Having an effective serve is crucial in competitive tennis, since it’s the shot the sets the tone for the point to follow. Improving your serve enhances your ability to dictate how the points in your service game are played. Increasing the speed of your serve can make it a more dangerous weapon on the court. It’s important not to overlook other equally important facets of your service delivery when looking to improve.
Work on the placement. More important the power of your serve is its placement. An extremely fast serve that lands somewhere near the baseline or rips into the net is of no use. It only puts more pressure on your second serve. A slower serve that nestles inside the corner of the service box and spins away from your opponent’s racquet may be less flashy but is far more effective. Even if it is not an ace or service winner, it may give you the opportunity to come in and pick off an easy volley for a winner. Taking a little pace off your first serve for accuracy and a higher serve percentage will pay off in the long run.
Watch your feet. Your front foot should be planted firmly for the whole service motion. If you’re making slight adjustments during it, you run the risk of being off balance when hitting the ball. As you begin to raise your tossing arm and begin the wind up of the racquet arm, your weight will be on your back foot and we will transfer to the front foot as your serving motion progresses.
Watch the ball toss. It is important to try and keep your toss consistent. Unless you’re trying for a kick serve, where the toss will be slightly behind you make sure that the toss goes straight up in a direct line slightly in front of the area where your front foot is planted. Keep your eye on the ball and don’t make the mistake of altering the toss according to the direction you’re trying to serve in. Consistency is key to finding a rhythm on your serve.
Bend your knees. Bending the knees as you wind up for the serve will enable you to generate more power as you uncoil upwards and into your service motion. Reach up into the swing. Try to hit the ball at its highest point, making sure that you’re reaching up into the shot. Since your legs are bent, you have the capacity to propel your body into the serve. Remember, the higher the ball is when you hit it, the more power you’ll be able to create and the better the angle will be for bringing the ball down into the court.
Turn your shoulders. The rotation of your shoulders into the service determines the direction and accuracy of the delivery as well as supplying the power. Trying to create pace with your arm or wrist is a recipe for muscle strain and an inconsistent serve. As you reach for the ball, your racquet arm should be slightly lower than the tossing arm. As you swing to strike the ball, the rotation will bring the serving shoulder up and over and along with the push from your legs will give you the necessary power and direction for the shot.
Follow through. Although the forward motion of the racquet will vary a little depending on whether it’s a flat or a kick serve, the racquet should continue to move in an arc across your body at the end of the swing as you readjust your feet in preparation for the service return.