Tennis Serve: 9 Steps To Perfect Serve Technique

If a player can perfect their tennis serve, they have an opportunity to be a challenging threat in every single match they play in. Holding serve is essential, and it all starts with turning the start of the point into a major weapon.

A first serve is important, but a second serve matters quite a bit as well. What is the best way to perfect the serve? A lot of hard work and practice makes the most sense. Here is a closer look at how to step up the serve game with consistency.

1. Find a Comfortable Stance

If a player looks up serving stances of the top 10 tennis players in the world right now, there are bound to find a few different options. Most of them are slight variations of two types of stances. That includes the platform stance, and the pinpoint stance.

The platform serve is a little bit easier for beginners to learn, since their feet remain in the same position the entire time. To start, a player tosses the ball up, bends their knees, twists their body, and pushes upward to hit serve. With fewer moving parts, it is a standard option taught to a lot of players just starting.

The pinpoint serve ultimately ends up a lot like the platform stance, but the back foot moves closer to the front foot after the toss. This adds another element to getting set to hit the serve. It might be a little too much for people to piece together initially, but some players like the added momentum and added power behind their serve.

2. Select The Perfect Grip

Tennis players are always tinkering with their grip, as they want to find something that feels comfortable on certain shots. For those starting out with a clean slate, most will teach a continental grip for the serve. This is where the racquet is gripped much like a hammer, and is very versatile overall. Players starting out will not have to change their grip during a point, since they can also use a continental grip on groundstrokes and volleys.

Unfortunately, the modern game has changed things a bit where most top-level players have gravitated towards an eastern or semi-western grip on groundstrokes. It translates to the modern game a bit better. The continental grip is still used quite a bit with serves though, so give it a try.

Another way to nail the feel of a continental grip is to grab the racquet like shaking hands with someone else. Once a player starts hitting serves, the perfect grip of the racquet will feel natural.

Remember that a tennis grip is never set in stone. Players tinker with different grips all the time with their serve. Watch a Rafael Nadal serve from early in his career to now, and a change is grip is just one thing that stands out.

3. Perfect The Second Serve

One of the biggest keys to serving is finding ways to start a point, even if a great first serve is not going in at a high percentage. Developing a consistent second serve allows people to play a bit more conservatively, and compete with shots off the ground.

The second serve largely depends on hitting with a decent amount of topspin or sidespin to give the ball more clearance over the net. With the ball dropping down into the court, people do not have too worry as much about

4. Eliminate Any Hitches

A fluid motion with the serve is going to be the best way to have a certain level of consistency. As soon as any hitch starts to form at any point, it can cause quite a few issues. 

How do people develop hitches in their swings? Since there are so many parts to the serve in tennis, they can certainly become a bit overwhelming for some to handle. When it comes to transitioning from the early preparation to the ball toss, there is time to overthink about getting everything right. Practice to the point that everything feels very natural, so there is less of a chance of a hitch. 

Everyone should feel very loose and confident when serving. Even if the serve is a massive challenge in the beginning, confidence plays a huge role in getting everything down to a consistent level. Start with a loose drop of the racquet, a swing up, and the proper amount of pronation. The body is working in several different ways to create that power during the serve, and once contact is made, it all comes together.

5. Practice The Ball Toss

Getting the ball toss down in tennis might seem like a pretty simple task, but it is anything but that. So many players at different levels have struggled with getting their toss just right. It can be a mental thing just as much as a physical thing, but the good news is, practice leads to perfection.

Ball tosses vary quite a bit, so focus on what works best individually. If a player is having trouble with consistency, it is usually recommended to shorten the toss so that it is not in the air as long. This is a little easier to control, and there is less of a chance of the wind causing issues on certain days.

Make sure that the ball is going straight up into the air as well. A lot of people get into bad habits that they do not even realize, and something very small can be changing up the ball toss. Simplifying everything is the way to go, because with more steps to the toss, there is more that can go wrong.

A final tip with a ball toss is to think of it as more of a lift instead of a true toss in the air. It is a very controlled movement with the ball, and it should not be rotating much at all. It might be tempting to have the ball more on the fingers, but putting it down into the middle part of the hand actually allows for a more controlled toss. Releasing the ball as close to eye level as possible can certainly help with consistency as well.

6. Timing For Power

Players get power with their service thanks to the body working simultaneously in a lot of different ways. With that being said, the vast majority of the power comes from the racquet dropping from the trophy position, and the body rotating forward to meet the ball. Getting this to happen at the same time sets a tennis player up for success with their sir.

Staying relaxed through this motion will allow for the power to come pretty easily. Players do not have to swing as hard as possible to generate a good amount of power, because it is coming from their entire body. People are constantly under the impression that the power comes from the arm only, but the power actually comes from the legs quite a bit as well.

With timing just right, form trumps swinging the racquet as hard as possible. That is why some pros serve effortlessly in the eyes of fans.

7. Follow Through Into The Court

After contact, a serve is just the start of a point. In an ideal world, people are hitting ace after ace, but that is just not going to be the case the majority of the time. There needs to be a proper follow through, which leads to preparation for a return shot.

The most time common type of follow through in tennis is to finish on the opposite side of the serving arm. This is not because the racquet is pushed that way, but it is about relaxing the body and using inertia to work its magic. It also keeps players on balance, because trying to finish on the same side can throw people off quite a bit.

Remember that the finish should be starting with a swing that is towards the ball. After making contact, that is when the body can relax a little, and the arm can fall on the opposite side.

If players do not let the arm and racquet fall on the opposite side, there is a chance of doing some harm to the body. No one wants to cut up their shins and knees with a poor follow through, so work on having the racquet end up on the opposite side of the body.

8. Fix Predictability

In the beginning, learning a serve is mostly all about getting as many in as possible. The more advanced players need to begin locating within the box, and not give me their opponent much to work off of as far as falling into the same habits.

The last thing any player wants is to be very predictable with their serve. Players can start to sit on a certain wing and blast returns without much of an issue.

A good first serve can go down either line, or even work as a body shot to the opposition. With second serve, location is key as well since it is going to be a little slower.

Do not be afraid to go for a little more with the first serve. Percentage is my drop a little initially, but there will be some free points when a person does hit their spots.

9. Study & Break Down Film

One of the toughest things for some players is to actually figure out what they are doing wrong with their serve. Taking video is so easy these days that it hardly makes to not use it as a learning tool.

With video, people can break down frame by frame what they might be doing wrong with their serve. A grid can even go over still shots of the video to break down just how much of an adjustment is necessary.

Not only does it help individuals, bud even tennis trainers use film as a way to help their clients get to the next level. It might not always be pretty to look at as a beginner, but it is worth checking out.

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