Here's the latest episode of the Tennis Quick Tips podcast – TQT Episode 004 – Improve Your Tennis Serve Consistency With A Service Ritual. You can listen to this episode by clicking on the play button in the gray media player above. You can also listen and subscribe to this podcast in iTunes by clicking here –TQT in iTunes – or in Stitcher by clicking here – TQT in Stitcher.
In TQT 004, I talk about how you can improve the consistency of your serve with a service ritual. I talked about this not too long ago in a blog post – Fix My Serve Series – You Need A Tennis Serve Ritual. But in this podcast episode, I expand on the explanation of how this tip can help you with your serve. Here's an edited transcript of the show so you can read up on this tip if you don't have time to listen:
In this week’s Tennis Quick Tip, we’ll discuss how you can develop a better, more consistent serve with a service ritual.
Have you ever watched Maria Sharapova serve? She follows the same routine between every point:
First, she turns her back on her opponent and plays with the strings on her racquet.
Next, she takes tennis balls from the ball kid, going to the same corner of the court each time.
Then, she walks to the baseline and bounces in place a few times.
Next, she takes her stance on the baseline and brushes her hair away from her face.
She then slowly bounces the tennis ball twice. Always twice.
Then, and only then, does she hit her serve.
Maria consistently goes through this ritual for EVERY SINGLE serve.
Because that’s just what this is – the Maria Sharapova service ritual. Most 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 how can it help you get a better serve?
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.
The service ritual also gives you a quiet little space in time to think about and plan for what you want to happen next. You know, or you should know, that the rules of tennis allow you 20 seconds between each point. It turns out that 20 seconds is a lot longer than you think it is. Instead of rushing right into each of your serves, you should take full advantage of your 20 seconds to map out your plan for the next point. Should you serve wide and then hit your next shot to the hopefully resulting open court? Should you serve up the middle and come in for the volley? By adopting a ritual that you follow on each of your serves, you ensure that you take full advantage of the time you’re allowed between points to plan how you want each point to go.
So what is a good service ritual that is quick and easy to adopt and won’t make you feel silly, awkward, ungraceful and involves no underwear adjusting? Here’s a simple one you can try:
- Take your service stance at the baseline.
- Bounce the ball a few times – 3 might be a good number to start with, thinking you you want the next point to go.
- 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 own serve and I can honestly say it is helping me to relax and focus. What is it? Well, I just outlined it in the 5 steps above. Except for Step 5 of course. I’m still working on that one.
Take action on this tip –
Now, how can you take action on this Tennis Quick Tip?
Just join me, Maria, Novak and Rafa and get a service ritual! Take a basket of balls out the court and try out a ritual like I’ve suggested or one you like when you practice your serve. Then put it into action in your next match. And, remember, the important thing it, it’s YOUR ritual that you use on EVERY serve.
Here are the links to the resources I mentioned in this episode:
- Tennis Fixation's tips to improve your serve: tennisfixation.com/servetips
- P.J. Simmons' The Road To 4.5 Tennis blog: www.roadto45tennis.com
- U.S. Tennis Congress website: www.ustenniscongress.com
Be sure to let me know what you think of this episode in the comments below. And I hope you’ll SUBSCRIBE to Tennis Quick Tips!
SUBSCRIBE IN iTUNES: Visit the Tennis Quick Tips iTunes page and subscribe (click on the “Subscribe” button or the blue “View in iTunes” button) or search for “Tennis Quick Tips” in the iPhone Podcast app.
Thanks for listening and, as always, Happy Tennis!