It’s obvious that, if you don’t get your serve right, this is making every other part of your tennis game that follows more difficult. Here are five really useful questions to ask about your serves. To answer them, it might even be useful to have someone video some for you, even on their phone.
Firstly, is your tossing arm relaxed? And is your mind focused? If you are not relaxed, yet full of concentration, you’ll probably be thinking about that last point, or next one, rather than completing a smooth tossing action.
Secondly, how is the ball positioned in your hand? Think of other sports, such as baseball, where the pitcher pays huge attention to exactly how they position the ball before delivering it. It’s best to get the ball out of your clinging, sweaty palm! Rest it lightly but firmly between the end of your fingers and thumb, so it is easy to release.
Third question: do you keep your arm straight as you toss? This allows you then to power the ball cleanly into the air, compared to what is likely to be a jerkier movement if your elbow is bent, rather than locked into position.
Next, have you found the perfect height for your toss, and do you practice enough to groove this? Like most things in sport, it’s about timing. Too early or late a release will find the ball behind or in front of where you want it to be. Think again of baseball where the pitcher aims for the strike zone. Imagine such a small box for your serve at the moment you strike it.
Finally, do you keep your eye on the ball until you strike it? If you watch golf on TV, it’s amazing how often a replay of a poor shot or putt – even from the finest of players – clearly shows that they moved their head too early. This is usually through anxiety to see if the ball misses that pond or bunker, or whether the putt is on line.
Answering these five questions should be a help in the development and grooving of the entire action of your serve, from ball in hand right through to the strike point.