A big serve is a huge weapon in tennis. In order to serve well, you need to
have reliable mechanics, an effective pre-serve routine and a range of different serves.
In addition, top servers know how to disguise their serve, so their opponent
can not determine what kind of serve is coming their way.
Furthermore, you need to understand the psychology behind serving well.
In my view there are two kinds of psychology related to serving. The
internal psychology and the external psychology.
The External Psychology
Serving in tennis is a lot like pitching in baseball. In order to be effective as a
pitcher, you need to master a variety of pitches and a variety of pitching locations.
A baseball pitcher needs to keep a batter guessing as to the location of the pitch,
the movement of the pitch and the location of the ball. These same concepts hold
true in tennis when the server needs to keep his or her adversary off balance, confused
and, when possible, guessing wrong.
A great server can move the ball around the serving box with different speeds,
different spins and with great disguise. Being able to serve down the middle,
out wide and into your opponents body makes you a tougher player. In addition,
if you can disguise your serve, you can create a lot pressure for your adversary.
Coming in behind your serve and attacking the net will also help to
guessing as to what you will do next and keep him or her off balance.
Adjusting Your Serve To Attack Your Opponent’s Body Type
In general, taller players have difficulty handling a serve into their body. Tall athletes
like to extend their arms on the ball, so a serve out wide or a serve down the middle
may be easier for them to return effectively, than is s a serve which jams them
Taller players also often find it hard to manage a serve which skids or slides and stays
close to the ground.
Conversely, shorter players tend to handle ball that are served into their body better
than do taller players. Obviously, because of their shorter reach, balls which
require shorter players to extend for are usually more difficult for them to
return. Similarly, balls which kick up high can be tough for diminutive players.
Realize that these are general rules and there are always exceptions to them.
However, you will find it useful to watch tapes of our opponents and see if these
strategies seem to apply to their strengths and weaknesses. If you don’t have access
to tapes, try to evaluate your opponent, by watching him or her play in their
Adjust Your Serve For Different Surfaces
Realize that the tennis ball behaves differently on different surfaces. Clay,
for example will slow down the pace of a big serve. On the other hand, a hard, flat
serve can be a powerful and effective weapon on grass or on a hard court.
Adjusting Your Serve To The Score In The Match
Smart players consider the score when they step to the line to serve. If you
are ahead forty to love, this is time to be aggressive on your first and second
serves. If you are behind in the game or the match, you may need to consider
a different serving strategy.
The Internal Psychology
The internal psychology refers to the players ability to develop the
right mental state for serving effectively. Most tennis players who I coach
want to “serve in the zone.” In order to do this, they need develop a state of
mind in which they are relaxed, focused and confident. I teach tennis pros how
to place themselves in a hypnotic trance prior to serving and how to develop
the right blend of relaxation, focus and confidence.
Once players learn how to integrate tools like relaxation training, visualization,
self-hypnosis and positive self-talk into their serving routine, they tend to serve
quite effectively. These skills are not complicated, but they take a little time and
a little practice. Mastering the mental part of serving is a lot like learning
serving mechanics. I generally teach relaxation techniques first and then
teach people visualization and then self-hypnosis.
Different players require different kinds of mental training and psychological
tools. One tennis player needed a hypnotic trance which helped him to feel
more confident. Another needed to breathe deeply five times before every serve
in order to relax. A female player used hypnosis to eliminate distractions.
Most of these top players use our cd program prior to learn how to get into a mental
state which has the right balance of the three elements mentioned above. This
program has a total of more than twenty trances for serious athletes. The program
emphasizes techniques for developing relaxation, confidence and focus.
To get your copy of this CD program, visit StayInTheZone.com or go to
Chapter 7 is a favorite among tennis players and pros who want to
add more accuracy to their serve.
Once you master the internal and the external psychologies of serving your
game will probably move up a few notches and you will start to win more matches.
Jay P. Granat, Ph.D. is a Psychotherapist and the Founder of StayInTheZone.com.
Dr. Granat has counseled many world class athletes and has written and lectured
extensively on sports and sport psychology. His articles have appeared in Tennis
magazine and he was recently interviewed by the BBC. His Stay In The Zone program
has been used by thousands of athletes.
He can be reached at info@StayInTheZone.com
For more information, visit StayInTheZone.com