Pete Sampras is second in the list of most number of Grand Slam Titles along with Rafael Nadal with 14 titles. He was considered a supreme tennis player before Roger Federer and Nadal came onto the scene. Sampras’ game was similar to Federer’s as he too used to carry out the serve and volley play a lot and was almost unbeatable at fast grass courts. The American finished his career by defeating fellow countryman and rival Andre Agassi at the finals of US Open in 2012. We bring you some amazing stats by about the Legend Sampras is:

1. Sampras moved from ranked 893 to ranked 97 in his first year:

Pete Sampras had turned pro in 1988, when he was just 16 years old. Sampras was ranked 893 at the start of the year but ended it 97. He lost his first professional match to Sammy Giammalva, Jr. at the February Ebel U.S. Pro Indoor in Philadelphia.

2. Sampras won his first Grand Slam singles match at French Open in 1989:

Sampras won the first round match but he lost to 17 year old Micheal Chang 1-6, 1-6, 1-6 in the second round. Michael Chang went on to become the eventual winner of the tournament and both him and Sampras shared some sort of rivalry in the years to come.

3. Huge Jump in Ranking again in 1990

By the end of 1990, Sampras was World No.5 after starting the year as world no. 61 before the Australian Open. Later that year, Sampras won his first Grand Slam by winning the US Open at the edge of 19.

4. First Professional Singles Title, February 1990:

Sampras won his first professional singles title, in February 1990 when he won the Ebel U.S. Pro Indoor in Philadelphia. He defeated sixth-ranked Andre Agassi, eighth-ranked Tim Mayotte on the way to the final and eighteenth-ranked Andrés Gómez in the final. This title elevated his ranking into the top 20 for the first time.

Breaks Ivan Lendl’s streak of eight consecutive US Open Finals

On way to his maiden Grand Slam title in US Open, 1990, Sampras defeated Thomas Muster (sixth ranked) in the fourth round and third-ranked Ivan Lendl 6-4, 7-6, 3-6, 4-6, 6-2 in a five-set quarterfinal, and thus breaking Lendl’s streak of eight consecutive US Open finals.

6. Becomes US Open’s youngest ever male champion:

When Sampras came past Agassi in straight sets in the US Open Finals of 1990, he became the youngest ever male champion at US Open aged 19 years and 28 days.

7. ‘Relieved about not defending title’

in 1991, Sampras entered the US Open as the defending champion, and he caused controversy when, after losing in the quarterfinals to Jim Courier, said that he was not disappointed and felt relieved that the pressure to defend his title was no longer on him. This led to widespread criticism, which included disparaging remarks from Courier and Jimmy Connors.

8. 1992: Only appearance in the Summer Olympics

The event was played on clay, a surface on which he struggled a lot. But, Sampras still advanced to the third round before giving up a two-set lead and losing to Andrei Cherkasov of Russia.

First Player to serve 1000 aces in a season.

In 1993, Sampras not only attained the World no. 1 ranking, but also won his first Wimbledon Championships along with the Second US Open title. He finished the year as the clear no. 1 and set a new ATP Tour record that year by becoming the first player to serve more than 1,000 aces in a season.

10. Record for most Wimbledon Titles

Sampras won all Wimbledon titles from 1993- 2000 except for the one in 1996 where he lost to in the quarter finals. He lost to Richard Krajicek, who was the eventual winner that year. Roger Federer, too has 7 Wimbledon Championships to his name.

11. Sampras never progressed beyond Semi Finals at French Open.

Sampras always used to struggle at clay courts because the slow pace of surface didn’t really cater to his fast serve and volley play. But not even playing the finals of French Open would have certainly hurt him badly.

12. Sampras held the number one ranking for 5 consecutive years

When Sampras ended year 1997 as World number 1, he became the second player after Jimmy Connors (1974-1978) to hold the number ranking for five years in a row.

13. 24-match winning streak in 1999

The year 1999 didn’t start too well for Sampras as he had to withdraw from the Australian Open and couldn’t win any title in the early part of the season. But then he went on 24-match winning streak, including the Stella Artois Championships, Wimbledon (equaling Roy Emerson’s record of 12 Grand Slam singles titles), Los Angeles, and Cincinnati.

14. ATP Player for the year for 6 years consecutively:

Sampras was named the ATP player of the year from 1993-1998, out of which from 1993 to 1997, he held the number one ranking.

15. Sixth Oldest Player to win a Grand Slam

When Sampras beat Agassi at the US Open in 2002, his last Grand Slam title, he became the sixth oldest player in the history of men’s tennis to win a Grand Slam. Also, he was the oldest player to win the US Open after Ken Rosewall in 1970.

16. Held the record for winning a Grand Slam for 8 years consecutively:

When Sampras won the Wimbledon in 2000, it was his 8th consecutive year when we won a Grand Slam starting from Wimbledon in 1993. The record was surpassed by Rafael Nadal, when he won the French Open in 2013.


Does your current tennis racket look like it’s been on the receiving end of one on court temper tantrum too many? 

An upgrade to a modern player’s racket that is lighter, faster and offers a head size between 96 and 106sq in will mean that, before your next match, you can take advantage of the extra power, control and spin that it can lend your game. 

Whether you consider yourself to be a beginner or an intermediate player you need a racket that will help you develop your stroke, improve your strengths and minimise those unforced errors that keep costing you points. 

The trick to choosing the right racket for you is to analyse your game. Do you have the ability to power your opponent off the court with your shots? Or are you more about touch and control, leaving your opponent stranded with a carefully guided return? 

Once you’ve identified what kind of player you are, it’ll make it easier to decide which one of these shot makers is right for you. 

To help you choose, we took a pro bag’s worth of rackets on court and tested them against a player with more skill to see how each racket performed from baseline to backhand and whether it could help us take a point or three from them. Here are the shot makers that we think can help you raise your game, set and match.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.

Babolat pure aero tennis racket: £120, Pro Direct Tennis

Rafa’s manufacturer of choice have produced this racket that offers a player whose game relies on power and spin a chance to really take things to the next level. The materials used in the construction offer a real dampening effect when you strike the ball, which won’t take such a toll on your forearm – a real bonus if you end up in a five set thriller with your club nemesis. However, what makes the Pure Aero such a versatile weapon is that it’s so easy to swing so it can really power up any one’s game – beginner or intermediate.

