Serving Practice

If you have a court, bucket of balls and some spare time, one of the best ways to work on your game is to hit serves.  Here are ten ways to make best use of your time in practicing your serve.

  1. Begin serving from the net and then progressively move back (with success) a couple of steps at a time until you’re serving comfortably from the baseline. (Helps to establish range and control of placement.  Promotes a fluid, relaxed service motion.)
  2. Set up and practice hitting three established targets (angled out wide, at the body and middle T). (Promotes accuracy and reinforces the importance of hitting your key targets.)
  3. See how many serves you can consecutively hit (with a full motion) into the service box. (Promotes accuracy and consistency.)  If you’re really ambitious, log the number of serves you get in over the course of the summer or year to start your own 1,000, 2,000, 3,000… serve club.
  4. Serve with a countdown. Countdown by one with every serve that goes in or meets your defined target and count up with each mistake.  Continue serving until you countdown to zero.  (Promotes accuracy and consistency.  Also helps in dealing with pressure.)
  5. Serve from fence to fence (or curtain to curtain). Serve with your back pressed close to the fence and then aim to hit your serve into the far opposite side fence (in the air/without a bounce).  (Helps to establish “pop” and racquet head speed versus hand speed.  Reinforces the need to hit up and out on the serve with full extension and reach at the point of contact.)
  6. Alternatively hit first and second serves. Have a purpose and clearly distinguish each serve by pace, spin, etc.  (More realistically simulates match play conditions and requirements.)
  7. Play an imaginary game with first and second serves and rotations. (Similar to number 6. above, more realistically simulates match play conditions and requirements.)
  8. Hit serves with no bend in the knees and your feet firmly planted on the court. (Develops angular rotation and a loose, upper body coil and motion.)
  9. Raise the net with a rope or barrier. Practice hitting up and over the raised net (or barrier).  As an alternative, practice serving from a kneeling or sitting position.  (Both techniques serve to improve your ability to hit with spin and to hit up and out on your serve.)
  10. Having grip issues? Practice hitting serves with your middle finger crossed over your index finger to secure and maintain the Continental grip.  Practice hitting with the back of your hand/reverse side of your racquet to establish the Continental grip and to force your elbow up and out to an inverted “V” position.

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