This very small word usually brings fear into a lot of people's game. Read on to learn how to correct the most common errors...
If you think about it, it should be easy as it's the only time in the whole of the game that the ball starts in the hand, no pressure, the ball is not coming at you, no need to move, just toss it up and hit it: so if it's that easy why are there so many hang-ups? I have found over the years that many people are told that the ball toss has to be high, mainly because they are taught a very long and exaggerated racket movement, and hence need the high ball toss to give them "the time it takes to move the racket on this long journey". But I try to teach people who, (a), have problems on the serve, or, (b) only play very few times in a month, that the best ball toss is a LOW ONE. Anyone can toss a low ball, but to toss one high and accurately is very difficult and needs loads of practice. If you have lots of spare time carry on with your high ball toss. If your serve has the same results as Federer, you carry on...
Look at this great picture of Roger Federer,look at the position of the ball leaving the hand, and take note on how straight his arm is,the ball just leaves those fingers,no wrist,no arm, all from the shoulder
But if you struggle try this: It has been technically proven that a ball tossed high will fall faster through the hitting area of the racket head,( for those out there who are not sure what this is,its the bit where the strings are). Approx 2.5/100th's of a second the ball is in the hitting frame, so you need great timing, but a low ball toss hangs in the hitting area for 25/100's of a second, 10 TIMES LONGER. More time for you, and so this ball toss needs a shorter movement.
The shorter movement is achieved by drawing the racket back almost level with your face in a manner that the face of the racket is like a mirror and you can see your reflection as it goes by. Yes, you need to turn your shoulders with this movement and then the racket gets back and keeping the elbow high, the wrist starts to let the racket head drop (the racket should drop not down your back as many coaches state, but down the right side of your back if right handed) The elbow comes forward first bringing the forearm through to do the work, the wrist automatically snaps OUT in the direction of the stroke, hence it flicks like in the movement of shaking a thermometer...easy eh?
And here it is,the maestro once agin shows the correct pronation of the racket head,out up and away.Note the free hand
Just practice it in front of a mirror a few hundred times to get the feel, this will impart spin on the ball and it is only when you have achieved this control of spin and power that you will develop a great serve. So what we are saying is that spin is the key and, as the picture below tries to emphasise, this is what you are looking for, and not a flat hit.
On the serve it’s the reverse of the groundstroke, spin for speed. Just think that while serving the ball has a small distance to travel and then come down into the service box. Hit without some spin and the ball will go out, the more spin the more the ball will come down quickly, and so arrive faster. So learn a small amount of spin in the early days and this stroke will not be a problem. As your serve develops, so should your tactics. Diversifying your locations will keep your opponents off-guard and open up opportunities on your second ball. Serve and volley occasionally, or, if you’ve started to use one, hit a kick on your first serve up high to your opponent’s backhand— these plays will disrupt his return rhythm. And when you get to a big point, it’s a smart play to serve to your opponent’s more vulnerable side, as this will put pressure on him to come up with a big reply.
One more tip, like on the groundies, the weight if possible wants to be forward, so as a rough guide if your back foot can come forward as a natural movement after the shot then you have achieved a good weight transfer. Then of course be ready for the next shot, or hopefully your serve will be a winner!