If you thought you were just bad at tennis because you keep hitting the net, think again.
You’re not alone, and there’s a ton of people who have endured the same issue as you.
It’s actually far more common than you think, but we’re going to help you fix that.
Nobody wants to hit the end, it just sort of ends up happening.
There’s likely a few things that you’re currently doing that add to your likelihood of hitting the net, and they’re simple enough to correct.
If you’ve been playing tennis for a long time, then you might have more difficulty administering these changes to your routine and form, but trust us, it’s absolutely worth it.
- 1 Different Types of Serves
- 2 Most Common Serving Mistakes
- 3 How High Should Your Ball go When Serving?
- 4 7 Tips for Serving Your First Ace
- 5 Tips for Proper Stance
- 6 Stronger Serves Every Time
Different Types of Serves
Let’s start off by defining the different types of serves.
You should never just stick to one, so this little section is going to help you diversify the way you’re serving.
It also holds a competitive advantage if your opponent doesn’t know which way you’re going to serve. There are four main serve types you should learn.
Commonly used in the professional circuit as well as on personal tennis club levels, this is the most easily described serve.
You throw the ball directly up in the air and pull back with a slight elbow bend on your racket arm.
Your body twists slightly into the direction of your racket before you swing and make contact with the ball.
Upon contact, the racket normally propels the ball forward at a slightly upward angle of around 11° to 15° before it lands on the other side of the net.
These areas difficult to perform as they are powerful.
You’re not really hitting the ball, you’re slicing it with the edge of your racket.
Throwing the ball directly up in the air, you leap up slightly and, holding your racket at about a 45° angle, you’ll crash it into the ball and send it on a downward spin on the other side of the net.
You cannot hit this straight; that’s not the goal. It will land within the parameters on the other side of that net, but it is a little wild, so you need to practice this shot before you actually bring it to a match.
The ball spins, giving it that angled momentum, and it moves so fast that your opponent isn’t going to know what hit them.
These are monstrous and considered one of the best serves in all of tennis.
You don’t have to raise off the ground to execute this as you do with the slice serve.
Instead, you’re going to throw the ball straight up and holding the racket behind your back/over your shoulder, you’re going to swing upward towards it.
The point of contact should occur in a downward swing. Your wrist is key here because as you swing towards it, you’re using your wrist like a hinge.
The racket is going to hit the ball and send it at a downward angle of about 15° as it goes over the net. The kickback from this might push you forward a bit, so be ready.
Have you seen headlines about underhanded serves being used to win games?
They’re tricky, but they’re legal moves you can use at any point in any game. They’re just not easy or expected, which is what always catches people off, guard.
It’s just like it sounds: you use the racket to hit the ball while swinging the opposite way. Bounce the ball, use the bottom of the racket in an upward motion to send it over the net.
While this article is about making sure you don’t hit the net, we should mention that this method can often skirt the top of the net.
Most Common Serving Mistakes
We’re all going to make mistakes, but there are the rookie mistakes that certainly affects your serve.
Avoiding these each and every time you serve is imperative to maintaining your form.
Moving Forward Too Much
When you serve, leaning forward too quickly or too soon before your serve is where it needs to be.
It’s perhaps one of the first things you naturally learn to counterbalance; your balance and center of gravity are going to heavily impact your game.
If you lean forward too far, your serve is basically going to fail.
Out of Sync
If you throw your ball up too high when you begin your swing, or you swing before you should, it’s going to throw you out of sync.
Then your ball hits the edge of the racket, then it hits the net or doesn’t even make it over.
It’s basically a ton of horrible things that get set into motion at once; you need to time your serves accordingly.
You need a “snap” when you hit the ball.
You can’t just swing the racket and have it touch the ball, otherwise, it’s going to throw the momentum off.
The quicker the contract is with the ball before the racket begins sending it one way, the more momentum and speed it’s going to have in that shot.
Yes, you should grip your racket, but by no means should you hold it so tight that it restricts your wrist movement.
Your wrist is what provides that snap we talked about earlier, so constricting it will bring on other common problems.
This is a precursor to multiple failures in a tennis serve. Learn how to hold onto the racket tightly without putting it in a chokehold.
Your ball needs some spin to it, otherwise, you’re making a series of ultra predictable moves that your opponent can quickly catch onto.
They should never know what you’re going to do.
Some spin in your serve makes you unpredictable, but it also allows you to use multiple servers and deliver more power and a faster overall server.
How High Should Your Ball go When Serving?
Your toss happens with your non-dominant hand, and as a result, it requires a lot more fine-tuning to get it just right.
How high you throw your shot is entirely up to you and your height, your style, and your speed; we can’t tell you that.
What we can do is tell you how to figure it out on your own.
Your server requires a snap at the end, and you can only do that with enough momentum from your racket.
Well, how are you going to get that?
A strong, long swing. You need to throw the ball high enough that, by the time it falls, it’s making contact with the right spot of the racket.
Not near the bottom of the frame, not near the top, but right in the center.
That allows you to harness the full power of the kinetic energy in the ball. When you hit too high, the string is tighter and has more resistance, slowing the ball down.
So on paper, throwing your ball up and smacking it perfectly in the middle of the string looks easy, but we know that it’s not. It’s all about your form.
Without it, you’re lost. You can practice your form simply by performing ten swings in a row with no-ball.
