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The Art of a Tennis Serve
A detailed, step-by-step guide on how to master the tennis serve
As with most aspects of tennis, footing is prime in mastering the serve. If your feet are not where they are supposed to be, you will be off balance and no matter how powerful a serve you hit, it will likely go out.
With respect to the baseline, your feet must always remain parallel and facing the right side of the court. For lefties, you should be facing the left side. Keep the back foot several feet behind the front so that it may provide a steady balance to the whole process. The only time your feet should cross the baseline is when you step in to hit the ball. Where you step in combined with the angle at which the ball is hit determines where the ball will land.
Although it may seem menial, tossing the ball can make all the difference in serving. A low toss will result in the ball smashing into the net, and a toss that is too high yields in a fault. There is no exact height that the ball should be thrown; it all depends on the height and reach of the player. Toss the ball no higher than the maximum reach of your arm and hit it at its apex, or highest point.
Another factor to keep in mind is the grip. As opposed to other shots, such as the forehand and backhand, the serve requires a continental grip. It is essentially the same as a normal grip, however, the grip is held as if you are shaking hands and a v should be formed with respect to the grip and your hands.
Once all of this is mastered, it is time to work on the actual stroke. Once you toss the ball, proceed to place the racquet behind your back as if you are winding up, and strike the ball once it reaches the apex. Do not forget to snap your wrist once there is contact and keep your elbows unlocked, as locking them can result in long-term damage to your arm.
Now that you have all the steps laid out in front of you, the only thing left is to go try it for yourself. If any difficulty remains, there are several other tips to keep in mind while practicing.
When starting out, try serving without the ball so that you may get the form down without actually having to hit a serve. Once you feel confident with your form, try the real thing.
In addition, it is not necessary to hit every serve with all your might. Try hitting a few serves at a slower pace and get them in often, then move on to more powerful, aimed strokes.
Tennis is a demanding and consuming sport, however, if enough effort is put into out, an equal amount of experience will be earned. Good luck!