How to do an underhand serve

How to do an underhand serve

An underhand serve is a type of serve in which the player holds the ball in one hand, swings the other in an arc motion below the waist and strikes the ball from the bottom with a fist to put it in play. In an underhand serve, the player does not toss the ball up in the air, as in other serve attempts. Instead, the server holds onto the ball and strikes it below their waist with a closed fist.

Underhand serves are often much easier to receive and hit compared to other serve styles, and thus are rarely employed in high level volleyball competition. An underhand serve does not generate the same type of power as an overhand or jump serve, and are often not as accurate. Although the serve is technically legal in high level competition, its’ use is rare.

Underhand serves are often utilized in youth leagues, and as players are initially learning to play the game, as they are relatively easy to complete and return.

Other Serve Styles

Outside of the rather rare underhand serve, there are three other main types of serves utilized in volleyball:

Floater Serve

A float serve, also known as a floater, is a serve that does not spin at all. It is called referred to as a floater because it moves in extremely unpredictable ways, which makes it difficult to receive, corral, and pass. A float serve catches the air and can move unexpectedly to the right or the left or it can drop suddenly.

Topspin Serve

A topspin serve does exactly what its name implies – spins rapidly forward from the top. The server tosses the ball a little higher than normal, strikes the ball towards the top of the back in a down and outward motion and then follows through with his or her swing.

The topspin serve has a much more predictable movement than the floater serve, but it can still be very difficult to handle because of the quick speed that is generated.

Jump Serve

The third common type of volleyball serve is the jump serve. The jump serve utilizes an even higher toss than the topspin serve, and that toss should be several feet in front of the server. In a jump serve, the server utilizes more of an attack approach, jumping and striking the ball in the air. The extra motion generated allows the server to put additional power on the ball and this can make the serve very difficult to handle for the receiving team.

The drawback to a jump serve is that all that all of the extra motion utilized in the serve process can lead to a higher incidence of serving errors. Jump serves are at times difficult to control for the server, and can also work to tire the server out.

Typically, jump serves have a degree of topspin on them, but it is also possible to jump serve a floater with no spin at all.

How to do an underhand serve

The rules for hitting a tennis serve say that you have to stand behind the baseline and hit the ball into the service box diagonally opposite. You should release the ball from your non-racket hand and hit it with your racket before it hits the ground. If it lands in the correct box without hitting the net, it is a valid serve. You are allowed to serve however you like as long as you stand in the right place, and the ball does not bounce before you hit it. Due to the far greater power that can be developed, it has become fashionable to serve the ball from above your head. Nonetheless, there is a growing trend towards introducing the occasional underhand serve.

The underhand serve is generally used as a variation. Players at the top level who consistently served underhand would not do well. However, some players tend to stand far behind the baseline when receiving serves and, against these opponents, it makes sense to hit a short underhand serve once in a while in the hope of catching them off guard.

How To Hit An Underhand Tennis Serve

The most effective type of underhand tennis serve is one hit with disguise. In other words, you have to make sure that your opponent believes you are going to hit a powerful overhead serve until the last possible moment.

To hit a successful underhand serve, players must go through the early stages of the serve motion as normal, but, prior to the point at which one would lift the non-racket arm above the waist to toss the ball, he must bring the racket forward with the head pointing downward, release the ball with the hand below hip-height and hit it with an underhand motion.

Try to apply slice or sidespin by cutting under or across the ball for it to stay low and stop quickly. Remember that the underhand serve is essentially a drop-shot and should never be hit flat or with topspin.

Are Underhand Tennis Serves Bad?

Emphatically not! It is almost universally agreed among serious amateur or professional players that using an underhand serve is a valid tactic that definitely has a place in the modern game. Leading Scottish coach Judy Murray, the mother of Andy and Jamie has described its use as ‘genius.’ Use of a well-played underhand serve is similar to the employment of a drop-shot in a rally: it adds subtlety to a game which at times can appear to be largely about power. So why do some people dislike it?

Part of the issue with underhand serving may be due to the transatlantic language barrier. In the UK and many parts of Europe, this style of serving is described as ‘underarm,’ which to an American suggests an area they may wish to shave. The word ‘underhand’ is solely used to mean ‘sneaky’ or ‘devious’ in the UK. Thus if you tell a British or European person that you plan to engage in underhand serving, they will immediately be suspicious.

