Tennis Serve Technique for Setting the Tone

Tennis serve technique is important to master because you need to hold your service game in order to have a chance to win the set and match. If you win the toss you could choose to receive, so that you can work your way into the match. The other player may falter, especially if nerves are a factor.

The players today can hit huge serves. Andy Roddick (retired), Ivo Karlovic, and John Isner have big serves that can win matches. You can study their serve stats to get an idea of the importance of this shot to their game. Their holding serve is almost a given, so they can concentrate on breaking their opponent. However, sometimes these players rely so much on this shot that other parts of their game never fully develop, i.e., ground strokes.

The higher your contact point the greater margin for error, so jump into the court. The further into the court you hit the ball the more speed you can generate. The most important thing is to get everything to fire correctly. This happens as your ankles, knees, hips, shoulders, arm, and wrist uncoil in the right way.

A videotape can help a player see how the uncoiling process is working. You can also hear the “pop” on the ball when it is struck properly. A “heavy” ball is produced when everything fires just right. The ball tends to push back the opponent when it is hit like this.

There are different variations of the serve. The first serve is more flat or with a little spin to add a bit of margin. This margin helps the players get a higher percentage in. The second serve can have more slice or top spin to give more clearance over the net. The ball may move slower, but it should jump a bit more at the opponent.

Even if you hit a great serve, make sure you get ready in case your opponent hits it right back at you. Hopefully he’ll hit a short or weak ball that you can hit and put him on the defensive. Hitting a high percentage of first serves will ensure you get more opportunities to win points. This shot starts each point, so it's important to practice (and to work on your return).

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