Overhand Serve Progression

Demonstrate an overhand serve in slow motion from the baseline into the service court on the 60-foot court. Explain that serves must be hit from behind the baseline into the opposite service court. Each game begins with a serve in the deuce court, and the server plays the next serve into the ad court, alternating sides for every serve until the game is complete. The server gets two serves to get the ball in the correct service court. The following activities demonstrate a Serve-and-Return Progression and are done with a partner on the other side of the net:

Throw over the net to a partner. Since the serve is like an overhand throwing motion (see Overhand Throw to ensure players are throwing the ball correctly), have players throw a ball over the net to their partners, who catch it after one bounce and throw the ball back. Both players should start at the service line and move back to the baseline after a series of successful throws and catches.

• Toss, touch and freeze. Position players two steps away from the net. Have them stand at a 45-degree angle to the net with their racquets back and their arms bent at the elbow like a quarterback preparing to throw. Have players toss the ball up with the nondominant hand, reach up to full extension and freeze at the contact point. The racquet face should be directed at the service court. Several players can be positioned along the net with their partners on the opposite side. The partners will trap the ball, move two steps from the net and serve it back over the net.

Note: Make sure that players freeze at the point of contact so they can see the contact point and make any necessary corrections to the toss. To prevent them from over swinging, see if they can make the ball bounce four times before it goes over the service line.

Toss, touch, follow through and trap. Position players four steps away from the net. Instead of freezing at the contact point, have players toss, hit and follow through across their bodies. As the players reach up with their racquets, the heel of the back foot lifts off the ground so the body can rotate forward toward the net. Players should work on an accurate toss, consistent contact point and good balance throughout the swing. The partner moves and traps the ball on the racquet with his hand and then serves the ball back.

Add a step, serve and trap. Begin all players four steps from the net. Have players toss, hit and follow through so the ball goes to the partner in the service court. After one bounce the partner traps the ball on the racquet face with his hand and serves it back to his partner. After each time the partners serve and trap, both players move back a step and repeat the activity.

Players should be sideways when trapping the ball.

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