The serve is one of the most important things to get right in tennis. It’s your chance to set the pace of the game and puts you in control of the ball’s trajectory. Here are techniques for perfecting your serve.
1. Keep Calm
You set the speed. This means that you can bounce the tennis ball once or twice prior to serving to get any nerves under control. Keeping your breathing under control through the game is also helpful. Before you serve, take a couple of seconds to focus on what you’re doing to get into the zone.
2. Check Your Grip
Your grip on the tennis racquet handle should be loose so can move it properly with your wrist as it strikes the ball. Always keep your wrist, elbow and shoulder relaxed and loose, too. Depending on the type of serve, you will need to adjust your grip, but the handle of the racquet and your wrist need room to move through the serve.
3. Stand in the Correct Position
A proper stance puts power in your shot while improving accuracy and follow-through. Being in the right starting position allows you to move from your service stance quickly so you can return shots.
4. Get the Toss Right
When you throw the ball up, use your thumb and forefinger to prevent it from spinning before you hit it. Raise both hands at the same time and also let them fall at the same speed before you strike the ball. This makes it easier for you to keep your balance and lines you up better for the shot.
5. Strike Properly
Don’t serve the ball off of your racquet too early. Instead, allow the momentum of your body and your racket to give some speed to the ball before it’s released. This means hitting through the ball as much as possible. Snap your wrist as you hit the ball so that it goes up and out.
6. Keep Your Eye on the Ball
Whether during service, as you strike it to your opponent or on any returns, watch the ball. This means always keeping your head up, focusing on the tennis ball and following it.
7. Keep Moving
After you’ve served, always stay moving. The more you practice changing direction and staying on the balls of your feet, the easier it will be to react to shots and hit them back. Always follow the ball and adjust your weight, center of gravity and balance to give you the best chance returning it.
8. Practice Makes Perfect
Practice every aspect of your serve as much as possible. This includes the toss, the hit, positioning and being ready to move off as soon as the ball is served.
Serving well and consistently is vital to playing a good game of tennis and providing a challenge for your opponent. A combination of focus, practice, understanding techniques and constructive feedback from a trainer or fellow tennis player will help.