Here are some tips to teach you how to hit a power serve, from U.S. Open Champion Patrick Rafter.
“When you serve, your feet should be positioned about shoulder width apart and pointing toward the side of the court you’re trying to hit,” Rafter says. “If you don’t start from a comfortable position, your serve will never be effective.”
As you prepare to hit the ball, bring your arm up and drop it back, putting your racket into position behind you. How do you time it properly? Says Rafter, “As you start your backswing, begin the ball toss.” As for the proper position, he says, “At the peak of your backswing you should be ‘scratching your back’ with your racket — that way, you get the most force behind your serve.”
This is the most important part of the serve, because the way you position the ball in the air affects how well you can place it on the other side of the net. “The part of the toss that most recreational players get wrong is the position of the ball,” says Rafter. “Imagine you’re looking straight ahead at a clock. If 12 o’clock is directly above you, you should toss the ball at one o’clock. Experiment and find a height for the toss that’s comfortable for you, and hit the ball when it reaches the top.” Lefties should toss the ball at the 11 o’clock position.
Many people try to hit the ball as hard as possible at the expense of aiming accurately. But, Rafter says, “a recreational player should not worry about speed. Concentrate on getting the ball in play instead. If your mechanics are good, the speed will follow.”