Intermediate and advanced players can use the full-swing serve (figure 3.6) to put the ball in play. Rather than just aiming at targets, imagine yourself in game situations in which you are ahead 40-30 and poised to win a game (or set) with a strong serve, or down 30-40 and in danger of losing a match with a weak serve or double fault.
Figure 3.6 Full-Swing Serve
- Continental grip
- Feet at 45-degree angle to net
- Toss slightly higher than you could normally reach with the tip of an extended racket
- Full down, back, up, and forward motion (some advanced players abbreviate the backswing)
- Full extension of body, arm, and racket on contact
- Forward weight shift
- Wrist flop on contact
- Slightly down
The serve lacks power.
Pronate the wrist on contact with the ball.
The toss is too far back (not inside the plane of the baseline) and out of the swing path.
Toss the ball slightly forward in the direction in which you want to hit.
The serve goes into the net.
Keep your head up as you strike the ball.
Visualize the serve landing deep in the opposite service court.
Hold the racket with a Continental grip, although you may want to modify with an Eastern forehand to hit the ball flatter (without spin) or with an Eastern backhand to create a topspin effect. With the Continental grip, the wrist is directly over the top of the racket handle as you look down on it.
Position your feet at a 45-degree angle to the net, spread more than shoulder-width apart. Turn your side to the net and slightly bend your back knee as if coiling your body. Rotate and uncoil your body toward the ball with the swing. The angle at which you stand may vary a few degrees in either direction, depending on your preference.
To swing, start with your weight forward. Point your racket toward the target at about chest height, with your free hand holding the ball and touching the racket. Drop your racket head in a pendulum motion with the racket head passing by your legs. Some experienced players modify the downswing and backswing, creating an abbreviated motion. Move the ball slightly downward toward the front thigh before the toss at the same time the racket goes down. Again, some advanced players may delay the tossing or swinging movement to establish their own rhythm, but moving the hands down together and then up together is a good starting point. Drop the racket arm down, and in a continuous motion, move it up into the back-scratching position. Simultaneously move the other arm up to lift the ball for the toss. The service motion should have a rhythmic feel.
Time the toss so that the ball drops to a point above your head and slightly in front of your body at the same time you extend your racket arm to make contact. If the timing is way off, stop and reset the service motion from the beginning. The toss has to be far enough in front of you to force you to lean forward and beyond the baseline as you hit. Keep your head up and look at the ball while you are tossing.