Buy now

Head graphene 360 radical S: £153, Pro Direct Tennis

This is a lightweight racket and with its comfortable square grip it’s a good choice if you often end up playing for extended periods over three to five sets. The weight also meant that we found it easier to dig out trickier shots during rallies and swing more aggressively to take control back from an opponent and win points. A good choice for an intermediate player whose game is really progressing and wants to start to work on developing a modern, longer stroke.

Buy now

ProKennex KI Q+ pro: £144.46, Stringers World

Comfortable to play with and well suited to attacking players who find themselves at the net quite a lot in a match because it’s stable and offers up lots of control. We found that even when facing powerful opponents the racket helped take the sting out of the ball, which meant that we were able to redirect the ball back across the net with good accuracy. Good stability also really helped on serve returns.

Buy now

Dunlop CX 200 LS: £145, Pro Direct Tennis

This is a real all rounder that’s light with an excellent combination of power and control so that it won’t let you down at the baseline or the net. It came into its own on high air shots like serves and volleys because we found it easy to get the racquet head to the ball with speed and control which gave us more time to target the ball back to difficult areas of the court so that we had our opponent scrambling. This one really did feel like an extension of our arm and for that reason it’s a good choice for an intermediate player whose game is really starting to benefit from more technique.

Buy now

Volkl V-feel 5 tennis racket: £144.99, Sweatband

We found that the stiffer frame of the Volkl translated into a lot of power on court and the more open string pattern allowed for more string movement on contact which meant that this racquet was set up perfectly for spin. The other advantage of this racquet is that it was well balanced which meant head speed was fast so we were able to get the ball up and down before the baseline with ease, which could be a real advantage if one of your biggest weaknesses is over hitting shots. All of these in-play advantages, lightweight construction and good shock absorption make this an excellent beginner’s choice or an intermediate who wants to amp up the spin in their game.

Buy now

Wilson clash 100: £159.19, Amazon

For any one with shoulder, elbow or wrist conditions this could be a really good choice because it’s set up to be really easy on the arm so you can play longer matches without it impacting on your performance levels. There are good levels of power and we found that it was easy to direct the ball around the court and give your opponent the runaround, but you won’t lose out on touch shots, at or near the net, like drop shots and volleys. A good choice for intermediates because it will give you the confidence to really start to explore your game and take it to another level.

Buy now

Head graphene 360 Instinct S: £118.99, Sweatband

We really liked the sweet spot on this racket, which was very easy to hit whether we were serving, volleying or involved in a baseline rally. This is the lightest racket in the Instinct range and over five sets worth of serving we found that it was easy on our shoulder joint and it enabled us to up our first serve success rate during the match. However, even though it’s a light racket we found that it was still really stable, making it good for beginners and intermediates who are starting to lengthen their swing but need help in being able to move the racket around quickly.

Buy now

Head graphene 360 speed pro: £164, Amazon

Unlike the other rackets in this round up this Head model has a very closed string pattern, which means that every time you thwack a serve or return it hits more strings. That translates into a more stable shot, which gives you more directional control when playing. With this racket Head have also allowed more space between the cross strings so that you can get some good spin out of the racket too. It’s quick to swing through the air so that when trying to deal with tricky passing shots it was easy to get the racket head to the ball and redirect it to the corners.

Buy now

Wilson milos tour 100: £80, John Lewis & Partners

Another racket that boasted a generous sweet spot and instant playability. Combining this with a real boost in power for those whose ground strokes are lacking a bit or punch and who need to put away that vital first serve more often. The head size meant that the horrible dull thud of ball hitting frame was hardly heard during longer rallies, but it’s that sweet effortless sweet spot that will be a dream for those inspired to pick up a racket for the first time this summer.

Buy now

Babolat falcon 102: £24.99, John Lewis & Partners

You won’t be able to blast any one off the court with this entry-level racket, however what you lose in power you gain in control making it a good choice for a beginner. It has a lovely feel to it and a large, forgiving sweet spot which does an excellent job of taming wild swings at the ball so that the player can concentrate on becoming comfortable on the court and more confident with each shot.

Buy now

The verdict: Tennis rackets

The Babolat pure aero offered up a great combination of stability and balance for those who want power and head speed without sacrificing control. It’s a real confidence builder for beginners and intermediate players alike that’s also well set up for attacking the ball at aggressive angles for maximum spin.


A tennis serve is a weapon only when the technique is correct. When the serve technique is not correct, then the serve is often more a liability than an asset.

In order to learn correct tennis serve technique, simple serving tips won’t get you there.

Instead you need to follow step-by-step progressions that build the service motion from the ground up.

The following technical progressions of building a proper tennis serve can be used to correct your existing serve techniques if you find your serve ineffective.

These step by step serve lessons can also be used if you’re a total beginner and want to learn correct serving technique from scratch.

Step 1: The Stance

A proper tennis serve stance is when your feet are positioned so that the front foot is pointing towards the right net post (for right-handers) and the back foot is parallel to the baseline.

Basic tennis serve stance

Basic serve stance gives you balance in all directions

The toes of the back foot are also roughly aligned with the heel of the front foot because you need to be stable in all directions once you initiate and execute your full service motion.

This is a basic stance which you adjust depending on which direction you’re serving to.

If you’re a tennis beginner starting to learn correct serve technique, I suggest you start learning the serve from the ad side because there is less difference in the direction of the swing path and the actual ball flight, which makes it easier to master at these early stages of learning.

There are two types of stances on the serve: the platform stance and the pin-point stance.


The platform serve stance is where the feet remain in the same position throughout the whole service motion.


You simply bend your knees, coil and tilt your body and push off upwards into the serve.

Pin point and platform serve stance

Pin point vs platform stance (Images credit: tennisserver.com)

The pin-point serve stance, on the other hand, is where you initiate the serve from a platform stance, but as you toss the ball up, you bring the back foot closer to the front foot and then push off upwards towards the ball.


Both serve stances in tennis are correct, but typically the platform stance is used by more explosive players and the pin-point stance is used by taller players that are not looking for so much explosive power off the ground.

Step 2: The Grip

A proper tennis serve grip technique is to hold a continental grip.

There are many descriptions for how to find this grip. The one I’ll use makes it easy to check if your grip is really a continental grip.

Grip the racquet like a hammer and hold the racquet with the edge perpendicular to the ground, as shown in the picture.

