Top 3 Ways to Hit a Harder Serve

There is only three ways to hit a harder tennis serve and none of them involve going to the gym or lifting weights. In fact some of the hardest serving players at the professional levels don’t look particularly strong and don’t have bulging muscles. 

Before we get to hitting harder serves however, let’s look at the game itself and how it has evolved around the serve.

It use to be the serve simply put the ball into play, this is going back to the origins of the game of course.  The ball was hit underhand from behind the baseline and there was no advantage at all to being the server. In fact the advantage may have been with the receiver being able to wind up on what was likely the slowest hit ball of the game (the serve).

Years later someone introduced the first overhand serves and as it became perfected the advantages to the server became obvious. Now there are male players hitting in access of 140 mph/ 225km/h with top females like Serena Williams not too far behind. Andy Roddick is credited with consistently having the fastest male serve while he played on the circuit.

Today’s game is built around a powerful serve. Sometimes it is hit as an outright winner (Ace) or in other cases a serve that results in a weak return allowing the server now to come in behind it and volley it for a winner.

So how do you get a stronger serve?

  1. The grip you use determines the number of strings making contact with the ball on impact. When the ball is hit entirely on the back it will produce the most speed. However, when there is no spin causing the ball to rotate down into the service court the ball won’t go in as often. This increases the likelihood of double faulting and losing the point. When spin is added by changing the grip and hitting the ball on the side or on the top of the ball then the spin (topspin) will cause the ball to rotate down into the court more predictably or cut out to one side or the other of the service box. So, the first way to get a harder server is to use what’s called the continental grip (like holding a hammer). This grip will allow you to transition to a forehand grip easier for groundstrokes also.

  2. Your toss is next, the ball should be at a height that allows you to extend up to your full height and bring your weight into the court when you swing. Therefor the toss should be forward of the service line and slightly right (if you’re a right hand player). You don’t want the toss higher than necessary as this will disrupt your timing.
  1. Lastly you want to coil like a spring underneath the toss so when you use your legs to explode upward and forward you maximize your fullest power. Now of course there’s a lot more happening as you explode up to hit the serve but it is all happening almost simultaneously so we will include that here as well.

    While the ball is going up from your tossing hand, your racquet should drop back   behind you into what’s called the trophy position.

    Now the racquet arm extends up and slightly forward to make contact when the toss; has reached the full height of your body and arm extension. So sounds easy enough right?  Well it is when you practice it enough.

Tip from a Pro

This one exercise will help develop power and consistency more than just about anything else you can do.

Practice serving from the service line of your court into the opposite service box on your opponent’s side of the court.

Do this until you can hit 10 in a row in consistently. Now take one large step back and repeat the process. Make sure technique is good and you are hitting hard. Again when you have done 10, take another step back and hit 10 more. Do this until you reach the baseline where you would normally serve from.

This whole drill starts off easy to do because you’re close but as you work your way back it becomes more difficult.  It will look as though the net is a getting higher, and indeed your trajectory down into the court is a little more difficult the further you go back.

This is a great drill to find out the type of power you can use that allows you to still get the ball into the court as you progress back toward the baseline. Good luck.


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