In addition, there is a historical notion that if a player plans to serve underhand, they should notify their opponent in advance. This is obviously absurd, as it would negate the effect of the shot: it is like telling an opponent in the middle of a rally that you plan to play a drop-shot! Nonetheless, there are still a few people who believe this.

Why Underhand Serves Are Hated By Many

The primary reason why some might dislike underhand serving is that it is an effective tactic. If you face a big server and are prepared for a big, high-bouncing serve, you will obviously be in trouble if they can execute a well-disguised underhand serve. Nobody enjoys losing a point.

At the club level, some extra considerations apply. It could be considered a little unethical to hit an underhand serve in social doubles against an elderly or obese opponent, as it could be argued that you were simply trying to humiliate them. The same argument applies to drop-shotting them in a rally. In a match, of course, anything goes.

Players Who Serve Underhand

One of the most highly popular uses of an underhand serve was by 17-year-old Michael Chang in the final set of the 1989 French Open semi-final against Ivan Lendl. Chang was cramping, diminishing the power of his already modest overhead, so he threw in an underhand serve. This brought Lendl to the net, and the young American passed him, much to the delight of the crowd. This dealt a psychological blow to the Czech favorite, and Chang eventually went on to win the title.

Today, there are players who are more than happy to bring out the occasional underhand serve. Nick Kyrgios and Alexander Bublik both practice the shot and have used it in some high-profile matches. Daniil Medvedev used an underhand serve during his defeat of Alexander Zverev at the 2020 ATP Tour Finals, saying that he employed it instinctively because Zverev was standing so far back.

The tactic became quite popular at the French Open in 2020 due to the balls’ extra weight resulting from the cool, damp conditions. On the women’s side, Sara Errani and the queen of the sliced forehand, Monica Niculescu, both employed it with various degrees of success.

The 41-year-old legend Ivo Karlovic used the tactic to great effect in his qualifying defeat of Noah Rubin. He was not serving particularly well in the early stages but observed that Rubin was almost pressed against the back fence while waiting to return, so he used a couple of underhand serves to help him hold onto his service games at a crucial stage of the first set.

Final Thoughts

The underhand serve requires skill and practice to execute well, and it brings welcome variety into the game. If you ever hear anybody say that it is a bad tactic to use, you might want to remind them of the rules!

How to do an underhand serve

Four steps? Really? Isn’t the underhand serve pretty. basic?

Well, yes and no.

It may be easy for YOU, as an adult, to hit the ball any which way you want, and still get it over. However, young athletes or players who are new to volleyball may not have the same understanding of how their body works like you do. I’ve seen a TON of attempts by 2nd and 3rd graders to get the ball over by chucking it in the air and taking a big swing at the ball, only to miss completely or hit someone’s grandma in the stands who wasn’t looking.

Spend 5 minutes at practice breaking down the underhand serve using these 4 steps, and you’ll be on your way to a season full of successful serving! (Prefer to watch and learn? Skip to the Video Guide at the bottom!)

Step 1: The Rock

OK, for my instructions, I’m going to write as if we are teaching right-handed players how to serve. For the lefties on your team, just reverse everything.

For our stance, we’ll start with our left foot forward, and our right foot back. The reason we want the left foot forward is to stabilize our body at the point of contact. Since we’re swinging with the right hand, the left foot needs to be forward.

On occasion, children like to argue with coaches about this. They say it feels better to have their right foot forward. I don’t understand why they argue with you, but it’s wrong. lol. Don’t second guess what you’re teaching just because an 8-year-old is arguing with you.

Once we’ve got our proper stance established, we’re going to rock back and forth, from back on our right foot, to forward on our left foot. This is to practice the transfer of weight from our back foot to our front foot. The weight transfer generates most of the power for our serve and is critical for smaller players to master.

Step 2: The Armswing

Alright, rocking back and forth seems pretty simple. Now we want to add our armswing. We’re going to pretend to hold the ball in our left hand, and swing our right arm back as we step on our right foot, then forward to our left hand as we rock forward.

Practice this motion a few times without the ball. It should look fairly rhythmic for your whole team. Once it looks like everyone’s ready to go, it’s time to pick up a volleyball.

