There’s a common mistake that happens when you’re learning the topspin serve in tennis – especially if you first learned the flat serve.
The following video shows you the key difference between a topspin tennis serve and a flat serve, which is quite hard to spot with the naked eye.
You’ll see this difference in serving technique only in slow motion – and, of course, only if you know what to look for.
The most common reason you’re over-rotating into your second serve (topspin) is that you probably learned the flat serve first, which requires you to rotate into the ball.
In your mind, there’s this equation: windup –> rotation –> contact
Your mind/body stored this movement, and it became your habit.
Now even if you try to brush up on the ball when serving topspin, it’s hard to do because your body and shoulders rotate, and you’re not even aware of that.
That changes the angle of the racquet coming to the ball, and you’re then hitting a mixture of topspin and slice serves (since the racquet comes to the ball from the side).
You don’t really feel good control or as if you are able to control the arc of the serve.
You now need to store a new series of movements: windup –> contact –> rotation
The key to any correction exercise is exaggeration. In order to change from over-rotation to optimal body rotation, you first need to rotate too little.
Serve a topspin serve by not rotating into the court and staying sideways. Hit up on the ball and note the difference in the racquet path and the actual ball flight.
You’ll see that the ball goes in the direction of the strings while your racquet goes in another direction.
The more serves you hit, the better you’ll know and feel how to control the ball by hitting it with topspin.
VERY IMPORTANT: You should think about technique and repeat the serves only until you FEEL how this technical/mechanical tip improves your topspin and ball control.
You will feel that the strings really brush up on the ball, and you’ll feel a much cleaner hit – plus you’ll have better control of the arc of the ball above the net.
Once you feel that, you simply look for that feel! The technical instruction MUST disappear from your mind and now you only imagine how you want the ball to behave.
You look for that feel of clean brush up on the ball and good ball control.
Your body will then adjust unconsciously in order to help you achieve what you want.
Eventually you can transition from staying sideways all the time while serving a topspin into a normal serve with only one difference – you’ll now have to delay the rotation.
You need to feel the new sequence of movements: windup –> contact –> rotation
With more repetitions, you’ll make this sequence smoother and smoother.
Again, your focus must not be technical anymore (meaning your conscious mind telling your body what to do) but feel-based.
Do you feel a clean brushing up on the ball? Do you feel comfortable and smooth doing that? Do you see a better control of the arc of the ball above the net?
Only these questions need to be in your mind while you’re working on your topspin tennis serve technique.