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How to Serve in Tennis for Beginners

how to serve in tennis

Mastering the serve in tennis is crucial as it’s the only shot where you have complete control. The serve may seem daunting for beginners, but anyone can develop a reliable serve with practice and an understanding of the fundamentals. Here’s a step-by-step guide to get you started:

Step 1: Ready Position

Begin by standing behind the baseline with your feet shoulder-width apart. Your body weight should be evenly distributed or slightly on your back foot. This stance ensures stability and readiness to initiate the service.

Step 2: Hold and Grip

Use a continental grip for your serve – it’s the exact grip you would use if you were holding an axe and looking to chop wood. This grip provides versatility and the correct racket angle at contact.

Step 3: The Toss


The ball toss is critical – it sets up the success of your entire serve. For right-handed players, toss the ball in front of your body and slightly to the right. Aim to release the ball from your hand when it reaches eye level. This ensures the ball goes to a consistent, reachable height, making timing the hit much more accessible.

Step 4: The Serve Motion

When the ball peaks, raise your dominant arm (the one with the racket) smoothly. Use your non-dominant hand to guide the toss and keep it pointed towards the ball until the last moment. This will help maintain balance and precision.

Step 5: Weight Shift and Rotation

Shift your weight from the back foot to the front foot as you prepare to make contact with the ball. Simultaneously, start to rotate your hips and shoulders towards the net. This movement adds power to your serve from your body, not just your arm.

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Step 6: Making Contact

Aim to hit the ball at the highest point you can comfortably reach with an extended arm. Snapping your wrist (also known as the “wrist pronation”) will add spin and power as you make contact. Your follow-through should naturally bring your racket across your body and finish on the opposite side.

Practice Drills

Tennis Practice
  • Toss Consistency Drill: Practice your ball toss without hitting, trying to place the ball consistently every time.
  • Swing Path Drill: Shadow your serve motion, focusing on a smooth, relaxed swing path.
  • Target Practice: Place targets in the service boxes and practice hitting them with a soft, controlled serve.

Remember, serving is about precision and consistency, not just power. Muscle memory plays a vital role, so repetition is your best friend. It’s not just about getting the ball over the net; it’s about starting the point to your advantage. Happy serving!—

By following these steps and spending ample time on the court, your tennis serve can become a formidable part of your game. Always seek professional coaching to ensure you’re on the right path, and don’t be discouraged by early mistakes. Like any skill, it requires practice and patience to perfect.

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