Developing an Effective Serve
The Serve is one of the most important shots in tennis. As noted in the article, “Love Long Rallies? That’s Not What the French Open is About “, you can see that pro players at the French Open’s most common error was a return of serve. Male players had a return of serve error 19.4% of the time and women players had a return of serve error 17.4% of the time. This is due to how big of a weapon the serve is even on the slowest of surfaces. As a player trying to improve your game looking at your serve and how you use the serve to set up each point is a great place to start. In this blog, “Developing an Effective Serve,” we will take a look at the serve abilities you need to develop to have an effective serve and where you can place your serve to implement the match strategy that you want.
What to Practice
The first and most important serve ability you need to have as a player is having a consistent first serve. It is important to have a good first serve as making first serve keeps the pressure on the returner. If you are missing a high amount of first serves there is more pressure on your second serve and second serves are going to produce less return of serve error’s from your opponent. Consistency on the serve is the first place to start. Secondly, work on being able to place the serve in the three major spots on both the Deuce side and the Ad side of the court; T-Serve, Body Serve and Out Wide. The third serve ability to work on once you have both consistency and placement down is to focus on having more then one type of serve. At On The Rise we like to focus on having either a topspin or slice serve to start. Which one you work on is dependent upon the natural motion of your serve. Some players have an easier time learning the slice serve over the topspin serve and vice versa. Finally, after you have developed these two serves you can begin to work on your flat serve.
Serving to a Spot
It is important to Serve to a spot on the court to set up your points. By doing so you can begin to implement your match strategy and stay on offense when serving. We will take a look at where you can serve to help you attack either your opponent’s forehand or backhand side, more often than not you will be looking at getting the ball to your opponent’s backhand. It is important to understand both methods because on some days you might be winning backhand to backhand rallies against your opponent and losing forehand to forehand rallies. These strategies are match dependent and you have to have the ability to change things up if your opponent makes an adjustment.
Placing the Serve to Attack the Forehand
If you are serving on the deuce side and you want to attack your opponent’s forehand you will want to serve the ball out wide. This can be a double-edged sword because if you hang your serve up you might be in a defensive position. When serving out wide on the deuce side the return will usually come back crosscourt and from there you are able to take your forehand back crosscourt and be in the crosscourt forehand to forehand rally that you wanted When you are serving on the Ad side of the court you are looking to place the serve either down the T or a body serve. The T-Serve has to be good because you are going to their forehand, but a solid T-Serve/body serve will usually leave the ball in the middle of the court or a little towards your forehand side which perfectly sets up your forehand crosscourt.
Placing the Serve to Attack the Backhand
If your goal is to attack your opponent’s backhand on the deuce side you want to hit either a body serve or T-Serve. Both serves will usually produce a return towards the middle of the court where you either are looking for your inside out forehand or crosscourt backhand to begin the attack on your opponent’s backhand. Now when you are serving to the Ad side of the court you want to place your serve out wide to attack your opponent’s backhand. An out wide serve on the ad side normally means the return will come back crosscourt letting you hit either a solid backhand crosscourt or an inside out forehand to get the ball to your opponent’s backhand.
The better you get at tennis the more critical it is for you to have an effective serve and to be able to hold serve. It is important to work on your serve placement to set up the point effectively. This week at On The Rise drills you will be working on developing an effective serve to set up your point. Spend some time thinking about how serve placement can help you set up the point to help you win matches. Each match may be different with what you are trying to do so learn these strategies and begin to implement them this week at drills.
O’shannessy, Craig. “Love Long Rallies? That’s Not What the French Open Is About. “The New York Times, The New York Times, 9 June 2019, www.nytimes.com/2019/06/09/sports/keeping-score-french-open-rallies.htm