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How to Serve in Tennis: A Step-by-Step Guide for Perfecting Your Technique

Serving is a crucial part of tennis that can make all the difference in a match. However, it can be one of the most challenging aspects of the game to master.

Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned player, improving your serve technique is essential to enhance your game and win more matches.

In this beginner’s guide on “How to Serve in Tennis,” we’ll cover everything you need to know about serving in tennis. From the basic fundamentals to advanced techniques, we’ll break down each aspect of the serve, so you can perfect your form and serve with confidence. We’ll also provide you with tips and tricks to help you develop a consistent and powerful serve. With this comprehensive guide on how to serve in tennis, you’ll be able to serve like a pro and take your game to the next level.

Mastering the Serve in Tennis: Step 1 – Perfecting Your Stance

To achieve a proper tennis serve stance, position your feet so that the front foot points towards the right net post (for right-handers) and the back foot is parallel to the baseline. This basic stance provides balance in all directions, with the toes of the back foot roughly aligned with the heel of the front foot. Adjust your stance depending on the direction you’re serving to.

If you’re a beginner looking to learn the correct serve technique, it’s recommended to start from the ad side. This is because there’s less difference in the swing path and the actual ball flight, making it easier to master at the early stages of learning.
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Mastering the Serve in Tennis: Step 2 – Perfecting Your Grip

To achieve a proper tennis serve grip, use a continental grip. To check if you have this grip, hold the racquet like a hammer with the edge perpendicular to the ground. Place your left index finger in the “valley” between the thumb and index finger of your right hand (for right-handers), just next to the bone on the thumb. Your left index finger should point to the top left edge on the racquet handle.

The way you grip your racquet is crucial to your serve technique and its effectiveness. In addition to the continental grip, there are two more tips that can help you perfect your grip. The first involves gripping the racquet with fingers spread more apart to aid with pronation. The second is an exercise to find a loose grip just before you start your serving ritual.

Mastering the Serve in Tennis: Step 3 – Perfecting Your Drop, Swing, and Pronation

The hitting part of the tennis serve is where it either happens correctly or incorrectly. Backswing elements, such as coiling, bending your knees, and maintaining the trophy position, are ways to gather energy to release explosively into contact with the ball. The hitting moment defines whether the ball is hit correctly and cleanly or not.

The elements above influence but are not directly responsible for the correct hitting of the ball. The hitting part consists of smaller parts: loose drop of the racquet and arm, swing up and contact, and pronation.

The loose drop before the swing up is achieved by bouncing or dangling the racquet behind you. The swing up and pronation parts are best imagined and learned by placing two rows of balls on the ground.

The hitting part of the serve is not one single swing through the ball with the whole arm. It’s internal rotation of the upper arm and pronation of the forearm that create two racquet paths before and after contact. Swing towards the ball at a 45-degree angle and follow the first row of balls. After contact, push the racquet head straight towards the net and follow the second row of balls, finishing on the right side of the body.

By merging these two swing paths together, you’ll perfect the flat serve. Correcting old serve techniques is crucial to prevent the dreaded waiter’s serve position of the racquet.

Mastering the Serve in Tennis: Step 4 – Perfecting Your Backswing and Toss

Once you have established the hitting part of the tennis serve, you need to transition to it from the initial serving position. This step combines the backswing with the toss since they happen simultaneously.

The serve toss is often tricky to master and is often practiced on its own. However, it’s more effective to simulate your backswing while practicing the toss to ensure that all body parts move in sync to be accurate.

The key points about the toss are to place the ball in the middle of your hand, hold it gently with your thumb on top, and toss with a straight arm using only your shoulder joint. Release the ball at eye level and keep lifting your arm following the ball.

The backswing should be a relaxed swing backward, as if your arm and the racquet are a pendulum that you swing back. The tossing arm moves up simultaneously as the dominant arm swings up. The tricky thing is that the tossing arm is stiffer since it’s lifting the ball accurately up toward the contact point, while the serving arm has to be relaxed.

As you swing back, your arm ends up in the trophy position. I suggest not looking for a vertical racquet in the trophy position because it falls back into the waiter’s tray position, making the timing of the toss and swing up more difficult.

The whole backswing and toss sequence involves swinging both arms simultaneously, with the tossing arm lifting the ball up and the hitting arm reaching the trophy position, with the racquet slightly tilted.

Initiate the backswing and toss from body rotation, which starts the coiling phase to generate power. Practicing turning the body first before starting the toss and backswing may be challenging to place the ball accurately, but it helps in completing the whole serve up until contact and gaining more power from having more torque in your body.