Step 3: Balance the Ball

We’re not going to serve JUST YET. We want to make sure the players can balance the ball in their left hand as they’re rocking back and forth, working on their armswing. They should lift their swinging hand just up to the base of the ball.

Notice how we are not practicing tossing the ball?

This is because adding a toss adds a ton of variable to the beginner player’s serve, making the serve 10x more difficult than it needs to be. Hitting the ball out of our hand allows us to have a more consistent contact and reduces errors.

Step 4: Pop It (The Serve)

It’s time to serve!

When we’re finally ready to serve, we’re going to use the phrase “rock and pop” to reinforce proper form here!

I like to have my players line up on the opposite side of the net from a partner for lots of reps (drill video here). We’re going to do everything else we already practiced, but now we finally get to HIT the ball! All we want to do is just “pop” it. After we make contact, we’re not taking a HUGE swing. We’re just extending our arm a little past the ball to maintain control.

Let the players just go for it. The biggest issues will be balancing the ball, compromising form when going for power, and just contacting at the wrong angle. Walk around and help each player with their form, but if you broke it down as described above you should be good to go!

Learning how to serve a volleyball is very important to success in volleyball.

The serve is the only skill in volleyball where the player has complete control.

There are three main types of serves in volleyball. The underhand serve is most common for beginners.

The overhand topspin and the overhand float serve are the most common serves for competitive volleyball.

More advanced types of serves include jump serves and float serves to different areas of the court depending on what the coach has signaled.

How to do an underhand serve

How to do an underhand serve

Three Main Types of Volleyball Serves

Underhand Serve

The underhand serve is the easiest one to teach because there are few variables. Since the underhand serve doesn’t involve a toss, it’s easier to learn and control.

Here are a few fundamentals of learning to underhand serve for right-handed players.

  • Start with your feet in an up-and-back stride position with the weight on the back right foot.
  • Ball is held in the left hand in front of your body just below your waist, in front of the right hip.
  • Shoulders and upper body should be slightly leaning forward.
  • Eyes are focused on the contact point of the ball.
  • Contact the ball with the flat part of the fist and palm/pointer/thumb area.
  • Swing the right arm backward then forward in a pendulum manner.
  • Weight is then transferred to the front foot as the arm swings to contact the ball.
  • Contact is made just below the equator in the center of the ball.
  • The left hand drops just prior to contact.
  • After contact, continue to follow through the ball toward the target.

Overhand Serve

When learning how to serve a volleyball, you will need to learn techniques for the overhand serve. The overhand (overhead) serve is the most popular serve in high school and college. The two main overhand serves are the topspin and float.

The overhand serve is tougher to pass than the underhand serve because it comes faster and drops faster.

Overhand serving is similar to throwing a ball.

Cues used in overhand serving are “toss and draw” and “step and swing”.

Here are a few fundamentals of learning to overhand serve for right-handed players.

How to Serve a Volleyball

1. Start in an up-and-back stride with most of your weight on your back right foot.

2. The left hand holds the volleyball extended forward and in front of your right side.

3. The shoulder is forward and the right shoulder is back ready to draw back.

4. Toss the ball in front of your right side.

The toss is a very important part of volleyball serving. The server should toss the ball in a lifting motion and not lean forward or drop the left hand.

Good tosses are very important because a consistent toss will produce fewer variables to contend with when contacting the ball.

Common mistakes
Many young servers toss the ball without the draw and lose all the power. A swing without power will likely not making it over the net. Also, if you don’t have much power, you need to aim high. Aim at an object on ceiling above the net. This will help you get the ball over giving you chance to get the ball in the court.

How to Serve a Floater

Difference between the floater and topspin serve
When learning how to serve a volleyball, it’s important to consider body position. The main difference between the floater and topspin serve is the body position on the ball, contact, and follow-through.

For the float serve, contact is made in front of the right side of the body, and the high hand hits solidly behind the middle of the ball creating little or no spin. The flight of the ball resembles the knuckle ball thrown by a baseball pitcher.

The float serve is tough to pass because the inconsistent trajectory causes the passer to misjudge the flight of the ball making it difficult to pass.

With the topspin serve, the server steps under the toss. The server swings up, contacting underneath the ball.

The topspin serve can be more predictable because it’s easier to judge the flight of the ball. However, the ball can be tough to pass because it can drop rapidly if the passer isn’t used to passing topspin serves.

