Tennis Serve Disguise Analysis

How do tennis pros disguise their serve?

In this short video we will take a look at Medvedev’s serve and his ability to disguise his wide serve and T serve. The main idea behind being able to disguise your serve is to take away even more time from your opponent reaction. The ball toss will have the biggest effect in your ability to disguise your service motion.

There are 3 different types of serves in tennis and being able to execute all of them with little difference in the toss will allow you to have a better outcome in terms of surprising your opponent.

The topspin serves will allow you to make the ball kick to the right (right-handed players) and bounce high, usually forcing the opponent to hit the ball above their strike zone.

The slice serve will usually spin to the left and force the opponent to search for the correct space to strike the ball. It has a lower bounce aiming at the lower strike zone.

Lastly the flat serve is one of the most powerful tennis shots and releases the most amount of energy at contact.

Your starting position is also important in your service as it can be easy for an experienced player to identify your service action.

Professional players work relentlessly on being able to hide their serve movement and being able to produce flat serves, spin serves and topspin serves (kick serve) all from a very similar ball toss.

Club level players with common ball toss mistakes and issues will have a harder time producing an effective shot that can surprise the opponent and force a return error or a weaker return. The element of disguise in the serve will allow you to increase the overall percentage of serves made as it can give you the confidence to rely more on placement rather than powerful serves that can become predictable and less effective in a long match.

What is the easiest way to disguise your serve?

Once you master all three serves from a technical point of view, the easiest way to work on the element of disguise is to focus on your toss and keeping all the other elements similar. Professional players are great at maintaining the focus on their biomechanical and technical elements when serving but being able to hit the three types of serves to different targets in the service box from a neutral position. Energy transfer at contact has to be correctly timed with the kinetic energy necessary for the ball to be hit with the desired spin and direction in the service box. The best way for tennis players to create awareness is to film themselves during the service action (possibly in slow motion) and to analyze what actions make your serves different and identifiable by your opponent. In reviewing your service motion, try to pay attention to your grip, your stance, ball at contact, lateral toss position, kick toss, slice toss and flat toss. Those are all elements that your opponents can identify prior to you hitting the ball. Once the ball left your racket the opponent will not be able to read any of the other cues related to your serve.