The purpose behind tennis serve training is to improve the tennis serve so that it becomes a dependable weapon under pressure.
The serve is widely regarded as the most important shot in tennis because it is the shot that begins every single point. If you have a good serve, you put pressure on your opponent to try to hold on to his or her service games because of the intimidation factor that your serve will pose.
If you are serving well, chances are, the rest of your game will also fall into place nicely. The serve is definitely a confidence building shot. With all these in mind, it becomes clear why you have to do tennis serve training.
The good thing is that the serve one shot in tennis that you can practice completely all by yourself. There is no need for any elaborate drill to get better doing this shot. In fact, the most basic and useful tennis serve training method is to take a basket with about 100 balls, get up on the baseline and practice serving over and over again. It has been widely recommended that you should do this every day.
The endurance of your serving muscles will also be developed this way. You should have the ability to serve just as hard at the end of a 3 hour match as you did in the first few minutes of the match.
Basic Tennis Serve Training Tips
Ideally, you should be practicing all kinds of serves. You should practice the flat, kick, twist and slice serve from both the deuce court and the ad court. You must also vary your placement to all areas of the service boxes.
Try to hit out wide by aiming up the side line, to the corners and to an approximate position that would theoretically jam the receiver. To facilitate your placement, you can use targets like cans of balls, cones or towels.
Tennis Serve Training on Technique
Use your tennis serve training sessions to remember the correct way of hitting each type of serve. All serves use the entire body from the feet all the way up to the wrist. The main differences among the different serves are the toss and the way you hit the ball. As such, you should practice tossing the ball to the right position for each type of serve.
To review, the toss for a flat serve is out in front. The toss for the slice serve is also out in front but slightly to the right for right handers. The toss for the kick or twist serve is above the head and slightly to the left for right handers.
In the flat serve, the ball is hit squarely from behind. In the slice serve, the strings brush down and around the right side of the ball. In the kick and twist serve, the strings brush up behind the ball and from left to right.
Tennis Serve Training on the Toss
Remind yourself constantly not to hit the ball on an errant toss because this leads to errors in form and technique. For example, if you are practicing a flat serve and your toss goes over your head, you will not get the proper forward momentum to hit the ball powerfully.
If you still proceed to hit this toss, you will end up with an uncoordinated motion that produces a serve lacking in power. Your body might remember this motion and you might have a tendency to do this even in a match.
Whenever you practice your serve, keep in mind a few tips so that once you play an actual match, you will be automatically applying these lessons. First, you should keep your arm loose and relaxed. Do not grip the racket too tightly.
Tennis Serve Training: Relaxation & Reducing Tension
Second, think about hitting fast instead of hard. The word ‘hard’ is associated with tension and effort. A really good serve should produce effortless power due to correct mechanics instead of brute muscle strength.
Third, inhale as you wind up and exhale as you hit the ball. This also helps in relaxing the arm muscles during the forward swing phase of the stroke. Fourth, keep your head up with your eyes focused on the ball.
Tennis Serve Training: Keeping a Stable Head Position
Do not pull your head down too soon and look at your target. Fifth, use a strong upward leg drive to launch up to the ball. Do not think about how high you should be jumping up at the ball. It should become an automatic part of your motion. Sixth, rotate as quickly as you can during the uncoiling phase of your motion. Seventh, try to maintain maximum racket head speed even after contact.
Tennis Serve Training to Increase Speed
If you want to increase your serve speed, you can add these drills as part of your tennis serve training. Firstly, it must be mentioned that the mind sometimes forms a barrier to hitting the ball hard.
You are afraid to hit the ball hard in a match because you think that the ball will go out and you will lose the point. In order to let go of this inhibition, try hitting a serve all the way to the back fence of the opposite court.
Adjusting your target will get your body more accustomed to using a faster and more powerful motion. Once you are able to hit this target, adjust accordingly so that you are aiming for the service boxes again. However, try as much as possible to keep using the same racket head speed.
Tennis Serve Training Using Shadow Swings
The second drill is to take an old racket and practice your service motion without a ball. However, instead of holding on to it after contact, go ahead and throw to your intended target at the opposite service box. The service motion is akin to a throwing motion. The only difference, obviously, is that you don’t actually throw the racket.
Tennis serve training is all about practice, practice and practice. There is simply no secret to developing a better serve other than to constantly practice it. However, there are some exercises that can be done in order to make your service motion smoother, more efficient and capable of producing more power.
Tennis Serve Training Exercises
These exercises should be incorporated into your general off court training routine. You can consider them as part of your tennis serve training regimen, but they are actually useful for all other strokes as well. These exercises are the following:
Tennis Serve Training Exercises For the wrist:
- Wrist curls
- Wrist extensions
- Forearm supination and pronation
Tennis Serve Training Exercises For the arm:
- Bicep curls
- Overhead tricep extensions
Tennis Serve Training Exercises For the shoulder:
- Overhead shoulder presses
- Lateral shoulder raises
- External rotations
- Internal rotations
Tennis Serve Training Exercise For the chest and upper body:
- Bench presses
- Cross over cable pulls
- Overhead medicine ball throw or slams to the ground
- Side medicine ball throws
- Over the back medicine ball throws
Tennis Serve Training Exercise For the core:
- Twisting crunches
- Standing trunk twists with medicine ball
- Back extensions on stability ball
Tennis Serve Training Exercise For the legs:
- Split squats
- Leg presses
- Side lunges
- Calf raises
- Squat jumps – this is a more advanced exercise used to develop greater power and should only be performed if the player already has a good foundation of lower body strength
- Squat thrusts
- Barbell powerlifting exercises – also an advanced exercise for developing power.
- Aside from strength, the service motion requires a flexible body. You should stretch your shoulders, wrists, arms (especially the triceps), and the trunk with twisting and bending stretches. Stretching is also a key to preventing injuries.
Tennis Serve Training to Develop an Efficient Serve Motion
Tightness in any joint or muscle group will compromise the efficiency of your service motion and result in hitches in the swing. These may start as small problems but gradually lead to bigger problems that can eventually break down your technique. Small injuries may develop into major ones if no proper strength and flexibility training is done.
Improving your serve also helps you to become mentally tougher, knowing that you can rely on this shot under pressure. The serve might just be your key to improving overall as a tennis player.
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