on the training field, try different methods and practice a range of tactics. Set specific signals for set pieces that work particularly well.

Master the in-swinging corner kicks

In-swinging corner kicks are directed away from the net, but as the ball reaches the near-post it begins to swing back towards goal. The trajectory of the ball means it’s already heading towards goal, which is going to work to any attackers advantage. However this also means it’s easier for the goalkeeper to intercept the ball mid-flight. Naturally, in-swinging corners are easier to get right if the corner kick-taker’s strong foot matches the equivalent corner (e.g. right-footed, right side of the goal).

Master the out-swinging corner kicks

Opposite to the in-swinging, out-swinging corner kicks bend away from the goal line as they approach the posts. This might seem unnatural as the ball moves away from the intended target, however it makes it much harder for the keeper to leave his line and collect the ball. With more practice, you’ll be able to put more bend on the ball and thus confuse the keeper! But bear in mind you’re primary aim is to reach one of your teammates, not to confuse the keeper.

Consider the short corner kicks

Short corner kicks can be perfect for confusing the opposition. Signal for a teammate to run up and approach the corner flag. If your opponents are still trying to organise their defensive line, there’s a chance they won’t have even noticed the corner being taken. Short corners present you with a different plan of attack. Maybe you want to dribble at goal, or play it out wide – either way you now have a number of options at your disposal!

REHYDRATION

When workouts leave you drenched, or when it’s so hot outside that your clothes cling to your body like Saran wrap, start drinking. If you don’t rehydrate, your body and brain can suffer; mild dehydration can tank your mood, concentration and energy levels.

But not all fluids are created equal—and water isn’t always the best beverage for the job.

“When we drink, fluids are not available to the body immediately but take some time to be absorbed from the gut into the bloodstream,” says Bridget Benelam, a public health researcher with the British Nutrition Foundation. How fast this happens is determined, in part, by what’s in the fluid.

That’s because when you sweat, water isn’t the only thing your body is losing.

Human sweat contains many different metabolites, including lactate, amino acids and fats, as well as sodium. “Drinks containing some carbohydrate in the form of sugars and electrolytes, usually sodium, can be absorbed by the body more quickly than pure water and therefore allow rehydration to happen more rapidly,” Benelam says. Think Gatorade.

On the other hand, even though your body is losing sodium and some other things as you sweat, water alone really will get the job done for the typical sweaty adult, says Lawrence Armstrong, director of the Human Performance Laboratory at the University of Connecticut. “Virtually no studies have shown benefits of sport drinks or carbohydrate-containing beverages unless you’re exercising continuously for more than 50 or 60 minutes,” he says.

Assuming you eat normally and aren’t on a super-restrictive cleanse or elimination diet, you’re probably not at risk for any sodium or electrolyte shortages, Armstrong explains. The volume of liquid you consume is the important thing. “During exercise, the average person ought to be drinking about a half a quart of water every 30 minutes, or a full quart in an hour, to replace the fluids they’re losing,” he says. (If you’re worried you’re not drinking enough H20, monitor your urine. If it’s dark yellow, you need to drink more.)

But if you’re the type who does exercise vigorously for long periods, “a complex source of nutrients is likely to have a positive impact on fluid retention,” says Ben Desbrow, associate professor of sports nutrition at Griffith University’s School of Allied Health Sciences in Australia. Desbrow’s research has compared different milk-based beverages to water and sports drinks, with a surprising champ.

“Milk is an ideal recovery beverage,” he says. “It is well retained and is a great source of protein, carbohydrate, vitamins and minerals.”

More research backs him up on this. A 2016 studyin the American Journal of Clinical Nutritionfound that milk—full-fat, but especially skim—was more hydrating than water, sports drinks, coffee, tea and several other common beverages. Sports drinks do get the job done—especially if you’ve really been pushing yourself and you’re sweating heavily. But milk outperforms them.

You don’t have to pound a half-gallon of it after a workout. Getting some nutrients along with your H2O is the important thing, Desbrow says. You could drink an 8-ounce glass of milk followed by water. Or, if you’re not interested in dairy, drinking water with a little food will help your body absorb more water in a short period of time.

You can take a different route to rehydration, too. Rather than worry about what you’re drinking, just make sure your beverage is accompanied by a bite to eat, like a granola bar or a sandwich. Another recent study found that the type of beverage you reach for to rehydrate doesn’t really matter if you’re drinking it with food.

IMPROVE YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY

Digital camera tips: 1. Always reset your camera settings

There are few things worse than taking what you think is a stunning picture, only to find your camera’s ISO and saturation were cranked right up from a previous shoot and you’ve missed the moment. Avoid this by checking – and resetting – all of your settings before moving from one picture-taking opportunity to the next.

Digital camera tips: 2. Format, not erase

Formatting your memory card wipes it clean and rewrites any pertinent camera information. Erasing your images does not. So always format your cards to minimise the risk of any data corruption.

