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Hold serve like a pro

Some players use the serve just as a means of starting a point. Other players hit their first serve as hard as they can (where it goes no one knows) and just dink their second serve in. The pro's use their serve to start the point with an advantage and so should you.

The rules for serving are fairly simple. Stand behind the baseline, toss the ball up, and hit it to the short box cross court. The most challenging and most important part of the serve is the toss. If the toss is in the right location it will be much easier to swing through the ball creating more power and spin than you might have thought was possible. If the toss is in the wrong spot it is very tough to get the ball in play. (Trivia question #1: How many times can you catch a bad toss before getting punished for it?)

Pro players have at least 3 types of serves. We can have 3 types of serves as well, they may not be as strong as the pro's but they can be just as effective for our matches. Potential types of serves include:

Flat serve - This serve does not have much spin but it has good speed. It is best used to catch your opponent of guard

Slice serve - This serve has side spin and some speed. The serve is best used to slide the ball away from your opponent or into their body.

Kick serve - This serve has top spin and little speed. Most opponents will return this serve into the net or the back fence. It is difficult to hit this serve like the pro's but there are other ways to hit it without damaging your shoulder.

Under hand serve - This serve can have massive amounts of side spin with little power. This serve is useful if you have shoulder problems.

Pro players have at least 3 targets in each service box. We can effectively hit 3 targets in each service box as well with a little practice. The easiest way to cut and label the service boxes in 1/3rds (north to south on the court) using a numbers system, from left to right 1, 2, 3, are in the deuce service box while 4, 5, 6 are in the ad service box.

Practicing your sever is like practicing your putting, it can be very boring unless you make a game of it. I have found that playing games using tennis scoring against each target with each type of spin will help keep up focus and increase ability. When playing these games give yourself 2 serves for each target before losing the point, if you make your first serve take the point.

It is important that you only spend 30 - 40 minutes of serve practice each day with at least 1 day of rest before practicing the serve again. If you do this training 2 days a week you will see major improvement in 6 to 8 weeks!