How to do an underhand serve

The rules for hitting a tennis serve say that you have to stand behind the baseline and hit the ball into the service box diagonally opposite. You should release the ball from your non-racket hand and hit it with your racket before it hits the ground. If it lands in the correct box without hitting the net, it is a valid serve. You are allowed to serve however you like as long as you stand in the right place, and the ball does not bounce before you hit it. Due to the far greater power that can be developed, it has become fashionable to serve the ball from above your head. Nonetheless, there is a growing trend towards introducing the occasional underhand serve.

The underhand serve is generally used as a variation. Players at the top level who consistently served underhand would not do well. However, some players tend to stand far behind the baseline when receiving serves and, against these opponents, it makes sense to hit a short underhand serve once in a while in the hope of catching them off guard.

How To Hit An Underhand Tennis Serve

The most effective type of underhand tennis serve is one hit with disguise. In other words, you have to make sure that your opponent believes you are going to hit a powerful overhead serve until the last possible moment.

To hit a successful underhand serve, players must go through the early stages of the serve motion as normal, but, prior to the point at which one would lift the non-racket arm above the waist to toss the ball, he must bring the racket forward with the head pointing downward, release the ball with the hand below hip-height and hit it with an underhand motion.

Try to apply slice or sidespin by cutting under or across the ball for it to stay low and stop quickly. Remember that the underhand serve is essentially a drop-shot and should never be hit flat or with topspin.

Are Underhand Tennis Serves Bad?

Emphatically not! It is almost universally agreed among serious amateur or professional players that using an underhand serve is a valid tactic that definitely has a place in the modern game. Leading Scottish coach Judy Murray, the mother of Andy and Jamie has described its use as ‘genius.’ Use of a well-played underhand serve is similar to the employment of a drop-shot in a rally: it adds subtlety to a game which at times can appear to be largely about power. So why do some people dislike it?

Part of the issue with underhand serving may be due to the transatlantic language barrier. In the UK and many parts of Europe, this style of serving is described as ‘underarm,’ which to an American suggests an area they may wish to shave. The word ‘underhand’ is solely used to mean ‘sneaky’ or ‘devious’ in the UK. Thus if you tell a British or European person that you plan to engage in underhand serving, they will immediately be suspicious.

In addition, there is a historical notion that if a player plans to serve underhand, they should notify their opponent in advance. This is obviously absurd, as it would negate the effect of the shot: it is like telling an opponent in the middle of a rally that you plan to play a drop-shot! Nonetheless, there are still a few people who believe this.

Why Underhand Serves Are Hated By Many

The primary reason why some might dislike underhand serving is that it is an effective tactic. If you face a big server and are prepared for a big, high-bouncing serve, you will obviously be in trouble if they can execute a well-disguised underhand serve. Nobody enjoys losing a point.

At the club level, some extra considerations apply. It could be considered a little unethical to hit an underhand serve in social doubles against an elderly or obese opponent, as it could be argued that you were simply trying to humiliate them. The same argument applies to drop-shotting them in a rally. In a match, of course, anything goes.

Players Who Serve Underhand

One of the most highly popular uses of an underhand serve was by 17-year-old Michael Chang in the final set of the 1989 French Open semi-final against Ivan Lendl. Chang was cramping, diminishing the power of his already modest overhead, so he threw in an underhand serve. This brought Lendl to the net, and the young American passed him, much to the delight of the crowd. This dealt a psychological blow to the Czech favorite, and Chang eventually went on to win the title.

Today, there are players who are more than happy to bring out the occasional underhand serve. Nick Kyrgios and Alexander Bublik both practice the shot and have used it in some high-profile matches. Daniil Medvedev used an underhand serve during his defeat of Alexander Zverev at the 2020 ATP Tour Finals, saying that he employed it instinctively because Zverev was standing so far back.

The tactic became quite popular at the French Open in 2020 due to the balls’ extra weight resulting from the cool, damp conditions. On the women’s side, Sara Errani and the queen of the sliced forehand, Monica Niculescu, both employed it with various degrees of success.

The 41-year-old legend Ivo Karlovic used the tactic to great effect in his qualifying defeat of Noah Rubin. He was not serving particularly well in the early stages but observed that Rubin was almost pressed against the back fence while waiting to return, so he used a couple of underhand serves to help him hold onto his service games at a crucial stage of the first set.

