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Before we begin, consider reading our previous article, 'Bring Your game to the Next Level'. In that article we briefly discussed serving and said this, "Serving is something that is completely within your realm of control (in sports that's rare!). Moreover, you can quickly improve if you put in the time. Watch, learn, and ask questions. Find someone whose serve you want to emulate and study it! Think about your footwork and how you can maximize the angles you hit on your serve. Start developing different serves and counter serves so you can surprise opponents. Put in the time and watch it develop!" 

Hopefully after reading this article you can start thinking about the serve a little bit differently, and implement some of these tips we're about to mention! The goal of this article will be to highlight three key areas of serving: the Toss, Footwork, and Counter Serves. Perhaps more importantly, we are going to try to walk you through the thought process step by step. 

  1. Toss: when thinking about the serve, the most important part may be the toss. Your toss creates the angle at which the ball travels to and from the net. If you want to utilize your reach, your point of contact with the ball should be exactly where your arm can reach when it is fully extended away from your body. Furthermore to truly maximize it, the toss should be positioned to where the arm is fully extended *including a side step*. Most players don't factor in a side step, thus reducing their reach and the potential angle. Many players try to hit angled serves, but do a disservice to themselves because they toss the ball too close to their body or not wide enough- therefore limiting their reach and lessening the angle of the serve. In turn, their serve becomes easier to return. 
  2. Footwork: The most obvious way your footwork becomes more effective is by taking side steps one way or the other (but the way you orient yourself to the net before serving matters). Consider a hypothetical example for right handed players: If you want to maximize the angle you hit your serve, you should start with your feet as far apart as possible. Typically right handed players tend to start with their left foot in front of the right, as far apart as possible, facing sideways to the net. If you want to hit a wide serve to the right- you should take a step as far as you possibly can with your back foot (right foot) beyond your front foot while twisting your body to face the net simultaneously. This allows you to cover more distance than a simple side step starting from a standing position. The same concept applies if you prefer facing the net when you serve. Instead of having your feet close together... start with a wide stance and use your other foot to step across your body. This maximizes the distance you can cover, therefore maximizing the angle at which you contact the ball, making your serve more difficult to return. Consider your preferences and what feels more comfortable for you while thinking about how you can generate the widest serve possible.
  3. Counter Serves: Take time to develop serves and counter serves. To use a baseball analogy, as a server you should be thinking like a pitcher. Which serves have I hit already? Which serve should I hit next? Can I use a setup serve making the following serve more effective? Typically if someone gets aced by a sidestep to the right, they will tend to overcompensate the next time. As a result, it can be beneficial to hit a counter serve- either a drop serve, or a fake sidestep and come back and hit a fwango. As a result- they overcompensate and we win another point. Think about your serve, which serve is most effective for you? Do you have a counter serve for it? Take time to develop one and you'll reap the rewards! 

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