How to: Serve Like a Tennis Champ
As told to us by 21-year-old Canadian ATP phenomenon, Milos Raonic.
A powerful first serve is great, but if you can’t follow up with something clever—like a deadly, swooping kick serve—consider yourself beaten. Here’s how to do it.
The Stance – Place your right foot slightly parallel to the baseline and your left foot pointing toward the right net post.
Use the Right Grip – Go for the Eastern Backhand grip (the same grip you’d use for a single-hand backhand), commonly considered the most effective for this serve. “Place your index knuckle right between the left and the right bevel on the topside of your grip.”
Where to Toss the Ball – If you’ve noticed, some pros are so good they don’t need to alternate the direction of their tosses for different serves. You are not a pro, so pay attention: cradling the ball with your fingertips, practice tossing it up so that it falls just behind your head. “This is where you want it to start dropping.”
Use Your Legs, Arch Your Back, Turn Your Shoulders – “A lot of people think all the force for this shot comes from the arm or shoulder, but the legs are just as crucial. Arch your back a little, too.” Bend your knees then spring upwards when you’re about to hit the ball.
Swing – “The main action to think about is hitting the ball from its bottom straight up to its top,” says Raonic. “Picture the ball as a clock. The top of your racquet’s face should brush the ball from 7:00 to 1:00; this puts the right spin on it.” Hit the ball 6 to 12 inches below the full upward extension of your reach.
Follow Through – “Make sure to follow all the way through; don’t stop on impact,” stresses Raonic. Your racquet should follow through to the left of your body. You won’t get this right away, so keep at it. Once you’ve nailed the serve, the ball should curve slightly upwards upon impact, then dip straight down into your opponent’s quadrant. – LP