Final Thoughts

The underhand serve requires skill and practice to execute well, and it brings welcome variety into the game. If you ever hear anybody say that it is a bad tactic to use, you might want to remind them of the rules!

Beginner players learn how to improve your serve with these volleyball serving drills for the underhand serve so you consistently get the ball over the net.

Volleyball Serving Drills
What To Work On In Practice – Underhand Volleyball Serve Practice

First you want to work on getting the ball over the net and inside the court lines of the opposing team’s court. consistently.

Most beginners will use underhand serves to do this because its an easier to serve to do.

So if you just have an underhand serve, thats ok but go do

  • 30 in a row, then
  • take a break then
  • do another 30 in a row then
  • take a break and repeat until you’ve completed 4 sets of 30.

For each 30 you’re trying to see how many you actually get “in” the court.

Keep your score and write it down. That way during your next practice you know how much you need to improve your serving skills.

So if during your first set of 30 attempts you got 15 balls “in” the court write that down.

Like this 15/30. That’s 15 balls in the court. out of 30 total volleyball serving attempts made.

That’s 50% of the balls.

That’s a good score but you always want to get at least half the balls that you attempt to serve “in” the court.

So from now on when working on volleyball serving drills in practice by yourself or in open gym your goal is to attempt 30 serves and to get at least 15 in the court.

How to do an underhand serve

This has been an important message by your favorite volleyball coach! That’s me!!

Thanks for visiting.

Be sure to check out more of my volleyball articles by clicking one of the links below! (April Chapple)

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Follow me on Instagram @coach_apchap to improve your game even faster!

I share alot of individual, partner and easy-to-do volleyball serving drills we do in class with my followers.

Many of these volleyball practice drills you can do at home by yourself or try at your next practice with your teammates.

If you’re a B team or JV player trying to make varsity next year. your goal should be to complete 1000 reps a day of at least three of the basic skills on your own. volleyball passing, serving and setting should be at the top of the list.

Volleyball Serving Drills
Where Do You Go From Here?

Your options are:

  1. You can learn more about Serving by visiting the related links below.
  2. Follow the suggested reading on our Sitemap page Learning How To Play (Sitemap)
  3. Or visit the pages in the Howto Play Volleyball section in the drop down menu at the top of the page to get started.
  4. Before leaving this page Say “Hi” to Miss Tattoo the Tiger wearing the #9 jersey below. Miss Tattoo is the starting defensive and serving specialist for the All Beast VolleyBragSwag All Star team.

You might like these volleyball serving pages.

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Volleyball Skills Drills To Improve Digging and Spiking Ball Control

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Hitting and Digging Drills for Volleyball That Help You Play Better

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How To Serve In Volleyball Two Tips On How To Develop A Tough Serve

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How To Serve A Volleyball A Step By Step Tutorial For Beginners

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There are four types of serves in volleyball varsity players learn. Beginners learn the underhand serve first, then the overhand serve, then topspin and jump serve.

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How to do an underhand serve

Whenever you are playing any sport, you have to be aware of all the techniques involved in order to take advantage over the opponent. There are some sports, which only require you to be physically strong and there are not many technicalities involved.

However, you will find that most of the games played all over the world require you to be technically strong. One such sport is badminton, where you need a perfect technique in order to defeat your rival. The most important feature of this game is serving, which can help you win matches regularly. Once you are aware of how to do it accurately, you will definitely be at an advantage.

Things Required:

– Badminton Racket
– Shuttlecock

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Instructions

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Know which side to serve from

When your score is even, you have to serve from the right side of the court. On the other hand, you have to change sides when your score is odd. Moreover, serve diagonally towards your opponent.

Use underhand while serving

It is ideal to use an underhand technique while serving, especially if you are in a process of learning the game. This way, you will be able to avoid making mistakes and your opponent will be unable to counter attack aggressively.

Hold the racket firmly

Take a firm grip on the racket, as that will help you get control over things easily. You can shorten the grip on the handle, if you are not feeling comfortable. Once you are into a rhythm, you can again get back to your normal position.

Keep the racket upside down

Continue rotating the racket until it is upside down. This way, you will manage to hit the shuttlecock from the centre of your racket and generate more power.

