The Tennis Serve is considered the most important shot in the game! It is also complicated and therefore should get a lot of attention in your practice sessions!
Here we will take a quick look at some of the best service motions in the game and then I will show you some drills that can help improve your serve!
Like with any tennis stroke there are physical laws at play and therefore the best service motions in the world have many fundamental things in common.
Check out this comparison of Federer and Sampras and think about what the motions have in common!
Pete and Roger both have incredibly effective serves. Pete’s serve is often considered the best in the history of the game. Studies have shown that it is the combination of speed and spin that distinguish his serve from many others.
Both Pete and Roger have service motions that make it very hard to read where the serve is going!
Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the video on Youtube but the BBC showed a clip last year at Wimbledon where they put two of Roger?s serves over another, one being a first serve down the middle and the other a first serve out wide.
What the clip showed was that the only difference in the motion was the racket angle right before contact and through contact. All the other body positions were identical and that is what makes Roger?s serve so hard to read and return!
Here are some commonalities of great servers:
- A fluid continuous motion
- A deep racket drop position
- A ball toss way out into the court
- A loose arm
- Upper body coiling
Tennis Serve Drills
Drill #1: Serve From Behind The Baseline
Serving anywhere from 3-6feet or even further behind the baseline is a great drill to improve anybodies serve! When you step up to the line and look into the box where you want to serve you are essentially aiming downwards. Yet in order to hit down on a serve you have to be something like 6 feet 7 or even taller. Therefore most people make the mistake of hitting down on the ball too much on the serve. When you serve from behind the baseline you force yourself to hit up on the ball more and therefore this is a great drill for any tennis player! Try hitting at least 20 serves from this distance and then go back to serving from the baseline!
Drill #2: Use Air Targets When Serving
Another great way to get rid off hitting down on the ball too much is to put up air targets or something like an empty tennis ball can on a stick above the net where you would like to hit your serve. This way you focus on a target point above the net and not down in the box which should help you staying more upright when serving!
Drill #3: Service Line Bounce Drill
In this drill you hit serves and try to bounce them on the service line on your own side of the court! The goal is to bounce them as high as possible and see how far they get on the other side of the court. Pro players with big serves can often bounce the ball over the back fence on the other side! Internal rotation and pronation are very important to develop a good serve. (See my technique video series for detailed explanations) This drill will help you improve those areas of your serve!
Drill #4: Make Your Serve Unreadable
In this drill you toss the ball up for a first serve and then you have a partner call out when the ball is in the air where you should hit it. Your partner could call out middle, wide, or body for example. If you don’t have a partner simply toss it up and decide when the ball is in the air; just make sure you don’t cheat yourself. The goal is to develop the same ball toss for all first serves so that your serve will be tough to read!
I hope these drills help you on your way to a better serve!
Any great tennis stroke is based on good mechanics. In my upcoming technique video series I will show step by step how anybody can develop a great serve!