The serve is most likely the most momentous shot in tennis and the most difficult one to learn and perform correctly.
It helps players recover from break points, gain advantages and win points effortlessly against tough opponents
While it is important to let every player chose his own serve technique and the most comfortable stance and rhythm there are some serve basics that must be learned correctly.
I’m going to break it down for you in 5 simple steps to englobe the most important components of a fruitful serve.
You can start from square one with these steps as a beginner and improve your technique if you’re an intermediate or advanced player.
I . The Stance
There are 2 different stance techniques;
1/ Platform STANCE
Left foot angled towards the net post, in front of the right one with its heels aligned with the right foot toes in order to maintain a good stability.
It is the easier stance to learn for beginners.
More secure for foot faults since the feet stay on place during the whole preparation.
More balance and stability than the pinpoint stance.
2/ Pinpoint STANCE
The pinpoint stance is a another serve stance that is used by many tennis players.
How it’s done:
As you’re tossing the ball, your back foot slides to get closer or glued to the front one and from that position you’re going to explode towards the ball.
You can shift to the pinpoint stance after:
starting from the platform stance.
or starting with your feet already close to each to each other.
Explosive stance that makes you go up for the ball.
More power and momentum because of the weight of the body going forward.
foot faults risks.
II. The grip
The continental grip is the best when it comes to serve.
If you’re a beginner playing with the eastern forehand grip to hit your serves, you’re probably wondering why you should switch to
the continental grip, Here’s the reasons:
– The continental grip enables you to add spin to your balls which will increase your serve percentage into the service box whilst it is
very difficult to add spin with the (pancake) eastern grip.
– The continental grip enables more power to your serve thanks to your forearm pronation whilst you can’t find that with the eastern
grip because of the face of the racket coming straight forward.
How to hold the continental grip :
Follow these 3 simple steps;
Hold your racket in front of your body with the racket head perpendicular to the ground.
Grab the racket from the handle with your big index finger knuckle placed on the second handle bevel.
To make sure you’re gripping it the right way, each time before you hit a serve, hold the racket in front of you and make sure your arm and racket side frame are aligned as if you’re holding a hammer.
The serve movement phase
The hitting phase of the serve will be the one responsible for where your ball is going to be landing, many actions will happen almost at the same time and things can get complicated to learn every movement alone then try to apply them all together.
That’s why my method here is going to facilitate this phase in order to enable all the body parts to work together in a rhythmical and fluid motion.
I’m going to break down this phase for you in 3 steps;
1) The Preparation
2) The Hitting Phase
3) The Landing
1) The preparation
Is divided into 3 body movements that will have to work together at the same time
1/ The Ball toss.
2/ The racket preparation.
3/ The body movement.
the best way to learn to make these 3 movements work together is to practice each single one alone for a few times then try to add one movement after another to try make a rhythmical gesture. (Begin with ball toss, then add the racket preparation then the knee flexion). Performing the whole movement together though a one single motion is essential for a rapid learning and correction process (For example, if you learn to master the ball toss alone then try to master the racket preparation your body won’t be in good harmony and it will take a long time to add all the steps together). Performing everything together offers a more memorable and visualized stroke that the brain will restore and try to reproduce, then you can correct easily each step without losing the other serve mechanics.
It is important to reduce the amount of information as little as possible and only acquire the basic technical parts, so here are the simple steps to perform a good preparation;
1/ The Ball Toss
The ball is grabbed with the tip of the fingers.
Arm extended during the whole toss.
Release the ball when your arm reaches your shoulder level.
The tossing arm have to continue its path upwards until becoming almost perpendicular to the ground.
2/ The Racket Preparation
Have to be in a continuous motion, not too fast in order to avoid stopping at the trophy position or too slow to avoid bad rhythm.
Can be done at the same tossing time or slightly after so it helps with the continuous motion.
3/ The Body Movement
The knees flex have to be performed with the same feet angles, from that position the body weight will be only on the tip of your toes.
As the knees flex, you have to make sure you keep your upper body still and stretched upwards while pushing yourself into the court with your hips, which will generate the perfect contact point (not too in front or behind).
Create a good serve coil by rotating your shoulders while keeping your head and hips still.
2) The Hitting Phase
– The racket won’t stop at the trophy position and will continue to drop behind the back.
– It’s the role of the elbow to lead the racket towards the ball creating the lag.
– The forearm is responsible for performing the pronation of the racket at the contact point after bringing the racket frame at the ball with a neutral hand position.
– The ball at contact must be met with a straight extended arm.
3) The Landing
* The racket must continue the pronation after the contact with the ball then it naturally goes to the left side with the
rotation of the body.
* Your tossing arm will have to follow the shoulders rotation and finish to the left side or it can fold and stay close to your body.
* The landing of the body weight will be on the left foot for the right handed player and right foot for the left handed.