Some quick tips to improve your tennis serve

Tip 1: Focus on the ball toss

It’s obvious to say it, but a good ball toss is one of the most crucial parts of any serve – without an accurate, good toss your serve is set up to fail.

Try to throw the ball to the exact same spot every time, and make sure to toss it high enough so that you have plenty of time to prepare for your shot – but not so high that you’re unable to control it.

Actually, it’s worth mentioning that the height of the toss is a really important factor – if you think about it, it’s logical that the further away from you the ball gets, the harder it is to control its position. So the optimum toss distance is a) high enough to allow you time to prepare for the swing, but also b) low enough not to lose control over placement and speed. It’s a balancing act, and one that takes thousands of throws to perfect.

Also, pay attention to the direction of your toss in relation to you and your opponent, and make sure it is consistent with the direction you want the ball to go in (this also makes sense really). This will help you to achieve consistency in your serve and make it easier to control the precise placement of the ball on the court.

Tip 2: Harness the natural power of your legs

Your legs contain the biggest muscle in your body (the gluteus maximus), and true service power is derived from your legs, so it’s important to use them in the correct manner to generate maximum serving force. When serving, try to deliberately and consciously push off the ground with your legs (aka jump!) to transfer all of that kinetic energy into your racket and the ball. This will help you hit the ball with controlled power and speed, and will also help maintain good balance and control.

Tip 3: Remember your elbow

In a good serve, your elbow should be pointing at an upward angle when you hit the ball – as this will help generate topspin and ensure that the ball clears the net and lands firmly in the court.

Take time to study pictures and videos of pro players serving and you’ll see the elbow angle that I’m talking about. Our Tennis Serve Analysis section is a good place to start.

Keeping your elbow up will also help generate power and will allow you to control the direction of your serve. To do this, try to keep your elbow as close to your body as possible when you swing, and make sure to extend it upward as you make good contact with the ball.

Tip 4: Always, always follow through

This goes for pretty much every swing or strike in tennis. After striking the ball, be sure to follow through with your swing. This will help you put more power and spin on the ball, and will again also help maintain your balance and control. In fact, all of these technique tips will help with balance and control. To do this, try to extend your arm and finish with your palm facing upward.

Practice makes perfect (especially true for serving in tennis)

As with anything, practice is key to improving your serve.

Try to incorporate serve practice into your regular routine and focus on refining your technique. Consciously think about each of the four tips above – your toss, your legs, your elbow and the follow-through. Practice hitting serves with a focus on each of these four elements individually. Also try different amounts of power and spin, and aim to hit specific targets on the court to improve your accuracy.

As you improve, you’ll be able to think more about the placement of your serve, so that you can hit different parts of the court and keep your opponent guessing.

By practicing regularly and focusing on the details of your serve, you can gradually improve your technique and become a more accomplished server. Good luck, and keep it up!

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