3 Ways To Hit A Great Topspin Tennis Serve
The topspin tennis serve is one of the most misunderstood strokes in our sport. Besides, it is probably the most difficult one to teach and learn. That is why a lot of players and coaches tend to get confused or overwhelmed about it. However, if you have the right information, you can rapidly make some real progress.
I am absolutely passionate and committed to helping players improve their tennis serves all over the world. I have studied the best servers on the pro tour over the last three decades. Thus, I have come up with the best tennis tips, drills and progressions that actually work. If you can learn a skill in a simple, easy way, then you can progress to the next level.
Before I start, let me briefly share with you how I developed my topspin tennis serve into a weapon during my professional career. When I was a freshman in college, I did not have the best tennis serve. In fact, it was one of the worst serves at that level. However, I was determined to invest time on and off the court improving it, which enabled me to play as number one for Stanford. After years of studying the pros and getting advice from awesome coaches like John Yandell, I began to master the topspin kick tennis serve.
Once I was able to dramatically transform my topspin serve, I started to win more matches on the tour and reached the Top 100 in singles and doubles. In this article, I will share three big keys to develop a great topspin tennis serve. I will explain what you should focus on during your swing path, contact point, and finish. Likewise, I will give you one of my best tennis drills to completely dial in your topspin tennis serve. Thus, you can take immediate action on the practice court and start hitting it like the tennis pros.
Now, I will break down how to create the proper swing path for hitting amazing topspin tennis serves.
Are you ready? Let us get started!
1) Swing Path On The Topspin Serve
I have noticed that many tennis players tend to swing forward on their topspin tennis serve. The issue with this type of swing motion is that it promotes more flat and slice serve. Therefore, I suggest focusing on the feel of the shot and creating a circular swing path on your serve.
This will involve making a circle over your head, around your body, and finishing in front of your belly button. Indeed, you can swing correctly with your arm and get the maximum amount of topspin on your tennis serve. There is pronation happening on this type of serve; however, that is the science and analytics behind it.
This is not a pronation feeling when you want to hit a great topspin serve. In fact, too many tennis players and coaches are just focusing on pronation, because that is what they see the pros doing. On the contrary, I recommend consistently working on your tennis serve fundamentals and practicing the proper circular swing path. As a result, you will be capable of creating massive topspin on your tennis serve.
Using this circular motion is a unique concept, but a highly effective way to swing the racquet on your serve. Next time you are out on the court, try and feel the type of swing path that I described. You’ll certainly be on the way to develop a world class topspin tennis serve.
One of the most common problems that I see with serving is that tennis players open up their body too early. I have noticed this exact issue whether they are hitting a slice, flat, or topspin tennis serve. When a player looks at where the ball is going while making contact, their dominant shoulder opens up facing the net. Thus, they end up pulling off the serve or creating more slice, which impacts their ability to hit a great topspin tennis serve.
To instantly fix this common tennis serve mistake, I recommend focusing on what the head does at contact. Now think about Roger Federer for a second. What does he do better on his tennis forehand than anyone else in the world? When he swings, he keeps his head still at contact even after hitting the ball. Therefore, he is able to consistently hit amazing topspin forehands without pulling off the ball.
Well, guess what, you can do the same thing on your topspin tennis serve. Have you heard the common term “keep your head up” on your serve? This is one of the traditional tennis tips that I love, but I give a slightly different twist on it. I know that when I move my head, my body goes with it. Hence, one of the keys to a great topspin tennis serve is keeping your body sideways without rotating too early. In fact, I suggest keeping your body at a 45 degree angle towards that net post. Even when you finish, you should try to avoid opening up your body.
If you bring the racquet through really early, it will make your body come through which is great for a slice serve. However, if you want to hit an awesome topspin tennis serve, it will help you to finish on the side. Thus, I advice keeping your head still and the eyes looking up at the contact point, even after the ball is gone. Why? because if you keep your head still, the body cannot move. This will help you stay more sideways and have a more stable swing path to improve your topspin serve.
