Having a good serve in tennis is a great advantage. If your serve cannot be broken this can take a lot of pressure off the rest of your tennis game, and ultimately help you to win more matches. Having a great serve only requires knowing the proper basics, and a little practice. With little time, and a little practice you can improve your serve in a very short time, so let’s get started:
1.Recognizing where your optimal hitting zone is at is the first step to having a good serve. With your tennis racquet in your hand, reach up in the sky with full extension; this is roughly where you will want to contact the ball when serving. You don’t want to “short arm” the serve contact point when making contact, meaning your arm is bent at the elbow; this will result in decreased power, and loss of control.
2. Having a consistent smooth ball toss is another very important element of the serve. You don’t want to “toss” the ball as much as you just want it to lift off your hand with the momentum you’ve generated upward with your arm. You’ll also want to gently hold the ball in your fingertips, so the ball is not disturbed by your grip as you let go when your arm makes an upward motion. You’ll want to keep your tossing arm, and grip as relaxed as possible. You’ll also want to try and keep your tossing elbow straight, not bent, this will help with control, and also allow you to let the ball glide up into the air, rather than being “tossed”. The end goal is to end up with the same toss time and time again.
3. Keep your tossing arm extended for as long as possible before making contact. This fundamental is the same as pointing at the ball when hitting an overhead. By keeping your tossing arm extended, it will help keep you in the proper position, with the proper balance until contact is made. It will also help you to generate the proper power needed, when the tossing arm is then moved out of the way.
4. Many coaches like to call it “scratching your back” with the racquet. Your grip on the racquet should be as if you were holding a live bird in your racquet hand. Holding the racquet with this light amount of pressure will allow the racquet to nearly scratch your back on the way to making contact. The position should be as if you were really trying to scratch an itchy spot on your back, without actually contacting your back. Getting in this position before contact will allow your racquet to “slingshot” up into the ball, helping you get power & control.
5.If everything goes correctly, you should land on the leg of your tossing arm, and then gently bring your other leg to rest on the court in the ready position. This is not something you should have to think about, but will happen naturally if you’ve executed the above steps properly. Your ball toss should be slightly out in front you, and therefore your finishing position should be just inside the baseline; the momentum of the service motion will naturally move you there.
6. Make sure to practice serving at targets on the court. This means setting up some cones, or pyramids of stacked tennis balls to aim at when you are trying to improve your serve through practice. Even during a match, you should not be thinking about the mechanics of your serve, but aiming for a spot on the court you want to hit.
By following these simple tips and with a little practice you should see a big improvement in your serve. Now go out, have some fun, and win some more matches!