I was on court the other week coaching a close friend and like many players, he can sometimes struggle with his serve. It’s a shot professionals take for granted and effortlessly hit as a means to start the rally, but as carefree as it appears they still hit a decent enough serve that it can’t be dispatched into the nick off the return and it never goes out or down.
This is not always the case for many club players, who occasionally turn up and their serve is going completely wrong – it’s either too short, not wide enough, or out! We decided upon treating the serve like a first date. It needs to appear effortless and relaxed, but in reality it’s a super concentrated and practiced effort in order to deliver quality!
So how do we get this ‘first date’ feeling on the serve?
I think the answer is practice, as with everything in squash. But during practice, maybe change your emphasis. You know where you want to aim, but maybe focus your thoughts on relaxing your body. Use your footwork to step into the shot, and this will help to relax your body also. Focus on your upper and lower body working together. The service action needs to be as smooth and flowing as possible. Do this by stepping and leaning forward toward the ‘T’ as you serve. If you can relax your body you are less likely to mis-hit your serve and serve out or down.
The worst thing you can do is remain static when you serve, letting your upper body do all the work. This will lead to your action looking tense and jerky – increasing the chance of you mis-hitting it and possibly faulting.