The serve is arguably the most important shot in tennis. It is the only shot you have complete control over and therefore should be worked on as much as possible.
A lot of recreational players lack confidence on their serve however, as it is something that is not practiced as much as it should be and is then only used when playing points.
Another major reason that players struggle on the serve is because they are not using the proper technique.
Of course, how you hit any tennis shot can be a hugely personal thing, but there are a few fundamentals that all good players should adhere to in order to get the best results.
In terms of technique, the most important part of the serve is the trophy pose.
This can be a difficult thing to get right, but if you master it you will be able to generate effortless power time after time.
So, let’s learn more about the trophy pose, how you can master it and how doing so can improve your game!
What is the Trophy Pose?
The trophy pose refers to the part of the serve before you strike the ball, when you have your racket back behind your head.
This is an incredibly important element of the serve that you need to get right if you want to hit your serve faster, reliably produce spin and be able to control the direction of the ball.
You might be wondering, why is this part of the serve called the trophy pose?
Well, this is a dynamic and iconic position that so many great players are able to perform whilst serving.
It is so iconic that you usually see it on the top of tennis trophies, hence the name!
In terms of how you get in to the trophy pose, you should start your serve with your front foot facing diagonally towards the right net post (for right handers, left net post for left handers), and your back foot facing the right side of the court (or left side of the court for left handers).
You can practice this at home with your racket but without a ball, just to help you get a feel for the position.
Then, bring your tossing arm and hitting arm up at the same time, such that your tossing arm is fully raised above your head, touching your ear.
There should be a straight line from your front hip all the way up to the fingertips on your tossing hand.
Then, with your hitting arm, you should think about throwing your racket forwards and upwards into the ball.
This is the sort of feeling you want to replicate, as it keeps your arm nice and loose and helps you find the trophy pose.
A common mistake that so many players make at this point is letting their hitting hand and elbow face upwards.
This creates an open racket face and means you will hit the classic ‘frying pan’ serve.
This is something you seriously want to avoid, as you will really struggle to produce any real power or spin with this technique, and it promotes the use of a forehand grip rather than the preferable chopper (continental) grip.
So, make sure you keep the palm of your hitting hand and your inner elbow facing down as you raise your hitting arm.
This is a very important tip that will ultimately make the difference between failing at the trophy pose and mastering it.
Finally, as you continue to raise your hitting arm up, your racket should come up above your head with your elbow at around shoulder height.
This creates the famous trophy pose we have been alluding to!
Why is it Important?
The trophy pose is incredibly important for sound serving dynamics, because it creates the proper technique for power and spin generation.
It also allows you to hit the serve with the continental grip, which in turn means you can properly pronate your wrist and control the direction of the ball more easily.
So, without the trophy position, you will really struggle to hit the ball with any control, speed, spin or direction. Therefore, it’s a no brainer to master the position as best you can!
What’s more, using the trophy pose to full effect keeps your hitting arm nice and relaxed as you move through your service motion.
Having a fluid, flowing serve is great for injury prevention but also helps you maintain a great rhythm.
This really aids your consistency and makes it a lot easier to find the serves you want when you are under pressure.
Therefore, it is incredibly important to work on improving your trophy pose, as doing so can really transform your serve!
Drills to Improve Your Trophy Pose
So, we have discussed what the trophy pose is and why mastering it is so important.
But you know at TheTennisBros.com we like to give you practical, actionable advice to help you improve your tennis.
So, here are a few drills you can use to get the most out of your trophy position!
Chop the Wood
The first thing you need to focus on if you want to improve your trophy position is the grip you hold the racket with.
This is a fundamental part of the serve that so many players get wrong!
It is almost impossible to find the correct trophy pose whilst using the forehand grip, and unfortunately, this is the grip that we see so many players using to hit their serves.
However, if you use the chopper or continental grip, you will be able to find the trophy pose no problem at all.
To find the chopper grip, simply hold your racket as if you were going to use the frame to chop some wood, or hammer a nail.
You will find that the ‘V’ between your thumb and index finder will fall on the side of the grip (rather than the flatter centre of the grip).
This is the perfect way to find the right grip to serve with and optimize your trophy position!
Salute and Throw
A great way to practice keeping your palm and elbow facing down is to salute with your hitting hand.
This is a very simple but effective drill you can use to mimic the trophy pose, especially if you are used to bringing your racket up with an open hitting hand.
Simply practice saluting with your palm and elbow facing down, then progress the movement into a throwing motion where your hand travels over your head.
This again is a great way to force your hand and elbow down and emphasise this part of the trophy pose!
Knock Off Your Cap
A more realistic drill that puts all of the elements of the trophy pose mentioned above together is actually knocking off your cap with your racket.
This may sound like a crazy drill, but it is great for replicating the trophy pose and keeping your racket close to your head.
Many players have a natural tendency for their racket to get too far away from them when they serve, and this is generally what leads to frying pan serving in the first place (along with using the forehand grip).
Therefore, simply put a cap on the back of your head so the brim of your fap is sticking up.
Then, following the tops we have mentioned, hold your racket in your dominant hand and practice saluting and throwing.
This will keep your racket down and help you knock off your cap! Just make sure you use the chopper grip whilst doing this so you don’t hit yourself in the head!
And as if by magic, there you have it! You have now mastered the tennis serve trophy pose!
Overall, the tennis serve trophy pose is a fundamental part of the motion that needs to be mastered to optimize the serve.
It is essential for taking your serve to the next level, as it unlocks the ability to hit with effortless power, pick and choose the spin you want to hit and place the ball in whatever direction you like.
Without the correct trophy pose, you simply won’t be able to improve your serve.
However, there are a few easy drills you can do to improve your trophy pose, including chopping wood, saluting and knocking off your cap.
These emphasise all elements of the trophy pose and help break them down into their individual components.
Be sure to use the continental grip when serving for the best results, as this gives you the most control and variation with the serve.
Good luck out there and remember to take a picture of your trophy pose!