I’m fixing my serve and taking you along for the ride! Here in the “Fix My Serve” Series, I’ll tell you how I’m improving my serve. And, hopefully, there will be a few tips, tricks and lessons I can pass on that will help you improve your own serve. In this post, I explain why you have to have a “service ritual”:
Have you ever watched Maria Sharapova serve? She follows the same routine between every point:
- She turns her back on her opponent and contemplates her racquet string.
- She takes tennis balls from the same corner of court.
- She walks to the baseline and bounces in place a few times.
- She brushes her hair away from her face.
- She slowly bounces the ball twice.
- She serves.
She goes through this ritual for every single serve. Because that's just what this is – the Maria Sharapova service ritual. Many of the pros have one – Novak Djokovic bounces the ball way too many times, Rafael Nadal “adjusts” his underwear.
So what exactly is a service ritual and do you need one?
A service ritual is the set of movements or mannerisms you go through before each and every one of your serves. By going through these same motions each time you step up to the service line, you are telling your mind and your body to calm down and concentrate on serving. Over time, by consistently following a service ritual, you will train yourself to automatically relax and focus for every serve.
So what is a good service ritual that is quick and easy to adopt and won't make you feel silly (i.e., involves no underwear adjusting)? Try this one:
- Take your service stance at the baseline.
- Bounce the ball a few times – 3 might be a good number to start with.
- Bring the ball up to your racquet, pause and pick your service target.
- Go through your toss and service motion.
- Serve up an ace!
That not only sounds easy but it sounds absolutely normal (okay, Step 5 might not be your normal, it's not mine either).
The important part of this service ritual that you're going to adopt, whatever it is, is that you do if for every serve. Every. Single. Time. And, believe me, once you start doing it, it quickly becomes a natural and unconscious part of your service game.
I've definitely added a service ritual to my serve and I can honestly say it is helping me to relax and focus. What is it? It's listed above (except for Step 5 of course). So join me, Maria, Novak and Rafa – get a service ritual! Do you already have one? Let me know in the comments below what it is and how well it works for you. I love to hear what other players are doing to get a better serve.