Serving Routine

Like many players, I’ve often experimented with different types of serves (jump float, standing float, jump spin, sky ball, etc.), trying to find the most effective yet consistent serve. However, the one thing I have never truly practiced is the PREPARATION before a serve. My entire career, up until recently, I focused only on improving the SERVE and never put much time into crafting my ROUTINE. This had been the biggest pitfall of my serving game. Now, after working with a sports psychologist, I’ve developed a routine so that it is the same every single time I walk back to serve. Beginning with walking to the back line, standing at my start-point behind the service line, my pre-serve mindset, and mastering my breathing, each step in this process is replicated time and time again. A routine is NOT a superstition but a way in which I can mindfully prepare before physically doing anything. Furthermore, a routine is an intentional action that helps you get closer to the “flow” state of mind. Some use routines for confidence and to feel prepared, others use it to focus, I use it for a little of both. In a match, a routine helps me to focus on not only making a crucial serve but also hitting it with pace and confidence. In practice, I use my serving routine to help put myself in game-like scenarios so I CAN hit those crucial serves, and hit them consistently, scoring real points in runs as seen in the video here against Ryan Doherty and John Hyden.

Hop Step Defense

Hop Step Defense Tip

This defensive technique is something I have been experimenting with this year, and I can say without a doubt has been the single most positive adjustment I have ever made to my defense on the beach. This “Hop Step” was inspired by the more commonly known “Split Step” tennis players make when receiving a serve, enabling them to move laterally in EITHER direction to play a Tennis Ball moving at a much faster speed than a Volleyball attack. 

Writing this I can already hear the critics saying, “But I was told you have to be stopped upon contact.” YES I KNOWWW…I was brought up learning the same exact thing. But then I ask you, WHY don’t tennis players just stay completely still upon receiving a serve or shortstops upon the crack of a bat hitting a baseball??? 

And the ironic answer to that question is: YOU ACTUALLY ARE STOPPED upon contact. The timing of the Hop/Split Step is your feet should be contacting the ground (weight balanced equally on both feet) RIGHT upon your opponent’s contact of his/her attack of the ball. 

The theory behind this is that it is much easier to go from a moving position to another moving position as opposed to getting the body moving from a completely still state. Furthermore, this Hop Step primes all the muscles for firing, from your quads to your core to your upper body. 

However, the timing of this technique is key. If you are a little too late, you will find yourself airborne and not able to react/push off the ground to go after the ball; yet, if you are too early, you’ll be right where we started, watching those ever-so-elusive high lines land in the corners.