Teaching young kids to serve is an often overlooked aspect of coaching. The serve is the most complicated and difficult shot in tennis and because of this coaches often choose to ‘accidentally forget about including it in the training program’.
There is however an easy, fun, challenging and engaging way to encourage kids to practice their serve. It’s called Serve Progression.
1. Students will line up on the first line closest to the net as shown in the diagram. The placing of the line will be dependent on the skill level of the players in the group (i.e. either closer or further away from the net).
2. Players will first attempt to overarm-throw 2 balls to the correct service-box in a row. Players need to know how to overarm throw before they serve.
3. Once they complete that step they will then attempt to serve off their knees, two serves in a row.
4. Once they achieve that, they will try to serve two statue-serves in a row. Statue-serves are serves with your feet together, where the player can’t move their feet before or after their serve. This helps with players hitting up into their serve (power must go predominately up for a serve) and also helps them achieve a consistent ball-toss since they can’t move around.
5. After this the final progression is a normal serve with feet apart.
6. Once the players complete this, they are able to move back to the next line (in this case it is the service line).
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Do not move players back until every player has achieved progression (or move those that have not achieved progression to the other side of the court (either deuce or advantage side) so they don’t get hit by players behind them.
Each time a full cycle of challenges is complete the players will move back. In the diagram this is as follows:
– The first yellow line closest to the net
– The service line
– 3/4 court line