Want a Better Tennis Serve? Toss, Throw, and Stay Relaxed

Roger Federer ServeWant to serve like Federer? All you have to do is toss, throw, and stay relaxed. Take a look at Federer’s great service motion and notice the relaxed fluidity of it. Smooth motion, perfect timing, relaxed wrist and hitting arm, effortless power. You too can create this type of effortless motion — here is how.

In the following drill I will be teaching you as if you are a right-handed player. Do everything opposite if you are a lefty.

Step One: Take a comfortable stance behind the baseline with your left foot just behind the line. Your stance should be about shoulder-width apart.

Step Two: Put a ball in your left hand and line it up with your left foot. Now we’re going to work the toss part of the serve. Keeping your left arm straight, raise your arm up until it is fully extended and toss the ball up. Keep your hand up and catch the ball in the same hand. Here are a couple of hints for the toss: Keep the ball in the finger tips. Let the shoulder make the toss, not the wrist or elbow. Once you’ve mastered the toss, it’s time to throw.

Step Three: Put a ball in your right hand now, and load it up like you’re getting ready to throw a football. You’re mimicking the throwing motion of the top NFL quarterbacks — think Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and Andrew Luck. Notice when the top quarterbacks throw a ball, they load the football right up near their ear, the elbow is even with the shoulder, and the arm is bent at a 90 degree angle. Now throw the ball over the net. If you do this correctly, your arm and your grip on the ball should be relaxed. Fire away a couple of more, and notice how little tension you should have in the arm. As you release the ball, your wrist should almost snap forward like a cobra striking out for its prey. Nice job. Now you’re ready to put the toss and throw together in step four.

Step Four: Step four is fun. I call it tennis “Skeet Shooting.” We’re going to combine steps 2 and 3. So, get your left arm out (the tossing arm) and get your right arm (the throwing arm) ready. When you’re set, toss the ball up, then try to hit the tossed ball at its peak with the ball in your throwing arm. It helps to say “toss, throw” as you go through the motions. While you are doing this drill, remain relaxed and feel your throwing motion shoot up to hit the tossed ball. Do this drill several times. It is not so important that you actually hit the tossed ball, but more important to feel the timing, rhythm, and relaxation of the service motion. Once you feel comfortable with the toss/throw you are ready for step five.

Step Five: Grab some old, beat-up rackets and repeat step four. This time, hold the old racket in your right hand and toss/throw. Yes, actually throw the beat-up racket up at the tossed ball and see if you can hit it. If done right, the racket will fly out of your hand and land on the opposite side of the net.

Step Six: Grab your own racket and toss/throw. DANGER: Don’t actually throw your own racket. But you do want to feel that same relaxed throwing motion up at the tossed ball. Once you get the feel for that throwing motion, go ahead and start firing for the service box.

There you have it: Six easy steps to start firing your serve like Federer. Now go out there and Master the Game.