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Andy Roddick serving a tennis ball.

3 Simple Tips for a Better Tennis Serve

07/09/2014, 6:00am PDT
By Kelvin Cech

Push your most important shot to the next level.


The calm before the storm.

In tennis, the calm is the short silence the moment before you serve the ball.

Get your shot right, and you’ll stay dry while your opponent gets drenched in the torrential downpour. Miss, and you’ll be spending the night outside.

This might be exaggerating slightly, but training your mind to maximize each shot is half the battle in tennis. 

Plus, have you ever felt like you can just never seem to gain the upper hand? As though your opponent has some sort of secret weapon preventing you from scoring consecutive points?

Let’s talk about ways to improve your serve.

First, ask yourself:

  • Is your serve landing where you want it to?
  • Are you noticing a steady increase in power and control in your serve?
  • After you serve, are you prepared for your opponent’s return shots?

If you answered no to any of the questions above, then it’s time to pump some life into your tennis serve. Here’s 4 easy ways to do it. 

1. The Trophy Position

Andy Roddick’s famous 150 mile per hour serve might be a tad bit unattainable, but the position he delivers it from is one we can easily copy. 

  1. from a power position, toss the ball and point your tossing hand at the ball in the air
  2. keep your eyes on the ball and lean your trunk back so the ball is in line with your shoulders
  3. point with your attacking elbow and whip your racquet forward

There’s no universally accepted perfect serve position that works for everyone, but borrowing tactics from the best players on earth will give you an idea of what will work specifically for you.

2. Serve The Ball Again & Again (& Again)

Like any sport, solid techniques are just habits that are instantly remembered when the pressure is on. Tennis is a very demanding sport mentally - it can be tough to place your serve in just the right spot in the heat of the moment. It’s even tougher if you’re not totally comfortable with your serve.

Practice your serve. On your own, with a buddy or during lessons. Just like shooting the puck in hockey, the serve depends largely on muscle memory. Get comfortable with the trophy position, get your technique down and then drill it into your head so that when the time comes, your serve will come naturally.

It’s also tough to serve the ball and watch the net at the same time. Ever wonder about the routine tennis players go through before they serve? This routine helps trigger the muscles memory they’ve trained in practice. The world’s best tennis players could probably serve the ball with a blindfold on because they instinctively know where the ball is going once it leaves their racquet. 

Sure, it takes a long time for a skill to become a habit, but if we agree that the serve is the most important shot in tennis, then it’s the serve that you should be concentrating on.

3. Toss The Ball Higher

There’s two sides to this tip. One, tossing the ball higher will give you a physical advantage:

  • better angle at the net
  • more power required in the lower body will transfer more power to the shot

… and a mental advantage. A higher toss means you have to jump higher to hit the ball, which represents a deliberate effort to improve. No matter where you toss the ball, you still need to follow through and point to your target, but serving from just a little higher in the air tomorrow might seem uncomfortable at first, but will become natural over time. 

And, therefore, your new standard of play will improve because of one small adjustment.

Which is what sports are all about, right?


Have you registered for the Summer Smash yet? August 10 - 14, put your new and improved serve to the test!

Register Here ->


photo credit: Marianne Bevis via photopin cc

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Tag(s): Home  Tennis  Fitness