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How to Line Up for a Tennis Serve

Serving is one of the most important, yet frustrating, aspects of tennis. A dominant serve can leave your opponent whimpering like a lost puppy, but beginning a point is nearly impossible if you’re unfamiliar with the stroke. For beginners, every aspect of the serve can seem intimidating — from the stroke itself to where you aim the ball. Whether you shank a serve onto the roof of a nearby house or swing and miss completely, serving badly can destroy any player’s psyche. But, fret no more! This tennis guide dives into the most basic facets of serving: Where and how to line up for a tennis serve.

Where to Line Up

Serving may seem like a rapid and wild motion, but it also involves strategy. Certain situations call for different types of serves and every player lines up along the baseline in a unique way. To boot, doubles and singles players generally line up in completely different spots.

Nevertheless, most players employ a similar strategy when they line up to serve:

Singles Players

Singles players should position their selves as follows:

  1. Games begin in the deuce court.
  2. Starting from the baseline, line up six inches or one foot to the right of the center hash mark.
  3. When serving from the ad court, line up about six inches or one foot to the left of the center hash mark.

Doubles Players

Doubles players generally line up, like so:

  1. Games begin in the deuce court.
  2. Starting from the baseline, line up about one and a half feet to the left of the singles sideline.
  3. When serving from the ad court, line up about one and a half feet to the right of the singles sideline.
Hot Tip: Practice How You Play

When practicing your serves, line up where you would during a match. While it’s helpful to hone your serve from various spots along the baseline, focus initially on mastering the basics. If you mostly play singles, the majority of your practice serves should take place near the center hash mark.

How to Line Up

Now that you’ve found your spot on the court, it’s time to get your feet properly aligned. Most of your serving power comes from your legs, so make sure you find a comfortable, athletic position:

Right-handed Players

Right-handed servers should line up at the baseline, like so:

  1. Angle your left foot to the baseline so it points diagonally to the line. Your right foot should be in back, parallel to the line.
  2. Keep your left foot slightly in front of your torso and your right foot in line with your right shoulder.
  3. With your feet positioned as such, you should be facing sideways to the court.

Left-handed Players

Left-handed players should align their feet as follows:

  1. Angle your right foot to the baseline so it points diagonally to the line. Your left foot should be behind your body, parallel to the line.
  2. Keep your right foot slightly in front of your torso and your left foot in line with your left shoulder.
  3. With your feet positioned as such, you should be facing sideways to the court.

Baby Steps

Serving can indeed be intimidating, but there is no better feeling as a tennis player than blowing your opponent off the court with a big serve. Firing aces past your opponent is an easy way to win points and boost your confidence. However, you’re going to have to dedicate yourself to the game if you want to become a feared server. Focus your time and energy on one particular facet of the stroke, and move on once you’re ready. Serving is all about consistency, so find a routine and stick with what works.

Serving is tough, and you have to know the basics if you want to master the more technical aspects. This tennis guide breaks down how and where to line up for a serve.
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