Serve Study

The serve is so critical in effective tennis it demands our continual attention. Easily over-complicated the stroke has so many coordinated elements yet must be repeated as naturally and consistent as throwing a ball. 

The serve should be practiced by even the most accomplished player. Discipline yourself to specially train the serve not merely warm up prior to matches. With your training partner practice locating and spinning serves while they practice their return play. Do so without playing out the point but serve 50-75 balls to each court in a slow steady rythmn. Your partner can tell you about the character of your ball while you practice. 
I’ve spent the past few months compiling training methods that have proven effective for serve development. These are a series of easy drills that help isolate elements of the serve. 

Muscle memory is the key. 

Spin Serve

Players succeed with an effective and dominating service game. 
Shot variety is critical in competitive tennis. Some example skill sets include; the flat serve, the slice serve, the kick serve, and the cut serve as well as the respective placement of those shots – master these and you win matches. 
The spin serves prove the most difficult for the learning player and requires much on-going training. 
Obviously the ball is struck with an angled racquet face but it gets so complicated to construct or describe. I’ve seen many attempts on video or in written form tell how to develop the spun serve yet all have fallen short. The instructors talk about the swing “feel” and cute training methods but it just doesn’t relate to most students. This is where most tennis development levels off – about 3.5 level.  
I’ll post some of the better links to what I consider constructive training methods this winter. Off season is the time to train an improving skill in your tennis game – especially the more challenging ones like a spin serve. 

P O W E R !

Learn control first with total command of ball placement and only then can you dominate with power. This philosophy is especially true in the service.

Here’s a tool to help you generate the necessary racket head speed to really whollop the ball: I call it the “Knuckle Hang.” Lower your semi-western grip on the racket such that your little finger is off the handle. It lengthens your racket by an inch or so plus adding to your”moment arm.” This grip also softens your hold allowing for snappier break at the top. 
I’ve seen this simple adjustment add such significant pace to players’ serves it changes their game profoundly. 

Second Serve Ad

This one serve is the most treacherous but one which ultimately determines the game.

As a second serve to the ad side it is usually the one on which players choke. Hit this softer, safer shot to the T and it’s a given winner to the receiver who can step up and boom a cross-court winning top spin. 

Train to place the second-serve ball to the body or to the backhand of the receiver. 
Keep working on attacking a dependable hard hit first serve only hit down the center when your opponent is anticipating an out wide shot or you know you can likely ace the play. 


Defending the Lob

A lob hit to your backhand court is a challenge for all players. The falling ball is almost impossible to return as a regular backhand because it exists in the sweet spot of your racket so briefly! 

These are two effective shots to field a lob :

The deep lob return 
Over head smash. 

The farther out to the corner the ball lands the less likely players can get completely under it to return an overhead.

A lob more toward the center of the baseline can be returned as a smash if it is falling from the lights. 

The fail many players make on these two strokes is hitting the return lob too shallow pulling opponents into mid court and overplaying the overhead as foul. 


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