How to Improve Your Serve

In my recent post, I discussed how to eliminate double faults and how to change negative beliefs about your game  with rational and logical statements. We learned just how important an accurate toss is for a reliable serve. In this video, I show you a few exercises you can do on the tennis court to ensure your toss is consistently accurate. 

My Workday Morning Routine

Hello lovely people! Since some of you have asked what my morning routine was like, so I thought I'd show you. This is my most current WEEKDAY morning routine. I found this morning routine keeps me healthy, mentally balanced and super productive all day. Check it out. 

How to Eliminate Double Faults

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We’ve all been there- on a crucial point, when opening the match or after a big break of serve committing that dreaded double fault. Some of us experience agonizing episodes of multiple double faults throughout a game or match. It hurts to give away those free points but its debilitating not knowing how to eliminate/control them.

As we have learned from this beautiful game, almost all our mistakes are caused by a combination of a technical error and a blocking mental belief. In the case of the serve, (where we hold the reigns of our match destiny) – one can easily create many detrimental negative and irrational beliefs.

Junior players easily fall prey to this cycle e.g.  “My serves suck… I double faulted… I’m going to double fault again… I’m going to lose this match… I am a loser…I’m just a waste of a person.”

I’ve personally worked through this issue and have had the opportunity to work with junior and adults players on this issue. Here is my most recent student and our approach to the solution.

Case Study

Background: One of my students from New Jersey, a top girls junior player was in town for the 14 and under Girls National Clay Court Championships. She was coming off a tournament and had 1.5 days before her first Clay Courts match.

Problem/Challenge: The player has been having episodes of multiple double faults. 15-20 double faults in her matches. She was feeling very low about her serve and ability to win matches. Wanted to prepare for her tournament on Sunday 8am.

Solution: With not much time on our side we got right to work. I first had her write down 2 statements that she felt were holding her back from winning more matches. She came up with:

1.     My serves are not good

2.     I can't close out games

(we'll come back to these)

Next we took a look at her serve. Sure enough her toss was the number 1 culprit for her double faults. It was too high, inconsistent and going all over the map. She had not developed the discipline to stop, catch and re-toss bad tosses. As a result, she had no rhythm to her serve and very little consistency. We hypothesized a better toss would take care of 50% of her serve errors.

What we did:

IMPROVE YOUR TOSS:

We drew a semi-circle in front of her serve stance and drew out times, 12 pm, 1pm and 2pm. With 2pm exactly inline with her front foot, she was asked to toss the ball at 2pm. Initially she found this extremely difficult and lacked toss awareness (could not predict a good vs. bad toss). Within a few minutes (with me adding pressure for her to get it right), she was able to toss more accurately. The results were immediate, cleaner hits, more serves in, more power etc.

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FIND YOUR UNIQUE SERVE RHYTHM

The second thing we did was to create her unique serve rhythm. I asked her to singsong a count that matched her serve. 1(ready)-2(backswing/toss)-3(scratch back)-4(hit). Her unique rhythm allowed her to be more aware of bad tosses as they would interrupt her rhythm and it gave her MUCH better timing.

We went on to play points, match strategy and she drew a semi-circle clock for guidance. The results were astounding, from 3/10 first serves she made 7/10 and 8/10 second serves. By our second session practice, she made 1 double fault in our set.  

MENTAL ADJUSTMENTS

Back to her hindering beliefs. I asked her to negate both statements with 6 true statements that she felt were 100% true.

HINDERING BELIEF: My serves are not good

 FACTUAL COUNTER ARGUMENTS:

→ It's not my serves that are bad, it's the toss that needs adjustments. 

→ There have been many matches where my serves have been great.

→I have had times in matches where I can make 10-12 first serves in a row

→ A lot of people have trouble with their serves, it doesn't make me a bad player.

→ I feel like I have good technique overall on my serve

NEW BELIEF:  My serves are good :)

HINDERING BELIEF:  I can't close out games

FACTUAL COUNTER ARGUMENTS: 

→ It's not that I lose every game where I'm up, I win many of them.

→ I just need a bit more focus on my game points to convert them.

→ On my game points I don't play any different then on other points so all I need is a little more focus    on points such as 40-15, 40-30 etc.

NEW BELIEF: I can close out games!

Result: In her first round match win, she only made 5 double faults! A 66% improvement within 24 hours!