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The serve allows you the chance to start the point off with an advantage.
However, you can only use this advantage if you form a proper foundation for the stroke.
Without the proper foundation, the rest of the mechanics of the stroke breakdown. This will cause you to count double faults rather than aces.
Only on the serve can you control everything about a shot.
It is the only shot where you place the ball exactly where you want it before making contact.
On every other shot, the opponent dictates, in part, the shot you play. Your service motion should be consistent and easily repeatable.
Professional players use different stances and motions.
The primary debate seems to be between the tennis serve platform vs. pinpoint stances. Legendary players have used both foundations for the serve.
Service motions should remain consistent over time. Changing your form on a serve by serve basis will lead to double faults.
No top player ever used both serves situationally, just as no top players switch between one-handed and two-handed backhands during a match.
While you should consider the tennis serve platform vs. pinpoint stances when deciding the form to use, choose, and stick with one.
Experimenting with both serves will allow you to determine the one that best fits your abilities and style of play.
If you need a little extra power on your serve, you may wish to try the pinpoint stance.
If you want more control and consistency, the platform stance may work better.
Once you find one that feels better, hit as many baskets of balls as you can to groove it into a weapon.
Choosing a Tennis Serve: Platform vs. Pinpoint
The Platform Serve
The platform serve allows the server to maintain balance, keeping both feet on the ground before the motion starts.
This results in fewer movements during the service motion, which should result in a more consistent service.
Even beginners can learn the foot placement on the serve reasonably quickly as it requires no movement.
Foot placement should begin even before the player learns the service motion.
Beginners and intermediates should check their foot placement before each serve, adjusting as needed to start from the correct position.
The platform serve starts with the feet set beneath the shoulders. The front foot should point towards the net post.
The back foot should sit roughly parallel to the baseline.
As you start your motion, your knees should dip into a bend while shifting your weight to the balls of your feet.
When you begin to bring the racquet up into the ball, launch yourself into the air, using your legs and feet as springs.
You should land on or just in front of the service line.
Ensure that your toss remains for enough out in front of you to allow for the forward movement of the body.
While the platform stance does not propel the player forward as much as the pinpoint stance, you still must account for the movement.
- Balanced Starting Position. The platform serve allows a balanced starting point. This allows the player to start every swing confidently, trusting their starting point and foundation.
- Fewer Movements. The platform serve offers fewer movements before impact than the pinpoint serve. Given the difficulties many players have learning the serve, simplifying the motion gives you a better chance for success.
- More Consistency. You should have greater consistency with the platform serve than with the pinpoint due to the better balance and reduced movement.
- Reduced Power. The platform serve produces less power than the pinpoint serve. Many players fail to make proper use of their legs, not bending enough and failing to achieve a proper movement up into the ball. This results in reduced power and potentially wounded duck serves.
Who uses the platform serve?
Many top players use the platform serve. However, many more ATP players use the platform serve than do WTA players.
This may result from the female players attempting to gain power.
Still, no one has studied the discrepancy to determine the cause.
The following players, past and present use the platform serve:
- John McEnroe
- Andre Agassi
- Pete Sampras
- Roger Federer
- Novak Djokovic
- Dominic Theim
- Milos Roanic (155 mph)
- Stefanos Tsitsipas
- Madison Keys
This is quite an accomplished list. These players won more than a few grand slams, with players excelling on every surface.
The Pinpoint Serve
The pinpoint serve offers more power to a player. Three of the fastest servers of all time, John Isner, Ivo Karlovic, and Sam Groth, all use the pinpoint serve.
All three have recorded serves in excess of 150 mph, with Groth topping out at 163 mph.
Therefore, the power advantage clearly goes to the pinpoint serve.
The pinpoint serve starts with the feet in generally the same location as on the platform serve.
As the toss arm moves upward, the back foot should move towards the front foot.
Typically, the server will keep the back foot behind the front foot.
When you move it forward, you should place the front of the back foot even with the arch or toes of the front foot, but not in front or to the side of the front foot as this brings the dreaded foot fault into play.
At this point, the knees bend, springing up and forward.
When using the pinpoint serve, you should land inside the baseline.
You must toss the ball far enough out in front of you to allow for the forward movement of your body into the court.
The rear foot should come forwards to the same place each time. This will add consistency to the swing.
The pinpoint serve comes with added movements, which create momentum and power but can also lead to errors if you do not execute it consistently.
- Power. The pinpoint serve provides an excellent launching point, allowing you to push up into the ball and spring into the court with more force than the platform serve. The wider you spread your feet, the less jumping power you possess. Therefore, closing the gap in the feet on the pinpoint serve maximizes your leverage.
- Better Transfer of Weight. The pinpoint stance features a better weight transfer. In addition to providing power, it forces the player to finish the serve farther into the court, positioning them in a better place to take advantage of weak returns.
- Too Many Moving Parts. The pinpoint serve features extra movements to bring the legs together. This results in extra opportunities for inconsistencies of form and error. It could also produce foot faults.
- Balance. Some players may find it more challenging to use a pinpoint stance, especially beginners, as it adds another step to learn. However, with practice, players using a pinpoint stance should have as much balance as other players.
Who uses the pinpoint serve?
Many of the hardest serving players in the world use the pinpoint serve (just forget for now that many are 6’7” and taller).
The following players past and present use the pinpoint serve:
- Martina Navratilova
- Steffi Graf
- Serena Williams
- Venus Williams
- Maria Sharapova
- Angelique Kerber
- Ash Barty
- Simona Halep
- Goran Ivanisevic
- Andy Roddick
- Rafael Nadal
- Andy Murray
- Stan Wawrinka
- Nick Kyrgios
- John Isner
- Sam Groth
- Ivo Karlovic
More than a few grand slam winners appear on this list as well.
Arguably three of the best women’s players of all time, Serena Williams, Graf and Navratilova, all used the pinpoint stance.