The Serve is the number 1 shot in tennis, it is the only shot that is fully under your control and for that reason it is the number 1 shot player’s should be trying to improve. If all a player had in his game was a very good serve he would be able to still hold all his service game’s and get to tiebreaks at least.
Andy Roddick, Pete Sampras and Roger Federer getting ready to serve.
All have based a lot of their game around their serve’s
The grip that we recommend to use on the serve is the Continental grip (chopper grip).
Nearly all male and female tennis Pro’s use this grip and it is because it is the grip that allow’s the user to impart great spin (topspin, slice and a combination of both) on the ball. It also allow’s the user to flatten out the serve for 1st serve’s mainly and it allow’s for pronation in the forearm.
For the Serve grip the index knuckle and the heel pad would both be on bevel 2
You can see Andy Roddick using the Continental grip for his serve
VARIATIONS OF GRIPS ON THE SERVE
Some player’s find a unique way to impart more spin on their serve’s by using slight variation’s on the grip.
Boris Becker used what is commonly referred to as an Aussie grip, a grip in between a Eastern forehand grip and the Continental grip for his first serve then moved round to a Continental grip for his second serve.
Some player’s will use a grip in between a Eastern FH grip and a Continental grip for the first serve and move round almost to Eastern backhand grip on the second serve as they can get more spin on the ball with that grip
Boris Becker using the “AUSSIE” serve grip and Rafael Nadal using almost an eastern backhand grip
The most important thing’s for most player’s on the serve are-
1.The ball toss
2.Getting into a good trophy position
3.Using the legs as much as possible
4.Pronation during the contact
5.The follow thru
1.THE BALL TOSS
If your ball toss is not in the right place then serving become’s very difficult. Most player’s don’t practice enough ball tosses to start to feel the motion and feel that they are in control of their toss.
Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer getting ready to toss the ball
2.GETTING INTO A GOOD TROPHY POSITION
Getting into a good trophy position is crucial if you want to have a good serve.
The position itself is the foundation from where you can propel your body and racket into contact with as much force and energy as possible.
A good trophy position should have 5 key point’s-
1.A well balanced position
2.A good knee bend that will allow you to drive into the ball
3.The top of your racket head pointing upwards as seen in the picture on the far right
4.Your non hitting arm extended upwards and pointing towards the ball as seen in both pictures on the right
5.Your head and eye’s looking up at the ball
Roger Federer in his trophy position. Notice his eye’s fixed on the ball, his left arm reaching up balancing his body and his good knee bend
racket pointing upwards,his left arm balancing his upper body and his eye’s fixed on the ball
Andy Roddick’s Trophy position on Serve. Most Pros have the same fundamentals for theirtrophy position’s
3.USING THE LEGS AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE
The leg drive is the main power source for the serve, without a good leg drive you will never reach your full potential on your serve. If the leg’s work properly on the serve and you have the right timing with the ball toss then the power will increase dramatically on the serve. Some player’s prefer starting off in the serve with a wide base (leg’s wide apart) and then during the action bringing the leg’s together into a pinpoint stance, other player’s prefer to serve from a platform stance (typically feet are around shoulder width apart and stay that way until the leg drive) and other player’s such as Andy Roddick and Gael Monfil’s prefer a stance that is close to a pinpoint stance but have a bit of a gap between the legs/feet and stay like that until the leg drive.
However you prefer to stand on your serve one thing you need to make sure you do is get the most out of the leg’s and that mean’s having a very quick explosive leg drive (not going too deep in the knee bend) and not wasting energy staying in the knee bend too long (ideally you would go DOWN-UP very quickly)
Andy Roddick has probably the most explosive leg drive on the ATP Tour and thus he has the biggest serve on tour. He has a very abbreviated action that allow’s for a very quick DOWN-UP (he doesn’t spend long in the knee bend so he maximize’s his leg power) action with the leg’s and it result’s in massive power.
Novak Djokovic’s leg drive on his serve. Djokovic uses the platform stance and drives upwards using both legs well
Federer’s leg drive on his serve is very explosive and he get’s off the ground quite a bit at impact. He use’s quite a wide platform. He doesn’t waste any time in the knee bend using the down up action perfectly
Goran Ivanisevic had one of the greatest serve’s of all time. You can see how wide he start’s in his service motion and most of his body weight is on the back leg. He then bring’s his feet together for the pin-point stance but he still get’s a good knee bend and he will drive up into the ball with his leg’s.
4.PRONATION ON SERVE
What is pronation on the serve?
Pronation occurs in the forearm during the serve, it is simply the whole forearm turning from in to out in simple term’s.
In complex term’s to get the most from PRONATION you need good SUPINATION beforehand.
This pictures show SUPINATION just prior to contact point on the serve.
From this position their forearms will start to PRONATE (palm of the hand will turn forwards for contact then will turn outwards to the right hand side) and they will finish pronation after the contact point.
5.The Follow Through
If you have a bad follow through on the serve then you have a bigger chance to get injured especially in the shoulder region.
The best way to follow through is to make sure you you stay relaxed and try to bend the elbow just after contact point-a common mistake is to keep your elbow straight all the way down, this will cause stress on the shoulder.
Novak Djokovic serve finish.
You can notice that he has copied Sampras’ finish in many ways with the elbow snap just after contact. This is the safest way to follow through for your shoulder