Are you tired of missing your second serve and double faulting? Do you struggle with your confidence under pressure?
You may have heard the saying “you are only as good as your second serve.” There is truth to this statement, so let’s get to it. I want to give you a few tips that can help your second serve consistency.
Second Serve Target
The first step to improve your consistency is to become more aware of where you are missing your second serve. Notice if most of your serves are going in the net, long, or wide. For example, if you typically miss your serve in the net under pressure, then visualize and aim through a higher window over the net. Make simple adjustments, so if you hit too low, aim higher. If you hit too high, aim lower, and this will help you remember the importance of targets.
I come across many players that struggle with their serve accuracy simply because they are not aiming. If you aim appropriately, your consistency will improve regardless of your technique. When you are playing, focus less on your technique and more on your target. For example, focus on choosing a target where there is not a lot of risk if you miss in any direction, so you can improve your overall consistency.
What is a serving target that has little room for error? Undoubtedly, a great target is straight into the body, meaning the center of the service box. I choose to use lanes as targets as opposed to one specific spot because a lane is a larger target. With a larger target, I increase my confidence that I will hit it. You should have confidence in your serve, and it all starts with your target. When your target is to the body, an error right or left of your lane will likely still land in the service box.
Tennis Serve Grip
Now in terms of a little bit of technique today, let’s talk about the correct tennis serve grip. Obviously, I am a big fan of the continental grip. If you use a forehand grip, you are going to be limited with your second serve. With a forehand grip, you are not going to be able to acquire the spin and speed that you want.
Once you have a continental grip, let’s talk about spin on the second serve. I really like topspin, or kick. Slice is more common than topsin, but the downside of using slice is that you have to aim lower over the net. I like topspin because it allows you to aim higher over the net. Being able to aim higher with a topspin serve will help improve your consistency.
How do you create topspin on a second serve? One of my favorite terms to visualize a good topspin serve is “up and over.” During your service motion, think about going up on the ball and then over. This motion creates topspin on your serve.
Every day do a pop quiz on your serve. See how many second serves you can get over and in out of 10, and if you can get 10-out-of-10 you pass! The better you do on the quiz, the better your second serve consistency will be under pressure.
In conclusion, regardless of your serve technique, I want you to practice good targets. Aim through lanes and give yourself confidence with targets. Second to targets, see if you can use a continental grip to improve your technique. Lastly, focus on getting your toss above your head and think “up and over” to add topspin to your serve.
When you are practicing and hit a good serve, be sure to affirm yourself with a “yes” or a fist pump. Positive reinforcement will help you build more confidence in your serve. When you miss, tell yourself what you are going to do next time, and no matter what, stay positive. I guarantee that if you get out on the court and practice your targets, your serve is going to improve. I do not care if you are a 2.5, a college player, or a professional, you can do this!
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.