The serve in tennis

The serve in tennis

The serve in tennis is one of the most important moments of the game, with a good serve we can start dominating the point and even win it directly. It is a very complex shot, but we start with the advantage that when we throw the ball to ourselves, we depend only on ourselves.
In this article, we will talk about different aspects related to the serve, types of strategies, grips, how to improve the serve and the importance of the psychology of the serve.

What types of serves are there in tennis?

Professional players have developed different techniques and serving styles to get the most out of their serve and make a difference in a match.  An example of a power serve is Serena Williams, whose passing style is characterised by a high launch, quick arm flexion and explosive body extension. This combination allows her to generate enormous power and put the ball in places that are difficult for opponents.  Another iconic player known for his devastating serves is Goran Ivanisevic. During his career, Ivanisevic was famous for his "hammer arm". He would swing his arms in a wide arc and hit the ball with great force, giving him many direct points.
Other examples are Ivo Karlovic, John Isner, Ray Opelka, these great servers have height as a common denominator.
There are also players who stand out for their precision, such as Roger Federer. Federer uses a smooth and fluid technique, focusing on the placement and variation of his serve, which allows him to place the ball where he wants it and establish the right strategy for the rest of the point.
When choosing a serving style, it is not only the player's technique that is taken into account, but also the type of court the player is playing on, as the ball behaves differently depending on the type of court.
On grass and hard courts, where the ball bounces low and fast, players tend to look for a softer and more efficient serve. When hitting a ball with a flatter trajectory, the idea is to stay close to the ground and move faster. Some players opt for a slice spin, which further reduces the bounce height of the ball, making it even more difficult for the opponent.  Conversely, on clay courts, where the ball bounces higher due to the slower surface, players may prefer a topspin serve. When applying a topspin, the ball is higher in its trajectory and bounces higher off the surface.
Some players may maintain a similar serving style on different surfaces, while others may change their approach to take advantage of the specific characteristics of each surface.
Professional players seek to position the serve to take advantage of the opponent's weaknesses, aiming to the side or body, hitting open serves to the side with varying speed and spin to unbalance the opponent.

The psychology of the tennis serve

The mental side of the serve is fundamental in tennis. Concentration, confidence and emotional control play an important role when serving under pressure. Strategies such as having a pre-serve ritual, breath control and focusing on the present are common tactics among players to overcome mental challenges.
A player's attitude may vary depending on whether he or she is performing the first or second serve in a tennis game:
When a player is preparing to serve first, he or she generally displays a more determined and aggressive attitude. This serve is an opportunity to win a direct point or an early advantage. Players are usually more concentrated and focused on hitting a powerful and accurate serve. They are also looking to place the ball in a strategic position on the court to make it difficult for their opponent to serve the rest of the serve.
On the second serve, the player's attitude is also influenced by his or her personality and individual playing style. Some may show a more aggressive attitude on the second serve, taking the risk to gain an advantage, while others may choose to be more conservative and focus on securing the serve in play.

How to improve your serve in tennis?

  • Work on your technique: Make sure you have a balanced stance, proper grip on the racket handle, and make a fluid arm movement and full extension at impact.
  • Work on coordination: Practice coordination between arm movement and foot step to make sure they are in sync. Also, practice anticipating hitting the ball at the highest point of your release.
  • Practice various serves: Experiment with different types of serves, such as the flat serve, slice serve and topspin serve. Learn to vary the speed, angle and placement of your serve, avoid having a pattern.
  • Practice mental focus: As mentioned earlier, the serve involves a strong mentality. Learn to control your nerves and stay focused during the serve. Use visualisation techniques and positive affirmations to build your confidence and reduce pressure in key situations.