Updated: Sep 3
If you’ve ever wanted to teach young players to serve effectively, you’re reading the right article. That’s because you’re about to discover my easy three-step method for effectively teaching tennis to under eight players.
And the good news is that this method works even if you're a parent with no coaching experience.
Step 1: Start Close
Many people new to coaching don’t even realise that they need to do this step before they can effectively serve from the baseline. And that’s why many people who try to get their players serving straight away from the baseline fail – they’re simply missing this crucial step.
So, the first thing you need to do is get the player to start close. By starting close, the player will quickly achieve success. This, in turn, builds confidence.
I believe confidence is 90% of the serve. When I am confident, I serve well. When I’m not feeling it, I miss a lot of serves. My technique didn’t change, but my confidence levels did.
You’ll find that this part of the process goes much more smoothly if you apply these tips and tricks:
Start with feet shoulder-width apart, facing the net
Players may move back when they get the ball in but take a step closer when they miss
You can check out a complete technical progression video here
Once you’ve gotten some success and the players seem comfortable, then you can move on to the next step…
Step 2: Always have a returner and other common mistakes.
The next thing you need to do is never serve in isolation.
When I first started coaching, I made a lot of mistakes. And now that I’ve helped others do it, I see many people tend to make the same mistakes. So let me share with you the top three mistakes and how to avoid them:
No returner - When do you ever have no returner in Tennis? Then why do we, as coaches, believe it's acceptable to get the players to train this way?
Serve at the end of the lesson. A standard coaching error is committing the last ten minutes of a lesson to serve. We serve 50% of the time during a match, yet we are getting our players to serve for just 15% of the lesson time. Again it makes no logical sense.
Too much information. The serve is very technical. Lots of body parts are moving hopefully in a coordinated and rhythmic pattern. As coaches, we love to tell our players every little thing they need to change at once. Information overload- find one teaching point and stick to it.
Step 3: Develop The Grip
At this step, you’ll likely notice the grip needs to develop. So, it would help if you got the players to establish a chopper grip early.
I still remember the first time I was doing this step and trying to get my players comfortable with the grip. I struggled; my players would start with the hold but then change mid-serve. The flip side was the players would keep the racket closed too much and have far too much slice.
Here are my go-to exercises when developing the grip
Get the players to practice hitting the ball down with just the edge of the racket
Get the players to hit the edge and then strings, turning the wrist as they go
Serving progression two in this video is excellent for pronation.
Get players to serve several targets cross-court and down the line. This helps develop racket face control.
And there you have it – a simple 3 -step method for developing the serv at under 8.
Now that you know how to do it, there’s just one thing left for you to do: take action.
If you want to see my coach some of these steps and more, I am hosting a free coaches webinar on the 25th of October. In the webinar, I will show my secrets for developing beginners to champions at the Under 8 level.
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