Technical Clinic - Serve & Returns

The two most important shots in tennis are the serve and return of serve. They are also the least practiced.

Any player who can improve these shots becomes a much tougher opponent to beat. Moreover the serve is the only shot in tennis over which you have complete control, without your opponent being able to affect.

Serve technique

1. Balanced stance
2. Ball Placement
3. Throwing action
4. Grip change (for advanced players)

Where to aim your serve

Most players are happy just to get their serve to land anywhere in the service box and this is okay to reach a very high standard of play. At a more sophisticated level, the following 'Rules of Thumb' apply:-

Serve out wide
a) Advantage - can make your opponent stretch/out of reach
b) Disadvantage - creates angles if opponent can reach it
Serve down the middle
a) Advantage - cuts out all angles forcing a straight return
b) Disadvantage - unlikely to bring an error from the return
Serve into the body
a) Advantage - jams up opponents' swing, stopping a powerful return
b) Disadvantage - unless very accurate, simply allows easy return

Differences between 1st and 2nd serves

Clearly a second serve must go in or you lose the point. The first serve becomes vital, because a high percentage of successful first serves takes pressure off your second serve. Aim for 65% of first serves to go in.

Return of serve

Follow these simple rules to return strong serves

Serves down the middle - return down the line
Serves out wide - return cross-court
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