Being able to read your opponent's service motion can give away where he/she is going to serve, and what type of serve it may be. Knowing this before the serve is actually hit can gain you an advantage. Reading the serve allows you to be able to react faster and have more time to move to the serve. If you do not read your opponent's serve you will have to wait until the serve is struck to see what type of serve is coming, and where the serve is going. Some servers are not as obvious as others where and how they might serve the ball. Usually the better the player the better they disguise their serves. Sometimes a player may toss the ball behind their head to hit a kick serve, and sometimes the person may toss the ball to the side of him to slice the ball out wide. Being able to detect your opponent's toss is a huge advantage to the returnee. Also notice how the racquet comes across the ball as he/she hits the serve. You can read what type of serve is coming by the type of spin, or lack there of, that he/she hits the ball with.

The best way to do this is to watch how they toss the ball and see if they give anything away early. It is kind of like a player hitting a drop shot and telegraphing the shot before they hit the ball, giving you time to start running early. I will admit, this is very tough to read most servers. Do not get caught up trying to read the serve and not concentrate on your position and your preparation. Looks for the early give aways and see if you can pick up on any early clues to gain you the advantage.

Reprinted with permission from the Tennis4You Lesson Lounge
Copyright Scott Baker - Tennis4You