Yes, no ball at all. On the eleventh swing, that’s when you’ll put the ball into the mix and see how you do. Eventually, you’re going to wind it back a bit.
You’re hitting the ball on your eleventh swing every time. Great. Now it’s going to be every tenth, then every ninth, and so on and so forth.
This is like weaning yourself down to better accuracy, and it also gives you the opportunity to hit more balls in a single session as you get down to every other swing having a ball.
7 Tips for Serving Your First Ace
#1 Relax Your Throwing Arm
Whichever your non-dominant hand is will be the one you’re tossing the ball into the air with, and that needs to be fully relaxed.
If you tense up, you’re going to toss your ball in the air with a curled, tight grip on it and it’s not going to spin while it’s mid-air.
Just loosen up your wrist, and relax you throwing arm so you’re not constricting your range of motion. You can have control over your arm without holding it so tight.
#2 Zero Bend
If you can help it, don’t bend your elbow on your tossing arm.
Practice having that loose wrist and shoulder, and you should also have a loose feeling on your elbow, but the goal is to throw the ball into the air without bending it.
You want to make this serve to look effortless, so you have to let your body be as fluid as possible during that toss-up.
The calmer and more focused you look, the more intimidation your opponent is going to feel.
When you throw the ball up like this, you’re primed for a perfect snap when that racket meets it.
#3 The Right Position
How are you holding that ball in your hand? Loosely? Is it grasped in your palm with your fingers curled around it, or are you lacking control?
It’s something people don’t really think of outside of the world of major league baseball, but your hand’s position on that tennis ball is basically like an arrow.
Position it just right, and you’ll fly straight and hit your target. If it’s leaning too far to the left, or in this case, if the ball isn’t in the right position, you will miss your mark.
#4 No Head Dropping
You see it all the time on the court; don’t pretend that you don’t. It’s a rookie mistake that a lot of people make, and it’s reflexive.
Maybe they don’t want the sun to hit them in the eyes, maybe it stems from trying to keep a close eye on your opponent, but it happens.
If your head tilts down during your serve, you’re doing it wrong.
Tilt your head up to actually see what you’re doing, but don’t just look straight up to the sky. You should be able to loosely follow the path of your ball in mid-air.
#5 Practice Toss Height
Make sure you’re throwing the ball up enough.
Some people like to think that tossing it up higher than they need is beneficial to some extent, but that’s wrong; it actually increases your chance of missing the ball.
The higher up it goes, the faster it will be in its downward plight before your racket makes contact.
Practice the right tossing height so you can absolutely pummel that ball every single throw. Mixing this with our fourth tip is crucial for a perfect and unbelievable serve.
#6 Stop Standing Sideways
There are different serve types, and each requires a slightly different stance to execute properly.
At no point should you be standing sideways like you’re holding a baseball bat; it’s just not good for serving where you need such dynamic movement to get the job done.
Find your most comfortable serving style, and watch videos on professional players executing the same serve type.
You’ll notice their foot stance, their movement when they jump up to hit the ball, and all the little tweaks and twists in between.
#7 Know Your Grips
Tennis racket feeling a bit “off”?
You might not have the right grip. There’s a method to the madness when it comes to grips because there are a few you need to learn about.
Some are designed for right-handed users, while others are specifically for left-handed individuals, and they’ll impact your game tremendously.
You’re not a robot that’s hitting the exact same way every professional player is; you’ve got slight differences in height, stance, swinging motion, radial power, and that’s all a good thing.
Grips that work for you might not be the choice of the pros, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t just what you need.
Tips for Proper Stance
#1 Rely on Your Dominant Leg
Your dominant leg and arm are the same, and that’s the side you need to rely on the most when serving.
When you’re practicing your serve, put a little extra weight on your dominant leg to give you a better position.
One of the things we talked about earlier was the problem that comes from leaning into your serve too much.
Your dominant leg will help prevent any center of gravity loss, so you can be ready to swing back as soon as possible.
#2 Bounce the Ball
Using that dominant leg, just bounce the ball against the wall like you were a kid, but do it while only standing on one leg.
Yes, it seems a bit odd, but the practice teaches you to plant your dominant leg during a match when you lean in slightly to hit the ball.
Altogether, this will build your balancing skills while also determining any issues you might have with your positioning.
It’s a simple exercise you can perform just before each practice session.
#3 Stair Pushes
A nearby staircase might be your new best exercise tool for tennis.
Stair pushes require you to put your dominant foot on the second step from the bottom, lean in so you apply pressure to it, and simply kick-off.
You’ll push up a bit and move back, and this will allow you to control your leg movements and stance.
When you come back down after a hard serve, you’ll be landing on your dominant leg.
These three simple tips focus on your stance for your dominant foot, but it’s still important to train both feet.
How powerful is your overall stance? What needs to be worked on?
While we can’t assess your stance issues, everything we’ve outlined in this article can certainly help improve it.
Stronger Serves Every Time
You’ve got multiple ways to serve, and one shot to land and decimate your opponent.
You’re not only going to stop hitting the net after reading this, but you’re going to diversify the types of serves that you have at your disposal to keep them guessing.
There’s a lot of psychological warfare that goes into tennis, and you’re going to use the knowledge at your disposal to get an advantage over your opponents.
You will see your ability to hit over the net improve, but that’s not all that we’re trying to help you out with.
Your serve may be fixed after this, but it’s important to sharpen all the edges of your craft. Let’s make it happen.Last updated on: