How To Serve Deeper

Florian Meier
Florian Meier
Why do so many of us miss our serves INTO the net? According to tennis pros Fred Drilling and Florian Meier, it is because we pull DOWN instead of hitting UP on the ball. Here’s a little practice technique to improve your serve.

Fred told me this one on the court last season and Florian posted similar guidance on his Online Tennis Instruction web site, saying you should try to …

Hit The Fence

When you are practicing your serve, try hitting the opposite back fence on the fly! When I tried it, I COULD NOT DO IT. In order to accomplish this task, you really have to up on the ball… which is the basic principle.

Try it.

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5 thoughts on “How To Serve Deeper

  1. Good advice on the serve. Years ago (and maybe still today)Peter Burwash trained pro’s
    Had you serving in warmup about 3 feet behind the baseline, this was to groove the “hit up” feeling. I still use it today.

    Congrats again on the book, really awesome stuff!


  2. George, this is really sound serving advice. Over the years, I have always had a problem with pulling my head down and also trying to hit the serve down and into the service box. But I am not 6’10” like John Isner and any fool could have seen that the trajectory from my racquet to the bounce point of my serve would have put it into the net at about the 2 1/2 feet mark — not enough to even clear the net.

    However, enough pros have demonstrated to me when I would ask them for advice that you really need to hit up on the ball to make it go down into the service box that I eventually stopped my foolish stubbornness and wound up with a halfway reliable serve that, usually, goes into the box. Nowadays, whenever I start noticing my serve is going into the net too frequently — an occasional miss is forgivable, I think — I remind myself to hit up and the issue usually fixes itself.

    I also want to point out that there is an excellent video that Will Hamilton publishes with Patrick Rafter in which he shows the secrets to Pat’s excellent spin serves. I especially found the demonstration of how to hit a kicker useful. Pat hits both up and out on the serve with a considerable amount of wrist snap and pace and the result is his his patented “heavy” serve that he used so well to set up his killer serve and volley game when he was on the tour. I have been out practicing that serve with a bucket of balls ever since I saw the video. While I will never hit the serve as well as Rafter, I have to say that the results in improving my service percentage and in hitting offensive serves that give my opponents a lot more trouble than my older serve used to have been impressive. I highly recommend getting Will Hamilton’s video series with Rafter to anyone who cares to improve their serving technique. It is well worth the money.

  3. George, what you said really works. When one is practicing and even before a match,
    which looks a little strange, try to hit the back fence on the fly. You will notice that all those tapers are now going in. Not only will you be hitting up on the ball but also you will be serving deeper into the box. I do not have a great serve, but this has helped me out a lot.

  4. I’ll have to try that drill, but in the meanwhile as a practical matter, I just move my ball toss either further into the court if the serve is going long, or more behind me if the serve is going into the net. Seems like there’s about a 6″ range forward and back, which fixes the problem every time.
    I never have worried or even thought about if I was hitting “up” on the ball or not. If it doesn’t go in, it doesn’t go in. Maybe I was lucky ’cause I had a good coach the first time I went out and he showed us good technique. And I’m too short to ever think I could hit down on the ball! 🙂

  5. I forgot to mention one interesting practice technique from the Will Hamilton/ Pat Rafter video series: There is one video where Rafter shows how he hits nearly straight up on the ball so it arcs really high above the court. The arc is so high that you cannot see how high it goes in the video frame, but picture what amounts to a high defensive lob that is hit from on the baseline with a “sweeping upward” service motion. The ball then barely clears the net and the object is to have it bounce shallow and in the opposing side’s service box. Rafter explains in the video that this started out as just a game that he and some young pros used to play when they were first starting on the tour — basically to see who could hit a serve the highest off the ground and still make it bounce in the service box — but he now uses it as an exercise to train himself to hit up on the ball and to get maximum top spin. In the video, you can see Pat starting out by hitting one or two serves really high like this, and then hitting a few more balls with a bit less “up” and more “out” (with the predicted result being that the ball still has a lot of kick but the arc is lower), and then finishing by hitting his conventional heavy kick serve, with a lot of pace, that he would have used on the tour as his main serve. I have practiced this technique myself with a bucket of balls a few times, and while I cannot hit as high of an arc on the ball as Rafter can, or anywhere near his pace, the technique very definitely helps in teaching the “feel” of hitting up on the serve to gain maximum net clearance and the biggest kick possible. Try it yourself and see.

    Marty – i think i saw the same interesting video. thanks. george

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