It's time for another episode in the Simple Serve Tips Series. This week's episode focuses on the service stance. Specifically, what is the right service stance for you. Is it the platform stance? The pinpoint stance? Or should you just hit the ball like you're swinging a frying pan? Learn all about service stances and which one you should be using in this episode. You can listen to this episode by clicking on the media player above or by listening in with your favorite podcast app. You can also subscribe in iTunes by clicking on this link: tennisfixation.com/itunes.
What is a “Service Stance” in Tennis?
While we've previously talked about where you can stand when serving, back in Episode 103, in this episode we're focusing on how to stand. The way that you stand on the service line is called your “service stance” and, if you're like the vast majority of recreational players, you may not have given too much thought to your service stance.
I know when I first started playing tennis and first started learning how to serve, this was not something that anyone brought up with me. And I think there is a good reason for that. I don't think that is just because I wasn't being taught properly. The fact is that the best stance for hitting your serve is the way that you feel most comfortable, in my opinion.
Now, I'm going to tell you some specific stances that you might be using or that you might try. I'm going to tell you my own experience with them. But let me say, overall, that the right service stance for you is the one that makes you feel most comfortable and most relaxed when you are about to hit your serve. This is because being relaxed and comfortable is one of the most important conditions you can be in when you are going to serve. So any stance that doesn't feel that way to you, that makes you feel stiff or unnatural, is not going to help you produce the best serve possible.
The Platform Service Stance
Having said that, there are some specific stances you can take when serving. These are the ones that are most widely recognized.
The first of these is the platform stance. Here is a photo of my feet in the platform service stance:
In this stance, you are standing right behind the baseline, your feet are about shoulder-width apart and are angled toward the net. Up to about a 45 degree angle. My own feet I notice are less than 45 degrees. They're closer to being almost parallel with the baseline. But somewhere between parallel and this 45 degree angle, with your feet shoulder-width apart, is the platform stance.
And its called the platform stance because you're standing as if you're on a platform. It's very stable. Your feet aren't moving much on the serve. Of course, your feet are going to more when you serve, especially if you're pushing up into your serve with your legs. But as far as the set-up, when you are first taking your position on the baseline, your feet are not moving much. And that's why the platform stance is a great stance for beginners. And, in fact, all the way up to the pro, people are using the platform stance to serve. I think the best example of this is Roger Federer.
The Pinpoint Service Stance
Another common stance that you may have heard of, that even recreational players use, is the pinpoint stance. In this stance, your feet start close to the platform stance. They're separated. But during the service motion, you drag your back foot up to a pinpoint with your front foot. So you're standing with your feet close together and that helps you push up and get your momentum going up and into your serve. The best example of this, I have always thought, was Andy Roddick.
My Personal Service Stance Experience
So, let me give you my story about my service stance experience. As I said, when I first started playing and first learned to serve, no one said a word to me about stance on the baseline, how my feet should be positioned. But I did read up on it and I realized I was a little bit too facing-forward. In other words, I did not have any type of angle to the court. I was almost facing the net. And this is how a lot of players serve and a lot of players can serve that way and hit a really good serve. And I would say that if you're happy with your serve, if your stance feels comfortable to you and you are a player who is basically facing the net when you're serving, then keep it up. Don't go making radical changes if you're satisfied with what you're doing.
However, for me, I found that by making the shift where I had my feet more positioned at an angle to the baseline as opposed to being perpendicular to the baseline, I found that by making this turn and shifting my feet, I was able to move my body in a way that I could get more momentum and actually get more of a loopy or whippy motion with my racket on my serve. As opposed to, by having my chest forward, I was just sort of, almost, it was like I was hitting the ball with a frying pan. It was just a flat, hit straight. There was no spin being put on the ball. I certainly wasn't pronating and I couldn't really add any power to the serve other than what I could add with my arm which certainly was not much.
So I shifted to this platform stance once I read about it. Then, as time went on, and I did see what the pros were doing, I decided that I have to do the pinpoint stance because that was what the pros were doing. Let me say it took me a while to get that pinpoint stance down and it really did not add anything to my serve. But I served that way I'm sure for probably two years.
I finally worked with a pro and asked him to help fix my serve. The first thing he told me was that I was moving my feet too much. My pinpoint stance was not the right stance for the type of player I was. So I switched back to the platform stance. That took me some time because I had made my body get into this habit of doing the pinpoint stance. But switching back truly did simplify a lot of things that were happening in my serve. And it did make my set-up to going into my serve so much simpler and more stable. Once I was able to calm my feet down and quit moving them into that pinpoint stance, one I got to where I could maintain the platform stance at the beginning of the serve, it did help quite a bit.
The Best Service Stance is the One That Feels Relaxed and Comfortable
So I'm going to go back to my original point – the right service stance for you is the one you feel most comfortable and most relaxed in. For me, while I made this shift from the platform to the pinpoint and was able to hit serves with that pinpoint stance, it wasn't until I got back into the much simpler, for me, platform stance, that I found that things calmed down and I could make improvements to my serve again.
So – what's the answer to the question “what is the right service stance for you?” Again, it's the one that you feel most relaxed and comfortable in. It might be the platform stance. That is certainly the stance that I would recommend to anyone learning to serve for the first time. It might be the pinpoint stance if that's something that you've already been using and you feel good about your serve. And it might be that straight-on, chest facing the net stance, if you're been serving that way for a while and you're happy with what you're producing with that, then keep that up. But I do believe that if you want to add more spin and certainly if you want to increase the power on your serve, then you're going to need to adopt a stance that's going to allow you to do those things. And in my opinion that's most likely, for most recreational players, that's going to be the platform stance. For some recreational players, that might be the pinpoint stance. But hitting the ball like you're using a frying pan is probably not going to be the most productive.
RESOURCES AND LINKS FROM THIS EPISODE:
Check out the links from this episode and 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 Podcast 105
- Where to Stand When You're Serving – Tennis Quick Tips Podcast 60
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