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How to Improve Your Tennis Serve

A strong serve can make all the difference is helping you win matches! In this tennis tip video, Lake Tahoe Nike Tennis Camp Director, Tony Greco, demonstrates tips for improving your serve.

Video Transcription

Hi, I'm Tony Greco I'm the director at the Nike Lake Tahoe tennis camp and today for this short video I want to go over some key things that you can do to improve your serve. In this video, I will show you some things that can either improve your serve or maybe take it to the next level. Why are we starting with the serve? Serving is a very important part of the game because if you can't get your serve in, it's hard to play a point. So what I want to do is go over some key tips again that will show you how to really develop a good serve, okay?

The Grip

First of all what I want to talk about is I want to talk about the grip. Having the correct grip for a serve is very important to having a good serve. Gripping is called we call it a continental grip…. Now I'm left handed so it might be a little bit backward but just a couple of ways to find continental grip. One, I can put my hand to my belly button slide my racket in and here's my continental grip. My knuckle is right here on this level, okay and you can have your hand in what's called a trigger fashion. The other way I let kids know is put in your knuckle on top of the racket and slide it down. A couple things I want to talk about with this grip is it's very important that you have a nice loose wrist so when I serve you should always have a nice distress. Now for those of you that are just starting out you can always start what's called half racket loosen your wrist and you'll get that wrist snap. This is called the butt of the racket and it goes on the outside of your wrist.


I'm going to talk about something called pronation. If I pretend that I'm going to throw my racket over the net that's kind of a good key to a serve. If I throw the ball and take the ball and throw it over, I have this motion called pronation. It’s where if I don't have a racquet, my hands move behind my head and my elbows up right just when you throw a ball you're going to throw the ball up and out, okay. This motion where your hand goes up to the sky and then your thumb goes down is called pronation. If I put my racket in my hand, again one thing we’ll talk about is back scratch position, and what I'm going to do is pronation. I'm going to reach up to the sky and out. This method, this motion right here, this is called pronation is going to give you a good serve and some spin on the ball. When I go and hit the ball we always want to reach up to its maximum height. I should be able to see the sky through my strings and snap my wrists. A lot of coaches, a lot of pros will say snap your wrist and that’s what they’re talking about. That's a real big key to a serve and it will make it harder for your opponent to properly return a serve. You want to have that pronation. Now you’ll notice when you throw the ball your hips and shoulders that's a big part of serving.

Setup and Alignment

When I'm in here I need to turn my hips and shoulder that's going to get my power, that's why I'm going to use my hips and shoulders to get some power. So first we'll talk a little bit about grip – my stance if I'm a left-hander I'm going to be standing towards this way and my feet are shoulder-width apart my back foot is pointed straight towards and my front foot is towards the net post. Now when I turn my hips and shoulder my back foot comes up so when I throw a ball same thing as when I hit a serve – I turn my hips and shoulders, okay.

Ball Toss

The next part I want to talk about which is a great part is the toss. When I toss the ball you can hold your hand in the path of your fingers the whole pads not in the palm and not on the fingertips. For a good toss, you start here in ready position bring your hand down and then you lift up. The height, a good measure of height is if you have your racket here, you toss to the height of your racket. If I'm left-handed I'm going to toss a little bit to my left a little bit out in front of my body. This is where I want to hit the ball at its maximum height.

Now, let's talk about back scratch and I have half racket here, elbow up. If I toss the ball I want to work on this motion and this is called a progression I'm shortening the swing. So I'm going to toss the ball and I'm going to hit up on the ball like that. That is using the progression and that’s using pronation to hit up on the ball. I don't hit down on the ball. I want to make sure that when I hit the ball, I'm going to reach up at its maximum height toss the ball hit up and over and I get that topspin. That allows the ball to clear the net by a good three feet and then come down in. So here again my elbow is up I get a good toss up and out. If you can do those key things to break down the serve it's going to help.

Useful Serving Drills

I know that with a lot us that are starting out they work on hitting around the ball. Another good key is you can also get on your knee and try to hit up using that pronation up over the net okay that'll get you to be able to hit up on the ball and get that spin. Another tool is while standing against a fence, try to hit up over the fence. Once you do that we can start working on full grip and full motion. Full motion your hands work together down together up together. My hands go down together up together. So work that and try to get your hands working together, then trying to incorporate the toss down together up together toss and catch down together up together toss and catch and then when you're ready to go down together up together with your weight transference going into the court.

Now that was just a quick little instruction video on how to hit a serve. Come up to the Nike Lake Tahoe tennis camp for a full lesson and some fun drills.

Tony Greco is the long time director at the Lake Tahoe Nike Tennis Camp and a top high school coach in California.

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