Then place your left index finger in the “valley” between the thumb and the index finger of your right hand (for right-handers), just next to the bone on the thumb.

Now check where your left index finger is pointing on the racquet handle. It should point to the top left edge on the racquet handle.

continental tennis serve grip

One of the ways to check if you hold a continental grip…

The way you hold your racquet determines many things about the final serve technique and its effectiveness.

That’s why it’s crucial that you grip the racquet correctly.

In the ServeUnlocked course, I share two more tips on the grip. First, I explain how to grip the racquet with fingers spread more apart and why that helps with pronation.

Then I describe how to find a loose grip using a little exercise just before you start your serving ritual.

Step 3: The Hitting Part – Loose Drop, Swing Up And Pronation

The hitting part is where the serve happens either correctly or incorrectly.

Think of the backswing elements ‒ like coiling, bending your knees, swinging the racquet back, maintaining the trophy position and so on ‒ simply as ways of gathering energy.

You are simply accumulating energy in order to release it explosively into the contact with the ball.

It is this hitting moment that defines whether the ball is hit correctly (flat, topspin or slice) and cleanly or not.

The elements above are not directly responsible for correct hitting of the ball, although they influence it.

I can, for example, demonstrate incorrect backswing, trophy position, have no coiling in the body, completely straight legs and STILL hit a CLEAN and correct flat or topspin or slice serve – except that it will have less power and I’ll be more uncomfortable.

On the other hand, I can do the elements before the contact correctly and still not hit the ball correctly because I am not using my hand, forearm and arm correctly through the contact phase.

There are smaller parts of the hitting part:

  • loose drop of the racquet and arm
  • swing up & contact
  • pronation

The loose drop before the swing up is achieved by “bouncing” or dangling the racquet behind you.

The serve generates a lot of power because of many body parts dynamically moving when they have to. If we at any moment of the serve stop the movement, we will lose power.

When we teach serve technique in this analytical way of breaking down the whole complex motion into smaller parts since that’s easier to learn, we unfortunately also break down the natural fluid movements of the body.

And the danger in this hitting part of the serve is that we initiate the swing up from a static position which in the long term might become a part of our whole serve technique.

Therefore, I use the “bounce” element to make sure the racquet is moving and that the arm is loosened up before you swing up – because that’s exactly what will happen when you execute the whole tennis service motion.

serve drop drill

The bounce drill

The swing up and pronation parts are best imagined and learned by placing two rows of balls on the ground. The first row of balls is at a roughly 45 degree angle, and the second one is perpendicular to the net.

Two swing paths of a tennis serve

Balls in two rows give you a proper guidance on your serve swing paths.

This gives us a clear mental image of how the racquet and arm must move through the hitting part.

It’s a slight exaggeration at first, which helps the player learn to pronate and to understand that the hitting part of the serve is not one single swing through the ball with the whole arm. That is one of the most common misconceptions and mistakes out there.

The serve might look like that at first glance, which deceives us into interpreting the hitting part of the serve as one straight motion of the arm.

But, as you look closer, especially in slow motion, you realize that the swing towards the ball and movement of the forearm after the contact are not in the same line.

It is the internal rotation of the upper arm and pronation of the forearm that create these two racquet paths before and after contact.

Therefore, imagine swinging towards the ball at a 45 degree angle leading with the edge of the racquet and following the first row of balls.

tennis serve swing path up

The swing path towards the ball

Once you reach the contact, push the racquet head straight towards the net following the second row of balls and finishing on the right side of the body with the buttcap pointing upwards at a roughly 45 degree angle or more and the stringbed pointing towards the back fence.

serve swing path with pronation

Swing path after contact with emphasis on pronation

While you may think that this oversimplifies the hitting part, I can assure you that, once you fluidly merge these two swing paths together, you’ll realize that this is exactly how a flat serve is done.

I personally repeat this part very often with players who are correcting their old serve techniques because it’s exactly here where they get it wrong.

Not only that, if they eventually learn the hitting part well, the dreaded waiter’s serve position of the racquet often disappears because it was simply an indicator of an incorrect hitting part of the serve.

If the waiter’s position persists, then complement the hitting part exercise with additional drills for correcting the waiter’s serve.

Step 4: Backswing & Toss

Now that you have established the hitting part, you need to get to that stage from the initial serving position.

This part combines the backswing with the toss because they happen simultaneously.

The serve toss is often quite tricky to master and is often times practiced on its own. My own view is that it should never be practiced without simulating your backswing.

The very common toss drill where you place a target or even your own racquet in front of you on the ground and try to make the toss hit it is, in my opinion, not very effective if at the same time you are not getting into the same serving position as you would in reality.

That’s because if you just try to toss the ball in the target you won’t move any other body parts in order to be accurate.

But when you initiate your serve, you will immediately start turning your body to the side, your dominant arm will start swinging back, you’ll start leaning and coiling, etc.

All these movements must be present also when you just focus on your toss – hence, I consider backswing & toss as one step in this serving progression tutorial.

tennis serve toss technique

Imagine toss more like “‘lifting” the ball rather than ‘throwing’ it

The key points about the toss:

  • Place the ball in the middle of your hand, meaning exactly where the palm spreads out into fingers.
  • Hold the ball with your thumb on top gently.
  • Always toss with a straight arm using only your shoulder joint.
  • Release the ball at around your eye level and keep lifting the arm up following the ball.

If you’re having troubles mastering the toss, look into my ServeUnlocked course that dedicates an entire module to an integrated toss which happens simultaneously with the backswing.

The backswing should be a relaxed swing backwards, as if your arm and the racquet are a pendulum that you swing backwards.

tennis serve backswing

The backswing and toss sequence from the start (Click to enlarge)

The tossing arm moves simultaneously up as the dominant arm swings up.

The tricky thing here is that the tossing arm is much more stiff as it’s lifting the ball accurately up towards the contact point while the serving arm has to be very relaxed.

This is not natural to our body as it tends to tense or relax both arms in a similar manner.

Just something to keep in mind as you’re working on your toss and the backswing and you’re having some trouble synchronizing both arms, keeping one more stiff and the other one more relaxed…

It may be tricky and therefore takes some repetitions and time to master.

As you swing back, your arm eventually ends up in the trophy position as we like to call it.

