Tennis is no longer a game comprised mostly of finesse and endurance. These elements are truly essential to success in the king of racket sports, but if you can cream a powerful serve you’ll be in the driver’s seat from the get go – and your opponent will have to backtrack defensively.
Increasing Tennis Serve Power
Like just about every sport, tennis has seen an incredible development in its equipment over the last 15–20 years. This phenomenon, coupled with the trend of top professionals to rely on strength training more and more, has changed the game dramatically.
Rallies are often shorter now but certainly more intense and powerful. If you want to compete these days, you simply must put a lot of zip behind your stroke, especially your serve. This is the overhead shot from a controlled position that sets up the entire point.
It’s easy to see a correlation between speed of serve and the world’s greatest players. Simply put, the top professionals in the game are those who also possess the fastest serve speeds.
Whether you like to follow your serve to the net and attack, or simply prefer to force a defensive posturing from your opponent, your serve is key to your rally success. Here are some important tips to keep in mind when you’re holding serve:
Keys to an Explosive Serve
1. Set up with your body facing perpendicular to the baseline. Using a rotation from your trunk with add more centrifugal power compared to if you were standing squarely toward your opponent. Assume a split stance slightly further apart than shoulder width.
2. Hold the racket with a soft grip because you want it to move through the range of motion quickly; holding the racket tightly will encumber the power you can put behind the shot.
3. Bend your knees deep as you lob the ball high overhead and slightly in front of you. This will allow you to launch higher in the air.
4. Always hit the ball at the peak of its height. This widens the angle and makes it easier to hit into your opponent’s service box.
5. At impact, keep your eyes on the ball, not to where you’re hitting. Make a thorough follow-through down the plane of the ball’s flight. This will increase accuracy and control.
6. Remember that the net is in its lowest position in the center. So you have a greater angle if you smoke your serve down the middle, rather than taking it out wide.
Change and Balance Will Keep Opponents Guessing
During a typical 3-set match, you will on average hold serve for about 12-15 games. This means you will actually serve the ball approximately 80-100 times. Naturally therefore, you don’t want to keep hitting the same kind of serve over and over again. You also want to vary your foot position and service box angle.
There are certainly other forms of serve like the kick serve and spin serve which will also be covered in this series.