First service

What is the definition of The first service in tennis?

The sport of tennis has many aspects to master, one of which is the first service, a critical part of any player’s game. The first service, or more formally the service, is the shot a player uses to start a point. Players typically begin the serve by tossing the ball into the air and striking it with their racquet so that it lands in the diagonally opposite service box on the opponent’s side of the court without being stopped by the net serve (tennis) – Wikipedia.

There are various types of first services, each with its own advantages and challenges. Understanding the basics of first services, along with the common mistakes and corrections, can greatly improve a player’s overall performance on the court. To effectively practice and develop a strong first service, one must focus on perfecting their technique, building consistency, and strategically incorporating different types of serves to keep their opponent on their toes.

Key Takeaways

  • A first service is a crucial shot used to begin a point in tennis
  • Multiple types of first services exist, each with unique advantages
  • Mastering the first service requires understanding its basics, correcting common mistakes, and consistent practice

First Service Basics


A first service in tennis refers to the initial serve attempted by a player to begin a point. When executed correctly, it can give the serving player an advantage and increase their chances of winning the point. The first service is characterized by a powerful, fast, and precise shot targeting the opponent’s weak spots.

Roles and Responsibilities

The serving player’s main responsibility during a first service is to deliver the ball accurately and effectively into the opponent’s service box. Players often aim for a well-placed, powerful shot that is difficult for the opponent to return. A successful first service can lead to an ace (when the opponent cannot touch the ball with their racquet) or a weak return, allowing the server to maintain control of the point.

Tactical Importance

The first service plays a significant role in tennis tactics, as it sets the tone for the rest of the point. A strong first service can put pressure on the receiving player, often forcing them to make a defensive return. This allows the server to dictate the ensuing rally with more aggressive shot-making. Conversely, if a player fails to deliver a successful first service, they must attempt a second serve, which is usually slower and more conservative. This increases the receiving player’s chances of successfully returning the serve and potentially gaining control of the point.

The choice of a particular type of first service – such as flat, topspin, or slice – may be determined by various factors like player’s skill level, opponent’s weaknesses, and court surface. For instance, a flat serve focuses on speed and power, whereas a topspin serve imparts spin on the ball, resulting in a higher bounce. Similarly, a slice serve adds sidespin to the ball, causing it to move unpredictably and making it more difficult for the opponent to return.

To sum up, a player’s ability to consistently deliver a strong and accurate first service is a crucial component of their game strategy. It enables them to assert dominance in a point, thereby greatly influencing the overall outcome of a match.

Types of First Services

Flat Serve

The flat serve is the most basic and straightforward type of serve in tennis. As the name suggests, it is characterized by minimal spin and a relatively straight trajectory. This serve generates power through the server’s body rotation, racquet speed, and contact point. The primary goal of a flat serve is to surprise the opponent and produce an ace or an unreturnable serve. It is important for players to practice accuracy and consistency while using the flat serve to minimize the chances of committing faults.

Slice Serve

The slice serve involves imparting sidespin on the ball to achieve a different trajectory and bounce. This type of serve focuses on spin rather than speed, resulting in a ball that curves away from the opponent’s body when it lands on the court. The tennis serve technique for a slice serve requires a brushing or slicing motion across the ball with the racquet, creating the unique spin effect. Players often use this serve to strategically target an opponent’s weak return side or to disrupt their opponent’s rhythm or court positioning.

Topspin Serve

Topspin serves add topspin to the ball, which allows for a higher and more curved trajectory, ultimately resulting in a sharper bounce on the opponent’s court. With the additional margin of error provided by the topspin’s arc, players can aim closer to the net without the risk of their serve falling into the net. The topspin serve can be more challenging for the opponent to return, especially when combined with good placement and variation in serving. To execute a topspin serve, the player’s racquet brushes upward on the back of the ball during contact, giving the ball the desired spin.

The variety of first serves in tennis allows players to choose their preferred serving style and strategically adapt to different opponents, match situations, and court conditions. Mastering these serves can improve a player’s overall game and increase their chances of winning points on their serve.

Common Mistakes and Corrections

Net Faults

One common mistake in tennis, particularly during the first service, is net faults. Players often hit their serves too low, causing the ball to either hit the net or not pass over it at all. To correct a net fault, the player should focus on increasing their toss height and maintaining proper technique.

Here are some tips to avoid net faults:

  • Toss height: Ensure the ball toss is high enough to provide clearance above the net.
  • Contact point: Strive to hit the ball at the peak of the toss, ensuring optimal angle and power.
  • Racquet angle: Adjust the racquet angle to provide more lift, reducing the risk of hitting the net.

Foot Faults

Many tennis players struggle with foot faults during the first service in tennis. A foot fault occurs when a player’s foot touches the baseline or the court before hitting the ball. Here are some steps to correct and avoid foot faults:

  1. Stance: Ensure a proper stance by positioning the front foot parallel to the baseline and the back foot angled slightly towards the net.
  2. Weight distribution: Distribute weight evenly on both feet during the serve preparation.
  3. Foot movement: Avoid excessive movement during the serve, focusing on staying balanced and steady.
  4. Awareness: Practice maintaining awareness of the baseline position to avoid stepping on or over it.

Double Faults

Double faults occur when a player fails to execute a successful serve, both in their first and second attempts. These can often be attributed to a lack of consistency or poor technique. To reduce the likelihood of double faults, consider the following tips:

  • Velocity vs Accuracy: Striking a balance between power and accuracy is essential. As mentioned in the search result, favoring velocity over accuracy often leads to errors.
  • Consistency: Work on developing a consistent serving technique, focusing on a smooth and repeatable motion.
  • Targeted practice: Dedicate time to practice and refine both first and second serves, with specific attention to areas of weakness.

By addressing these common mistakes and applying the recommended corrections, tennis players can significantly improve their first service in tennis and avoid costly faults.

Practicing the First Service

Serving Drills

When practicing the first service in tennis, it is essential to incorporate different serving drills to improve technique and consistency. One popular drill involves serving a game up to thirty points, where one player serves the entire game, but is allowed only one serve. This exercise focuses on improving the player’s serve under pressure and enhancing their overall skill.

Improving Accuracy

The accuracy of the first service plays a crucial role in gaining an advantage over the opponent. To improve accuracy, tennis players should concentrate on their serve stance and follow a consistent serve motion. According to the 7-step tennis serve tutorial, setting the correct serve stance is essential for a precise and powerful serve. For a right-handed player, the front foot (the left foot) should point towards the right net post, and the back foot should be parallel to the baseline.

Several other factors contribute to better serve accuracy:

  • Spin: Implementing topspin and slice serves can enhance the player’s control over their serve direction.
  • Toss: A consistent toss is vital in maintaining accuracy, as an erratic toss can lead to an unstable serve.
  • Visualize: Visualizing the desired target before serving can help players focus and mentally prepare for the serve.

Increasing Speed

A faster first service in tennis can apply more pressure on the opponent and result in more unreturned serves or weak returns. To increase the speed, players should focus on the following elements:

  • Strength and flexibility: Developing upper body, leg, and core strength, along with flexibility, can improve the overall power of the serve.
  • Grip: Adopting a continental grip allows for better wrist snap and thus more speed on the first service.
  • Leg drive: Utilizing the legs to generate upward force can lead to a faster and more powerful serve.
  • Acceleration: Swiftly accelerating the racquet head during the swing can increase the ball speed significantly.

By incorporating these tips and suggestions into their practice routine, tennis players can work towards improving their first service performance and gain an advantage on the court.