Learn the Tennis Serve: Tips for Beginners


If you have never played tennis before or you are just learning how to play tennis, you likely have somewhat of an idea of how important a tennis serve is. Generally speaking, the server has a large advantage over the other player and this is why the serve alternates throughout the game. Getting a good quality serve can be difficult and you may actually be at a disadvantage against your opponent when you are just starting to serve because your serve is slow, weak or has a high arch.  All of those types of serves are easy to return, and because of this, you may be at a disadvantage when you serve.   In order to improve your tennis game, you’ll have to make sure your serve is harder for your opponent to return than any other volley over the net. There are several ways to serve a tennis ball and some are more difficult and powerful than others. In order to help you learn to serve we have come up with a guide to the different kinds of serves and techniques to help you out.

Underhand Serve

The first and easiest type of tennis serve for a beginner or very young player is an underhand serve. The first step of this serve is to get your feet parallel with the baseline/ serving line on the court. At this point, all you have to do is get a ball and hold it out in the hand that you don’t have your racquet in. Take the hand with your racket and hold it out underneath the ball. At this point move the racket backward away from the ball, drop the ball, move your hand out of the way and swing your racquet forwards. This is a pretty natural movement and it will just take you some time in order to get good at it. It is always a good idea to serve and aim for a particular location.  Doing this will help to increase your overall accuracy and help you to improve with practice. Generally speaking, an underhand serve is the first serve that beginner tennis players learn to use. Unfortunately, this type of serve is not as accurate as an overhead serve which is why the majority of tennis players will attempt an overhead serve, and this type of serve is crucial if they play tennis fairly often. At least by learning to do an underhand serve it allows you to be able to create rally’s and have a good time, you should not be ashamed if this is the only type of serve that you know how to do.

Overhand Serve

The serve that you will see the majority of professional tennis player’s use is the overhand serve. In order to be able to hit the ball properly you are going to have to hold the racket correctly. To hold the racket correctly you will need to have a light grip on the racquet and hold the racket mainly using your fingers rather than your palm. Make sure that your hand is above the bottom of the racket, but not too far up or too far down so that you lose your grip or lose leverage on your hit. To warm up it is always a good idea to bounce the ball a few times and get a feel for the court and see how much your tennis ball is going to bounce.

Overhand Serve Motions

Getting into the actual movements of the overhand serve you will need to first line up behind the serving line and hold the ball flat on the racquet in front of you in order to line it up so that you don’t miss the ball. Shift your weight to the back while bringing your racquet head downwards. Bring the racquet behind you and begin to toss the ball in front of you towards the court.

Rather than throwing the ball into the air, many people like to picture that they are actually placing the ball on the top of a shelf as this seems much easier to them so that they don’t have to worry about the accuracy of the throw. A good throw/ toss will be slightly higher than that of which your racquet can reach when you extend your arm so that you have the highest chance of hitting the ball. You can actually somewhat guide the ball with your follow through by keeping your racquet up or down in order to help sway the direction of the ball to the path that you want it to go.

Serving Tips

Now that you know how to properly serve a ball (theoretically of course!), here are some tips so that you have a better overhead serve. When you are pulling your racquet behind your back in order to wind up for a shot it is a good idea to let the racquet get very close to your back almost close enough so that it touches your back. By doing this motion you won’t be able to swing as fast and you will notice that you have more control over where the ball goes.

Another good tip is to keep almost all of your weight on your back leg and spring forwards when you make contact with the ball in order to produce more power and to make better contact with the ball. You should always try and hit the ball in the center of the racquet as this is the place that allows you to have the most control as to where the ball will land on the opponents’ court and it will also change the spin and speed of the ball depending on where you hit it. When you are following through on your serve the racquet should come over the top of and be on the opposite side of your body; you should also have enough forward momentum to make you do a stumble like motion after your follow through.

One final important tip is to watch your feet after the serve to make sure that your entire shoe stays behind the service line when you are serving. No matter how nice of a serve you have, a good serve isn’t going to count if you go over the service line and you should always keep this in mind even when practicing.

Learning Methods

If after learning all of these techniques, you still aren’t really sure how to do a proper tennis serve there are a variety of things that you can do in order to help. One of the best ways to learn to do a proper tennis serve is to find someone else who knows exactly what they are doing and get them to show you what you are doing wrong so that you can improve. If that isn’t an option for you another good way to learn is by either watching live tennis matches or by looking online or on TV in order to find tennis matches that you can watch. If by watching live games you still find that you aren’t getting the instruction and guidance that you need, you could try watching a variety of instructional online videos that help to break down a tennis serve. Not only will this give you tips as to how to serve properly but it will also give you some good tips for other aspects of a tennis match. With practice, you will surely improve your serving techniques, but it is important to keep in mind that it is going to take some time before you get really good.  Remember, is NOT “practice makes perfect”, but in fact “Perfect practice makes perfect”.

Private Lesson Benefits

If you are really looking to improve your tennis serve, you could hire your own personal trainer. There are tons of amateur and professional tennis players that are willing to offer lessons teach people how to improve their tennis games. Although hiring a professional trainer to work one-on-one with you in order to help improve your game is probably not going to be cheap, it is one of the most effective ways to learn to serve properly and you will also notice that you learn much faster as the trainer will make sure that you are using all of the proper techniques in your serve as well as other aspects of your tennis game, right from the beginning. For most of these trainer’s you will generally have to pay by the hour or pay per session but the nice thing about these is that even going for one session with a professional can help you to smooth out the kinks in your game and get you playing properly.


Hopefully, after reading this article you now have a better grasp of both the importance of a tennis serve as well as the different serving options that are available. By no means will you be able to master a serving technique overnight and even professional tennis players do mess up their serves at times which is important to keep in mind. No matter the technique you choose to learn, as long as you put in the practice time using the proper technique, and you try your best, with time you should be able to get a quality serve down and you will be able to have an advantage over your opponent when it is your chance to serve. Best of luck with your practicing and good luck with your future tennis matches!


My name's Pete Stec and I'm one of the owners here at SportConsumer.com and Sport Consumer Family (YouTube). My family and I invite you to travel our journey of wellness for your kids and family through nutrition and exercise while we continue to provide the very best reviews on the sports gear you need for serious competition or for your leisure activity!

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