Mastering the Serve in Tennis: Step 5 – Serving in Two Parts

In this step, we will break down the serve into two parts: the backswing & toss (Step 4) followed by the hitting part (Step 3).

Start by completing the backswing & toss phase and catching the ball in your hand while holding your trophy position. Toss again from this position and complete the hitting part with the drop and two swing paths.

Continue serving in two parts until you can accurately toss the ball and find your trophy position easily. Then, you can put your serve together. But first, let’s focus on the key move that generates power.

Mastering the Serve in Tennis: Step 6 – Generating Power

The power move is a crucial part of the serve that generates effortless power. It is initiated from the trophy position, where two things must happen simultaneously: the racquet starts to drop, and the body starts to rotate/turn forward. This creates a stretch through the body, like a giant rubber band, that wants to snap back to its original state.

Tensing your muscles in this phase of the serve is a common mistake, as the principle of stretching your body and allowing it to snap back generates much more racquet head speed than the principle of tense muscles. The power move has to be practiced often to feel the lag of the racquet and how to create a whip effect with it.

We initiate the body turn through our hips and then use our trunk and shoulders to rotate forward while we let the racquet lag or trail behind. This only happens when we relax our arm so that the muscles in the shoulders and chest get stretched.

The rotation of the body can be exaggerated to really feel how the racquet lags and then shoots out from our backswing through the contact zone. However, when it comes to correct serve technique, we actually decelerate and stop the body rotation at around a 45-degree angle between the baseline and the net. This allows for the transfer of momentum to happen, where the momentum built in the body is then transferred to the arm, which accelerates since it is much lighter than the body.
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Mastering the Serve in Tennis: Step 7 – Executing the Follow-Through

Starting with “Mastering the Serve in Tennis,” it is important to note that starting with a few serves in two parts can be a great way to serve correctly. However, once you have a good grasp on this technique, it is time to take a leap of faith and do the complete serve from start to finish. At this stage, it is also important to clarify the follow-through on the serve.

While watching professional players serve, you may notice that they finish their serve on the left side of their body (for right-handers). It may be tempting to try to copy this aspect of their serve, but it is important to understand that they do not forcefully push their racquet to the left side. Instead, it is simply the inertia and relaxation of their body and serving arm that swings the racquet in that direction.

The direction of the swing and force during the serve is outward towards the ball, roughly at a 45-degree angle for right-handers. Once the pronation takes place, the swing changes direction. After the pronation, it is important to relax the body and arm, as all the work has been done and the ball is on its way. This relaxation eventually brings the arm to the left side.

It is important to understand that some parts of the serve require intentional swing and force, while other parts of the serve just happen due to relaxation and inertia. Therefore, it is not necessary to try to “do” the parts of the serve that just happen.


This step-by-step guide provides a comprehensive overview of how to perfect your tennis serve technique. Starting with the proper stance and grip, the guide covers the essential elements of a good serve, including the importance of the toss, backswing, and the power move. The guide stresses the importance of relaxation in generating power and emphasizes that the follow-through happens naturally through the relaxation of the body and arm. Additionally, it provides tips on how to serve in tennis, such as imagining the ball as a target and the racquet as a pendulum to improve accuracy, and using drills to develop muscle memory. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced player looking to improve your serve, this guide will help you take your tennis game to the next level. The best tennis rackets for advanced players are here


How can I practice my serve effectively for tennis?

To practice your tennis serve effectively, focus on consistency and technique. Set specific targets, use drills that simulate match situations, and record your serves for analysis. Incorporate the tips and techniques from the guide on “How to Serve in Tennis” to improve your practice sessions.

How can I improve the accuracy of my serve in tennis?

Improving serve accuracy requires consistent practice. Focus on your ball toss, as a reliable toss leads to better control. Visualize your target and aim for specific areas of the service box. Adjust your stance and grip as needed for better accuracy.

What is the ideal contact point for a tennis serve?

The ideal contact point for a tennis serve is slightly in front of your body, around the highest point of your toss. Aim to make contact at full extension, ensuring you strike the ball at the optimal height to generate power and control.

What are some common serving mistakes in tennis and how to fix them?

Common serving mistakes include improper ball toss, incorrect grip, and lack of body rotation. To fix them, focus on a consistent and accurate toss, experiment with different grips to find what works best for you, and practice incorporating proper body rotation for power and control.

Can I use the same serve for singles and doubles in tennis?

While the guide on “How to Serve in Tennis” emphasizes the fundamentals of a good serve, it also acknowledges the need for variations in singles and doubles play. Consider incorporating the techniques provided in the guide to develop specific serves tailored for singles and doubles formats.