These serves are grouped by serving position: middle, right, left, etc.
You want to hit different serves from the same position and with the same
service/swing motion to prevent
your opponent from anticipating your serve. Don't change the direction
of your body to change your serve. Keep your body pointing the same way
for each serve, but drop the ball a little forward or back of your lead
foot to alter the direction of the ball. The extra second it takes your
opponent to react makes a huge difference in the quality of your opponent's
Assume that you're right handed, serving to a right-handed opponent for
most of these serves unless otherwise specified. You can also try out
all of the doubles serves here, except
for the ones which are served down the middle of the court.
Over 10 Serves with identical starting movements from
All of these serves start with you in position to hit a power serve: knees
bent, racquet up. Ball is dropped in the exact center of the court for all
of these serves and you are standing to the left of the ball. Serving from
the center gives you the advantage of already being in a good position to
cover your opponent's return.
- Drive serve to left side - have ball hit the left side wall in far
back court (hits side wall about 3 feet from back wall) to make opponent
stretch further for it
- Drive serve to right side - practice till you get this, since you
need it in case your opponent "cheats" to the left a bit to
get to your left side drive serve. You need to have a credible alternate
threat to keep him "honest". Also needed when you play a lefty.
- Hard Z drive to the right - the ball passes behind you after it hits
the front wall, left side wall. Then it hits the floor, then the right
side wall just inches in front of the back wall. The ball then travels
parallel to the back wall, too close to it to allow opponent's racquet
- Hard wraparound drive
jam serve to the right - like the Z above, but the angle is wider so
that it hits the front wall, left wall, back wall very low behind you,
and dies just when it reaches the right wall. Hit this very low and
hard, or else it can be picked off.
- Crack jam to the left - hit the ball very hard and low, aiming for
the crack where the left side wall and floor meet, just beyond the short
line. If it doesn't crack out, it still remains at an awkward angle
(traveling sideways) to get to and set up for. This serve is so hard
to even get to that it's one of the few serves in doubles where the
opponent is sometimes forced to dive, to get to it. There's another
jam identical to this one, except that the ball hits the floor/crack
just beyond the dotted safety line and dies on the floor near the back
wall. This one is easy for your opponent to get to, but it's coming
at him sideways with little time to setup to hit it well. All of the
versions are the same on the right side.
- Jason Mannino half lob - description with
- Half lob to right side - Hold the racquet sideways (i.e., horizontal,
parallel to the floor), then hit the ball so it solidly strikes the
racquet (the strings solidly bite into the ball) close to the handle
and put spin on it by letting it almost roll a bit towards the racquet
tip as though you're trying to push the middle, then the tip of the
racquet through the front wall while letting the ball roll on it. (Don't
sling the ball, that's illegal.). The racquet should stay horizontal
throughout the swing. The ball hits the front wall about 6+ feet high,
a few feet to the right of the center of the front wall, hits the floor
a few inches past the dotted safety line, and a few inches from the
right side wall. Then it kicks up and rolls along the right side wall
where it dies on the back right wall corner. It's important that the
ball hits the right side wall on the way UP (right after it first bounces
on the floor), during the ball's ascent (not on the way down). This
gives it an awkward flight to short-hop. The ball should die a foot
high, or lower on the back wall.
- Soft Z to the right - hit the front wall a few feet from the left
side wall about 10-12 feet high. Ball hits left side wall, crosses in
front of you, not behind you. If the ball passes in front of you, you
can always keep track of where your opponent is. Ball lands inside the
dotted safety line on the floor, hits the right side wall, and dies
on the back wall.
- Super cool soft Z to the right - the problem with the above soft Z
serve is that an opponent with good timing can simply short-hop the
ball as soon as it crosses the dotted safety line and blast it anywhere
he wants while you're still trying to get out of the service box. I
use a variation of the soft Z that doesn't have that problem. This serve
is easier to hit if you drop the ball a few feet to the right of center;
more details on that below. Drop the ball so it bounces up about 4-5
feet high and hits the front wall extremely close to the left side wall,
maybe a foot from the side wall and about 8 or 9+ feet high. Then it
hits the left side wall and crosses in front of you. The goal is to
have the ball make its first bounce on the floor just past the
dotted safety line extremely close to the right side wall. What
this does is create an awkward bounce off the right side wall which
is very hard to short hop. To be a great serve, the ball must then die
one foot or lower on the back wall. If it dies earlier, it's too shallow
and will be an easy setup for your opponent. If it dies higher on the
back wall, your opponent can pick it off the back wall for a setup.
The serve will not work if it doesn't land very close to the right side
wall when it first bounces on the floor. Otherwise, your opponent has
a long stretch of space in which to short-hop it. It's very difficult
to serve at first, but as in many things, it becomes easier after a
while. While it's extremely hard to roll out, the opponent can hit it
hard if he waits till it slows down when it's very high in the air a
few feet before it hits the back wall next to the right side wall. Because
he's taking it high in the air in far back court, you have many options
for a put-away shot when he returns it because you're in front. You
can cut it off and dink it into a corner, or wait till it comes off
the back wall. Serve the ball soft enough so that there's no bite into
the right side wall. This will make it die on the back wall more perfectly
and consistently. As I mentioned above, the serve is a lot easier to
execute if you drop the ball 2 or 3 feet to the right of center, and
it's more effective because it travels more sideways in front of the
back wall. The serve still works dropped in the exact center, but then
it must hit the front wall closer to the front wall, only a foot to
six inches from the left side wall. I'm used to doing that, but it's
not realistic for most folks. If your opponent is hitting the ball hard
in his power zone, serve the ball a little higher until he has to reach
awkwardly to hit it hard. Keep upping the height unless the ball starts
bouncing too high off the back wall. If the opponents rush up to short-hop
the ball every time, you may try hitting a disguised wrap
around jam serve as this goes to their backhand when they're running
to the right. Is this serve only good if you're playing against a lefty?
