I always hated serving in matches. I never had a real purpose on my serve. I would simply just hope that it went in, assume I’d probably double fault on the pressure moments, and let that inner voice in my head get the best of me in the worst times.
I'm not a tennis coach, just a tennis player. But recently I started using a mental strategy on each and every serve that has completely changed my serve game and overall confidence in matchplay - and just had to share it with you. Keep reading to see how you can turn that annoying defeatist inner voice - into your best friend and greatest weapon.
I’m afraid a lot of us just serve because it’s our turn to serve. We just hope our serve will go in with no real plan. Sure things may be going along just fine until the tighter points - our mind starts to get the best of us. So over the past the past few months I started incorporating a mental trick that’s just been better and better every single time I do it. This trick gave me something to focus on for the 10-15 seconds before every serve so that I could treat every serve the same regardless of what the score is, and quieted the negative thoughts that would creep in at the worst times. Let’s get started!
Step 1 - Pick
After the last point ends and you're gathering balls you begin thinking of one thing only - you pick the EXACT serve you will hit next, and say it inside your head “Topspin drive down right down the T, or Flat to the body”. Congrats, now you have a purpose, a target, and will begin mental preparations next.
Step 2 - Imagery
As you find your position on the baseline you now visualize what this serve will LOOK like as you hit it perfectly. Imagine a picture or a screenshot of how your body (or your favorite pro) and racket will look like at contact. Takes only 2-3 seconds. Your mind is now visually prepped.
Step 3 - Feel
Now imagine what this serve will FEEL like when you hit it correctly - how your body will feel as you swing upwards, how the ball will feel at contact, and what it will feel like to complete the motion - like a shadow stroke inside your mind. Takes only a couple seconds, now you’re ready to hit it - with authority.
Got the routine down? The final step is to know what kind of ball will come back from this serve you chose, and what your options will be for your initial groundstroke (for example say to yourself if a short sitter comes back down the middle I’ll be expecting it and hit to the open court). You’ll be all set to dictate the point and won’t get hung up admiring the serve you just hit - it’s time for business!
You may be thinking that’s alot to be thinking about during a serve - but that’s exactly the purpose! It quiets the noise in your head, gives a plan for your mind and body, and turns you into a dialed serving machine. If you follow a routine like this your mind will be 100% focused during the entire service routine, and you won’t have time to be thinking about what’s for dinner. Yes you have to force yourself to go to this place each and every serve and it'll take practice - but develop a routine like this and watch your execution, confidence, and consistency go to new levels.
So next time you go out don’t just step up to the line and pray. Pick your serve, own it, and become the serving machine you’ve always imagined - and the player you’ve always dreamed of being.
I'll leave you with a clip of me using this strategy each an every serve. Feel free to shoot me a message or email if you have any questions on how you can start. Thanks for reading ya'll!