Patrick Mouratoglou: Improve your serve in 4 steps

I consider the serve and the return as the 2 most important shots in tennis since they mark the start of every point and, if well executed, can dictate how well it goes. The serve is often regarded as the most difficult shot to execute, mainly due to the high level of coordination required (tossing ball above head, moving both arms differently, getting legs in the right position, jumping toward the ball...). This is why we want to take the time to show you the 4 things you can do today to start transforming your serve to the effective weapon it is meant to be.

1. Go continental and keep it simple to start: If you just started learning the serve, make sure to hold the racket in a neutral or continental grip – basically like a hammer. If you already learned to serve and do not hold the racquet like that, take the time (frustrating I know) to learn to hit a serve like that. This is the foundation that will take your serve to new heights in the near future. Trust me!

´2. Make sure you get the right stance: your feet should always start shoulder-width apart – with your front foot just behind the baseline and your front hip pointing to the net – so you have a good balanced base and the right position to allow your whole body to work toward generating power.

3. Get your ball toss consistent: Easier said than done, I know. But the good news is that there are effective exercises if you are willing to do the work and have the patience necessary. The ultimate goal here is to consistently be able to toss the ball up above your head with a straight arm. If your toss tends to go all over the place, you can forget about training any other aspect of it. One very effective exercise is to place your racquet on the ground aligned and just on the right of your front foot (left for lefties) tossing the ball and letting it bounce to see if you can get it to land on the strings of the racquet most times.

4. Learn to pronate: This would be the key to learning how to create speed, and later how to diversify your serve. Serve is nothing more than a type of throwing motion and, as you throw your racket up towards the ball, the edge of the racket frame should lead, with pronation accomplished when just before you hit the ball your arm and wrist turn outward to make contact with the strings. Check out some videos online and you will see what I mean. There are also great and creative exercises to both understand and start applying this concept to your serve.