Coaching Tip - December 2009

The Serve - use it to your advantage!

    The Serve is the most important tennis stroke:
  • it is used to start every point in a tennis match
  • it is the only stroke where you have complete control

  • The Basic Serve
  • The action of the serve is basically a throwing action
  • Regular practice in both throwing a tennis ball and serving will develop your serving action and confidence to hit the serve correctly

    Many coaches allow their pupils to serve initially using the forehand grip resulting in flat serves. However, when learning to serve you should use the continental or hammer grip to develop spin and power

    The ready position for the basic serve is as follows for a right hander (use the reverse for a left hander):
  • Stand in sideways position with feet shoulder width apart; left (front) foot pointing to the right net post and right (back) foot parallel with the baseline
  • Start with racquet (right hand) and ball (left hand) together pointing towards the desired service box
  • While maintaining balance move both hands down together then separate with the ball hand moving forward and out towards the net as the racquet hand moves back behind your body towards the fence
  • During this movement your shoulders should turn with the right shoulder moving back to help you get side on to allow the rotation of shoulders while serving
  • The ball is then placed in the air at the end of a straight left arm as the right arm gets into the throwing or loaded position

  • Contact Point
  • The ball should be placed at a height just above your full stretch; i.e. just above your outstretched arm and tennis racquet
  • The ball should be hit when it is almost stationary just before it starts to drop due to gravity
  • The position of the ball should be in about the twelve o'clock position on a imaginary clock in front of you

  • Serving Action
  • Your right arm or serving arm should be in the throwing or loaded position prior to hitting the serve
  • Keep your left arm or ball hand up; this is known as the trophy position
  • Reach up as you hit the ball
  • Accelerate the racquet head at the ball in a throwing action
  • Hit the ball at its highest point before it starts to drop
  • Follow through with the swing across your body
Recover and balance after the serve to get ready for the next shot.

Practice to improve your serve so that it becomes a weapon.

Once you master the basic serve you are ready to introduce spin such as topspin and slice as a variation to your serving game.

The use of the knee bend and footwork such as the jump or step forward methods can improve your serving technique immensely.

Look out for these developments in my future tennis tips

Contact Steve if you have any queries regarding this tip 'The Serve'