Being fully extended at the moment of ball contact is paramount if you’re going to enjoy a high percentage of successful serves. In the above image, you can see that I’m at full stretch at impact.
Taller servers are always at an advantage in creating a more acute downward ball trajectory that’s safely over the net — greater margin for error — and yet still lands in the relatively small service box. Be as tall as you can be.
By making better use of your legs to drive up into the ball you’ll facilitate your maximum reach. Note I have jumped off, and into, the court with my lead foot to insure an unencumbered, upward moving kinetic chain. This is not a foot fault, in that the ball has been struck prior to touchdown.
An inline body alignment is also ideal at the strike point to allow for the greatest racket head acceleration through the ball. This is fostered by a toss that’s both as high, and in front, as you can comfortably reach with the racket.
A relatively low grip position on the handle is recommended to create wrist involvement, and, of course, is applied with minimal tension — a 5 on a scale of 1 to 10 — versus the all to common undermining death grip approach.
Finally, note that my head remains up momentarily even after the ball has exploded off the racket face. Club players are often guilty of pulling their head down prior to impact causing premature trunk flexing and blind, poorly-timed ball striking.
Have you ever noticed that at times you serve well in the pre-match warm-up only to then serve inconsistently once the match begins? As tennis pro/humorist Vic Braden used to preach: “There’s only one ball and you have it, so what’s the big hurry in looking across the net for the return before you’ve struck the serve?”
Jak Beardsworth (USPTA) is based at the Crowne Plaza-Lake Placid Club.
He can be reached by email at JB1tennis@comcast.net, by phone at 941-626-0097 or through his website JakBeardsworthTennis.com.
Shaun Ondak Photography