Best way to practice serves?

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by dknotty, Jun 30, 2013.

  1. dknotty

    dknotty Semi-Pro

    Apr 23, 2013
    Is that with a big bucket of balls, and serve a few hundred at a time? I think I have the basics, may need to work on the toss but I'll post a video in due course.
  2. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

    Mar 31, 2008
    sounds like too many serves to me, unless you have worked up to it.
    I'm thinking 20-50 serves, 2-3 times during a practice.

    Try some serving into the back fence where there is little focus on target and
    much focus on swing. See what you think.
    We usually do 5-10 of these, then do much better when serving into the court.
    If I feel they start to worry too much about the target again....we just
    shift back to the back fence again.

    Swing almost always looks way better and more powerful into the back fence,
    then often loses some luster when going over the net.
    We go back and forth till we can keep the aggression into the back fence in
    force when we are serving over the net. :)
  3. HughJars

    HughJars Banned

    Jan 7, 2013
    Personally, serving to an empty court with buckets of balls doesnt help my game. In fact, Ive gotten frustrated and come off the court after doing this feeling I've taken a step back with things more often than not. I overthink things to much when working on it by myself, and I end up getting consumed in this, trying to hard and frustration spirals out of control. And I get damn sore at the same time after wacking 100's of balls.

    I have achieved the biggest inroads in improving my serve from two situations:
    - when there is someone around to offer feedback (a coach or hitting partner)
    - in a game or mini game situation, where the focus is more on placement/tactics rather than concsiously self-anaylsing technique (I know playing serve/volley always naturally increases me serve consistency as it gets me moving into the court).

    My serve is easily the strongest part of my game now. These are just my own experiences, but you might find merit in them. Good luck :)
  4. charliefedererer

    charliefedererer Legend

    Feb 13, 2009
    Don't waste your time, and blow out your shoulder doing too much "mindless" serving.

    Step one is to have a really great swing, and using your leg push off, coiling/uncoiling and bow/reverse the bow to poser your swing.

    Better to shadow that swing until it is "perfect" - and then learn to toss into your swing.
    (Too many let faulty tosses alter their swing.)

    Do the thrower's ten exercises to make sure your rotator cuff and arm are ready to do all that bashing:

    Make sure there are no technique problems in your serve that could result in shoulder problems:

    Preventing Rotator Cuff Injury

    Your serve technique doing more harm than good?

    Rotator cuff injury

    Listen to your body and don't be afraid to leave early rather than "too late".
    Better to start your serving program by starting with 50 serves in a session and slowly increasing, rather than starting too high then being forced to take time off.

    After taking say 20 warm up serves, consider playing simulated games.
    In your simulated games move your serve around in both the deuce and ad court, for both your first and second serves.
    The simulated game approach keeps the mind sharp in practice, and even helps prepare you for the thought process in match play.
    (Of course if you are having trouble with a particular serve or placement, you can always take a few more to develop "muscle memory", then continue on with your game.)
  5. newpball

    newpball Legend

    May 28, 2013
    Then you might want to see it as a great opportunity to practice and improve mental toughness!

    I also have difficulties practicing serves. For me it goes in waves, for minutes on every serve is good and where I wanted it, I sometimes feel strange about it, it goes too smooth, a strange feeling of lack of self doubt, and then it turns and I get minutes where everything seems to fall apart. :)
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2013
  6. boramiNYC

    boramiNYC Hall of Fame

    Jun 29, 2011
    in real match situation, two things that are important are have a clear target and make sure to make it in. it's important to keep this mindset from the first ball you serve to the last. you can temporarily ignore these when you wanna just focus on the mechanical side of things but it's important not to make that as a habit and recover the correct mindset asap. in practice make sure this mindset is clearly set before serving each ball until it becomes a habit. best is not to serve unless you make sure of this mindset. never serve mindlessly.
  7. HughJars

    HughJars Banned

    Jan 7, 2013
    Yeah I know what you mean.
  8. ProgressoR

    ProgressoR Hall of Fame

    Feb 1, 2010
    No Man's Land
    For me this is the key. If I focus on getting it in, making sure I dont miss, then I can decelerate or not swing freely, thus making it more likely to miss.

    What I try to remember is that my serve is the most consistent, when I toss nice and high, get a good bow, and swing freely, focussing on more pace/spin as is relevant for that specific serve.

    So i try to replicate what makes me consistent. Just thinking and trying to get it in puts pressure on myself and causes more errors. Maybe its just me.
  9. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

    Dec 28, 2008
    East side of San Francisco Bay
    When you practice serves, you have to delineate between repetition to keep or create rythum, hard first serves for winners, safe second serves, and different placements of each, while considering whether or not you are going to net position.
    So, at least 5 different goals, and that many different practice techniques.
    And since some of us have twists, tops, top/slices, and flats, multiply those in with the various placements.
    And for just first serves, add those and 3 quadrants.
  10. user92626

    user92626 Legend

    Jan 27, 2008
    The serve is the hardest.

    I watch Federer and he looks like he could swing as hard as his strength allows.

    To me the swing path concept is the hardest part to grasp.
  11. Kilco

    Kilco Guest

    Use cans as targets or whatever, it makes it more fun. If you miss a first serve hit a second serve and give yourself punishments for missing like pushups. Take your time. Go through your pre service routine like a match and keep an imaginary score.
  12. travlerajm

    travlerajm Legend

    Mar 14, 2006
    When I practice serves, my goal is usually to improve the efficiency of my motion. My go-to serve is my hard kicker. The effectiveness of this type of serve tends to correlate strongly with high high on the fence it hits.

    The higher it hits on the fence, the heavier the serve. The heavier the serve, the higher the raccquethead speed. The higher the racquethead speed, the faster the ball dives downward into the box. The faster the ball dives downward into the box, the higher my serve percentage.

    So I usually pick elements of my motion and focus on tweaking them to see how it effects the ball trajectory (as measured by ball bounce). I work on finding the optimum toss location. Optimum toss height? How much can I lean my hip out into the court? How much can I toss the ball to my left to get better back arch without losing racquethead speed? How wide should my stance be? How far into the court should I be landing?

    I like to pick only one or two of these elements per session and try to always end the session with improvement in ball bounce from the beginning of the session.

    Other times, I might work on optimizing the sideways kick of my twist serve. This also depends on maximizing racquethead speed, but it requires a different trajectory with more spin and less speed for optimum effectiveness.

    As long as I am always working on a specific element, there is something to hold my interest.
  13. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

    Dec 28, 2008
    East side of San Francisco Bay
    I"m pretty much beyond improvement, so I'll try to maximise what I had.....
    First flat serves, 3 spots each side, maximum of 3 serves to each spot. The arm isn't good for more, neither is the shoulder, body, legs, or concentration. Hit only at maximum speed, since you play what your practice.
    First topspin serves, 3 spots each side, maybe also 3 to each spot.
    First twist serves, I need more work on, only go wide duece (me lefty), so can hit 7-10.
    Second safe serves, aimed only left or reciever or right, maybe 5 each.
    Second twist serves, shorter than for firsts, and on both sides, around 3-5.
    Second high kickers, usually top/slices, 3 quadrants, maybe 3-5.
    I'm pretty worn out after that ugly serving display.

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