How To Develop Rhythm On Your Serve

What would it take to develop an amazing rhythm on your serve?

This is one of the biggest characteristics of the serve that creates so many problems.

Luckily, I’ve got three powerful drills and concepts that will help improve your tennis technique and serve rhythm.

Let’s get into it right now…

First, it all starts in the first six inches of the motion. Many players often make the wrong move at the beginning of their tennis serve motion.

They tend to move too fast with their arms, instead of turning their shoulders.

When you start too fast, there is a high chance that you’ll slow down your serve motion at the trophy position.  In fact, this will completely though off your serve rhythm. 

Consequently, you’ll lose consistency, and compromise your ability to add more power on your tennis serve. 

Now, you may be asking Jeff how can I fix this common issue on my serve?

Well, I’m glad you asked. Here’s what you should do.


The Three-Quarters (3/4) Serve Drill:

Tennis serve drill

If you can eliminate that first move, you can  start to develop new serve habits. Hence, you can get a better serve rhythm and model the serve technique from the best players on the tour.

The first step involves starting into a ¾ serve position, using a platform stance, and getting your racquet strings facing towards the front knee.

Then, you can toss the ball, turn your shoulder, and bring the racquet up to hit the tennis serve.

The ¾ serve drill sets up the racquet in a position where you can feel a great shoulder turn. Moreover, it helps the racquet to go up at the correct tempo. Make sure to lead with your tossing arm, and let the hitting arm follow.

These are fundamental aspects that you want to practice for developing that natural rhythm on your tennis serve.  Everyone has a little different rhythm and tempo, but this is the baseline that you want to work with.


The Continuous Serve Drill:

Tennis serve drill

The next thing that I want to point out, as it relates with tempo, is that you actually practice what I call the continuous swing drill.

A lot of players have the tendency to wait for too long on their trophy position, which completely turns off their serve rhythm.

Basically, the continuous swing drill will speed things up a little bit, and will get you moving your racquet throughout the service motion.

The main goal is to keep the racquet moving in a continuous fashion, without stopping at any point throughout the motion.

Make sure to have your hand and arm relaxed as you perform this drill. Ideally, practice this exercise without hitting a tennis ball; hence, your main focus is on great technique and balance.

Once you have performed proper shadow strokes, then you can add the tennis ball into the equation, and hit a tennis serve.

Remember that you don’t need to use your legs, you can just stand, and let the racquet move. You don’t want to slow down or pause at any point in the motion.

If your racquet pauses naturally, and you have a big serve, then it’s ok. For instance, Roger Federer has a slight delay when he reaches the trophy position, so making a small pause works out well for him.

The Slow-Go Concept:

Tennis serve technique tip

So far, I’ve talked about the ¾ serve and continuous swings. Last, but not least, let’s discuss the slow-go concept or one-two.

As the saying goes “Haste makes waste”, and most things in life are not needed to be rushed. You want to build a rhythm that you can almost count one-two or slow go.

If you verbally say these words and numbers, it will help you develop the tempo and the rhythm inside your body.

When you start your motion, you need to focus on slowing down.

This powerful concept also applies when you’re playing a tennis match and feel nervous, because you may have the tendency to rush on all your shots. It’s a very deliberate and patient motion during the initial phase of the swing.

Afterward, you can accelerate before making contact with the ball.

In summary, you’re going to work on the ¾ serve drill to eliminate that first part of the motion, do continuous swings to develop proper serve rhythm, and focus on the concept of slow-go at the beginning of the service motion.

If you blend all of these three amazing drills together, you’ll dramatically improve your serve rhythm.

The serve is the most misunderstood shot in tennis, that’s why I just love teaching it, especially to committed, passionate players who want to go to the next level.



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. – Ready to take it to the next level with your tennis? Click here to get a free tennis course inside the Tennis Evolution App.  Learn the exact step-by-step system that has transformed the games of thousands of players worldwide.

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  1. Colin

    Excellent simplification of the serve motion.

  2. Noushin

    Many thanks for sharing your experience!

  3. Lynn Miller, USPTA Elite Professional, Sutton, NH

    Jeff: In teaching the service rhythm, I use a very similar teaching technique to your “slow to fast” swing rhythm-and I say “slow-fast-fast” or “1, 2-3 instead. I’ve found that if I don’t emphasize the “fast-fast” as 2 motions, students forget to use their wrist and elbow bend to drop the racket head before they extend up to contact the ball.

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