Despite the changes in today’s modern game where groundstrokes rule the planet, every tennis player desires to have a big serve. In particular, when the match is closely contested, winning easy points is a premium and possessing a big serve will decide the match. To me, far too many tennis players toss poorly and do not have the necessary balance to be good servers. In order to achieve serving success, I like to put my students in big buckets or a big tennis case.
The key is to make sure the server is comfortable but I want them to feel their immediate boundaries. Once the player is comfortable in the buckets (see picture above) it is time to toss the ball and make contact. Without a doubt, most recreational players will need a few practice tosses before she is ready to blast off and really hit a big serve. Once relaxed, the player is now tossing with more confidence and has put the ball into position to hit an effective serve. Most important, the server has achieved great balance and now is hitting the proper targets. At this stage, we have accomplished 50% of our goal; now it is time to focus on hitting ‘up’ and extending through the stroke. Therefore, we had added another coaching aid, the Target Trainer.
We place the Target Trainer approximately four or five feet in front of the baseline and instruct our student to hit over the Trainer. This new teaching tool will either be the player’s best friend or perhaps their worst enemy! The server who is either too anxious or is fearful of a higher toss, will absolutely hate the Target Trainer because it gets in the way of their low serve. Players who toss the ball too low will literally hit the serve at the ‘Trainer’ and the ball will fire right back! Consequently, the server must toss and hit the ball at a higher point or they will feel immediate rejection. After four decades of coaching, I can proudly boast that most players will quickly improve their serves with these two effective teaching aids because they clearly understand the assignment.
Now to add the cherry on top of the awesome ice cream dessert, I implement my Ipad2 video recorder to show my student how they have done as they serve ball after ball with their feet firmly placed in the buckets and the serve landing over the Target Trainers. To enable continued success, I immediately email the recording so, if needed, my student can re-visit their lesson. Even if you are a new beginning senior tennis player, with the use of the Target Trainer alone, will enhance deeper serves on every point.
Tennis players who strike the ball with solid balance and meet the ball at the peak (or near) will inevitably become better servers overnight. On the flip side, if a tennis person continues to lose balance and contact the ball on the lower side will never become top-level tennis players. No one can win their serves on a consistent basis if they serve poorly. Give this new plan a try and let me know how you are progressing. Good luck.
Doug Browne is the Hideaway Beach Tennis Director and the new Collier County USPTA Pro of the Year. Additionally, Doug has been the International Hall of Fame Director of Tennis this past summer. Doug has been writing his tennis column for the past fifteen years and welcomes your feedback.