Teaching Tennis Serve To Beginners: 5 Simple Steps

A good serve sets the tone for the match. It’s a show of power, a parade of skill, and a guaranteed point. The shot is yours from start to finish. 

Psychological control is a significant determinant of success in any game, if you give your opponent the feeling that you are a much better player, then you already gained leverage. 

The first serve is a good place to wield that vibe. 

Teaching tennis serve to beginners is fundamental to proper playing, and a sure winner when it’s done right. Development from that point is quite easy as it sums up many complex skills. 

Here’s a breakdown of the perfect serve:

Step 1: The Stance 

Standing correctly is more than just proper form. It serves an important function, which is giving your racket the right amount of force and pointing it in the right direction. 

The target is hitting the ball forcefully across the court, preferably, at a point that your opponent can’t return. 

Standing incorrectly will either send the ball in the wrong direction, or deliver a weak serve that the other player could take advantage of, and slam it right back at you.

The best starting position is to stand right behind the line, with the front foot making a 45-degree angle with the line, and the other one is parallel to the line. 

This will shift all your body to face the opposite post a little, at this point you are winding up your whole core for maximum power. 

It’s similar to pulling the string of the bow backwards to let it fire up an arrow at full force. They’re both projectile motions.

Your shoulder should be aligned with your feet, the uneven rotation will take away from your momentum. Your elbow and wrist will align with ease, it’s a natural movement. 

Once you have your body in a good position, move on to the grip. 

Step 2: The Grip

Here’s a simple rule to remember: hold your racket as if it were a hatchet, not a frying pan. I read that awesome metaphor a while ago, and it stuck in my head ever since. 

A more proper manner to explain this is, hold your racket using the oriental or continental grip, and for now, don’t use the western grip. 

Your index finger needs to be a little bit to the front for guidance and extra control. This is much more important than many players think. 

Step 3: The Toss

Throwing the ball upwards and out, at a proper height is the key to a successful serve. This doesn’t happen at the first try though, just keep at it. 

The difficulty of the toss is determining how high you need to go, and at which angle? 

The answer is simple, high enough to give you enough time to swing your racket, and tilted a little to meet the racket while it’s coming from the side. 

Imagine two lines meeting at one point of contact. The tossed ball is an almost vertical line, and the moving racket is an almost horizontal line. 

Make them meet at a high enough point so the ball would slam hard at the other end of the court. 

Here’s one more tip: when you toss the ball don’t hold on tight to it with your full palm, support it with your fingers, and let them do the springing upwards. 

Step 4: The Swing 

Swinging the racket is easy once your body is positioned correctly, and the ball is in a proper path. 

The complexity of the serve is simplified once you think about it as a series of well-timed movements. When you reach this stage, your next step is almost intuitive. 

Keep your eyes on the destination of the ball, your hand will follow. 

Your racket should make a smooth curve starting from the side, a little to the back, and then it takes the tossed ball and sends it off powerfully. 

This is how you pack the most power into your serve. Next, practice direction. You need to send it where you want to go, it’s not a game of probability, this is strategy and accuracy. 

Step 5: The Follow-Through

Once you shot your serve with full force, your body will lean forward, your dominant foot will take a spontaneous step. Follow through and use that thrust.

The ball you sent will return back to you, and you need to be ready for any scenario. You might have to race to the net, or to either side. Be prepared. 

Your goal is not just to return what’s coming your way. Good planning means that you want to win that point, if the ball is returned, you just play it smart and hard. 

Some Final Thoughts

Teaching tennis serve to beginners is all about dividing a complex movement to simpler components.  

Muscle memory handles the sequence well when it’s learned as a series of smaller and more manageable steps.

That’s why these 5 simple steps are the best way to learn tennis serve. The rest of the match is usually more of the same.