The serve is often regarded as the most important shot in tennis since it marks the start of every point and, if well executed, can dictate how well it goes. However, it happens to also be regarded as the most difficult shot to execute, mainly due to the high level of coordination required (tossing ball above head, moving both arms differently, getting legs in the right position, jumping toward the ball...).
Here are four things you can do today to start improving your serve.
1. Go continental and keep it simple to start: If you just started learning the serve, make sure to hold the racket in a neutral or continental grip – basically like a hammer. If you already learned to serve and do not hold the racket like that, take the time to learn to hit a serve like that. This is the foundation that will take your serve to new heights in the near future. Trust us!
2. Make sure you have the right stance: Your feet should always start at shoulder-width apart – with your front foot just behind the baseline and your front hip pointing to the net – so you have a good balanced base and the right position to allow your whole body to work toward generating power.
3. Get your ball toss consistent: The ultimate goal here is to consistently be able to toss the ball up above your head with a straight arm. If your toss tends to go all over the place, you can forget about training any other aspect of your serve. One very effective exercise is to place your racket on the ground aligned and directly in front of your front foot, tossing the ball and letting it bounce to see if you can get it to land on the strings of the racket.
4. Learn to pronate: This is the key to creating speed, and later how to diversify your serve. The serve is nothing more than a type of throwing motion and, as you throw your racket up towards the ball, the edge of the racket frame should lead, with pronation accomplished just before you hit the ball as you turn your arm and wrist turn outward to make contact with the strings.