I suggest you don’t look for a vertical racquet in the trophy position for two reasons:

  1. When your racquet is vertical in the trophy position, it tends to fall back into the waiter’s tray position as gravity likes to take over your hand’s movement.
  3. There is also a much longer loop to be made from that trophy position all the way up until contact. This makes the timing of the toss and the swing up to the ball more difficult, and you may have troubles putting it all together. 
  5. The most common mistake that then happens is making a very shallow drop in order to “make it” in time to the contact point but in the process you’re then losing power.

I suggest bringing your racquet into a more diagonal position which you can determine by bringing the racquet closer to your head and touching it. The bottom edge of the racquet should touch the back of your head.

tennis serve trophy position

My suggested trophy position in a tennis serve

Move the racquet then slightly away from your head and you’ll now be in a good trophy position on your serve.

From there, you will drop the racquet into the loop and find it much easier to time this swing with the ball coming down from the toss.

The whole backswing & toss sequence then consists of swinging both arms simultaneously where the tossing arm lifts the ball up (which you catch again in your hand!) and the hitting arm reaches the trophy position.

Here, the racquet is slightly tilted with the bottom edge of the racquet aligning with the back of your head.

There is one more important part of the backswing & toss sequence, and that’s turning your body parallel to the baseline as you initiate the whole sequence.

You need to initiate everything first through your body rotation, which creates the first impulse from which the arms swing.

coiling on a tennis serve

Initiate your backswing & toss from the body turn

This also starts the coiling phase from which you will generate a lot of power once you start uncoiling.

If you toss the ball up before you start coiling, you’ll probably do much less of a coiling because you’ll be running out of time since your ball will be already in the air. As such, there’s not much time left for you to complete your whole serve up until contact.

I agree that turning the body first and then starting your toss and the backswing makes it more difficult for you to place the ball accurately in your ideal contact point.

However, with some practice, you will surely master it and gain many more benefits from having enough time for your whole serving motion and more power from having more torque in your body.

Step 5: Serve In Two Parts

The serve in two parts consists of step 4 and step 3, meaning we’ll do the backswing & toss first (step 4) and then the hitting part (part 3) in sequence.

Complete first your backswing & toss phase and catch the ball back in your hand while holding your trophy position.

serve backswing into trophy

Part 1: Backswing and toss and catching the ball in your hand

Toss again from this position and complete the hitting part which consists of the drop (bounce) and two swing paths.

serve technique with pronation

Part 2: Hitting action with pronation

You can still keep the balls on the ground in two lines in order to get proper guidance on how to move your racquet in the swing up and pronation phases.

Repeat this process of serving in two parts until you are quite successful with two key points:

  • tossing the ball so accurately that you can catch it back in your hand without moving your feet, and
  • finding your trophy position where the bottom edge is just behind your head without much correcting when you check for it.

When you can toss the ball well and find your trophy position easily through a relaxed backswing, you’re ready to put your serve together.

But before we do that, let’s focus for a little while on a key move that generates a lot of power…

Step 6: The Power Move

The power move is initiated from the trophy position, and two things must happen simultaneously:

  • your racquet starts to drop, and
  • your body starts to rotate/turn forward.

If these two movements happen at the same time, the hitting arm and the racquet will start to lag behind.

whip effect on a tennis serve

Creating lag of the racquet or whip effect which generates effortless power

You will create a stretch through your body going across your shoulder, chest and core all the way down to the left hip (for right-handers).

Imagine it like a giant rubber band that you just stretched fully.

As you can imagine, this rubber band wants to snap back to its original state, and that’s exactly what we want to achieve with our body.

Most tennis players make the mistake of tensing their muscles in this phase of the serve thinking that “strong” muscles will help them hit a “strong” serve.

Sure, you can hit a serve this way and the ball will leave your racquet with some speed, but if you really want to know how the serve works and how the pros do it, then realize that the pros use a different principle of generating power.

The principle of stretching your body and allowing it to snap back generates much more racquet head speed than the principle of tense muscles and thinking you want to be “strong” as you hit your serve.

The tricky thing about the stretch principle is that you must actually RELAX in order to allow your muscles to stretch, which is a very counter-intuitive thing to do just as you’re about to hit a fast serve.

And that’s why most tennis players get the serve wrong and reach their speed plateau very quickly and cannot move beyond it.

That’s also why I am including the power move in these fundamentals of the serve technique in tennis, even though it seems like an advanced technique that only the pros should practice.

The power move has to be practiced often in order to feel the lag of the racquet and how we create a whip effect with it. This effect creates a lot of racquet head speed with little effort.

We initiate the body turn through our hips and then use our trunk and shoulders to rotate forwards while we let the racquet lag or trail behind.

technique for a powerful serve

The power move from the side: drop and turn happening at the same time

This only happens when we relax our arm so that the muscles in the shoulders and chest get stretched.

Since this is a feel-based exercise, we can exaggerate the rotation of the body in order to really feel how the racquet lags and then shoots out from our backswing through the contact zone.

So we can actually turn our body all the way up to the point where we face the net with it.

But keep in mind that, when it comes to correct serve technique, we actually decelerate and stop the body rotation at around a 45 degree angle between the baseline and the net.

In both cases, though, we are using the principle of transfer of momentum which happens only when we decelerate the body.

At that moment, the momentum built in the body is then transferred to the arm.

Since the arm is much lighter than the body and momentum has to be maintained, the arm has to accelerate.

Step 7: Serve With The Follow-Through

The best way to start serving correctly is to do a few serves in two parts and then take a leap of faith and do the complete serve from start to finish.

This is also the stage where I’d like to clarify the follow-through on the serve.

When you watch the pros serve, you’ll see that they finish their serve on the left side of the body (for right-handers) and you may want to copy that.

proper serve technique in tennis

You can see the racquet finishing on the left side of the body but did Ljubicic actually swing that way?

But what happens is that they do not actually swing or forcefully push their racquet to the left side. Instead, it’s simply the inertia and relaxation of their body and the serving arm that swings the racquet in that direction.

In other words, the follow-through on the left side happens. We don’t do it.

What we do, meaning the direction of our swing and force, is that we swing outwards towards the ball. For right-handers, that’s forward and right, roughly at 45 degrees which then changes as pronation takes place.

