A big serve is a huge weapon in tennis. In order to serve well, you need to have reliable mechanics, an effective pre-serve routine and a range of different serves. In addition, top servers know how to disguise their serve, so their opponent can not determine what kind of serve is coming toward them. Furthermore, you need to understand the psychology behind serving well. In my view there are two kinds of psychology related to serving. The internal psychology and the external psychology.

The External Psychology

The external psychology of serving in tennis pertains to what you are observing about your opponent and the strategic decisions you are making about the kinds of serves you want to hit at various points in the match.

Serving in tennis is a lot like pitching in baseball. In order to be effective as a pitcher, you need to master a variety of pitches and a variety of pitching locations. A baseball pitcher needs to keep a batter guessing as to the location of the pitch, the movement of the pitch and the location of the ball. These same concepts hold true in tennis when the server needs to keep his or her adversary off balance, confused and, when possible, guessing wrong.

A great server can move the ball around the serving box with different speeds, different spins and with great disguise. Being able to serve down the middle, out wide and into your opponents body makes you a tougher player. In addition, if you can disguise your serve, you can create a lot pressure for your adversary. Coming in behind your serve and attacking the net will also help to keep your opponent guessing and off balance on the court.

Adjusting Your Serve To Attack Your Opponent’s Body Type

In general, taller players have difficulty handling a serve into their body. Tall athletes like to extend their arms on the ball, so a serve out wide or a serve down the middle may be easier for them to return effectively, than is s a serve which jams them. Taller players also often find it hard to manage a serve which skids or slides and stays close to the ground.

Conversely, shorter players tend to handle ball that are served into their body better than do taller players. Obviously, because of their shorter reach, balls which require shorter players to extend for are usually more difficult for them to return. Similarly, balls which kick up high can be tough for diminutive players. Realize that these are general rules and there are always exceptions to them. However, you will find it useful to watch tapes of your opponents and see if these strategies seem to apply to their strengths and weaknesses. If you don’t have access to tapes, try to evaluate your opponent, by watching him or her play matches.

Adjust Your Serve For Different Surfaces

Realize that the tennis ball behaves differently on different surfaces. Clay, for example will slow down the pace of a big serve. On the other hand, a hard, flat serve can be a powerful and effective weapon on grass or on a hard court.

Interestingly, on grass a short serve that stays low can be an effective way to get your adversary into an uncomfortable court position.

Adjusting Your Serve To The Score In The Match

Smart players consider the score when they step to the line to serve. If you are ahead forty to love, this is a time to be aggressive on your first and second serves. If you are behind in the game or the match, you may need to consider a different serving strategy.

The Internal Psychology

The internal psychology refers to a player’s ability to develop the right mental state for serving effectively. Most tennis players who I coach want to “serve in the zone.” In order to do this, they need develop a state of mind in which they are relaxed, focused and confident. I teach tennis pros how to place themselves in a hypnotic trance prior to serving and how to develop the right blend of relaxation, focus, energy and confidence.

Once players learn how to integrate tools like relaxation training, visualization, self-hypnosis and positive self-talk into their serving routine, they tend to serve quite effectively. These skills are not complicated, but they take a little time and a little practice.

Different players require different kinds of mental training and psychological tools. One tennis player needed a hypnotic trance which helped him to feel more confident. Another needed to breathe deeply five times before every serve in order to relax. A female player used hypnosis to eliminate distractions.

Another player was trained to imagine a bulls eye on the section of the court where he wanted the ball to land.

Another tennis player used to get the theme song from Rocky is in head so he could be aggressive on his first and second serves.

It makes no sense to serve unless your internal psychology and external psychology are in line with one another.

And once you master the internal and the external psychologies of serving your game will probably move up a few notches and you will start to win more matches.

Author's Bio: 

Jay P. Granat, Ph.D. is a Psychotherapist and The Founder of www.StayInTheZone.com. He is the author of Zone Tennis and many other books and programs on Sports Psychology and Peak Performance. He has been featured in many major media outlets. Dr. Granat is available for seminars and for consultations. He can be reached at info@stayinthezone.com or at 888 580-ZONE.