Hold the shuttlecock from the edge

Other than positioning the racket in the correct way, you have to hold the shuttlecock correctly as well. Make sure, you have only grabbed it from the edge, so that you can easily release it when going for the serve.

Move your racket forward

Move and hold your racket forward, so that you can go for the serve comfortably. You have to stay in that position for a few seconds before going for the serve.

Focus and serve

Focus on the top of the net and go for the serve. It is ideal not to go for a forceful serve, if you are a starter.

A badminton serve can be performed using 2 methods (high serve and low serve), depending on where you want the shuttlecock to land.

There are certain rules that you must follow when making a service. Checkout the badminton service fouls to avoid it.

The Importance of a Good Badminton Serve

A WEAK serve often creates a chance for your opponent to execute an attacking shot. Therefore it’s important to know how to serve properly so that you will not lose a point after making a service.

1. The High Badminton Serve

This type of serve is usually executed when you want the shuttle to land at the back end of the court. A good high serve must have the shuttle dropping steeply downwards at the back end of the court.

A high serve will prevent your opponent from executing a strong smash. Instead, a lob or a drop is more expected from your opponent (unless they can do a jump smash).

Try to serve the shuttlecock to your opponent’s backhand area. The objective is to force your opponent to use his backhand. This is because most badminton players, even world class player, have weaker backhands (compared to their forehands)

How to do an underhand serve

For example, you’re standing at X. You are about to make a high serve… and your opponent is right handed. In that case, direct the shuttle to drop at point A.

This will force your opponent to use the backhand and hence there’s a higher chance that he’ll return a weak shot.

If your hit it to your opponent’s backhand area, but he/she refuses to use the backhand, he will then have to move further away from his base! This gives you the chance to exploit an opportunity to control the game if your opponent does not have good badminton footwork.

Let me show you how to do a high serve

How to do an underhand serve

  • Hold the head of the shuttlecock with its head facing downwards so that the shuttlecock will drop straight down.
  • Stand sideways (the side of your body facing the net) and relax your racquet arm (arm that is holding the racquet).
  • Let go of the shuttlecock and swing your racquet arm upwards. As you do this, twist your waist to the extent that your body faces the net. Flick your wrist towards the direction you want the shuttle to land (Flick your wrist upwards, so that the shuttlecock will fly high).
  • Your back leg should lift up naturally (with your toes touching the ground).

The high serve is useful against opponents who cannot perform strong smashes from the back of the court.

However, some badminton players (especially taller players) can execute powerful smashes even from the back of the court (usually with a jumping smash).

If this is the case, consider using the low serve instead. This is also the reason why professional players nowadays prefer using the low serve.

2.The Low Badminton Serve

The low serve is used when you want the shuttlecock to land in front of the court (in front of your opponent).

A GOOD low serve will have the shuttlecock flying JUST ABOVE THE NET.

If not, your opponent will have the chance to dash forward and smash the shuttle down to you.

A low serve, when executed beautifully, prevents your opponent from making an offensive shot.

How to do an underhand serve

How to do an underhand serve

Unlike the high serve, you can let the shuttle drop anywhere in front (forehand area or backhand area of your opponent)

Neither makes a difference because it does not disrupt your opponent’s footwork.

As a start, practice serving so that the shuttle drops right in front of your opponent (point A in picture above).

Let me show you how to do a low serve

How to do an underhand serve

  • Hold the feather of the shuttlecock with the head of the shuttlecock facing downwards.
  • Position the racquet behind the shuttlecock.
  • Step slightly forward with your right (left) leg if you are right handed (left handed).
  • As you let go of the shuttlecock, flick your racquet lightly while pushing your thumb forward towards the direction you want the shuttle to land. The power comes mainly from the push of your thumb and the slight flick of your wrist.

3.The Flick Serve (“Fake” Low Serve)

The “fake” low badminton serve can also be used to trick your opponent (deceive your opponent to expect a low serve).

When you stand in a low serve position, your opponent would probably expect a low serve. However, push your thumb and flick your wrist harder so the shuttlecock flies HIGH and heads to the back of the court!

Well, knowing how to serve is one thing. Practising is another. If you want to make perfect serves, keep practising until you don’t make any mistakes!

Tell me what you think!

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