Serving is arguably the most difficult and most important shot in tennis. To help improve your tennis serve, we have put together 5 useful tips that beginner and intermediate players can quickly incorporate into their games.
- Get your stance right
Stance forms the foundation of the serve and helps provide adequate rotation of the shoulders to produce maximum power, even for less experienced players. Your serve should start with you facing sideways, 90 degrees from your standing position if you are facing the net.
Your feet should be shoulder-width apart, with your non-dominant foot (i.e. left foot if you are right footed) closest to the baseline.
This video from Fuzzy Yellow Balls is a great 1-minute guide to how you should stand when approaching the serve.
2. Ball toss is key
Having a steady and consistent ball toss is arguably the most fundamental component of a tennis player’s serve, and is an aspect of the game that even many professionals struggle with.
When tossing the ball, it is important you keep your wrist and elbow straight before releasing at around eye level. Common mistakes with the ball toss include bending the arm or wrist, releasing the ball too early and rotating the body while releasing the ball. Even in match play, you should take your time and catch the ball, rather than feeling obliged to hit it. If you don’t like the toss, don’t hit the ball!
Ramon Osa has a very useful video on his YouTube channel breaking down the ball toss into its component parts, including some simple exercise you can use to learn the motion.
3. Keep a loose grip
Before you release the ball, you should make sure you hold the ball loosely with your fingers.
A number of players have tense arms and hands at the start of their service action. You should be aware of how tightly you are squeezing the racquet at the beginning of the swing and be mindful to keep a loose grip throughout the motion.
4. Stay fluid
Many players have stilted service motions that sometimes involve small pauses between each phase of the service actions. Stopping this will quickly improve you serve as these pauses can harm your rhythm and timing, as well as limiting the power you are able to generate. Your service should ideally be one continuous action.
5. Accelerate into the point of contact
Try thinking of the serve a little like preparing a slingshot, slowly pulling back the balls and accelerating into action at the point of contact.
You should accelerate as you move towards making contact with the ball, reaching maximum speed at the point of connection. It is also important you concentrate on continuing the momentum after you have struck the ball, continuing the velocity until your racket is a few inches into its descent.
Intuitive Tennis break down the service acceleration process very clearly in this video, which is slightly advanced in parts but has a number of straightforward tips you can take away.