Learn How To Serve An Ace From Former Pro Tennis Player, Michael Russell
Q: I recently lost to my girlfriend at tennis. What do I need to do to avoid further embarrassment on the court?

August 30, 2011

person about to serve an ace holding racquet and ball

Michael Russell is a retired American professional tennis player. He’s now a coach and is here to teach you how to serve an ace that would make Wimbledon’s best impressed.

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An effective ground stroke in tennis requires topspin, producing a ball that dive-bombs as it crosses the net and then skips forwards low and fast, says science.

British researchers who tested several racquet designs found that a heavier racquet with a higher centre of mass increases both ball speed and topspin.

“You can hit the ball harder and it will still land in bounds,” says Dr Tom Allen, lead author of the study, which appeared in the Journal of Sports Sciences. The problem is, a heavier racquet can slow your stroke.

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Allen suggests adding lead tape to the top of the racquet, on the outside of the rim. Start with five grams. Test it, and if your swing feels normal, add another layer of lead. Keep adding lead as long as you don’t notice a difference in your swing.

And once you’ve got that down, it’s time to master Russell’s 4 steps for serving an ace:

Step 1: Harness The Racket’s Power

Use a “continental” grip: Hold the racket like an ax, with the face in line with your forearm. Move the heel of your hand to the base of the grip, with your pinkie on the bottom of the handle.

Step 2: Align Your Body

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, your dominant foot parallel to the baseline and your other foot angled 45 degrees toward the line. Place slightly more weight on your dominant foot.

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Step 3: Don’t Overtoss

To create forward momentum, toss the ball to an apex 15 to 20 centimetres in front of you, and 30 to 60cm higher than where your racket would strike it. Don’t throw higher and try to hit it on the way down.

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Step 4: Smash It

Bring the racket behind you in one big arc and strike the ball with the racket angled slightly downward, toward your opponent. Don’t bend your elbow or jump, and don’t take your eye off the ball. Follow through with your swing.