As soon as we finish the pronation, we start to relax our body and arm (since all the work is done and the ball is on the way), which eventually brings the arm to the left side.

tennis serve follow-through

The follow-through on the left side of the body happens, we ‘don’t do it.’

So, keep in mind that some parts of the serve are done by an intentional swing and applying force and some parts of the serve just happen because of relaxation and inertia.

Therefore, you shouldn’t try to “do” the parts of the serve that just happen.

Finding Flow – How To Generate Effortless Power From Step-by-Step Mechanics

Because we have been breaking down the serve into smaller parts so that they are easier to learn, we have unfortunately also broken down the natural flow of the body.

We stopped moving our body fluidly, making our movements now very mechanical.

Therefore, we must re-establish the natural flow of the body which is another key element of generating effortless power on the serve.

We find flow through drills that make us move our body continuously without stopping or any jerky movements.

One the best tennis training aids to do that is the Serve Master by Lisa Dodson. (affiliate link)

You use the Serve Master by swinging it in a continuous manner that simulates the whole service motion. That exercise helps you re-establish the flow of your body and feel the effects of it as you realize that you can accelerate the balls at the end of the Serve Master quite effortlessly.

ServeMaster tennis training aid

Swinging the ServeMaster helps you re-establish the natural flow of the body

You can of course also use the ball on the string or the famous trick with a couple of tennis balls in a long sock. Either of these will also help you feel the fluidity of the service motion.

Another good exercise that you can do with the racquet is the three-finger drill where you hold the racquet with only your thumb, index and middle finger.

This prevents you from holding the racquet tight as you go through your service motion and therefore creates a very fluid movement.

You can also work on one technical element while you do the above exercise. Namely, you can do the “Edges exercise” in which you always lead with the edge in any direction that you move your racquet.

tennis serve drill

The ‘Edges drill’ where you always lead with the edge as you swing your racquet

That helps you prevent the waiter’s tray mistake that happens often and also trains your arm and forearm how to be positioned throughout the service motion.


A tennis serve is the most challenging stroke to master.

Here are just some of the key reasons:

  1. A relaxed and loose way of accelerating the racquet gives you more power than tensing your body and arm and hitting the ball “hard” even though the latter approach seems to make more sense at first glance.
  2. There are two swing paths of the racquet where we transition into pronation just before contact rather than the one straight swing path with no pronation that we often perceive as we look at serves of professional tennis players.
  3. We get more power by decelerating the body before contact than if we keep rotating our body through contact, which is a very counter-intuitive thing to do.
  4. We must swing up towards the ball instead of down, even though the target is down in relation to the ball ‒ which again doesn’t make sense at first.
  5. We swing the racquet initially in the other direction than in the direction of the target, and this difference is even bigger when it comes to topspin and slice serves.

The 7 steps of building a proper advanced tennis serve technique described in this article build a solid foundation from which you can then progress to more advanced elements of the serve.

This article also addresses all of the above challenges of a tennis serve that are tricky to understand at first and often lead tennis players in the wrong direction.

In my work with tennis players of all levels, I keep coming back to these fundamentals even when I work on more advanced skills like coiling the body more, jumping into the court, learning the kick and slice serve and so on.

There are of course many drills and exercises that help you address various sticking points that you may have as you’re working on your serve.

I’ve shared many of them for free on this blog, and there are some that you can access only in my ServeUnlocked video course that goes much more in-depth on:

  • unlocking the mental locks that hold you back from hitting your best serves,
  • unlocking the body by showing you drills on how to loosen up your wrist,
  • understanding the difference between speed and “strength” and how to learn a fast, effortless serve, and
  • understanding how to integrate the toss into your service motion and how to troubleshoot it.

The ServeUnlocked video course also includes the extended version of these 7 Steps To Proper Serve Technique where I share additional tips on the grip, racquet acceleration, coordination of both arms and even how to use your shadow on a sunny day to correct your serve technique! 😉


tennis serve video course

The extended version also includes clips of regular tennis players where I point out their mistakes and how to correct them.

But, as I mentioned before, you really need to master the fundamentals of the serve technique which are crucial for learning how to hit a correct tennis serve with good power and consistency.

You can see a big change in the serve technique of Andrea in the video below which compares the “before and after” service motions.

All his progress, which took only a few days, was thanks to continuous repetition of the fundamental drills and techniques described in this article.

I hope this points you in the right direction of taming the most challenging tennis stroke.

But keep in mind that really mastering a tennis serve technique takes years of dedicated practice – which, by the way, is definitely attainable even by recreational tennis players as long as they follow proper progressions and are willing to dig deep into the mysteries of a tennis serve.


It must truly be summer… the Wimbledon Championships are back! For the next fortnight, all eyes turn to the historic grass court tennis courts at the All England Club in South West London. Aces and strawberries and cream will be served in equal measure and you can feel part of the action, in beautiful 4K and from anywhere in the world with a free 2019 Wimbledon live stream.

128 players on both sides of the Wimbledon Ladies’ and Gentlemen’s draws will enter, but only one of each can lift the winner’s trophy on July 13 and 14 respectively.As ever, it’s the trio of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and reigning champion Novak Djokovic that will command the lowest odds at the bookies. South African Kevin Anderson will hope to go one better than last year and take his first ever Grand Slam, while the new breed of future champs Alexander Zverev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Dominic Thiem will also be looking to make an impact.

The one thing we can comfortably predict on the Ladies’ side is that it will be unpredictable. Now aged 37, you can never count out Serena Williams from taking her eighth(!) Wimbledon title. Angelique Kerber triumphed here last year and since then the youthful Naomi Osaka and Ashleigh Barty have won Grand Slams. The draw is wide open.

The action kicks off on Monday July 1, with a fortnight of top tennis to enjoy from SW19. So keep reading as we tell you how to watch a 2019 Wimbledon live stream absolutely free from wherever you are in the world.


As it does every year, the BBC is going tennis-crazy for the next fortnight. Until July 14 you can catch up with every match of the tournament live across BBC on the TV, radio and the BBC Sport website with further coverage on BBC iPlayer, Red Button, connected TVs and the iPlayer mobile app – and all in HD. Online is the place to pick and choose the court you want to see action from, with up to 18 in total covered at any one time.

Play generally starts at 11.30am BST every morning and goes on to around 7pm.

The BBC isn’t the only place you can watch, however. Wimbledon.com (and its YouTube channel and app) will be showing some of the tennis from the show courts globally absolutely free. But judging from last year, it won’t be showing full coverage of any of the big matches.

