Tennis Serve drills
Learn to serve under pressure


The purpose of tennis serve drills is to teach the player how to empty his mind and how to serve with focus. There are also situations where a player must serve under pressure and needs to shut this pressure off so that he is able to serve at his best.


Serving in a row

Divide both service courts in two halfs. The server has to serve one serve into each half starting from left to right.

a) He needs to hit four serves. Count how many he needs to complete the sequence.b) He needs to serve two in a row in each half of the court. If he hit every serve, that would be 8 serves.c) He needs to serve 3 in a row. That would be 12 serves if he hit every time.

Variation:
– make player serve in thirds of the court.

Benefits:

This drill is different from usual target practice drill because the player is under pressure. He needs as few serves as possible and he starts from 0 if misses a second or a third serve as mentioned in points b) and c).

He of course practices precision serving but he is much more focused in this drill than if he just practices target serving.


Psycho serve

This is a drill similar to the above one with the added pressure of playing against a partner.

2 players serve one against each other cross court. Player A serves first, then player B. If A hits the court and B misses, A wins a point. If A hits the court and B hits the court, neither gets a point. If A misses and B hits the court, B wins a point.

The game is played to 3 and then they switch serving order. The second server is under more pressure!

Can be played with first serves only, second serves only or both.

Variations:
- Mark half or one third of the court to aim for
- Have the first player call out where he'll serve and the second player needs to follow
- Have both players on the same side of the court alternating serves

Benefits:

  • Use this as a warm up – and have players serve in a focused way. Players warm up serves without any concentration too many times. They even practice serves without pressure. That's not what happens in reality.
  • The second player is under pressure – sometimes he has to hit so stay »alive« and sometimes he has a win in his hands for example 2:2 and the first player missed a serve. If the second player hits the serve in, he wins. You'll be disappointed how times players miss this opportunity. They don't quiet their mind and focus on success. Imagine what will happen when they serve for the match in a really important tennis match…
  • They start combining serving and their head – ALWAYS! No careless serving during practice. It gets stored in your subconsciousness and comes out when you want that the least.


Serving under pressure (Jimmy Connors drill)

Players play a set where the server always starts at 30:40.

Variations:
- Play no-ad
- The server has only the second serve

Benefits:

  • Players will inevitably win some of the games when they are 30:40 down and this will start building their confidence. When they experience this situation in the match they'll know that they can win from there. They won't panic or surrender before the point even starts.
  • The returner will realize that it's not the best tactic to play passively. Unless of course he plays with a very scared opponent who chokes under pressure. But hopefully eventually the scared player will realize that this approach doesn’t lead anywhere (coach’s suggestion helps) and will change his game. That's when the returner will have to step up again.


Finish the set - the Grand Slam version

Players start from 4:4 and play the best of 5 sets.

Variations:
- Best of 3 (if you don't have a lot of time)
- Players play tie breaks – the best of 3 (5)

Benefits:

  • Players don't waste time in practice playing points at 1:1 and 15:15. Most of them don't realize the importance of those points and play them too carelessly. Before they mature enough and start listening to the coach, you may present them with these situations which automatically put them in a focused state of mind since every point is important. When they play the best of 5, they have played focused and fighting tennis for 30 or 60 minutes. It starts becoming automatic.
  • Players learn how to approach these situations since they play them more often. They can learn from their mistakes and try a different approach to finishing the set maybe 10 minutes after the first type of play (only baseline, defending, …) did not work. Players can make these mistakes in their matches but then they forget and try it next week again. They can't change their approach in the tournament since they have already lost.





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