Some people think that just because they can ace an opponent occasionally with a killer serve that they have a good tennis serve. That is only the case if they can get their first serve in consistently. If they miss their first serve most of the time trying for that ace, they don't really have a good tennis serve. The key to a good tennis serve is to have one that you can do consistently.
The ability to place your serve to your opponent's forehand, backhand or body is one aspect of a good serve. You keep your opponent guessing where you will serve the ball and, if you are playing doubles, your partner can signal you if she wants to poach, for example, and that you should serve to the forehand to help her out. To learn to place your serve, Dennis Van der Meer of Van der Meer Tennis in Hilton Head, South Carolina, says to divide the court in thirds and keep practicing with the goal of placing your serve down the center, in the middle of the service box and near the alley.
You can't have a good tennis serve without having a good ball toss. The toss needs to be consistent so you can keep your serve motion and ensure your serve is consistent. Don't hold the ball in the palm of your hand; hold it between your thumb and the ends of your fingers. Hold it lightly as if you are holding an egg. Keep you arm straight and lock your elbow. Move your arm up, and release the toss. A right-handed player should release the ball at the 1 o'clock or 2 o'clock position, and a left-handed player should try for the 11 o'clock or 10 o'clock position. To determine how high to toss the ball, hold your racket up in your extended arm. Note where the sweet spot of the racket is. That is where you should hit the ball, so your ball toss needs to be even higher than that. Aim to hit your serve as the ball falls right were your racket's sweet spot is in your extended arm.
To understand the right way to contact the ball for a good serve, stand at the baseline where you would normally serve and practice throwing the ball over the net. Throw the ball as far and high as you can. After that exercise, get on your knees and try to hit a serve over the net from that position. The only way you can get the ball over the net that way is to hit up.
Probably the most important key to having a good tennis serve is to practice it. You can bring out a bucket of balls and serve all of them, or you can practice your serve with your partner. A good drill is to play a game to 30 points, but you have to serve all the points, and you get only one serve. This gives you plenty of practice and it helps you develop a consistent second serve. Once you know you have a good second serve, when you play a match, you should feel less pressure to get your first serve in.
Laura Agadoni has been writing professionally since 1983. Her feature stories on area businesses, human interest and health and fitness appear in her local newspaper. She has also written and edited for a grassroots outreach effort and has been published in "Clean Eating" magazine and in "Dimensions" magazine, a CUNA Mutual publication. Agadoni has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from California State University-Fullerton.