Today's tip is such an easy one that it's almost obvious. It seems like the kind of tip that you don't even have to tell someone. Surely they already know it. But I can promise you that this is a serve tip that really helped me improve my serve once someone pointed it out to me. Before then, I hadn't really thought about it. But after I was told this simple tip, it became much easier for me to understand why it was important and apply it to my own game.
The Importance of Being Relaxed in Your Service Motion
So today's tip is – stay relaxed when you're serving. Specifically, I want to talk about the importance of a relaxed service motion.
You might think that, once you've got your serve sort of under control, if you want to take it up a notch, if you want it to be harder and faster, you just need to hit it harder. You need to put more power and strength behind it.
But for a lot of us, when we start trying to do that, what we end up doing is stiffening our arm, reducing the range of motion that we're swinging our racket with, making it so that our arm is not actually freely swinging at the ball, but rather is moving almost as a unit and pushing that ball.
Being Relaxed is Important in All Sports
And the truth is, whether you're serving a tennis ball, pitching a baseball, throwing a football, almost any of those motions that you make in sports, the key to having a very fluid and quick powerful serve or throw is to relax your arm. Relax, in fact, your whole body. But especially your arm. Because when you relax your arm, not only can your arm move freely, but you can get more of that whipping motion that helps you get a better serve. Your arm moves like a chain from your shoulder area, down through your elbow, down through your forearm and wrist, all the way down to your racket. So that when the strings of your racket strike the ball, your racket speed and power are actually at their highest level.
And when you use this relaxed type motion to serve, you can serve with a slower overall motion and get a more powerful serve than if you stiffen your arm and try to hit the ball hard.
How to Tell if You're NOT Relaxed in Your Service Motion
So how can you tell if you are not relaxed? That's probably a lot easier to understand than knowing exactly how to get relaxed. Although I have something to say about that too. Here are some clues that you can look to when you're going through your service motion that will tell you that you are not relaxed.
1. Are Your Shoulders Tense?
First, are your shoulders shrugged or hitched up? Are they tightened up towards, almost like you're lifting them towards your ears? If your shoulders are in a stiff and shrugged position, you are not going to be able to relax your entire arm.
2. Are Your Gripping the Racket Too Tightly?
Second, are your gripping the racket too tightly? When you grip the racket tightly, you're going to lose some of your control and your velocity. If your arm is tight, and this goes all the way down into your hand gripping your racket, your overall arm speed will slow down. So you need to loosen that grip on your racket, relax your grip.
3. Is Your Service Motion Too Robotic?
And third, another way to tell if you are not relaxed on your serve, is – is your service motion sort of robotic? In other words, is it not a smooth, continuous motion? But does it seem choppy or like it has little hestitations in it? A nice, fluid service motion looks smooth, without any little hitches or choppy parts to it.
Now, there are other signs that can tell you that you are too tense or uptight when you're serving, but those three are really common and ones that, when you're going through your service motion, you can probably easily detect.
How to Relax Before You Serve
So, what can you do to relax when you're going through that service motion? Well, one of the simplest things you can do, before you serve, before you start going through your whole motion, just take a deep breath and sort of relax your self. Release the tension you feel. If you feel tense, just back off the baseline for a second, take that deep breath, relax yourself and then get back up there and get ready to serve again.
That's actually it for this week's tip, all about the importance of remaining relaxed when you're serving. Next week, I'm going to follow up on this with a really easy exercise you can do at home that will help you to achieve a relaxed service motion. So I guess that's kind of like Part 2 of this week's tip. Be sure and check back for that.
RESOURCES AND LINKS FROM THIS EPISODE
Check out the other episodes in the Simple Serve Tips series:
- Simple Serve Tips: Where You Should Stand When You Serve – Tennis Quick Tips Episode 103
- Simple Serve Tips: How and Why to Use the Continental Grip on Your Serve – Tennis Quick Tips Episode 105
- Simple Serve Tips: What Is The Right Service Stance For You? – Tennis Quick Tips Episode 107
- Simple Serve Tips: What Makes a Good Serve? – Tennis Quick Tips Episode 110
- Simple Serve Tips: How to Hold the Tennis Ball When You Toss – Tennis Quick Tips Episode 115
- Simple Serve Tips: Where to Place Your Toss – Tennis Quick Tips Episode 131
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