Sunday, April 29, 2012

Overhand Serve Warm-Up

Extra points if you know
who this is
This exercise has been extremely useful to me as a player. Any of my students old enough to learn an overhand serve have learned this warm-up from me also. The goals of this warm-up are:

  • literally warm up the shoulder joint prior to serving
  • regulate the ball toss
  • refine the throwing motion, central to a quality serve
  • improve level of focus on toss prior to hitting serve

All good things! What's not to like??!!

Start at the baseline.

  • Ask player to take one tennis ball and throw it overhand over the net with whichever hand they use to play/serve with. Look for a natural throwing motion, as if they are throwing a football or a baseball. Remind them the serve is a simple throwing motion, throwing racquet at ball. Look for a weight transfer or even a step with opposite (front) foot. 
  • Now throw it as high as possible but still over net
  • Now throw it as high and as FAR as possible over net - opposite baseline is ideal goal
  • Now get two balls. First ball is in toss hand. Second is in serve/racquet hand. Toss service toss, letting it drop to ground.  Then throw second ball as previously instructed, as high and far over net as possible.
  • Final challenge: Toss service toss. Try to hit this ball in the air with second ball, again with same throwing motion as high and far as possible.

At first this will seem nigh impossible no matter the level of player. But you will be surprised how often the tossed ball is struck, even upon the first time this activity is attempted. This activity is amazingly effective for teaching the correct throwing motion and enforcing the high level of focus required during the toss/serve. Remind student to recreate the throwing motion when they have racquet in hand and are preparing to serve.

And in case you are wondering, yes, I have hit the tossed ball on more than one occasion. :)