Tennis Serving Rules: How to Serve Properly?


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Serves are the heart of the tennis game. It has a tremendous potential to help the tennis player win over their opponent in the game. But the tennis serve can be a powerful weapon, only when the game technique is correct. Incorrect tennis serves can more be a liability rather than an asset. To learn the correct tennis serving technique, more than simply serving tips, the players have to practice tremendously and master their serving skills. 

The Serve

Before the service, the server has to stand at rest, behind the baseline. They then release the ball by hand and hit the ball with their racquet before it touches the ground. The player should toss the ball with one hand and use the racket with the other hand. In a standard game, the server serves from the right half of the court and serve the ball over the net, at the diagonally opposite direction for the receiver to return it. This is true in a tie-break game as well.

Check out: Best Tennis Racquets for Beginners

Step by Step Progression of Learning to Serve Properly

Tennis Serving Rules

The following technical progression is mandatory to build a proper tennis serve. It can also be of use to correct the existing serve technique.

Following a Proper Stance

A proper stance before attempting the tennis serve is to stand at the right stance. The feet should be positioned in such a way that the front foot points towards the net post and the left foot lies parallel to the baseline. 

Make sure that the toes are aligned towards the heel of the right foot, to stay stable in all the directions. This basic stance can be adjusted depending on the direction in which one is serving. There are generally two types of stances on the serve, namely the pin-point stance and the platform stance.

In the platform stance, the feet stay in the same position throughout the entire service motion. The player only bends their knees and tilt their body to push themselves upwards to complete the serve. In the pinpoint stance, the player initiates the serve from the platform stance, and they toss the ball up, they bring the back foot closer to the front one and push towards the ball upwards.

Choosing the Correct Grip

The clue for a successful service is a continental grip. Players should grip their racquet like a hammer and hold it with its edge perpendicular to the ground. Place the index finger of the other hand between the palm and the fingers of the hand with which you are holding the racquet. If it fits in the valley, then you are using the racquet with an ideal grip size. The way one holds the racquet determines the effectiveness of their serve.

Check out: Best Tennis Overgrips

Key Tips to Master the Tennis Serve

  • The tennis serve becomes quite easy to master with these simple and proven tips from professionals.
  • Learn to accelerate the racquet in a relaxed and loose way, so that it gives more power to the ball than tensing the body and arm.
  • Players can gain more power by decelerating the body before contact rather than rotating their body through contact.
  • Tennis players should swing up towards the ball, and should not swing down. 
  • Players should swing the racquet initially in a different direction, rather than in the direction of the target.

Players should master the fundamentals of the serving technique which is crucial in helping them to learn to hit appropriately with great power and consistency. 

Tennis Serving Rules

A coin toss generally determines which player serves in the tennis game first. The winner of the toss chooses the side they wish to play on and get the chance to serve first as well. After the first serve, the two sides alternate serving through the rest of the game. When the score is even, the player has to serve from the right side of the court into the left side of the opponent’s court. And when the score is odd, the player serves from the left side of the court into the right side of the opponent’s court.

The server has to serve from behind the baseline. The player gets two chances to make a proper service at each point. If the player doesn’t make a proper service on neither of them, it then counts as a double fault and the point goes to the opponent. Each game in the tennis match starts with the server on the right side of the court and serve cross-court, into the diagonal service box. 

If the player fails to hit in the first serve, they get another chance to take the ball to the opponent’s court. The rules about the second serve are as follows.

The Serve is a Let if,

  • The served ball touches the net, band, or strap and lands in the court.
  • The served ball touches the net, band, and strap and also touches the receiver or their clothes before hitting the ground.
  • The ball is served when the opponent is not ready.
  • The let serve doesn’t count and the server has to serve again.

The Serve is a Fault if,

  • The server misses the ball while they try to hit it.
  • The ball touches a permanent fixture, net post or singles stick before hitting the ground.
  • The served ball touches anything that the server is wearing or their partner.

Foot Fault

  • During the service motion, the player should not change their position by walking or running, though slight movements are not allowed.
  • The player should not touch the court of the baseline with their foot.
  • The player should not touch the imaginary extension of the center mark with their foot.

Final Words

Though we have discussed only overhead serves, underhand serves are allowed as well. Some players also use them occasionally to surprise their opponents. The tennis game serves are the most controlled shots in the game. It is a combination of both a physical and a mental motion which when struck right helps the player to move towards their winning paradigm.



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