Tips for tennis serve are very popular. The serve is one of the most difficult shots in tennis. Even the world-class players have difficulties nowadays to play one valid attempt out of 2 into the field. However, the serve is one of the most important strokes in tennis. With a good serve, I can score free points without the opponent coming to play back. That can save me a lot of energy during the match. But conversely, the serve can also cost entire matches. If my serve is too weak, I can be attacked and come under pressure immediately afterward. If I make double faults, I even give points to my opponent. Therefore, it is important to master the serve.
In this article, I will give you 5 tips on how to improve your serve and how to go into a match with a good feeling in the future – without fear of double faults.
This is what you can expect from this blog post:
1. Concentrate first on the second serve, then on the first serve
2. Focus on the ball toss
3. Imagine the serve like a movie
4. Get used to rituals
5. Be sure to practice independently, outside your training session
Tip 1: Concentrate first on the second serve, then on the first serve
Of course, it’s fun to score free points with the serve. An ace – that’s the dream of every tennis beginner. However, if you have just started playing tennis, or if you have been playing tennis for some time but don’t have a good serving technique yet, I recommend you to concentrate on the second serve.
Playing the second serve well is more important than scoring points with the first serve, because:
- If you can play it safely, you avoid the worst of all shots: The double fault
- If you can place it well, you avoid playing on the stronger side of the opponent. This is usually the forehand. With the backhand, the opponent can’t put you under pressure so easily
- If you can play it in different variations, your second serve is also not easy to attack. If you master the topspin serve (kick serve), your serve provides a high bounce. This is harder for the return player to play back and much more unpleasant
This results in the characteristics of a good second serve. A second serve
- Has a hit rate of over 95%
- Has a good length
- Can be well-placed
- Can be played in different spin variations (topspin, slice, flat)
So start with the second serve. When you have a good feeling on it, you can always improve and try to score with the first serve. You can improve your serve with a variety of drills. In the video of Michael Kreuzer (A-Diplomtrainer and former coach instructor of the Hessian Tennis Association) and me called “Tennis Technique Training: Module Serve” we show you how to play the serve with topspin and slice like the pros and how you can learn it.
Tip 2: Focus on the ball toss
For many players, the ball toss is the most difficult part. The ball toss provides the foundation for a successful serve. If you have problems throwing the ball consistently, this is where you should focus your efforts. Without a good ball toss, you will not be able to execute your serve in the optimal stroke sequence. You may find yourself in a state of imbalance. But beware of thinking you can throw the ball to the same spot every time. Even the world-class players sometimes have 30-40 cm difference in their ball toss. No signature you can make the same, and no ball you can throw exactly the same. Therefore, it is important that you can throw the ball continuously in a certain range.
Enclosed, I will give you a few tips for tennis serve on how to improve your ball toss:
- Try to stay loose in your arm. If you are tense, you will have too much dispersion in the ball toss
- Never set a ground target. What is important is what happens above your head. For example, throw the ball high, and try to catch it again with your left arm extended, without having to adjust much from your legs
- Throw the ball up a fence/wall and try to stay as parallel to it as possible
- Throw the ball up with your left hand and try to catch the ball above your head with a stroke motion.
In our video, Michael shows you even more drills you can use.
Tip 3: Imagine the serve like a movie
If you have been playing tennis for a while, you know it: The fear of the double fault. Even the top players make double faults. However, if you make an above-average number of double faults, it is often due to your mental aspect as well as your technique. But how can you overcome the fear of double faults?
I recommend you to try the following:
- Go into yourself a little bit before you serve, initiate a concentration phase
- Stand at the line and close your eyes for a moment
- Now think about the most important things that you want to work through, one after the other. Start, ball toss, upper body rotation, stretching towards the ball, swing out. Think of this process like a short film being played. This movie is your serve.
- After you serve, rewind the film and start over.
You will see that your serve will become more and more fluid and harmonious. You will therefore also play more without faults, which will benefit your serve. Be sure to take your time after each serve. Don’t hit the serves like on an assembly line, but always stroke by stroke.
Tip 4: Get used to rituals
I already described it in point 3: Concentration on the serve is absolutely a key point for a successful serve. Therefore, I recommend that you get used to rituals. Do you remember Raphael Nadal’s ritual before serving? The tugging of the pants, the sweatband left / right, the tapping of the ball – sometimes up to 20 times. It all belongs to his concentration phase. It is the prelude to playing his film.
What are the benefits of rituals in tennis, especially when serving?
The same process always strengthens your safety. And you need safety for a good and targeted serve.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you have a concentration phase yourself?
- How many times do you tap the ball on the ground?
- How much time do you allow yourself before the serve starts?
Try to find your suitable ritual for yourself and your serve will improve.
Tip 5: Be sure to practice independently, outside your training session
The nice thing about serve is that you can memorize it. The serve is the only ball in tennis that always starts the same way, always from the same starting position. Therefore, you can practice it wonderfully independently. I still remember when I was a little boy. My father had bought me a bucket of balls. I grabbed this in my free time and went to the tennis court alone. There I did 500 serves, one at a time. Try to practice the serve with your coach outside of training. In a normal practice session, you will never do the number of serves needed to consolidate technique and stroke flow.
Here are a few tips for tennis serve on how you can practice serving on your own:
- Try to set a fixed number of serves and how many balls you want to hit into the field. E.g. “I serve 10 times and try to hit 7 balls”. If you have reached your goal, try to hit more balls in the next attempt.
- Create target zones. If you’re not that solid yet, divide the service field into two areas. Are you better, divide the service field into four areas. If you are a professional, divide the service field into 4 areas. Then try to hit the target with the method from tip 1
- When practicing the topspin serve (kick serve), create a target area behind the baseline. Try to add enough spin and length to the serve so that the serve lands in the back area after the first bounce.
In the video Tennis Technique Training: Module Service, Michael explains everything to you in detail, so I definitely recommend watching the video.
Those were my top tennis serve tips. Always remember: The serve is the opening of the game and therefore one of the most important, if not the most important shot in tennis. If you don’t bring your serve over the net and into the right field, your opponent won’t even be able to hit. I wish you good luck with your practice!