Understanding the Pros and Cons of the Body Serve in Tennis

Thomas Disselkamp joined St. Paul, Minnesota’s 3M Company as an engineer in 1981 and now works as a product development specialist. When he is not leading project teams and reviewing engineering drawings, Thomas Allen Disselkamp likes to stay physically active. Tom Disselkamp is especially fond of skiing and playing tennis.

When serving in tennis, a player can choose between a slice, flat, and kick serve. However, the placement of a serve is just as important as the spin and pace applied to the ball. A body serve, for example, can be a risky, yet highly effective play at certain points in a match. As the name implies, a body serve does not attempt to drag an opponent wide in either direction, but instead travels directly into the body to handcuff the returner and generate a weak or errant reply.

Any type of spin can be used when playing into the body. A kick serve, or top-spin serve, is especially effective, as the ball can bounce as high as an opponent’s shoulder on contact. While the body serve is an effective surprise, there is a major drawback to this type of serve if the play is repeated over and over again. A player who serves up the middle or out wide has margin for error. A body serve that lands just a few inches to the left or the right of the target, however, will sit in an opponent’s striking zone. Even a properly struck body serve that is anticipated will require a receiver to take a single step before unloading on their return.

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