Step-by-Step: How To Hit A Power Tennis Serve

Two tennis rackets lean on a tree

Whether you have yet to lift a racquet or you’re a familiar soul to the courts, this guide will help you master an unstoppable (right-handed) tennis serve.


Preparing to serve is just as important as hitting the serve! Before you serve, you must be familiar with:

  • The grip
  • Positioning 

The Grip

Hold the racquet in a continental grip (like you would hold a hammer). This grip is also called the hammer grip, and you must maintain it for the entire serve. More on that later.


Next, position on the court. When you serve, you must do so behind the farthest line, called the baseline. 

In singles, you should serve closer to the middle of the baseline. In doubles, you should serve closer to the sides of the court, called the alleys.

Point your left foot to the rightmost tennis pole, and point your right foot to the side (perpendicular to the pole).

Once you’re in position, it’s time to serve. 


With your hammer grip, toss the ball straight and above you. As it ascends, lift your tennis racquet, so it drops behind your back. Then, follow through with your left leg while stepping forward.

Remember, accuracy is the staircase to power. You must master a tennis serve that goes in 100% of the time before you can start acing your opponents.

When doing so, success in the following areas is crucial:

  • The toss 
  • The swing
  • The follow-through 
  • Keeping the grip 

The Toss

An incorrect toss can ruin your tennis serve before your racquet touches the ball. Make sure it is high, straight, and never behind you. The ball needs to end up in a position where you can hit down on it. After you toss, let your racquet fall behind your back to generate power.

The Swing

When you swing, hit the ball at your racquet’s highest point. This allows you to hit down on the ball, which is the objective. Swinging too late results in a choppy or missed serve, so keep your arm straight. 

The Follow-through

Unlike other tennis shots, you must follow through with your left leg, NOT over your shoulder. Remember, you’re hitting down on the ball, not through it. This mindset shift can make all the difference.

Keeping The Grip

Keeping your hammer grip is equally important. Hold your racquet tightly, and don’t change your grip as you swing. If it feels strange at first, that’s because it should.

Don’t get discouraged if you constantly miss the serve at first, either. Practice makes perfect, even if it takes more time than you expect. 

Generating Power

Once you have mastered your second serve (a serve that goes in 100% of the time), it’s time to work on a more powerful first serve.

The key to tennis serve power lies in two areas:

  • The racquet drop
  • Stepping forward 

The Drop

After your toss, let your racquet drop behind your back before lifting it and swinging down on the ball. This allows you to generate immense momentum when you swing and is the core of your serve’s power.

You may have heard players say to “scratch your back” with your racquet, but this is a poor strategy. It interferes with your accuracy when you hit and could cause you to double fault. 

Stepping Forward

It is crucial to take a step forward as you hit the ball.  Stepping forward speeds up your ball and limits your opponents’ time to react. One of the biggest tennis misconceptions is that the serve is 100% arm power. In reality, leg power is more impactful.


To sum up, here’s my strategy for mastering a powerful tennis serve:

  • Positioning: When serving, point your left foot to the right tennis pole and your right foot slightly behind you
  • Grip: Hold your racquet in a continental grip (the same way you would hold a hammer) and keep it for the entire serve
  • Tossing: Toss the ball high and straight, allowing your racquet to drop behind your back.
  • Impact: Hit the ball at your racquet’s highest point, stepping forward and following through with your left leg. 

That’s it! Practice makes perfect, so don’t get discouraged if you struggle when trying this method for the first time. 

While this guide focuses on one, there are unlimited ways to hit a great tennis serve.

The courts await!

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