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Five Tips for More Aces

by David Dusek

There are very few things in tennis as gratifying as hitting a clean serve your opponent can't touch. It lifts your spirits and reconfirms in your mind that, yes, you are doing this right, and the light at the end of the tunnel you see probably isn't a train.

Toss the ball forward
To get the most power on your serve, use the big muscles in your body. Tossing the ball into the court instead of straight up above your head will force you to move forward and transfer your weight into the shot, thus giving your serve some extra bang.

Reach up to your toss
Lots of beginners and intermediates toss to the proper spot, but let the ball drop too low before striking it. Extend your arm and body up to meet the serve at the highest point you can reach. Letting the ball drop means you will be pushing it instead of swinging freely, and you cannot push the ball past even the most humble beginners. The swing is the thing.

Keep your hand and arm relaxed
Hold the racquet tight enough only so it doesn't fly out of your hand when you swing. If you squeeze the handle of your racquet too tightly as you serve, you'll lock your wrist in position and rob yourself of power and spin potential. A loose hand and relaxed arm will allow your wrist to naturally snap at the top of your motion, which will help bring your serve down into the court, as well as put some spin on your shot.

Widen your stance
Make sure that your feet are at least shoulder width apart before you serve. If your feet are too close together, you will have a narrow base to support your body and you will not get enough forward momentum. A wide base allows you to move your back leg forward as you extend up to the ball, increasing the weight -- and power -- behind your shot.

Add more variety
By hitting to different spots on the court, and from different positions along your own baseline, you will keep the returner off-balance and guessing you will hit. By surprising your opponent, and by practicing and improving your technique for increased velocity, you should hit more aces.