Watch Wimbledon 2019 in 4K

HD not good enough for you? Need to see every bit of fluff on the yellow balls and bead of sweat on Roger’s temples? Then there’s good news if you have a 4K Ultra HD and HDR television.

For starters, the BBC itself has announced it will show Centre Court action in the format. That’s both on TV and via a whole range of streaming devices such as Amazon’s Fire TV 4K Stick and PlayStation Pro.

And, as we reported last week, subscribers to Virgin Media TV will also have the Wimbledon action available to them in glorious 4K Ultra HD. So if you’ve been uhmming and ahing about a Virgin TV package, now might be the time to strike. Starting from less than £30 per month and including a brilliant Virgin TV V6 box for pausing and recording live TV, you can head straight to the Virgin website to see your options.


If you happen to be away from UK at any time over Wimbledon fortnight and and try to watch that BBC coverage, then you’ll be initially out of luck as it will be geo-blocked. That means you can’t watch it while abroad due to rights reasons. But there’s a handy little trick you can use to get around that, using a Virtual Private Network.

More commonly known as a VPN (you’ve probably already heard of them), the software allows you to virtually change your IP address to a server in another country so you appear to be in a completely different location. It’s encrypted, making it also a safer way to navigate the web. We’ve tested hundreds of VPNs and can recommend T3 Award winning ExpressVPN as the best option currently available.

ExpressVPN has the benefit of a 30-day money back guarantee and is the #1 rated best VPN in the world right now. You can watch on loads of devices at once including Smart TVs, Fire TV Stick, PC, Mac, iPhone, Android phone, iPads, tablets etc and you’ll also get 3 months FREE if you sign up to an annual plan and 49% off the normal price.

Check out Express VPN

Once it’s been downloaded and installed, open the app and select a UK server location (it’s super easy) and then head over to TVPlayer.com to pick up the live stream.


As one of the world’s major tennis tournaments, lots of countries show tennis from Wimbledon – just not necessarily for free or with the massive coverage that the BBC delivers in the UK.

But if you are already subscribed to certain paid-for services and cable options elsewhere, we can tell you who else is broadcasting the tennis in your corner of the world. And don’t forget the Wimbledon.com live stream as well.

Watch Wimbledon in the US

ESPN is the official Wimbledon broadcaster in the US, with the likes of the Tennis Channel, Fubo or Sling TVall offering shorter subscription services (and, crucially, free trials) if you don’t want to commit to cable.

Watch Wimbledon in Canada

It’s TSN in Canada if you want the local coverage of Wimbledon. That means you’ll need cable to watch.

Watch Wimbledon in Australia for FREE

Can Ashleigh Barty carry on where she left off in Paris? And could this be the year that Nick Kyrgios finally comes of age? The way to watch in Australia is via Fox on cable or free-to-air Channel 7 (or via using a VPN, if you’re overseas when it’s on).

Watch Wimbledon in New Zealand

It’s good news in New Zealand, as state free-to-air broadcaster TVNZ has the rights to show Wimbledon in all its glory. That also brings the station’s on demand and mobile apps in to play to watch Wimbledon.



Top Ranking     
Singles World No. 1 (1980)
Doubles World No. 1 (1979)

Grand Slam Results
17-time major champion, 7-time finalist

Career Titles

Career Record
Overall: 1409-301
Singles: 877-198
Doubles: 532-103

Davis Cup
Member of the U.S. Davis Cup Team 1978-1984, 1987-1989, 1991-1992
Member of the U.S. Championship Davis Cup Team 1978-1979, 1981-1982, 1992
Captain of the 2000 U.S. Davis Cup Team
Overall Record: 59-10
Singles Record: 41-8
Doubles Record: 18-2


John McEnroe was Pablo Picasso using a tennis racquet instead of a paintbrush. “The greatest compliment I ever got was when people called me an artist,” McEnroe said. “I understand that solo aspect of being an artist, when you’re in there by yourself, trying to do something great.”

McEnroe was a player of considerable skill and finesse; his volleying touch considered the best tennis has ever seen. The subtle nuances he displayed at net, which was just a sliver of his wide arsenal of shots, stood out in sharp contrast to his boisterous outbursts between the lines, which often overshadowed the depth of his game. McEnroe was controversial, immensely competitive, and prone to outbursts, but there could be no disputing his enormous talents. He possessed a capacity to defeat any competitive style he faced – he could nullify the power and pace of Ivan Lendl, match the aggressive counter punching of Jimmy Connors, and trade groundstrokes with Björn Borg, his three biggest rivals. What made McEnroe a marvel was how easy he could make the game appear, all the while defeating the world’s best players and winning seven major singles titles. His deft acumen around the net earned him nine major doubles titles and one major mixed doubles championships. The bombastic McEnroe won 77 singles titles, 72 in doubles competition and was ranked No. 1 in the world in both categories, compiling an 877-198 career record in singles and a 532-103 mark in doubles. The combined 149 titles are the most in the Open Era, highlighted by the 1979 season in which he won 10 singles and 16 doubles titles.

His play sparked some of tennis’s most intense rivalries, especially with Borg and Connors. McEnroe won three of four major finals against Borg (at the US Open in 1980 and 1981 and Wimbledon in 1981; and his Wimbledon loss in 1980 to Borg is considered one of the greatest matches in tennis history) and spilt his 14 matches against the Swede. His battles with Connors, who he defeated 20 of 34 times, were epic matches, but the pair only met in two major singles finals, McEnroe losing at Wimbledon in 1982, but rebounding on Centre Court in 1984. Lendl was a tough foe in three major finals, nipping McEnroe at the French Open in 1984 and the US Open in 1985, while McEnroe captured the 1984 US Open.

McEnroe won three championships at Wimbledon in five trips to the finals. It was the site of his memorable match against Borg and his most memorable outburst, coming in opening round against Tom Gullikson in 1981. After a shot McEnroe hit was called out, he approached chair umpire Edward James bellowing, “You cannot be serious, man. YOU CANNOT BE SERIOUS! That ball was on the line, chalk flew up (to emphasize his point McEnroe threw his arms up). It was clearly in. How could you possibly call that out! He (Gullikson) walks over, everyone in the whole stadium knows it’s in and you call that out?” McEnroe walked away saying, “You guys are the absolute pits of the world.” Upon hearing that less-than-flattering description, James calmly said, “I’m going to award a point against Mr. McEnroe.” Readers of Britain’s Telegraph once voted McEnroe’s rant as the “top Wimbledon moment of all time.” To his credit, McEnroe later admitted he felt “terrible” about the incident, but it nonetheless cemented his fiery legacy, and McEnroe later titled his autobiography, “You Cannot Be Serious.”

