Hello! My name is Matt and this is an Instructable to show the basics of a tennis serve! This is primarily intended for beginners of the sport and it will not teach you how to serve like Andy Roddick.
There are many variations and techniques used for serving in tennis. This Instructable will allow beginners to get the basic mechanics down for serving.
Step 1: What You'll Need
A tennis racket, a can of tennis balls, and a tennis court to practice at is all you'll need. Having a friend there with you can also be helpful. It will save you lots of time gathering tennis balls if you have a friend to return them to you after you serve!
The type of tennis racket used and the tension of it's strings can greatly affect a tennis player's serve. For now, we won't worry too much about that since we'll mainly be going through the motions. So any regular tennis racket will do. For tennis balls, I recommend the standard Wilson brand although pretty much any kind will be fine.
Step 2: The Grip
Now let's talk about how to hold the racket. There are several different grips used in tennis. Here is a good website where you can read about them. The grip I am using here is a mix of Continental and Eastern. I recommend a Continental grip as it is the most common for serves.
Be sure to hold the racket at base of the handle! This is important for being able to extend your reach when swinging the racket.
Step 3: Positioning
Position yourself so that you are close to the half-mark of the baseline (the farthest line on the court that is horizontal to the net). Serves are always hit to the service box that is diagonal to where you are serving from. It is best if you are closer to the half-mark when serving in a singles game.
Make sure your front foot is close to the baseline, but not touching it! This is known as a foot fault if you do, and your serve will not count.
A good rule of thumb is to have your toes pointed towards where you want to hit the ball to, in this case it is the opposite side service box.
Step 4: The Toss
Let's practice tossing the ball in the air for the serve. Reach the racket straight up into the air. Your toss must be at least high enough to reach the center of the racket strings, but it is better if it is slightly higher.
Start with the ball in your hand at your side and your feet in the positioning discussed in the previous step. Keep your arm straight and toss the ball straight up in front of you. You should release the ball at a point so that it would fall straight back down from its peak. If you toss the ball up and keep your arm outreached, the ball should fall right back into your hand (otherwise on to the court if you were to let it drop all the way).
A good rule of thumb that I use: line your arm up with the net post as you are tossing the ball up. See the last picture of this step for a better description.
Step 5: The Swing
Once you have the toss down, you're ready to actually swing and hit the ball! As your tossing arm is going through its motion, your racket arm should be going up simultaneously with it.
Raise the racket up and behind your head. The head of the racket should be behind your head just before the ball reaches its peak. As the ball reaches its peak, swing up and forward to hit the ball. Your arm should be completely straight as you make contact with the ball.
To practice the swing, you can practice hitting the ball with your racket starting in the position behind your head. Imagine that you are trying to scratch the back of your head with the strings of the racket. That is about where you want your racket to be just before you swing to hit the ball. The last picture of this step shows a good position to practice hitting the ball from.
Once you have just the swing down, then practice raising your racket into position as you are simultaneously tossing the ball up.
Step 6: Following Through
Following through your swing means that you want your body's momentum to carry you into the court after your swing. This is why it is important to make sure your toss is out in front of you.
You should almost feel like you're "falling" into the court after your swing. It is helpful to go forward after your swing so that you are ready to play the point after serving!