Friday, January 14, 2011

 The tennis serve is the king of tennis strokes. It is the only shot in the game in which the player has complete control in that he is starting the point. It is, in fact, the shot that has the most technical intricacies. On a good day, professionals can, statistically, get seventy five percent of their first serves in. When this happens they rarely lose the match. Thus, gaining consistency in your tennis serve is of vital importance to a successful tennis game. However, having a reliable, fast, or accurate serve may not be enough if the opponent is capable of predicting to which point on the court the serve is directed. Thus, the second point of importance is that the serve is disguised. Pete Sampras and Roger Federer are excellent examples of players who disguise their tennis serves. Here, we will discuss how to gain consistency in the serve as well as developing the art of disguising it.


The Toss for consistency: If the way you throw the ball varies you will be hitting each serve at a different contact point forcing the wrist and arm to re-adjust the stroke. This naturally causes lack of control and is a major contributor to poor consistency. To toss the ball in the ideal spot you will need to give yourself clear directions. First, hold the ball between your first four fingers and thumb. Avoid grabbing the ball. Next, bring your arm back till it makes contact with your leg nearest to the net. Lastly, guide the ball keeping your arm straight and release it as your arm is fully extended. Particularly important is getting the ball to reach it's pinnacle above and to the right of your head. If there was a clock face in front of you, you should imagine aiming for "one o clock".
Rhythm for consistency: Many players undervalue the importance of rhythm. Rhythm on the tennis serve makes a big difference to assurance and consistency. Imagine taking your racquet back for serving several different serves, each time, at a different speed. Essentially you would be practicing several different serves. To gain rhythm, observe a three step process.

1) Start on your front foot.

2) Rock all your weight onto your back foot while taking the racquet back.

3) Push off with your legs into the ball.

Repeating these directions in sequence on each practice will bring a solidity to the stroke. Also note that the flat shot is the most risky shot as there is nothing but gravity and angle to ensure it hits the court.For this reason, in order to have a consistent tennis serve the tennis player should use at least one reliable spin serve.


Against a good server you have less than a second to hit a return of serve. Most players subconsciously pick up on trends and patterns in the server's routine and anticipate where the serve is going to land. For example, if the ball is tossed to the server's right most returners will likewise shift to the right as they expect the slice serve. Therefore, there are three major ways to disguise your tennis serve, thereby creating ambiguity in the returner's mind as to the point where the ball will land.
The first is to avoid looking at the spot where you are about to serve. Although it sounds simple it may take a conscious effort of visualization to achieve this. The second step is to use a closed stance. A closed stance is one in which your left shoulder points towards the net post so that your back is almost facing the opponent. This is how you should start your serve and it will effectively conceal your intention as to where you are going to hit the ball. Hold this shoulder position as you toss the ball and then finally rotate into the tennis stroke which will only at the last split second reveal to the opponent where the ball will land.
Max Gregor is a touring tennis player. He gives a insider's perspective of Tennis Strokes and how to play tennis at his website



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