Ball Toss: Proper Technique for a Tennis Serve

There are hundreds of individual ways to serve -- and somehow players have found a way to customize the basic service motion to one that works for them.

Sometimes their custom jobs look rather bizarre, but if it works why mess with it?

But there is one "don't" that will never let the player serve well. That is the position of the ball-tossing hand before raising it upwards to release the ball.

Dennis Van der Meer

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In an orthodox serve, the left hand always stays to the right of the left leg. There are several benefits to this:

  • It enables the body to rotate toward the right
  • Allows the left shoulder to raise upwards
  • And allows the right arm to cock in a position similar to a throwing action

A "don't" is when the left hand goes to the left of the left leg on the downward swing. It is now impossible to get into a throwing stance from this position.

You look like you can fly but you sure can't serve.

To extricate yourself from this mess you have to contort your body, maneuver your feet to get your balance and, finally, you are ready to hit the ball.

Yet the correction is amazingly simple. All you have to do is cross your left hand over your racket. Let the two go down together, but keep the left hand to the right side of the body.

The first few attempts will feel a bit unfamiliar, but then the correct service rhythm will appear almost as if by magic.

1. When the left hand goes to the left of the body, a normal serve is impossible. 2. A very simple trick is to cross hands. The left hand must stay on the right hand side of the body at all times. 3. Now it is very easy to get the arm in the cocked position.


Dennis Van der Meer, known as the "pro's pro," has taught more people how to play and teach the game of tennis than anyone in the history of the game. For more information on adult tennis clinics, junior tennis camps, and their full-time tennis academy visit VanderMeerTennis.com.

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