Tennis is one of the most popular sports in the world. The beginners take a keen interest in learning the skills of the game which takes time to master. If you are also a novice player then there are a lot of ways to learn the different skills of the game. A lot of tennis enthusiasts go to the local club where they train under the supervision of a coach.
They may refer to the online video tutorials to get help and some come to the basic and useful guide like this one to get all the information that they require. In this guide, we will solely focus on how to serve in tennis. Serving as the most crucial aspect of the skillset of tennis and mastering it could take time.
On the other hand, this service is the starting point of the action in tennis. You will have an edge over your counterpart if you serve well in the game. It is important to make sure you know the best way to serve to push your game the right way.
Steps to follow for Serving in Tennis
The steps to serve in tennis mentioned here could be useful both for beginners and those who are looking to correct their serving technique.
Gripping the RacquetThe effective grip of the racquet is your key to serve well. It doesn’t involve any complicated technique but getting this one right would facilitate you in the better swing of the racquet for serving.
There are two major grips that you can try. The most effective one is to hold your racquet in a way that faces the ground. It will just be a natural grip where none of your fingers should be sticking out. This is a versatile grip that will allow you freedom in both backhand and forehand swings. The other suitable grip is the shake-hand grip. For this one, you need to hold the racquet in your non-master hand and then use your other hand to shake its hand. The grip would be just like you are shaking someone’s hand while having your thumb on the top and wrapping it from the side.
The proper stance for serving well requires you to have your feet positioned in a way that your front foot points to the right corner of the net. This is true for the right-handers and exactly the opposite goes for the lefthanders. For the back-foot, just make sure that they are parallel to the baseline. The back-foot toes must also be aligned with the front-foot heel. This will provide you the stability to move in all directions after you complete your serve. This is just a basic stance that you could adjust depending on the directions you are serving.
Striking the Ball
This is the step that will determine the impact of your serve. This is where you execute your serve. You need to think about the backswing elements such as swinging the racquet, bending your knees, ensuring the trophy position and recoiling, etc.
These are the different ways of gaining energy and momentum in your service. Rather, these are the ways for building energy and releasing it appropriately into the service once the contact is made with the racquet. It is important to know that all the elements that are mentioned here are not responsible for making the correct serve. Rather, they could influence the serve if you make the right combo of all. The usage of the forearm, arm, and hand is the key here. There are a few smaller elements associated with the striking of the ball as well.
The loose drop is something that you could get by bouncing or maybe by hanging the racquet right behind you. The serve gets a lot of power with the dynamically moving body parts. If the body stops at any point in time then we would lose energy or power in the shot. The ‘bounce’ element is the best one to use while ensuring that the racquet is in motion and your arm is also loosened up before swinging the racquet.
This is the part best imagined and could be learned well by deploying a couple of rows of balls on the court. The first row is roughly around 45 degrees angle and the second row should be perpendicular to the net. This is something that will provide us with a mental image that how your arm with the racquet should move through the hitting part.
Pronation is a very common term that you could hear from the professional players and from the coaches through their coaching manual. This is a key to the proper serve technique. It is a type of movement of the arm which will enable you to increase the speed of the racquet while striking the ball.
The professional players do pronate while serving and a lot of beginners are seen struggling with this key aspect of serve. To achieve this, you need to have your hands right in the front of your body and the palms should be pointing at each other. Then, the forearm and the wrist should be rotated together so that your palm is in a position that faces the floor. Pronation is simply the motion of your arm. It is the motion of turning your palms away from you.
Tossing and Backswing
Once you have corrected and ensured all the above things then you need to get to the point of the initial position to serve. This is a part that combines the backswing with the toss as they both tend to happen simultaneously.
The toss is quite tricky at times to master and needs a lot of practice. As per the experts, the tossing should never be tried without doing it with the backswing. For tossing, you need to hold the ball right in the center of your hand. It is the position where your palm spreads into gingers. The thumb should be at the top of the ball placed very gently.
