Tennis players of all levels periodically struggle with their serve. If you watch a lot of tennis you can see these struggles at the high school level, the collegiate level, the weekend warrior level and the professional level.
When a player is serving well, it can elevate his or her game.
Conversely, if he or she is serving poorly, it can negatively impact their confidence, their focus and the rest of their game.
Serves can be erratic, since there is a lot involved in generating and producing an effective serve.
For starters, the toss is very important. Players need to get the ball into the right spot on a frequent and regular basis. For many players this is between eleven o’clock and one o’clock.
Rick Macci, the world famous tennis coach who I have had the pleasure to interview several times, reminds tennis players to get their toss along side and above their right ear if they are right handed and along side and above their left ear if they are left handed.
Seeing the ball hit your racket is another important key to having a good serve.
Being able to hit several different kinds of serves like a flat serve, a kick serve and a slice serve is very useful.
Maintaining one’s rhythm, and balance is also very important when serving a tennis.
Keeping you head up as your strike the ball and keeping it up through the stroke is another factor for players to keep in their minds when they are about to start the tennis point.
Macci also noted the importance of utilizing the legs to generate power in one’ serve.
Mr. Macci also reminded players to have their feet pointed to the sideline when they get ready to serve in tennis.
Once you learn the mechanics of hitting the serve, it is useful to have a mental routine to go along with your service routine and motion.
Here is a simple method which many players have found helpful.
1. Walk up to the line confidently.
2. Take a deep breath and inhale relaxation, confidence,focus and enjoyment. Exhale and let go of any anxiety, self doubt, distraction or worry.
Take a few more breaths if necessary.
3. Pick the spot you want to serve to and zero in on getting the ball to that spot. If you like, you can color your target spot with your favorite color.
Some players like a target the size of a magazine cover. Others like a target somewhat larger. Experiment to find out what is the right kind of image for you to focus on when you serve.
4. Bounce the ball from one to four times to find your rhythm. Some players bounce once for relaxation, once for confidence, and once for focus.
5. Make sure your arm and your wrist remains loose and flexible throughout your stroke.
6. See the sky and the ball when you make contact.
For a comprehensive program on having a killer serve and getting mentally tough, check out this program.
Dr. Jay Granat