One of our subscribers, recently, shared a story saying that he is teaching a young man whose serve is great during his lessons when there is no receiver at the other end. But during his tennis matches, when there is the pressure of having somebody returning serve, his student often chokes. He wanted to know what he can do to help him…
My advice (and I was hoping you will find it useful too) was the following:
His student is probably too concerned with what the opponent’s reply will be. He’s anxious about the return and therefore he cannot relax when serving.
He must be taught to focus (when serving) on things like: breathing, spin and visualization (seeing the ball going to a certain spot inside the service box, etc.) – this would help him take his mind off of his opponent. (Mental Tennis – articles)
And he should have somebody return his serve (e.g. his coach, practice partner) most of the times he practices it.
Of course, his coach, will have to stay next to him and correct serve technique most of the time but they should change it up sometimes. For example: the student can hit 20 serves with the coach next to him then 20 serves with the coach returning the serves – in this case the student should be doing it until the coach/practice partner returns 20 balls; and so on.
Are you tired of serving double faults and giving your opponents free points?
How frustrating is it when you see that the tennis ball is in your hand, you have total control at the beginning of the point and then… you fail to get one out of the two tries in. (Tennis Serve Lesson – videos)
The following tips will help you avoid missing your serves and enjoy your tennis:
1. Use Spin Imparting slice or topspin on your serves in particular on the second attempt will always save you from giving points away or being put on a defense by your opponent’s return. The spin brings the ball down due to the air friction therefore you will not miss long too often.
2. Relax Your Arm Begin your serving motion with hands, arms relaxed and in front of your hips. Many times I see people beginning their service motion holding the ball and racquet too high (chest level) before tossing the ball – this action tightens your shoulders and arms. Keep a loose grip on the racquet at all times.
3. Breath Your breathing should be slow and shallow before you begin your serving motion. Inhale as you toss the ball up then exhale as you swing up to hit it.
4. Toss It Right One way that will improve your toss consistency (and as a result your serve) is to always “push” the ball up with as little spin as possible. That action will relax your arm and your toss will not affect your body balance.
5. Visualization Before you toss the ball up visualize the racquet hitting it, the ball going over the net and landing in the desired spot inside the opposite service box. This is probably the most powerful aspect of your serve – believing and seeing what you want to happen.
Try these pieces of advice not in the match but in your practice first. Then as they become your habits, you will carry them into your matches too.