Nope. It works against rightys too. This serve also works extremely
well hit backhand to the left side.
- Drive the ball down the middle, right at your opponent's body. The
goal is to obtain a weak return because he doesn't have enough time
to move to the left or the right to swing at it, so he bunts at it.
This is a surprise serve to only be used once in a while.
- Nick lob to left side - ball is lobbed very high, hits the front wall
a few feet below the ceiling, and nicks the left side wall about 5 feet
from the back wall, and 3 feet high. It then dies in the corner a foot
or less off the back wall. It doesn't matter if the ball doesn't make
it all the way to back wall as long as it first nicks the left side
wall very deep. The virtue of this serve is that it can't be cut off
early, and forces the opponent to hit from very far back court. This
need not be disguised because it's so slow that an opponent can set
up for it without anticipation. Find a spot on the front wall to aim
for if you don't execute this serve intuitively.
- Nick lob to right side - same as above. If you serve this to a righty,
make sure that it goes very deep before it hits the right side wall
or else it will be easy pickings for a short-hopper!
- Half-lob nick serve - the ball hits the front wall about 9 feet high,
then hits the right side wall about a foot above the floor, a little
more than the half way point between the dotted safety line and the
back wall. Then it bounces on the floor for the first time and kind
of jets out in a hard-to-predict way, then dies near the back wall.
Don't hit this too shallow or else it will be easy to short hop.
Hard drive serves from the left side
(Drives from the right side are identical but on the opposite side.)
Stand about 6 feet from the left side wall (left of center court). Drop
the ball to your right.
- Hard Z to the left side. Hits front wall a few feet left of the right
side wall, passes behind you (you quickly step to the right after it
passes you so you're not in the way of your opponent's shot), hits floor
close to left side wall about 2 feet from back wall, and Zs parallel
and close to the back side wall. The goal is for the ball to stay so
close to the back wall that your opponent can't get his racquet to fit
between the ball and the back wall (can't get his racquet behind the
ball), so he's stuck trying to swat the ball against the back wall just
to get it to reach the front wall on the fly. Although low, Z drive
serves are easy to cut off, they're sometimes difficult to control perfectly,
so I always try a couple to see if my opponents hit them too hard so
that the ball comes off the back wall for an easy setup for me. Actually,
the higher the better in this case.
- Z serve close to the short line - Try this to occasionally catch
your opponent off guard. Hit a Z drive so low and close to the front
wall corner, that it barely makes it over the short line, then hits
the left side wall but doesn't come out very far so that it dies close
to the left side wall just barely past the short line.
- Hard drive to the far right.
- Hard drive down the left lane to the left. Note: you or your racquet
cannot cross the left drive
zone line when hitting any type of drive. See also drive
- Jam to the right- try to hit the crack where the floor meets the right
side wall in between the short line and the dotted safety line. The
ball should jump out at the receiver at an awkward angle and die at
or before the back wall.
- Right side wide angle jam - Once you see that your opponent is positioning
himself far to the right to catch the Z early with his forehand, try
a drive jam which can be disguised as a Z, with slightly less angle
than the Z. For me, this works a little better when serving on the right
side. This jam is hit like a Z but the angle is a little wider and ends
up passing near the receiver's left side, instead of his right side.
The ball hits the front wall several feet from the left side wall, hits
the left side wall, then the ball hits floor near the middle of the
back wall, and dies just before it hits the right side wall. Hit the
ball very hard and low, so that it doesn't pop off of the right side
wall for an easy setup for your opponent. It often catches opponents
off guard because it looks like you're aiming to hit to their forehand,
but the ball actually drives at their backhand.
Serves standing very close to side wall.
- Half-lob serve so close right wall that its hard to get a good angle
on the ball. The ball should hit the front wall about 8 feet high, travel
parallel the right side wall without touching it, and after the first
bounce, hit the back wall about 2 feet above the floor. The strategy
behind this serve is to get the opponent to try and kill the ball, but
since they're hitting it when it's 4 feet high, it's not likely to roll
out, but instead come up a bit for a setup for you while you're up front
and the opponent is still in back court.
- Full, high lob serve so close right wall that its hard to get a good
angle on the ball. Ball must first hit floor just after short line,
not too close to dotted safety line. Cut the ball when hitting it (don't
hit the ball flat, put under spin on it by holding the racquet more
parallel to the floor than directly flat into the ball. I'm not sure
how to do this on the backhand side of the court.) This causes the ball
to go straight up after bouncing, so the ball is awkward (too high)
to short-hop. Ball must die one foot high on back wall.
- Unexpectedly hit the Jason Mannino half lob or a drive to the opposite
side of you want to keep your opponent off balance for the half lob.
(You can't disguise the full lob.)