Now, time to start adding power. For her strongest serves, Williams tosses further out in front of her, changes her grip and pronates her wrist. Tossing in front of you means your body has to drive forward to connect with the ball–this reduces spin and adds speed.
Pronation is big word for “rotating your wrist.” Hold your arm in front of you with your palm facing up, then turn your palm to face the ground–you’re pronating your wrist. When you reach up to hit a serve at full extension, you have to pronate to bring the racquet face more perpendicular to the ball. Proper pronation on serves separates great tennis players from good ones.
For some, it feels less like “hitting the ball with the racquet” and more like “throwing the racquet at the ball.” As a matter of fact, it is very much like throwing. Our wrists pronate in a similar way when we throw baseballs or footballs properly–and throwing balls can be a great way to get comfortable with the feeling of pronation.
Double faults waste points and cause unwanted frustration. That’s why Williams sacrifices power for a little more consistency on her second serve. She tosses the ball a little further behind her so that her racquet doesn’t make flat contact, but brushes up the back of the ball. This adds the topspin that will help your ball land inside the service box. It will also give the ball a nice high kick when it bounces.
Find the perfect toss for your second serve. Practice tossing the ball behind you like Williams does. Hit your serves hard—if they are flying too long, try tossing further behind you. When they start falling in the service box, you’ve found your sweet spot. Practice different types of serves that benefit from pronation, like a flat serve.