McEnroe was born in Wiesbaden, West Germany, where his father was stationed in the Air Force. The family moved to Douglaston, an upper middle class community in Queens, New York. McEnroe began playing tennis at age 8, honing his game at the Douglaston Club and then the famed Port Washington Tennis Academy in Long Island. His tireless assault on the game led him to become a junior champion at the 1977 French Open, and few will recall that the first of McEnroe’s 17 major titles came as an amateur playing mixed doubles with Mary Carillo at the 1977 French Open. He advanced to the French second round that year and made an unexpected run at the Wimbledon Championships after his play in the qualifying tournament earned him a spot in the main draw. He lost to Connors, 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, in the semifinals (the youngest semifinalist in 100 years), and the match was the start of a combative history against his fellow left-hander. McEnroe won 12 of his last 14 matches against Connors, starting in 1983 at the Cincinnati Open, where he lost in the final to Mats Wilander.

McEnroe’s play at Wimbledon led him to attend Stanford University in the fall of 1977, and although he led the Cardinals to the NCAA Division I National Championship and won the national singles title, his stay in California was short-lived. He turned professional in late 1978, winning five tournaments and defeating Arthur Ashe in his first of three Masters Grand Prix championships, 6-7, 6-3, 7-5. McEnroe’s three subsequent Masters Grand-Prix Year-End Championships were: 1978 (over Arthur Ashe), 1983, and 1984 (both over Ivan Lendl). He was also runner-up to Lendl in 1982. To close out the 1978 majors, McEnroe advanced to the fourth round of the US Open. In 1979 he won the first of four his US Open titles – and three straight – defeating friend Vitas Gerulaitis convincingly, 7-5, 6-3, 6-3. At 20 years, 6 months and 24 days old, McEnroe was the youngest US Open champion in 31 years, dating back to when Pancho Gonzaleswon the title at the same age in 1948. He won 10 ATP championships that season.

The 1980 season was historic for McEnroe, playing in back-to-back epic major singles finals against Borg. The 1980 Wimbledon final, McEnroe’s first-ever Wimbledon final, is widely considered one of the finest matches in history, won by Borg, 1-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-7 (16-18), 8-6. The 34-point tiebreaker that decided the fourth set, saw McEnroe thwart off five match points and Borg stave off six set points himself before McEnroe prevailed to force a fifth set. “There’s a magic when our names are mentioned together,” said McEnroe “We brought tennis to a place it wasn’t at before.” “It’s a match I will remember for the rest of my life,” Borg said of the 4 ½ hour classic.

Another McEnroe-Borg classic would ensue at the 1980 US Open, where McEnroe outlasted Borg, 7-6 (7-4), 6-1, 6-7 (5-7), 5-7, 6-4, but the duo, who were as different as night and day in playing style and on-court demeanor, were far from through with contesting major singles championships.

McEnroe won 10 championships in 1980. He and Borg met again in the 1981 Wimbledon final, with McEnroe battling Borg’s heavy topspin baseline game with a picturesque serve and volley match en route to his first Wimbledon title, 4-6, 7-6 (7-1), 7-6 (7-4), 6-4. The 1981 US Open would pit the two combatants against one another for a fourth time with a major title at stake, and McEnroe remained composed after dropping the first set to win in four, 4-6, 6-2, 6-4, 6-3. He added the second of his three Wimbledon titles in 1983, defeating unseeded and relatively unknown New Zealand native Chris Lewis, 6-2, 6-2, 6-2.

Perhaps McEnroe’s finest year on tour came in 1984, when he recorded the best single season win-loss record in the Open Era, comprising an 82-3 record (96.5 percent). He advanced to his lone French Open final, losing a tightly-contested five setter to Lendl, one that saw McEnroe take the first two sets, 3-6, 2-6, 6-4, 7-5, 7-5. He won his third Wimbledon by routing Connors, 6-1, 6-1, 6-2, and evened the score against Lendl at the US Open with a prolific performance, 6-3, 6-4, 6-1. McEnroe had reached the height of his career; in the following eight seasons he advanced to just one major singles final – a 7-6 (7-4), 6-3, 6-4 loss to Lendl in 1985 at the US Open. He took a six-month break from playing in 1996 and a seven month break in 1997, and never regained his form upon his return. In his 16-years playing in the majors, McEnroe only entered the Australian five times and played the French 10 years, though unevenly dispersed through his career.

McEnroe’s doubles prowess may be among the best of all time. He forged a virtually unstoppable tandem with Peter Fleming, and the duo won 52 doubles titles, including four at Wimbledon (1979, 1981, 1983, 1984) and three at the US Open (1979, 1981, 1983). He was 9-3 in major doubles finals, winning a fifth Wimbledon doubles title with German Michael Stich in 1992 and a fourth US Open championship with Aussie Mark Woodfordein 1989. McEnroe was ranked No. 1 in doubles for 270 weeks.

McEnroe was ranked in the World Top 10 in singles for nine years, finishing No. 1 four consecutive years (1981-1984) and spent 170 weeks atop the rankings. He was the top-ranked doubles player for five consecutive years (1979-1983). He played Davis Cup for 12 years, helping the Americans win the Cup five times (1978, 1979, 1981, 1982, 1992). For his dedication to Davis Cup play, McEnroe was awarded the Davis Cup Commitment Award by the International Tennis Federation in 2013.

McEnroe also won a record eight season ending championships, including five WCT Finals titles and three Masters Grand Prix titles from twelve final appearances at those two events, a record he shares with Ivan Lendl. He won five WCT Year-End Championships: 1979 (over Björn Borg), 1981 (over Johan Kriek), 1983 (over Ivan Lendl), 1984 (over Jimmy Connors), and 1989 (over Brad Gilbert). He was a finalist in 1980 (Jimmy Connors), 1982 (Ivan Lendl), and 1987 (Miloslav Mečíř).