Tossing must always be done with a very straight arm using the shoulder joint only.
The ball release should be around the eye level and then ensure lifting the arm following the ball. As far as the backswing is concerned, then it must be a very relaxed swing in the backward direction. It should be in a way as if the racquet and the arm are a sort of a pendulum which you are swinging backward.
The tossing arm during this time moves up simultaneously just as the dominant arm swings up. One tricky thing here is that the tossing arm is a bit stiff as compared to the other arm as it is carrying the ball. The racquet should ideally be in a more diagonal position which could be ensured by bringing the racquet closer to the head. Then move the racquet a bit away from the head and that will put you in a nice trophy position to serve.
Serving needs to be done in two parts including steps 4 and 3 above. It means that we will be required to first do the tossing and backswing which would then be followed by the striking the ball part. You need to first get done with the tossing and backswing part. After that, catch the ball in your hand while you maintain your trophy position as mentioned in step 4 above.
Now, toss again from the same trophy position and complete the striking part. This comes with the drop and also a couple of swing paths. Keep on repeating this step with two parts until you get comfortable with this one. Make sure about one key thing that you can toss the ball comfortably while catching it back and not moving your feet. Moreover, discover your trophy position exactly where your bottom edge is right behind the head with no correction required.
The Power Move
This key power movement is something that you will initiate from your trophy position. It requires a couple of things to be ensured simultaneously. Your racquet needs to start dropping and your body needs to rotate or turn in the forward direction. If these couple of things are ensured at the same time then your main arm along with the racquet would start lagging.
A stretch will be created through the body that goes all across your chest, shoulder, and then down to the hip, which for right-handers will be the right hip. Just consider it like a huge rubber band that you stretch to the maximum. Now, this rubber band posture needs to get back into its actual state. This is exactly what you need to extract from your body. This stretching of your body and then enabling it to snap back generates a lot of racquet head speed. You will feel much stronger once you hit the ball for serve.
Useful tips from the Experts to Help You Serve Well in Tennis
- A lot of novice players are seen going with a forehand grip. This is a mistake that inhibits their ability to serve well wot to the real swing of the racquet. This impacts the swing of the racquet as well. The most effective grip is the “versatile grip” or the “shake-hand grip” as mentioned above.
- You may adjust or go with a particular type of service depending upon your study of the court and the playing conditions. A few types of serves that you could employ are a kick, flat, wide, slice, body, under-head, and T styles.
- If you are struggling with the timing and rhythm while serving then this could be controlled by slowing down the tempo initially. You can then buildup the motion to get into the acceleration part of the swing.
- You need to be very careful with the height of the racquet at the time of hitting the ball. It must not be too high and not too low either. For right-handers, the body gets slightly tilted on the left side so that the racquet is not raised too high.
- If you are on the clay court surface then you may look to maximize the higher bounce which will make the service quite challenging to return by the opponent. On the grass court, you can look for the slice serve. It will stay low and the opponent will find it tough to return as compared with any other technique you use.
- An often overlooked aspect to serve well is the warm-up. The novice players are seen struggling with their body motion and energy if they don’t warm up themselves. You may think about a few specific tennis-related drills along with a light cardio workout on the court. Make sure that your stretch as well after a warmup or you may pull your hamstrings.
- If you are practicing then it will be great to have an opponent at the other end of the court rather than just serving to nobody. This will help you to know that how challenging your service is for the opponent and how the return shot is played. This is key to improving your serve during practice sessions.
Serving in tennis is the key to get into the motion and lays the foundation of the rally that you have in the game. In professional tennis, one could very easily see that the player with the service in the set is always an advantage as he or she has more control over the rally. This requires you to master the art of service if you want to dominate in the game.
We have skimmed out six key elements to serve well. All these elements look at the minute aspects that will allow you to be in a position to serve at your maximum potential. If you follow all the given steps above as intended then you will have more power and accuracy in your serve.
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