How To Serve In Tennis

When playing tennis, the serve is arguably the most important tool for any tennis player to have at their disposal.

How to Serve in Tennis

Each and every single point begins with a serve, and if you’re looking to put pressure on your opponent, a powerful and accurate serve will do wonders for your game. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the serve is one of the most demanding shots in tennis. An effective tennis serve not only requires power and coordination, it also requires technical ability, perfect body alignment, good knowledge of the game itself, and steady nerves. Put simply, serving in tennis is not easy.

Thankfully, we have a solution. Below are several steps which, if followed properly, will make serving one of the most powerful weapons in your tennis arsenal.

Male Tennis Player Preparing to Serve

Serve Stance and Posture

To begin with, if you really want to ensure that serving becomes one of the strongest aspects of your game, you need to work on your stance and posture. Depending on your size and mobility levels, your feet should be one–two feet apart. They should not, however, be any wider than shoulder-width apart.

Put your weight on either your front or back foot, depending on which is most comfortable and most natural to you. The most important thing is that you are stable and balanced. Your front foot should be pointing toward the net, whereas the toes of your rear foot should be pointing toward the heel of your front foot. This will ensure you maintain good balance in a number of different directions.


Grip For The Tennis Serve

A good grip is also vital when serving. Try to grip the racquet using a continental grip, unless you are new to tennis, in which case you should opt for an Eastern forehand grip (imagine shaking hands with the racquet). The racquet should also be held in your dominant hand.

Tennis Ball Toss

Ball Toss

One of the keys to a great serve is the ball toss. Master this step, and you’re already more than halfway toward an epic serve. With the racquet in your dominant hand, the ball should be in your weaker hand behind you, at finger level. You will next perform what is known as a ‘first move’. Here, you’ll turn your shoulder slightly, with your tossing arm just ahead of your serving arm. Your tossing arm should remain straight, with your serving arm bent slightly.

Now, grip the ball loosely with your fingertips, ensuring your wrist is neutral as you let go of the ball to release it. Toss the ball from your shoulder, keeping your body as stationary as you can. Try not to move any part of your anatomy, other than your tossing arm at this moment.

Tennis Trophy Pose

Trophy Pose

After the toss, you’ll now need to bring your racquet into the mix. This is where you need to adopt the ‘trophy pose’. After tossing the ball, slowly bring your racquet upwards, shifting your body weight forwards onto your front foot, by bringing the hips forwards.

With the ball at its highest point, your tossing arm should now point straight into the air at the ball, with your left shoulder higher than your right shoulder as you lean back as if you’re throwing the racquet as far as you can. The racquet’s handle should be down, while the head should be pointing up.


Striking the Ball

Now, bring your striking elbow forward to drive the head of the racquet so that it meets the ball. Your tempo at the start of the strike should be slow and controlled. You’ll then build momentum gradually, building up more and more swing for the duration of the shot. Aim your body in the direction of your opponent and make contact with the ball. This will usually happen when the ball is slightly above your dominant shoulder.

You can hit different types of serve (more on those another time) but the important thing is to ensure that your arm is always extended fully. Try to accelerate the racquet into the ball. The goal here is to ensure that the ball explodes off of the strings cleanly and powerfully. You want maximum impact at the peak of the contact point.

Fernando Verdasco Finishing His Serve Movement

The Finish

Though you’ve struck the ball, the serve isn’t quite over yet. As you fall forward, balance yourself by catching your weight on your right leg. Your rear leg will remain high. Your racquet should end its journey on the left of your body, with your right shoulder fully forwards.