How To Hit A Serve Like A Pro
Knowing how to hit a serve like a pro begins by understanding that every tennis match starts with a serve, whether it's basic, topspin or slice. Mastering these techniques and learning how to hit a serve like a pro is an integral part of your game. With a little practice and some direction, your serve can be a deciding game shot and set the tone for the rest of the set.
Every serve starts with a basic stance. Plant your feet approximately shoulder width apart behind the baseline. For a beginner, you should be about a foot behind the line to avoid a fault, but for more experienced players know that your feet can cross the line only after the strings of your racket leave the ball. Position your body sideways in relation to the court, feet parallel to your shoulders. This basic stance can be varied depending on the type of serve you're hitting, but it will serve as your baseline service stance. Keep your knees soft so as to be more reactive, and to aid in adding power from your lower body to your serve.
- Use a continental grip to ensure power and accuracy. Lift the racket behind your body in what is called the "back scratch" position as you toss the ball in the air. One of the most important parts of any professional serve is consistency. Your ball toss should be the same every time. Try practicing by placing a spot on the ground in front of you, approximately where you would swing, and just toss the ball from your service stance, consistently hitting that spot. It will keep your serve consistent, allowing you to better aim and control your serve. As you lift the ball into the air for service, simultaneously bring the racket back far enough behind you to "scratch your back." Release the ball as your racket hits its apex, letting the ball rise slightly into the air, and bringing the racket to meet the ball as it begins its descent. Remember not to throw the ball into the air, rather bring the ball up, and simply release it. Inertia will give it slight lift as your racket comes back to swing, and gravity will bring it to the perfect position for your swing.
Just before your racket hits the ball, be aware of the positioning of your wrist. The angle of your wrist will determine the aim of the ball. Make sure the racket head points exactly where you want the ball to go. If you are a taller player, above about 6 feet tall, you may need to hit the ball on more of a downswing to make sure it hits the court in bounds, and if you are a shorter player, you may want to hit straight forward and let gravity bring the ball down.
- Be sure to get into a solid return stance as soon as you launch your serve. Your serve puts you on the offensive from the get go, and you want to be in a position to maintain that control over the course of the ball and the match. As soon as you serve, get into your soft knee stance, facing the net and your opponent, with your eyes on the ball, and adjust your grip as necessary.
Once you've got your serve down, practice it over and over again. One of the most important parts of learning how to hit a serve like a pro is consistency. If you serve the same way every time, this allows you to tweak your motions and correct small mistakes, improving your overall game. Once you have a consistent serve that you are happy with, experiment with different types of spin for ball control, and work on your stance to bring more power to your serve. Good luck, and have fun!