How to Power up your Ace

The serve is the most important stroke in tennis and can be the major difference between winning or losing (or racquet breaking). It requires focus, technique and coordination from all body segments to produce power – which is why many of us fail to master it.

We all have seen our favourite names make it look SO easy. The average serving speed in professional tennis sits around 196km/h, but there are many players who can serve upwards to 240km/h+.

Speeds of that force are electric, and it’s no secret why watching the pro’s master it on the court is so appealing.

Do you want more tennis training tips from a professional?

Exercise Right interviewed John Marsden, and Accredited High-Performance Manager, who has worked with professional players for many years. We picked his brains on training tips and performance goals for any player who has ambitions for playing at the highest level.

Read John’s top tips for acing your tennis training here. 

F-U-N-damentals OF SERVING:

Anyone who plays tennis envisions acing their opponents (the ultimate power move of tennis). I know you’re thinking we have the answers, but really… strengthening your serve comes down to the basic fundamentals of the motion.

The reality of a tennis serve is that it isn’t easy to master. Like swimming, if you don’t have an idea of the fundamentals of the stroke, the chances are you are unlikely strong in the water. If adding more power to your serve is the goal, revisiting the fundamentals is step one!

As a tennis serve is the most complex stroke of the game, it has to be broken down to understand. Serving like any movement will develop over time once you are repeating the cycle. Luckily, we have put together a few key things to consider if you are looking to add some more power to your ace!

Top tips to power up your ace:


1. Use the ‘continental grip’:

If how you hold your racquet is last on your list of concerns, you’re not alone. But having the correct grip when you serve is essential to its success. The continental grip helps maximise power for your overhead serve. It allows variety, control and motion that increases strength to that ace you so desperately crave. Learn how to use the continental grip by clicking here.

2. Toss the ball in the right place:

If you want to hit an amazing tennis serve, having an accurate toss is very important. It’s recommended by trainers you solely practice your toss until you’re comfortable and can execute it without thinking.

Here are three tips to remember when practicing your toss:
  1. Eye contact – always watch the ball, no matter what! Keep your eye on the ball until contact with the racquet is made.
  2. Hold the ball with your fingertips – avoid your palm touching the tennis ball. Perfecting your toss comes through the fingertips. Hold the ball with a medium squeeze with your five fingers and guide the ball upwards with a controlled motion.
  3. Ball height – You should toss the ball twice your body height so when you extend to hit your serve, you are hitting the ball at the peak of the toss while the ball is in equilibrium.

To learn how to perfect your toss, click here for more instruction and drills.

3. Use more body rotation:

Without upper body rotation, power can only be generated through the arms and shoulders. Ideally, the rotation of your shoulders should be greater than 90 degrees, but less so in the hips. Get used to the increased shoulder rotation by turning slightly (10-20 degrees) more than normal at first. Continue practicing until your shoulders are 110-130 degrees away from the net. This will allow you to begin generating the higher serve speeds you desire. For more information on body alignment, click here.

4. Start slow, finish fast:

A lot of players move to fast at the beginning of their serve, throwing off their rhythm and timing. Slow down the start of your serve before moving into the acceleration phase of the swing. Here are some key points to remember when going through the motions:

  • It begins with a smooth and slow tempo to start
  • Gradually build momentum in the rotation until the acceleration happens at the contact point
  • Accelerate the racquet at the end so the ball explodes off the strings

Serving isn’t easy, but once the fundamentals are mastered, you will be acing your opponent in no time.



Want to take your training to the next level?

An Accredited Exercise Professional can assist you by guiding you through an individualized, safe and evidence-based exercise program to “bulletproof” your workouts. Get in touch with your local exercise expert today by clicking here.

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We have partnered with Nike Australia Pty Ltd for this article series.

The views expressed in this article, unless otherwise cited, are exclusively those of the author, Exercise & Sports Science Australia (ESSA). ESSA is a professional organisation committed to establishing, promoting and defending the career paths of tertiary trained exercise and sports science practitioners.

Nike had no role in the collection, analysis, or interpretation of data or research or the writing of this article.