By: Andrew S. Rosz
South Florida Professional
Tennis Instruction, USA
- Using an inappropriate serve relative to your ability or experience level.
- Hitting a second serve as a direct shot.
- Rushing to put the ball in play.
- Relying too heavily on the serve.
- Charging the net before the service motion is complete.
- Serve-and-volleying on a weak serve.
- Rushing the service motion.
- Hitting down on the serve.
- Serving with an incompletely extended hitting arm at impact.
- Tossing the ball with a parabolic flight.
- Tossing with two balls in hand.
- Hitting an ascending toss.
- Hitting a descending toss.
- Foot faulting.
TECHNIQUES OF PROPER TOSS
- Decide on which service strategy to use. You have 20 seconds to put the ball in play;
- Emphasize the accuracy of the toss.
- Develop a ritual to bring both your tossing arm and your hitting arm to a hanging,
motionless service ready position.
- Give attention to properly positioning your feet on each and every serve.
- Toss with only one ball in hand.
- Rotate the tossing arm open before you begin the toss.
- Maintain a fully extended, open tossing arm throughout the entire toss.
- Release the ball with your thumb as your tossing arm becomes parallel to the ground.
- Move your eyes directly from your opponent, to the ball up high.
- The toss should go only as high as your fully extended reach.
- Complete the tossing motion by fully extending the tossing arm upward after the release.
TECHNIQUES OF PROPER SERVICE MOTION
- Emphasize the flight of the ball on all first serves.
- Emphasize proper service form on all second serves.
- The flight of the ball on all second serves resembles a parabola.
- Begin the service motion from a motionless position.
- The hitting arm always gets a head start over the tossing arm.
- Raise the elbow of the hitting arm to shoulder height on the backswing motion.
- Continue the service backswing to a motionless coiled position.
- Accelerate smoothly using a two-step stroke.
- Hit the ball as it reaches its highest point of the toss and becomes motionless.
- Watch the ball hit your strings (watch impact).
- Maintain a firm wrist at impact.
- Hit UP (not down) on the ball at impact.
- Hit the ball with an awareness of racket pitch at impact.
- Impact occurs with your hitting arm fully extended upward.
- Hit the serve from a balanced position.
- Fold the tossing arm across your abdomen as the hitting arm begins the follow-through.
- Follow-through completely with your elbow up.
- Check your grip after each and every serve.
- Recover quickly back to the ready position to await your opponent's return.
SPECIAL EMPHASIS TECHNIQUES
Note: The special emphasis techniques for the serve employ both toss techniques and
service motion techniques. The lists below simply refer to them as "T" and
"SM" techniques respectively.
- First Serve... SM1, T2, SM9
- SM1.. Emphasize the flight of the ball on all first serves.
- T2... Emphasize the accuracy of the toss.
- SM9.. Hit the ball as it reaches its highest point of the toss and
- Second Serve... SM2, T2, SM12
- SM2. . Emphasize proper service form on all second serves.
- T2... Emphasize the accuracy of the toss.
- SM12. Hit UP (not down) on the ball at impact.
- Ball toss exercise. Practice the toss by allowing the ball to hit the ground. That is,
do not hit the ball with your racket; let the ball fall to the ground near your feet. As a
general rule, a good toss should bounce approx. 18 inches directly in front of your foot
closest to the baseline. The toss should go straight up and fall straight down. Avoid a
parabolic flight on your toss. Remember, toss with only one ball in hand, rotate your arm
open, keep it open and fully extended, and gently release the ball with your thumb.
Practice this exercise extensively.
- Serve down the alley. Using a bucket of balls, stand in the alley of your choice and
practice serving down the middle of the alley. This exercise will help you learn to hit
the ball straight. This is an excellent exercise for developing good racket pitch
awareness skills on your serve.
- Become familiar with the service court target points. Place a tennis ball can on each of
the three service court target points in the deuce service court. Using a bucket of balls,
practice serving at one can exclusively until you knock it down. Then aim for the next
can. After you have knocked down all three cans, repeat the exercise in the ad service
- The "Serve-Return" exercise. As a non-competitive exercise, one player serves
for 30 minutes while the other player hits returns. If both players elect, play each point
out. This is an excellent exercise for developing serve-and-volley skills.
- The "Butterfly" serve. For absolute newcomers to the serve, the butterfly
serve is an effective way to learn to coordinate the tossing arm with the hitting arm. In
this exercise, both tossing arm and hitting arm begin moving together. Hold the ball next
to the throat of the racket at waist high level. Drop both arms together and then raise
them both together. On their way back up, the tossing arm tosses the ball, and the hitting
arm prepares to hit the serve. The motions resemble a "W" (or a
"butterfly" if you use your imagination).
A WORD OF GOOD ADVICE
Learn to perfect your second serve before emphasizing first service technique. This
simply means, learn to master ALL the techniques presented in this lesson before trying to
apply ANY of them in an offensive first service situation. Read this often to make sure
you understand the message... it's a very important one.
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