I just finished shooting the videos for the “Strategic Serve Practice” and as I was presenting the best possible serve strategies I came to the conclusion that, if one wants to begin the point right, she/he must consider practicing, improving and using the body serve.
The body serve is the one which the server aims directly at her opponent.
I do not mean you shouldn’t go for the returner’s weak side (if she clearly has one) but in case there is not a significant one, the body serve has many advantages:
– if hit with a decent pace the body serve can jam the returner and the result can be a floating return in the middle of the court (which the server can attack)
(Serve Tennis Tactics)
– a body serve does not allow the returner to create angles (as opposed to a wide serve which gives the opponent many options to play with)
– it forces the returner to hit the ball while moving away from it (blocking or pushing the ball) – most of the players practice hitting balls while moving to and not away from them
– the body serve is great for serve-and-volley players because the return is most of the time weak due to the before mentioned reasons.
Like most of the people, you probably prefer to begin your serve practice from the right (deuce) side. After all, this is where the game starts from… right?
For many years I did this in my own serve practice sessions and when I was working with my private tennis clients too.
But not anymore!
You will discover that it is important to spend more quality time and develop a good serve from the ad court for the following strong reason:
Most of the pressure points are played serving from the ad court: 15-30, 30-15, 30-40, 40-30, 0-40, ad-in, ad-out…
You must have a reliable serve when you have to execute this shot at these scores.
Make your life easy and master the serve to the ad side. You will be getting a good head start and be in control of the point especially when pressure is on.
For in-depth serve tactics and strategies click here!
Wide Serve… Federer uses it beautifully, every smart tennis player uses it often.
Why should you too? Actually, why shouldn’t you too?
We all know that our opponents have a harder time hitting / controlling balls on the run therefore we should make them run often. When on the run, the player must control balance, change direction quickly and recover as soon as possible.
Serving the ball wide has the following advantages:
1. gets the opponent off the court and as a result you will have the open court to attack with the next ball;
2. makes your opponent hustle to cover the open court (hitting the ball on the run).
These two situations give you control of the point. That means you can either hit the ball to the open court or behind the recovering player. Either one of the options will make you opponent struggle to get the ball in play. Rarely you will find a player that is comfortable hitting great shots while running full speed.
Serve Wide and Put-Away – tennis drill
How to angle the serve wide (as close as possible to the side line)?
1. From the deuce side, if you are right-handed player, use slice.
Practice aiming for a cone (or, as I saw Djokovic at Indian Wells a couple of years ago, using cans of balls placed inside the service court) that you sit about 1 foot inside the singles line and roughly 5 feet inside the service line.
Do this tennis serve practice drill: hit 10 balls and see how many get within 1 foot from the cone (or even hit the cone/can of balls).
Technically you must visualise that your strings will, at contact, brush the outside of the ball: if you are right-handed see the racquet brushing the ball toward the right and over 3 o’clock (if the ball would be seen as the face of a clock).
2. From the ad side, if you are right-handed, use the kick serve. As you did with the slice, practice hitting kick serves to a cone placed very close to the right side line and service line in the opposite ad service box.
Technically, visualise your racquet’s strings brushing the ball up and away on the back of the ball (or from 7 to 1 on the face of a clock).
Do drills like “Serve Wide and Put-Away” (above) often either with your coach or your tennis partner.