Most league tennis players have at least this one thing in common with the tennis professionals – the desire to win. But of those players, very few actually put effort into improving their game in order to be successful. The only time they pick up a racket is to play a league match, so they rely on the same strokes and serves, hoping that will be enough for the win, and getting frustrated when they don’t. What they don’t realize is that if they put in a little extra time and effort to improve just their serve, they will have the potential to win many more matches.
Here are 5 great reasons why you should practice your serve:
You start the point with a serve half (or one-fourth) of the time.
Think about it. In a tennis match, each player or team alternates serving each game. This means that half of the time, you are serving to start the point, and starting anything off on the right foot is a big key to success. Similarly, having a finely tuned serve will allow you to start the point with an overwhelming advantage.
You can shorten the points with a good serve.
Like former pro, Andy Roddick, if you can place the serve well or hit powerful serves (preferably both,) then oftentimes your opponent won’t be able to return them. Pretty sweet, right? Hit one shot and boom! Point over. Or, you hit a solid serve and the ball floats back over the net so that you or your partner can volley for the winner. If you can develop good technique, placement, and power, then you can shorten points.
You can shorten the points with a bad serve.
On the other hand, if you have a weak serve or bad technique, then you will either double fault in tight situations, or hit soft serves that your opponents can pounce on. There is nothing worse than stepping up to the line on break point (or match point) and hitting two serves in the net…a total mojo-killer! However, if you have a good technique that you have practiced over and over, then hitting a strong serve will be second-nature; you’ll have better consistency.
You will apply pressure on your opponents.
When you easily win your serve, your mental game gets a confidence boost. At the same time, your opponent’s mental game gets challenged; the pressure is on for them to also win their serve because they know they can’t win the match if they can’t break you. And whenever there’s pressure…there are errors…and errors create more pressure. It’s a fabulous “Catch-22”, and not in favor of your opponent.
A good serve sets up the rest of your game.
To truly play your best tennis, you need to be like a well-oiled machine, with all the parts working together seamlessly. If you have a great backhand, solid forehand, strong volleys, but a crappy serve, then it’s like having a car with a strong body and tires but a faulty engine. A strong serve is the best way to get a point started.
The biggest service flaws include a tossing the ball poorly, not hitting up on the ball, lacking strength for power, and not looking at the ball when you hit it. These are just some things you can do to get your serve where you need it to be:
- Grab a bucket of balls on the weekends and practice your serve
- Hire a tennis professional, if you can afford it
- Watch serve videos, and use what you learn
- Read about it and take the tips to heart
- Videotape your technique and compare it to that of the players in the serve videos
My serve wasn’t always my biggest weapon, so I speak from experience when I say that when you’re serving well, the rest of your game will follow. Likewise, if you’re serving poorly, then that lack of confidence oftentimes will seep into other aspects of your game. So don’t let your serve get the best of you.
Figure out which are your flaws, and devote a little time improving the one shot that will impact the outcome of your game the most…your serve. And then you’ll be the one serving (and winning!) with confidence on the big points!