Tutorial 1 - Service Pronation
How do you stop yourself as a beginner and intermediate player from having an incorrect serve? Can I improve your tennis serve?
Well, let me put your mind at rest. I can!
A lot of beginners have what we call a Pancake service motion. This comes completely 100% from holding your racket with the wrong grip, using your forehand groundstroke grip to serve. So, first things first, you have to learn to control the tennis racket correctly. The grip you need to use is called 'the continental grip', known as 'the chopper grip'. This is where the top knuckle on your index finger is holding the grip on the 2nd bevel from the top, shown in picture 1.
Now, this can be a challenging way to hold the racket, and often coaches are told by students, "what on earth are you trying to do to me?". But let me tell you, with enough practice, it has so many benefits. First, it will increase power over time, and second, you can hit a lot more topspin and slice with this grip. So if it's good enough for the pros, it's good enough for us mere mortals.
The biggest issue you face with this grip is that players have trouble pointing the face of the strings on contact points towards the net and the intended target.
So here's an excellent tip to help you with this and finally nail that serve!!
As you throw the racket head towards the contact point, aim to hit the ball with the edge of your racket, then, at the very last moment before you hit the ball, start turning the racket so that, finally, the strings are pointing towards the net. This motion is called 'Pronation' or, in tennis terms, a turning of the forearm. Want proof? Look at how Novak's racket edge is quite literary pointing towards the net just microseconds before contact, shown in picture 2.
Then at the last moment, just before contact, he turns his forearm and wrist to point his strings towards the net!. This is shown in picture 3.
Ok, how do you practice this? Well, here's how! First, practice your service motion with the continental grip, checking it each time before you serve. Then attempt to hit the racket edge at least 10 times in a row whilst you practise your service motion, finally practise trying to hit the racket edge and then, at the last moment before contacting the ball, pronate (turn) your wrist so that your strings are now facing the other side of the net and your target. You will be shocked at how much this can help.
#1 Continental Grip
The continental grip is the correct grip
we should all be using for serving.
Using this grip to pronate will give you
a powerful flat serve and fulfil your
potential with both slice and topspin. Notice the bottom knuckle on the first finger is placed in line with the 2nd flat bevel of the handle.
#2 Wrist & Arm Supernation
This is where the wrist has been
turned outward, the knuckles of your
racket hand are pointing towards the right side, the racket edge is pointing towards the net as the racket is being thrown towards the ball straight after the
#3 Wrist & Arm Pronation
This is where the arm and the wrist is being turned inwards for a right handed player. As you can see, the racket face is now facing towards the intended direction of the serve, in this case, towards the net.