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Tennis Serving Drills

There’s no charming way to put it: Tennis serves take a lot of practice. Most beginners spray serves over fences, onto picnic tables, and on top of parked cars. Even advanced players sometimes shank a serve into the bushes. You can never practice your serve enough, and drills are an effective and fun way to perfect your form. This guide reviews two serving drills that focus on accuracy, and are good for players at any experience level.

Serving with Targets

This simple drill is great for players, coaches, instructors, and anyone in between. Few teaching tools are required and no tennis partners are necessary. Follow this step-by-step breakdown to improve your serving accuracy:

  1. You need six targets and a large basket of balls in this exercise, so plan ahead of time. Any one-foot tall target should suffice: Tennis ball canisters or small cones are perfect.
  2. Place three targets in each service box, and spread them out near the back of the service line.
  3. Jog back to the opposite baseline, and line up on the deuce court.
  4. Pick a target and stick with it for 10 to 15 serves. This is key: Do not constantly switch targets. Work on a specific serve for a set amount of time, and track your progress.
  5. Move along the baseline once you feel comfortable on a specific serve. You can aim for the same target or choose a new one if you’re ready to move on.
  6. Continue hitting until you’ve taken 10 to 15 serves at each target. Rearrange the targets and keep serving if you have the time and energy to continue practicing.
Hot Tip: Customize Your Routine

If you want to work on a specific serve – like a topspin serve out wide from the deuce court – adjust your target accordingly. Visualize where you want to place the ball off the serve, and put a cone in that exact spot in the service box. Use this same approach with the remaining targets. Put one cone near the middle of the box, so you can practice second serves or serves up the middle that jam your opponent. Place another target down the “T” so you can work on aces. Use the same strategy on the ad court, as well.


There are two pieces of advice you need to remember for this drill:

  1. Position yourself along the baseline like you would in a competitive match. If you play mostly doubles and line up out wide, the majority of your serves in this drill should come from out wide.
  2. Don’t overswing you’re working on serve accuracy. Start slow and increase your pace once you’re making serves consistently.

Serving Streak

The following accuracy drill focuses on consistency and sound mechanics. Minimal teaching tools are needed and you can serve by yourself or with a partner. Follow these steps and implement this drill into your practice routine:

  1. You need two ropes that are at least 15-feet long and a large bag of tennis balls, so plan accordingly.
  2. Divide each service box into two equal halves with the rope.
  3. Jog back to the opposite baseline, and line up on the deuce court.
  4. Position yourself along the baseline similar to how you would in a competitive match. Your practice should mimic a match situation, so line up near the center of the court if you normally do so.
  5. Aim for left half (out wide) of the service box.
  6. Once you make it in the correct half, move on to the next target down the “T.”
  7. Switch to the ad court, follow the same steps, and record how many serves it takes you to complete the drill.
Hot Tip: Change Your Goal

Once you can finish this drill in four or five serves, try to hit two balls into each half, for a total of eight shots. Record the total number of serves it takes you to finish the drill. Continue progressing, and always write down your results. Keeping track of your progress makes practicing mean more.

Bring Your Pen & Paper

The drills outlined in this guide are helpful for both your first and second serves, and they give you a clear idea of how consistent your serves are. By recording your results, you can track your serve percentages and determine the serve you’re struggling with the most. Perhaps you only made 25 percent of your serves down the “T” on the ad court. Using your information, you can set specific goals, such as:

  • Improve your first serve percentage to 60 before your next tournament.
  • Increase your second serve percentage to 90 in two months.
  • Improve your serve out wide on the deuce court by 10 percent.

Setting goals is one of the best ways to improve. Now motivate yourself to master your serve and take your game to the next level!

If you're serious about taking your game to the next level, you'll need to step up your training. This tennis guide does just that and outlines effective serving drills.
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