Digital camera tips: 3. Update your firmware

Firmware is the in-camera software used for processing images, setting a whole range of parameters and even controlling what features are available to you. Check your camera manufacturer’s website to ensure your digital camera’s firmware is as up to date as possible.

Digital camera tips: 4. Charge your batteries

Don’t assume your camera’s battery is fully charged – make sure it is. Charge it before you go out so you’re certain there’s enough life in it, and invest in a spare battery if you regularly find yourself shooting beyond its capacity.

Digital camera tips: 5. Set the image size

Most times you’ll be shooting at the highest resolution your camera offers, regardless of what it is you’re photographing. But do you always need to? Sometimes a smaller image size might be all you need, and reducing the resolution not only means more images will fit on a memory card, but you can achieve a faster shooting rate, too. If sports photography is your thing, reducing the resolution will help you avoid delays as your camera clears its buffer.

Digital camera tips: 6. Raw, JPEG or both?

If you intend to do any manipulation or retouching, shooting raw is often the best solution thanks to its increased bit depth.

However, raw files are larger, so take longer for the camera to deal with, and you also need to process them before they can be printed.

JPEG files, on the other hand, are processed in-camera at the time of shooting, so you can print or share them immediately, and you’ll find that you can shoot a much longer burst of consecutive frames at a much quicker rate.

Providing you don’t want to make too many radical changes to an image after you’ve taken it, you may find you can’t tell the difference between a JPEG file and a raw one.

For the ultimate in choice, though, and when speed isn’t important, why not shoot both? Most digital cameras give you this option, and you can then decide what you want to do when you’re back at your computer. Just make sure you pack an extra memory card.

Digital camera tips: 7. Experiment with settings

When they’re not working on an assignment, professional photographers spend a lot of time testing. This could be testing a new lens to determine which aperture or focal length it performs best at; testing the ISO and white balance to see which options give the very best results; or even testing the dynamic range so you know the sensor’s limitations.

You can do exactly the same with your DSLR or mirrorless camera, so you know precisely where its strengths and weaknesses lie. This isn’t about looking for perfect shots – just experimenting with your kit to understand it better, or trying out new techniques that you can employ at a later date.

Digital camera tips: 8. Don’t skimp on a tripod

A good tripod is worth its weight in gold, so don’t be tempted by budget options. Pay £20 / $20 and it won’t last you long, or do its job properly. Dig deep for a decent tripod and it will give you many years of service, making it a sensible long-term investment. And don’t forget to take your tripod with you, either!

Digital camera tips: 9. Hand-held or tripod mounted?

The simple act of setting up your camera on a tripod will slow you down, and this can be enough to make you concentrate a little harder on what it is you’re photographing and what you hope to achieve. At the same time, locking your camera down for every shot you take can reduce your spontaneity, so don’t be afraid to mix it up from time to time. If you religiously use a tripod, set out without it and see what happens, and if you normally travel without one, take it with you to see how slowing yourself down affects the results you get.

Digital camera tips: 10. Impromptu camera supports

You don’t necessarily need a tripod to hold your camera steady – supporting it against a wall or tree will help you avoid camera shake, and a beanbag (or just a bag of rice) can also give you a more stable shooting platform.

Digital camera tips: 11. Straighten up

The word horizon is found in the word horizontal, and that’s precisely what it should be. If your digital camera’s got an in-camera level, use it. If not, invest just a few pounds or dolloars in a hotshoe-mounted spirit bubble. It will save you hours correcting your shots in Photoshop later. Most DSLRs and mirrorless cameras now have a grid that can be activated and superimposed over a Live View image on the rear LCD screen, making getting level horizons a breeze. 

Digital camera tips: 12. Double-check your kit

It might sound obvious, but check your camera bag if you’re going to be shooting away from home. You may have your camera, lenses and tripod, but if you use a quick-release tripod head, is the base-plate attached to the camera or the tripod? Have you got the right diameter adaptor ring if you use Cokin or Lee system filters. It’s these small things that are more likely to scupper a trip than the major elements of your kit.

Digital camera tips: 13. Autofocus or manual focus?

It’s all too easy to become over-reliant on your camera’s autofocus, and there are some situations where focusing manually is definitely a better option – pre-focusing to photograph a fast-moving subject on a race track, or focusing precisely for a detailed macro shot, for example.

Digital camera tips: 14. Which AF point(s) should you use?

DSLRs and mirrorless cameras may have a bewildering number of AF points to choose from as well as a wealth of focusing modes, from simple single point AF to much more advanced focus tracking. Make sure you spend time getting to grips with your camera’s AF system as this can prove invaluable before a big and important shoot. 

