The 7 steps of building a proper advanced tennis serve technique described in this article build a solid foundation from which you can then progress to more advanced elements of the serve.
A tennis serve is a weapon only when the technique is correct. When the serve technique is not correct, then the serve is often more a liability than an asset.
In order to learn correct tennis serve technique, simple serving tips won’t get you there.
Instead you need to follow step-by-step progressions that build the service motion from the ground up. See these below steps.
1. The Stance
A proper tennis serve stance is when your feet are positioned so that the front foot is pointing towards the right net post (for right-handers) and the back foot is parallel to the baseline. The toes of the back foot are also roughly aligned with the heel of the front foot because you need to be stable in all directions once you initiate and execute your full service motion.
2. The Grip
A proper tennis serve grip technique is to hold a continental grip. There are many descriptions for how to find this grip. The one I’ll use makes it easy to check if your grip is really a continental grip. Grip the racquet like a hammer and hold the racquet with the edge perpendicular to the ground, as shown in the picture. Then place your left index finger in the “valley” between the thumb and the index finger of your right hand (for right-handers), just next to the bone on the thumb. Now check where your left index finger is pointing on the racquet handle. It should point to the top left edge on the racquet handle.
3. The Hitting Part
The hitting part is where the serve happens either correctly or incorrectly.There are smaller parts of the hitting part:
loose drop of the racquet and arm
swing up & contact
4. Backswing and Toss
The key points about the toss:
Place the ball in the middle of your hand, meaning exactly where the palm spreads out into fingers.
Hold the ball with your thumb on top gently.
Always toss with a straight arm using only your shoulder joint.
Release the ball at around your eye level and keep lifting the arm up following the ball.
5. Serve In Two Parts
The serve in two parts consists of step 4 and step 3, meaning we’ll do the backswing & toss first (step 4) and then the hitting part (part 3) in sequence. Complete first your backswing & toss phase and catch the ball back in your hand while holding your trophy position. Toss again from this position and complete the hitting part which consists of the drop (bounce) and two swing paths.
6. The Power Move
The power move is initiated from the trophy position, and two things must happen simultaneously:
your racquet starts to drop, and
your body starts to rotate/turn forward.
7. Serve With The Follow-Through
The best way to start serving correctly is to do a few serves in two parts and then take a leap of faith and do the complete serve from start to finish. This is also the stage where I’d like to clarify the follow-through on the serve. When you watch the pros serve, you’ll see that they finish their serve on the left side of the body (for right-handers) and you may want to copy that.