Article  SV301                                                                                                                                                                                                              

How to hold serve when you don’t have a powerful serve.

Most ordinary club players and even some good club players cannot hit a hard serve, and often when they do,
their serve is very inconsistent. It is surprising how many club players actually dread having to serve. They believe
the serve is just a necessity to start a point.

If you look at many of the pro players, other than those in the top 100, many do not blast the ball at 120 or even
100 mph. John McEnroe did not have a big serve but was very adept at using the various types of serves and
getting a high percentage of first serves into the boxes.

Your serve can become a weapon even at 60 m.p.h. The following are areas to work on to make the most use of
what you have.

Work on placement, spin and consistency. Hitting the ball hard is not what makes a great serve, you need to be
able to move the ball around, hit a variety of serves – flat – slice – topspin etc., and get a high percentage in the
correct service box.

Make sure you serve with a purpose.

First you need to concentrate on your serve and where you intend to put the ball from the moment you walk
up to the line. Develop a ritual, such as bouncing the ball a few times, this should be done the same every single
time and whilst bouncing the ball, visualise where you intend the ball to go.

Think from that moment that your serve is part of a strategy and not just to get the ball into play.  Until the ball
leaves your racquet, you are in complete control of what youdo and your opponent is at your mercy. The serve
is the first shot in a series of shots in your tactics. As an example place your serve wide to the opponent’s forehand,
hit the next shot to the open court and close into the net.

Get to know your opponent’s weakness.

A soft serve can be effective if it’s hit to your opponent’s weak side; are they finding it difficult to deal with a low
ball, then use some slice.

Vary the height of the serve over the net.

Gain some experience with using spin then your serve becomes more effective, vary the height – after a slice
serve send down a top spin.

Now and again you should hit a short serve, especially if your opponent likes standing well back to receive.
When faced with a low, short serve, club players often run too fast and take a big swing over hitting the ball.

Vary the direction of your serve, keep the opponent guessing don’t let them get comfortable with your delieveries.