How to Serve the Ball in Tennis

Jul 29, 2013 by

While there is certainly nothing wrong with simply enjoying the fun of hitting the ball and getting in a great workout, your enjoyment of tennis will escalate if you learn how to serve efficiently. Continue reading to learn the basics of the serve in tennis. This information is for beginners, but could someday enable you to serve like Roger Federer or Novak Djokovic! For more advanced instruction in Phoenix’s East Valley, you should consider taking tennis lessons at Basha Tennis. Click here for an overview of the adult and kid’s training sessions that we offer.

Basha Tennis Video: How to Perform a Tennis Serve


This is obvious, a tennis racket, some tennis balls, and a practice court is all you need. It’s a good idea to have a partner though, as you at least have someone to help you return the balls! Bear in mind that a racket’s tension and strings have a major impact on your serve speed. Again, this is something you should only worry about later down the road. Just use a high quality racket and balls and you’ll be fine.

Gripping the Racket

There are actually a number of different grips you can use including Continental, Eastern Forehand, Semi-Western Forehand, Western Forehand, Eastern Backhand, Extreme Eastern, and Two-Handed Backhand! For the purpose of serving, you will use the Continental grip, which involves placing your index finger’s base knuckle on Bevel no.1 (right-handed) or Bevel no.4 if you’re left-handed. You should always hold the racket at the base of the handle to increase your reach.

Where To Stand

Stand behind the baseline at the back of the court and near the center. You will see the baseline half-mark so position yourself close to it. When you serve, the ball needs to bounce within the service box on your opponent’s side of the court. The service box is near the net, so it takes practice and skill to keep the ball within the box without hitting the net. Make sure your foot does not touch the baseline, or you will be penalized with a foot fault.

Ball Toss

Correctly performing a toss is crucial to serving the ball.

Correctly performing a toss is crucial to serving the ball.

The ball should be tossed to a reasonable height, at least above the top of the racket to give you time to swing and hit. Toss the ball directly in front of you and keep your arm straight. The ball should go straight into the air and land in your hand, if you were to keep your arm stretched.

Swinging the Racket

Your racket should be moving simultaneously with the ball. Raise the racket and begin to swing, the racket head should end up just behind your head when the ball has reached its peak trajectory. Swing the racket forward with power at this point and ensure your arm is straight at the point of contact. If you time it correctly, you should hit the ball with the middle of your racket.

Follow Through

After connecting with the ball, momentum should carry you forward into the court, which is why the toss should always be in front of you. By going forward after the swing, you should generate some power while also being ready to play your next shot after your opponent returns the serve.

These are the basics and once you have mastered them, you can move onto more advanced serving techniques.

Image license:
Sporty male playing tennis – Shutterstock (view source)

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