Do you have any awareness of what your body is doing when you are hitting a topspin tennis serve? I know that question may sound strange, but I will explain shortly.
I have studied with video analysis over the years and played around with my own serve and what feels good to me. When you are hitting a topspin tennis serve, you want to make sure that you have good balance. Now it starts to get interesting with the topspin serve because of the toss, since it goes over your head.
As soon as you start making contact over your opposite shoulder, the body starts to tilt over. Now, you may wonder that you will be off balance when you hit your topspin serve. Well, that will not be the case if you use your back leg as a counterbalance to help you remain balanced.
When you hit a topspin tennis serve, you want to be aware of what your back leg is doing as you are making contact. It has to kick out more to the side as Pete Sampras and Patrick Rafter used to do. If you are not doing this, you are losing a lot of power and topspin on your tennis serve. You could actually do drills where you just work on kicking that leg out to the side.
If you want to develop a great topspin serve, you must have a great swing path as aforementioned. You have to do the right things with the upper body. Then, as you start getting to the lower body, focus on swinging out your back leg to the side a little bit. You want to counterbalance because as soon as your back leg kicks out, you can really accelerate the arm.
Simple Kick Serve Drill | TENNIS SERVE
Now, let me share a simple drill to develop your topspin tennis serve into a weapon. I like to teach in mini progressions, and the half serve drill is perfect to improve your tennis topspin serve. One of the big problems that players have with their topspin serve is having an inefficient service motion. When they start with a full motion, a lot of weird things start to happen, and their rhythm breaks down.
This is where the half serve drill comes into play, because it can help you to eliminate plenty of variables. To practice it properly, you are going to use a platform stance, the best stance for the kick serve. Then, you will start with the racket up and avoid scratching your back from this position. Why is it bad, or inefficient to start there? I believe you can lose rhythm, timing and flow on your serve because only the hand will work.
I still want players to turn their shoulders during the first move. In fact, when you toss the ball, then you can practice turning and get into a modified trophy position. Hence, you can find the topspin serve from there. This is a really important detail, that is why I like to make it clear from the beginning.
When you start in the right position, your hand will be pretty close to your head and more relaxed. Keep your palm down and racket tip facing towards the net. I have seen many players who struggle to find this position because they hold the racquet with a tight wrist. Indeed, there is too much distance between the hand and head on the trophy position.
You can easily fix this issue by following the instructions aforementioned and practicing continuously the half serve drill. It will help you to understand how the arm and the body works. Hence, you can generate massive topspin on your serve. Once you get that down, you can add the legs to the equation.
In conclusion, I suggest not to focus on pronation on your topspin tennis serve. Instead, concentrate on creating the proper circular swing path. Likewise, remember the concept of keeping your head at contact and kicking the back leg slightly out to the side. Therefore, you can properly accelerate the arm, finish with perfect balance, and hit an awesome topspin serve.
Once you have mastered these three technical keys of the topspin serve, go ahead and practice the half serve drill. Having a big tennis serve will greatly improve your confidence and tennis game. Consequently, you can have more fun out on the tennis court and win more tennis matches.
I hope you enjoyed this tennis article on how to hit a great topspin tennis serve. Now, it is your turn to take action and practice the tennis drills and tips provided. I can assure that you will certainly be on the way to develop a world class tennis topspin serve.
If you have any specific questions on it or any other tennis stroke, simply leave a comment. My mission is to help you maximise your tennis potential faster and help you to serve like a tennis pro.
By Jeff Salzenstein, Founder Tennis Evolution
Jeff is a former top 100 ATP player and USTA high performance coach committed to helping players and coaches all over the world improve.
P.S. – Want to take your serve to the next level? Avoid power leaks on your serve with this little known “elbow the enemy” move. Click here to get instant access.