Have a good tennis serve

Edited by Eng, Jerry Rivers, Lynn, Monika and 2 others


Tennis is a wonderful sport. It can be played at any age, and at all levels. It provides a fun workout in a non-contact sport, indoors or outdoors. It can be played one-one-one, or in doubles teams. I've enjoyed the sport for three decades, and have made many good friends through tennis. You can enjoy it just as much. You don't have to be a great athlete to play this sport, but it does take time and proper skill to play. When the bio-mechanics are done properly, you can enjoy it for a lifetime without injury. As a Professional Tennis Registry instructor for years, I would say that for beginners, the serve is the most challenging stroke in tennis. With the simple steps I'll give you here and some practice, you will master the stroke, and develop a good tennis serve. If you are not already active in tennis or other sports, I recommend that you have the clearance by your family doctor before you take up tennis.

Even though it is the most complex stroke in tennis, the bio-mechanics of serving a tennis ball are much like the basic mechanics of throwing a baseball. It is also the most offensive stroke for a couple reasons: You can win a point outright with it (ace), and since it's the starting stroke, it sets up your offense. Follow the steps in this guide, practice what you have learned, and then you will have mastered this stroke. I will teach you the basic steps, and even though there are four types of tennis serves (due to spin), this will be the foundation for them all. With practice you will not have just a good tennis serve, but you may also have a great one!


Before you go out on the court, dress properly for the weather.


You should also have plenty of drinking water and a fresh towel. You can learn a strong, dependable backhand from this article. To learn all of the bio-mechanically correct strokes so that you can enjoy this sport for years, tutorials for the forehand, volley, and overhead smash are coming soon.

I will also give you come tips to improve your game, as well as tips for the right equipment for your tennis game. As a former Professional Tennis Registry tennis instructor, tennis coach, and player for many years, I can assure you that you will learn more about a fun, great sport. You will also make many good friends along the way through tennis. So, read on to learn how to do a good serve in this tutorial.

Your equipment will be at least two tennis balls(a bucket full is even better)


A tennis racket that is right for you. If you are an average height man, go with a 4 ½ inch grip. If you're an average size woman, go with a 4 3/8 inch grip. There are junior rackets designed for children also. To find the right handle size, when you hold the racket in a "handshake" grip, you should be able to snugly fit your first finger of the other hand between your gripping fingers and palm.




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  1. 1
    Hold the racket at the end of the handle, and with a "handshake" grip
    Just have the "V" formed between your thumb and forefinger slightly left of the top of the racket handle.
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  2. 2
    Stand relaxed, with your body and legs sideways to the net
    First, stand a few feet from the net as you learn the serve. You will gradually work your way to behind the baseline. For the serve in a match, stand just behind the base line, near the center "hash" mark. Have the arm (called the op-arm) that will toss the ball up for your serve toward the net. Your front foot should be turned about 45 degrees, and your back foot about parallel to the baseline.
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  3. 3
    It will be good to know for future reference that if you are playing a doubles match, you will stand a few feet from the center "hash" mark on the baseline
    If you are playing singles, you will typically stand close to the hash mark. Note that you cannot touch the baseline or court in front of it until the moment after impact.
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  4. 4
    Hold the ball softly on your fingertips
    Comfortably bring the racket and ball in front of you, with the ball on the throat or racket face at about chest high, as you point the racket toward the service "box" across the net, and diagonal to you.
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  5. 5
    Your op-arm will lift the tennis ball slowly (like an elevator going up) in your fingertips
    So, think "lifting" rather than "tossing". As you lift the ball, swing the racket arm down and back (as if you are elbowing something behind you). Your racket should be almost in a position to "scratch your back".
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  6. 6
    Bend your knees
    This will give you power to propel up to the ball, as you bring your arms up synchronized. You will feel your body naturally coil as you do all this.
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  7. 7
    Extend and hit
    As you lift the ball to its apex, it should be at the height where you are fully extended, and your racket strings will strike it at the "sweet spot" with the racket face squarely on the ball. The "sweet spot" is just above the center of the racket face. You will naturally uncoil as you reach up to the ball.
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In all sports, pronation of the wrist is done for power, and it will happen naturally with your handshake grip, and hitting the ball squarely with the racket. Your racket motion will be much like hammering a nail high on a wall as you are extended. On impact, your entire body and racket should form a straight vertical line, and end with a wrist snap as you are looking up at the ball.

  1. 1
    Follow through
    After contact, you will naturally be propelled forward if you tossed the ball above your front foot. As you finish your racket swing, it should end up at your side, like putting a "sword in its sheath". Remember that in an actual tennis match you must get into a "basic sports ready position" by facing your opponent with legs bent while holding your racket in front of you. Keep the racket head up, and at your chest. You will then be ready for that next move in any direction if the ball comes back over the net. You now have your basic serve.
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  2. 2
    Get on a court and practice these steps. You will build a good tennis serve. It will take persistence and patience. In time the serve will become automatic for you. Do not be too concerned about getting the serve on/in the service box diagonal until you have the form mastered. With the opposite-diagonal service box as your target. Start up close to the net, hit a few balls following the proper form, then step back a few feet. Continue with this until you are in "match position" behind the baseline. Have fun as you learn tennis, and make new friends in a great sport!
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Tips Tricks & Warnings

  • If you have difficulty with any step, you can just isolate it, and focus on it. For example, if you have any difficulty hitting the ball with your body extended, stand at the fence and just practice reaching up and tapping the fence using the proper "hammer stroke". Just tap the fence with the top edge of your racket.

Questions and Answers

Serving hand in trophy position?

Can you please tell me the proper angle for serving hand (trophy position) from body? Should it be 90 Deg, or closer to body? Thank you. Milovan

Make sure you do the following to do the correct trophy pose:

  • Your tossing arm should be extended straight up into the air (at the completion of the said toss)
  • Your tennis racket and hitting arm are at the "L" position (at the completion of back swing)
  • Your knees are fully bent and the weight is equally distributed on the balls of each foot (at the completion of the knee bend)

If you have problems with any of the steps in this article, please ask a question for more help, or post in the comments section below.


Article Info

Categories : Ball Games

Recent edits by: Doug Collins, Monika, Lynn

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