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Many players serve with a stiff arm, which undermines their potential to hit their serve with power. A stiff arm cannot act as a whip to transfer energy out through the racquet, which translates to more speed.

There are usually a couple of culprits that I’ve found that cause this problem. Number one, the toss is too high, causing the racquet to pause or stiffen up as you wait for the ball to drop. The key is to lower your toss to a point that forces you to have a continuous serving motion. Tossing just to the peak of your reach, actually makes you speed up the racquet arm and at the same time keep the racquet arm loosey-goosey, which will give you more racquet speed at contact.

Tom Avery
Tom Avery

Tom Avery has been helping and coaching students for 40 years. Tom has appeared everywhere from the Tennis Channel to YouTube. His coaching and clarity is second to none. Tom empowers every player to excel at any level of the game. He has a quick fix for every problem and is often referred to as the Godfather of Tennis Video Instruction.

    12 replies to "How To Serve Loose For More Power"

    • Graham

      Thanks for these tips Tom.

      You’re definitely right about the toss. Although mine is not too high, I still feel like I’m pausing a bit just before contact in the trophy position. This kills momentum and it’s like you have to start the serve again! I’ll work on lowering it a bit more.

      What do you think of Stan Wawrinka’s service action? He pauses just before contact, but he obviously has enough upper body strength and leg drive to generate sufficient power.

      • Tom Avery

        Hi Graham,
        Yes Stan has a very good serve… and both he and Roger both let the ball drop slightly before contact… it’s what they were taught and brought up with… could their serves have been better if they were taught “toss to the peak of your reach” I personally think yes… slightly better, not a huge difference but every edge counts.
        To your tennis success,

    • Ron

      Learning drop for perfect serve..go Feel tennis with Tomas

      Tomas speaks clearly and very good in learning tennis…sorry you have not addressed what I feel for in improvement in my tennis..possible you listen to what he teaches will improve you site?…be open to improvements..

      • Tom Avery

        Hi Ron,
        Absolutely, Tomas is a very good teacher, thanks for sharing.
        All the best,

    • Malcolm

      Just wish I could keep my ball toss lower – This is a common issue; but maybe not essential.
      Can get nasty in the wind or sun, though.

      Stephanie has a classic WTA serve.

      Some people think that there seems to be a common problem even at the number 1 level (e.g Sharapova; Azarieka; Wozniacki, Hingis etc) that females tend to jump up at the ball without using body torque; not screwing their legs (especially the back leg) into the ground – hence they over-rotate the body and cannot look at the ball at contact. Any opinion?

      • Tom Avery

        Hi Malcolm,
        I think Stephanie does a nice job of bending with the legs and getting the back leg down. Overall a good motion. Looking away from the ball too soon is a bad habit a lot of players have, yet sometimes not a big factor in inconsistency. Sharapova’s toss is definitely too high in my opinion, if I was her coach fixing her serve would be the priority… lower the toss and get more confidence in topspin, with her serve.
        All the best,

    • Mohamed Maldi

      Great tips and sterling description, now I just need to practice to get it right. As a matter of fact I found this piece of advice the best probably because I suffer from inconsistent serving: double faults and weak second serve. All the time I found the serve as the weakest link in my otherwise sensible play.
      Thanks for all the work you do!
      Mohamed Maldi

      • Tom Avery

        Hi Mohamed,
        You’re welcome, much appreciated!! Tossing just to the peak of your reach should help a lot.
        All the best and happy serving,

    • Ken

      Great job Tom. I have seen many of your videos and I am glad you have Stephanie talking more. She is so adorable and her comments are right on target. It’s fun to see you two interact.
      I found the slow motion especially helpful. It shows how she brings the racket arm and ball toss arm up at the same time. Also she opens up her chest and looks almost straight up at the ball. I am still working on that part along with bending the knees.
      Thanks Tom and Stephanie

      • Tom Avery

        Hi Ken,
        Thanks, glad you’re enjoying and benefiting. Stephanie will be heading back to Switzerland on April 11, to do some coaching there, we’re going to miss her enthusiasm and expertise. She has promised to come back though. I will be bringing in some more coaches in the future.
        All the best,

        • Lloyd Drucker

          Tom, note the following errors on her serve.
          1. Incomplete backswing (your back swing is ok but notice the difference)
          She aborts the full back swing at 6 O’clock lifting directly to 12 rather than letting the down swing carry the racket up as you do correctly in this video (unneeded effort)
          2. There is no eye contact at string contact. She has dropped the head a full 6-12″ prior which leads to inconsistency due to premature head drop affecting contact point.
          3. Minor but worth mentioning she let’s the toss go prior to full arm extension a common error even among some pros who let it go at waist level. The shorter the ball travels the more accurate the toss.
          You were correct to mention the importance of rhythmic motion rather than forcing it. The stiff arm aborts kinetic chain wasting leg and torso drive preventing transfer to arm loop wrist loop and pronate
          As corollaries it is worth mentioning that accuracy and consistency are equally important. Note Nadal beat Nishikori at Indian Wells with a 89% first serve in not with max power but rhythm.
          Again folks, Don’t force it! Let the body, rhythm and good form do its thing and there will be plenty of power.

          • Tom Avery

            Hi Lloyd,
            I agree with points 1 and 2 Stephanie could do better in those areas. Number 3 I don’t agree I think she releases the toss around eye height and I find this works fine. That being said, even with her minor faults, overall she has a very good serve.
            All the best,

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