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The 4 Types of Serves
By:  Scott Baker | Tennis4you  | Tennis Forum  | E-mail

There are four different types of serves that can be learned and each can be used to your advantage. Some of these serves may be effective against certain opponents and others may not. Mixing up all four serves through out a match may cause your opponent problems because they can never find a rhythm in returning your serve.

Learning to effectively hit each serve is an important part to improving your serve. There are four kinds of serves you need to be aware of, the flat serve, slice serve, kick serve, and the topspin serve. All four serves can be very effective and no one serve is better than any of the others. Each has their advantages and disadvantages, learning how to hit all four is important, and learning to mix them up in a match against an opponent is even more important. Here we will list the advantages and disadvantages of each serve.

Flat Serve

Advantages of the flat serve:

1. Speed of the serve gives your opponent less time to react and prepare for the return.
2. Helps to win easy points which in turn can also help you conserve energy.
3. Easy to learn

Disadvanatges of the flat serve:
1. Gives serve and volley players less time to get to the net.
2. Percentage of serves that go in can be very low.
3. Harder for shorter people to get the clearance over the net with out some spin.
4. When returnee gets their racquet on the ball the return can come back very fast b/c they are using the power you generated.

Slice Serve:

Advantages of the slice serve:
1. Ball bounces low, away from or into opponent's body.
2. You can use the spin to jam your opponent or pull them off of the court.
3. Percentage of serves in is high.
4. Easy to learn.

Disadvanatges of the slice serve:
1. It's a basic serve, people are used to hitting back slice serves.

Kick Serve:

Advantages of the kick serve:
1. Ball bounces high, away from or into opponent's body.
2. Ball bounces opposite direction of which it hits the ground.
3. Gives serve-and-volley players time to get to the net.
4. Hard to attack
5. Less experienced people have not played much against a kick serve and it may really throw them off.

Disadvanatges of the kick serve:
1. If your opponent hit's the ball off the rise it takes away the effectiveness of the serve, not allowing the ball to go far in any direction.
2. Hard to learn

Topspin Serve:

Advantages of the topspin serve:
1. Gives serve-and-volley players time to get to the net.
2. Bounces high
3. Great consistency
4. Easy to learn
5. Hard to attack

Disadvanatges of the topspin serve:
1. If your opponent hit's the ball off the rise it takes away the effectiveness of the serve, not allowing the ball to bounce high
2. Easy to see comming and easy to hit back.

Breakdown of How To Strike The Ball for Each Serve:
Please be aware that there is much more to these serves than I am explaining in this section. For the first three I am only going to talk about the motion your racquet needs to hit/brush the ball to execute these serves. Watching the pros is a great way to see how the whole body needs to move as one for the serve! The numbers I am referring to are the numbers on a clock so you can get orientated on how to hit the ball. These are also assuming you are right handed. (Sorry lefties)

Flat Serve: No spin on the ball, just drive through the ball towards the court!

Slice Serve: Brush the ball on the right side driving through the ball towards the court. Your swing should move right to left slightly as you hit this serve and follow through.

Topspin Serve:
Brush the ball from low to high, from 6 to 12. The harder you brush the ball, the more spin you will get.

The Kick Serve: Brush the ball from low to high, from 8 to 1 or 2 o'clock. Here is a great example of a kick serve illustrated by Patrick Rafter.

Work on hitting all 4 types of serves to better attack your opponent's weaknesses and keep them guessing on the return.

Good Luck on the Court!
Scott Baker
Tennis4you.com