McEnroe earned his 78th doubles title in 2006 when he partnered with Jonas Bjorkman to win the SAP Open in San Jose, California. The win came just a few days shy of his 47th birthday. McEnroe had last won a doubles title at the Paris Indoors in 1992 with his brother Patrick. Both brothers are former Captains of the United States Davis Cup team and they both entered broadcasting following their careers. John is recognized by a younger generation of tennis fans as a familiar face and voice working for CBS, NBC, Tennis Channel, and ESPN at all of the major championships. McEnroe has made numerous television and movie appearances, and written and collaborated on many books.


Capitalizing on the opportunities to master tennis techniques and skills is essential to the advancement of tennis player’s game. In this sport, every tennis athlete develops a unique style of game play that empowers his or her strengths. 

The development of such strengths are vital to the progression of an athlete’s game, but at times these strengths can expose weaknesses when playing experienced competitive athletes in the game of tennis. 

Experienced competitive athletes are crafty in recognizing faults in an opponent’s tennis techniques and will take advantage of the opportunities to dominate the situation. 

Typically, this frustrates defeated players often resulting personal displays of disappointment and confusion. No one likes to lose, so everyone can understand an athlete’s disappointment in a loss. 

On the other hand, confusion can develop for a number of reasons. This is where serious competitors gravitate back to fundamental tennis techniques and skills in an effort to improve on their weaknesses as well as sharpen their strengths. 

Mastering the basic tennis techniques, builds a solid tennis foundation. Let’s compare this fact to a house. All houses are built on a foundation. 

The foundation is the base that maintains the structure of the house. Without a foundation a house is not built. If anything alters the foundation, the structure weakens and at times fails to maintain its stability. At this point repairs are required to stabilize the foundation and strengthen the structure.

Similarly, the sport of tennis is built on a foundation of basic techniques and skills. Mastering these basic tennis techniques and skills is one of the first steps to succeeding in the sport. 

Without the foundation of these fundamentals, an athlete generally defaults to failure in the game of tennis. If any of these basic tennis techniques and skills are not tuned up regularly, an athlete’s game is vulnerable against a strong competitor. I think you get the point.

To build a solid foundation, a player must practice regularly and strive to master six fundamental tennis strokes. Every point played will require one, two, or all of these strokes throughout a game, set, or match. 

These six fundamental tennis strokes are the essential tennis techniques and skills necessary to succeed in the game of tennis.

The Six Fundamental Tennis Strokes

Tennis Forehand: The tennis forehand is the ‘meat and potatoes’, or the ‘money shot’ for the majority of tennis athletes. It is not necessarily the easiest stroke to learn, but it is the most natural. To visualize a tennis forehand, picture this for a moment. 

Lets assume you are left-handed. If you are playing tennis and an opponent returns a tennis ball directly to your body, your natural instincts would be to step to your right and hit it back from the left side of your body. 

However, if you are right-handed and an opponent returns a tennis ball directly to your body, your natural instincts would be to step to your left and hit it back from the right side of your body. 

The majority of tennis players prefer to execute a forehand more than any other fundamental tennis stroke. In fact, the majority of tennis strokes executed in a game, set, or match are forehands.

Tennis Backhand: The tennis backhand is executed from the side opposite of the forehand side. So if you are right-handed, your backhand is executed from the left side of your body and if you are left-handed, your backhand is executed from the right side of your body. 

In order to execute a tennis backhand, you must bring your natural hitting hand around your body before hitting the tennis ball. The tennis backhand may seem awkward at first, but as you practice and familiarize yourself with this stroke it will become a welcomed alternative to the foundation of your tennis techniques and skills.

Tennis Serve: The tennis serve initiates every point. The tennis player that is serving is termed the server and the other tennis player is termed the receiver. By rule, you can opt to serve anyway you see fit, it is your choice. 

Technically though, competitive tennis players achieve and maintain the most effective results by tossing the ball straight up high above the head while rotating the tennis racquet with a full motion swing aiming to strike the ball to the diagonal service area on the opposite end of the tennis court.

Tennis Lob: Uniquely termed in tennis, the lob is mainly used as a defensive technique to turn the momentum of a point into an offensive play. Did that make sense? Let me attempt to clarify. 

What is a lob? A lob is a high arching shot with additional hang time that is initiated by a forehand, backhand, or at times a volley. With the lob technique, a tennis competitor has the ability to change the course of a point and keep an opponent off balance during game play.

As a competitor, your goal is to win each an every point. From time to time tennis athletes find themselves out of position or vulnerable during game play. This is when the lob technique comes in handy and can change the direction of that point. 

By launching a lob with precision and excellence, a competitor can now gain and take control of that point. The presence of the lob keeps an opponent guessing instead anticipating the predictable forehand or backhand ground strokes. 

Master the lob as a defensive and offensive tennis technique to gain an advantage. In other words, lob at will to win a point.

Tennis Overhead: Similar to a serve, the overhead tennis technique is designed to earn points by striking the tennis ball as it floats in the air over the head to the forehand or backhand side of a tennis athlete’s body. Generally, this is the response to an unsuccessful lob attempt where the tennis competitor that initiated the lob pays dearly. 

Think of this performance as a slam dunk in basketball or a spike in volleyball where tennis athletes have deliberately term this action as an overhead smash or smash for short. 

A great overhead smash technique generates an intimidating dominating effect as it can demoralize and grant you an advantage over a frustrated opponent.

Tennis Volley: Simply put, the volley is a short punch technique with little or no back swing from a tennis athlete’s forehand or backhand side. If you are the type of player who enjoys going on the attack to instigate fast-paced action, the volley is probably one if not your favorite tennis skill that intensifies your game. 

Other than a serve or an overhead, every shot a player executes before the ball bounces on the court is considered a volley. This skill is frequently attempted as a reaction to an out-of-position jam where a tennis athlete is unable to play the bounce. 

Most of the time though, the volley is habitually played as an attack approach near the net where a skilled tennis athlete has considerable options to win points due to the ease of angling shots and clearing the net.

As stated earlier, every point played will require one, two, and at times all these fundamental tennis strokes throughout a game, set, or match. 

Tune them up regularly to advance your game and to reduce negative plays. Deviate from this action and chances are you will pay the price especially in competitive tennis tournaments. 

So set a goal, train with a purpose, and strive to master these fundamental tennis techniques.