Ball toss tennis serve video
Part 1 of 2: Mastering the Flat Serve
- Get in position. Before you begin to serve the ball, you have to stand behind the baseline, on the side opposite the service box where you'll be serving. You should stand sideways, pointing your left foot to the opposite post of the net, with your right foot being parallel to the court. For singles, stand close to the center mark. For doubles, stand farther toward one side, depending on what type of serve you plan to execute and the strategy you and your partner have planned.
- If you're serving toward your opponent's right service box, you should be standing on the right side (deuce side) of your court.
- If you're serving toward your opponent's left service box, then you should be standing on the left side (add side) of your court.
- Your right shoulder should always be pointed in the direction of the service box where you are serving.
- You get two chances to serve the ball into the opposite service box. If you miss both times, that is considered a double fault and you should move to serve to the other service box. If your ball hits the net and drops into the service box, that is considered a let and you can replay the serve; you can have an unlimited amount of lets, though this does not happen very often.
- These instructions for serving are for right-handed players. If you're a lefty - which happens to be a huge advantage in the game of tennis - just use the opposite hands and feet.
- Grip the ball and racket correctly. Grip the ball lightly toward the fingertips rather than in the palm. Bring your ball hand toward your racket to help line up the serve and shift your weight slightly forward. Remember that before you toss the ball, you should bounce it at least 2-4 times to get into the rhythm of serving and to get a feel for the court.
- For a flat serve, you should hold the tennis racket using a Continental grip. For this grip, you should hold the racket perpendicular to the ground, with your pointer finger along the first bevel of the racket, so that your thumb and index finger make a "V" shape when you look down at your hand.
- Many new players try to grip the racket as tightly and as hard as they can. This should not be the case, especially not when you serve. Keeping your grip more relaxed - about a 4 on a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being the loosest - will give your serve more power and fluidity.
- Toss the ball and bring your racket behind you. You should toss the ball high up in the air, a little bit in front of you, so you have momentum when you serve the ball; remember that you can "fall in" to the court after you make contact with the ball, so it's okay to toss the ball in front of you. You can also practice your toss several times to find the optimal serving point; a great toss can be the key to an amazing serve, and a bad toss will ruin a serve more often than not.
- Before you toss the ball, bring the ball to the flat racket face in front of you.
- Drop your racquet head downward while shifting your weight back and bring your racquet behind you in an arc-like motion.
- At the same time, begin to toss the ball slightly in front of you toward the court. This can be done slowly and deliberately. When tossing, remember that you are not throwing the ball; you should just let go of the ball when it is at the top. Imagine you're placing the ball up on a shelf.
- The ball should be just a bit higher than you can reach with your racquet. In order to have the highest chance of hitting the ball you need to throw it straight up, or sightly toward the net without spin.
- After you release the ball with your hand, you can keep it up or above you for guidance and stability.
- "Scratch your back" with your racket. Most beginners just kind of raise their racket in the air slightly behind them and then go after the ball. Not you! For optimal success, you should bring the racquet head up above behind you and bend your elbow so as to drop it behind your head, as if you were to scratch your back with the side of your racket. Bend your knees to help project the racquet head upwards; it will give the ball more power.
- Once you get good at it, you'll have this down as one fluid motion - tossing the ball up with one hand while "scratching your back" with your racket with the other. Practice the toss along with this motion as much as you want before actually hitting the ball (just not during a game, or you will try your opponent's patience.).
- You will see that some beginners like to lift the racket up behind their back before they toss the ball. Though this will make it easier to hit the ball, in some ways, you will generate much less power and momentum this way.
- As you release the ball you're tossing, load your back knee by forcing most of your weight onto your back leg. You can bend both of your knees but focus on having most of your weight in your back leg so you can use it to spring forward when you make contact.
- Hit the ball with the "sweet spot" of the racket. Bring the racquet head up to hit the ball with as much speed as you can while keeping control. Your shoulders will rotate similarly to how they would if they were throwing a ball. Don't try to hit as hard as you can; instead try to be fluid. Make sure you pronate your wrist so the ball is hit with the racquet face, right in the center of the racquet. Pronation is necessary in every type of serve, including flat, slice, topspin, twist, and topspin-slice.
- If you hit the ball off-center, you won't have as much control over where it will land. If you hit the ball with the frame of the racket, then 9 times out of 10, it won't land in the service box.
- Hit the ball at its highest point. To optimize your shots, you should hit the ball at the highest point that you can reasonably hit it at after you toss it. The higher the ball, the more easily you'll be able to generate speed, and the more likely it will be to clear the net. Think of it like this: someone is tossing a ball up high over a fence right in front of you, and you have to hit the ball not just over the fence but over the fence so it bounces on the ground as quickly as possible; this snapping motion will allow you to hit the ball in an arc, instead of a straight line, giving it as much power as possible.
- Many beginners toss the ball far too low, just over their heads, and then strain their whole bodies to get the ball to fall into the other service box. Though this can be done, it's an unwieldy shot and won't give you the best results.
- Follow through by bringing your racket down near the bottom of your opposite foot. At the end of the contact with the ball, snap your wrist downward to get the ball in the best position. Transfer the weight from your back leg onto your front leg to propel the ball forward. You may even end the serve with your right (or dominant) leg lifted off the ground.
- "Fall into the court" after your serve. The follow-through as you finish the serve should naturally cause you to step forward into the court. Be prepared for the ball to come back. Always look at the ball. Never look at the opponent. This way, you can anticipate where the ball is going to fall and react quicker. Remember that footwork is absolutely key in your reactions to the ball; take hundreds of tiny baby steps to get you to the optimal position you need to be in to hit the ball if it is returned to you. And if your opponent cannot return the serve, then well done!
- Do not cross the service line before you make contact with the ball. Your feet can not cross the service line until after you have made contact with the ball for it to be a legal serve. Your goal is to get the ball in or touching the lines of the service box diagonally to the side of the center mark from where you're standing.
- It's good to get into this habit even though refs or opposing players rarely call a "foot fault" during play. There was the exception of Serena Williams, who was penalized for a foot fault in the 2011 US Open women's semi-final, which caused her to basically lose the match!
Practice. Start adding power to the serve by increasing the racquet head speed, as well as using your leg strength to attack the ball. The serve is often the hardest stroke to master in tennis, so don't give up; be patient and keep practicing! Whether you're practicing with a coach or on your own, take an entire bucket of balls to one side of the court and practice getting into the grove with your serve. If you develop a killer serve, you'll be a tough opponent to beat; and on the other side of the coin, if you have a weak serve, it'll be hard to dominate a game.
Keep your opponent on his toes. Once you've mastered the flat serve, you can learn to start thinking about where you'll be hitting your serve within your opponent's court. If you always hit the serve in the middle of the service box, close to the center of the court ("down the line"), or off to the far side of the box, then your opponent will know where your serve will land and will be prepared to go there and to strike back in advance. That's why you've got to keep your opponent guessing by hitting the ball in different parts of the court; use your feet and shoulders to help land the ball in different parts of the service box.
- You can also look out to see if your opponent has a weaker forehand or backhand. Typically, many beginners really struggle with the backhand. If you find a weakness, try to land your serves in the part of the service box that will force your opponent to use his or her weaker stroke.
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