Digital camera tips: 15. Buying lenses

A bad lens will always be a bad lens, no matter what DSLR or mirrorless camera you attach it to. So before you decide that you’ve ‘outgrown’ your camera and need a ‘better’ one, ask yourself if investing in a new lens might be a better option instead? A few extra pixels and smarter features might sound enticing, but a faster maximum aperture and higher optical quality could go much further in helping you take better pictures with the camera you already have. 

Digital camera tips: 16. Manual lenses

There are thousands of lenses left over from the days of 35mm film, and as many DSLRs are ‘backwards compatible’ (most notably Nikon and Pentax) they can still be used in the digital age, while there are numerous adapters available for mirrorless cameras. Moreover, as many of them are dirt-cheap it’s a great way of expanding your focal length repertoire. But there is a downside.

Some lenses perform better than others, and the only real way of weeding out the good from the bad is to give them a go. In general, zoom lenses and wide-angle focal lengths tend to be the worst performers. In addition, there is the need to focus manually, and in-camera exposure metering can be unpredictable and unreliable.

That said, there are some cracking manual focus lenses out there, and in certain situations they can actually outperform contemporary low-cost zooms in terms of sharpness.

Digital camera tips: 17. Focal length

Wide-angle lenses can give the impression of increased distance between near and distant elements, while telephoto focal lengths appear to compress perspective. Consider this when you’re framing a shot and position yourself to use the focal length that’s best for the image, rather than simply choosing a focal length that fits everything in.

Digital camera tips: 18. Use the hyperfocal distance

If you want to maximise the depth of field in your shot at a given focal length, then focus manually at the hyperfocal distance; the point at which everything from half the hyperfocal distance to infinity will appear sharp.

Digital camera tips: 19. Check the frame edges

The majority of viewfinders don’t provide you with 100% coverage, so it’s easy for unwanted elements to creep into a shot. The only way to be certain is to check your camera’s LCD screen once the shot is taken. If there’s anything untoward in the frame, simply adjust your composition and shoot again.

Digital camera tips: 20. Shoot more than you need

Even with static subjects, consider shooting a burst of frames using your camera’s continuous shooting mode. Subtle variations in the light as clouds move across a landscape, or a portrait subject changing expression, are both examples of a ‘perfect moment’ that could be missed with just a single shot, so shoot a burst and pick the best frame later.

Digital camera tips: 21. Preset exposure modes

‘Serious’ photographers may frown upon them, but your DSLR’s preset modes shouldn’t be disregarded entirely, especially for candids. ‘Landscape’ mode will typically set a small aperture and boost saturation, while ‘Portrait’ mode combines a wide aperture with more muted colours. Both can be used beyond their intended purpose – it’s just a question of understanding what the preset parameters are and exploiting them creatively.

HOW TO BUILD A FLOATING SHELF

These shelves are handsome, easy to build and inexpensive. And they’re strong even though they have no visible supports. They appear to float on the wall, no clunky hardware or brackets. We made them from only two parts—half of a hollow core door and a 2×4.

Mark the shelf position

Trace the horizontal location for each shelf using a 4-ft. level as your guide. Use a stud finder to mark the locations of the studs and lightly press masking tape over each one. If you don’t have a string line, use a long straightedge and mark the wall with a pencil. Check your marks with the 4-ft. level. 

How to Build Shorter Shelves

Build shorter shelves by cutting the shelf to length. Glue a filler block flush with the end and nail each side with small brad nails.

Required Tools for this Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY floating shelves project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration. 

  • Circular saw
  • Glue
  • Hammer
  • Level
  • Socket/ratchet set
  • Straightedge
  • Stud finder
  • Table saw
  • Tape measure
  • Wood chisel

40-tooth carbide saw blade

Required Materials for this DIY floating shelves Project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here’s a list. 

  • 1-in. brads
  • 1/4-in. x 3-1/2-in. lag screws
  • 18-in. wide hollow core door
  • 2 x 4 x 8 ft.
  • Masking tape

DOUBLE WINDSOR KNOT

This knot is named after the Duke of Windsor and is a more symmetric, large and thicker type of knot. The Double Windsor Knot is best used with dress shirts that have wide-spread collars.

Because the style of the knot is thicker and wider, more length is required from the tie to achieve the look. Taller men may consider using XL length ties instead. The overall knot makes for a classy, balanced look.
Double Windsor Knot Instructions:
  1. Fold the shirt collar up, undo the top button and place the necktie around your neck. Ensure that the wide end of the tiw is 6-7 inches below than the narrow end and cross it over the narrow end
  2. Slip the tie through the gap between the neck and the tie knot. Keep pulling the tie all the way around until it is back behind the narrow end of the tie
  3. Repeat step 2. with the other side
  4. After this, wrap the wide end of the tie and bring it back over towards the front
  5. Pull the wide end again through the gap between your neck and the knot loosely, so that a loop is created
  6. Slip the wide end of the knot through this newly created loop
  7. Adjust and tighten to neaten the knot and place your collar back down over the necktie. Your Double Windsor Knot is complete.