Tennis Tips From Nigel Bentley
There is nothing more satisfying than serving an ace.
Serving is the most important shot in the game although it often is
neglected on the practice court. There are many important factors to
hitting a good serve. Some tips to remember include maintaining a
relaxed wrist and smooth uninterrupted swing. This, combined with the
proper mixture of power, placement, spin and variety, could make your
serve a weapon.
Keeping a very loose wrist and staying relaxed will allow your racket
head to swing more comfortably. Inexperienced players sometimes get in
trouble at the start of their serve by holding the ball against the
strings without using the support of their non-playing hand. This will
cause the forearm and wrist muscles to tense. As a player's serve
improves, a relaxed wrist becomes more important for providing greater
power as you will need to "snap" your wrist. Also, a relaxed wrist
provides muscle flexibility in order to create spin, which is
particularly important on the second serve. Ideally, the racket speed
of both first and second serves is similar. However, the second serve
does not usually have as much ball speed as the first serve because the
added spin will slow the ball down.
Perhaps the two biggest changes in tennis over the last 20 years are
one, today's top players are hit open stance forehands and two, the
return of serve, once a defensive shot, with new racket technology has
become an offensive opportunity. This means smart serving placement is
crucial. Inexperienced servers should aim to the receiver's weaker
side. Stronger servers should serve smart by reading your opponent's
grips. Recognizing and understanding different grips can be very
helpful. Keep the placement of your serve away from your opponent's
strike zone, which will differ depending on the style of player you are
Serving against the continental grip
Generally players with a continental grip prefer to hit low wide balls.
Getting the ball high to the forehand can be difficult for the receiver.
The receiver may only be able to block the ball in play neglecting any
Serving against a western grip
Players with this type of grip prefer higher balls so a low or flat
serve can be effective. A slice serve moving away from the receiver
usually produces weak returns.
Serving against the two-handed backhand
Players with two-handed backhands have limited reach so a wide, low
serve is a good choice because the receiver will have trouble reaching
the ball or will be pulled out of court position. Also a slice serve at
the body can work because it jams the player.
Serving against the one-handed backhand
Usually players with one-handed backhands have difficulty with higher
balls. Often placing the serve high will result in a weak or floating
type of return.
Tennis is a game that requires many different athletic talents.
Extraordinary hand eye coordination, flat out speed, balance, endurance
and strength are just some of the talents needed to be successful. But
tennis also requires much thinking and an understanding of when to hit
hard or soft, when to attack or stay back, when to be cautious and when
to be aggressive. When serving, be smart by exposing weaknesses of your
opponents and maximizing your strengths by using good placement,
changing speeds and mixing spins.