The question of why tennis players bounce the ball before serving is one that has been puzzling people for years.
Some say it’s to get a sense of how hard they’ll need to hit the ball, others believe it’s because this motion helps them focus and concentrate on their serve.
Whatever the reason, bouncing the ball is now an essential part of every player’s serve routine.
While the number of times a player bounces the ball before serving and the reason for doing so differs based on individual preferences, there are several logical benefits behind this ritual that most players execute as a part of their serve routine.
Tennis players often consider bouncing the ball before serving to get into a proper rhythm and become steady and relaxed. Some do it to estimate how much the ball will travel while others do it to attain an ideal position for serving.
In this blog post I will explore some theories as to why tennis players bounce the ball before serving and then provide my own opinion as to what may be going on in these athletes’ heads when they do so!
Why Tennis Players Bounce the Ball Before Serving
You might have seen servers in a professional tennis match bouncing the ball multiple times before hitting. Each player has a different pre-serving routine and a preference for bouncing the ball before the serve.
While beginners do this just following the habits of the pros, there is a lot involved with those few bounces in professional events. If done correctly, a pre-serving routine can be key to consistent game and winning.
Let us try to understand some reasons why tennis players bounce the ball before they serve.
Getting into the Rhythm
Most players follow a serve ritual where they bounce the tennis ball a few times before hitting the serve. The aim is to focus on what is happening at the moment.
Repeating the same steps every time helps the players maintain their serve consistency and calm the mind.
Professional players are quite strict with their serving rituals. Many pros bounce the ball for a specific number before their first serve and bounce it for a certain number of times for subsequent serves.
Checking the Quality of the Ball
The most technical reason for bouncing the ball before a serve is to check the quality of the tennis ball. Standard balls are pressurized and have some gas inside the core. Professional matches change balls every seven games to maintain the quality of the ball.
Pro players generally hit the ball hard, with some points going up to 25 ball strikes. Many players prefer to bounce and check the ball quality before serving to ensure it feels right and will perform correctly.
Calming the Nerves
There are many pressure moments during a tennis match when the player can feel nervous. The habit of bouncing the ball before a serve helps steady out the nerves because you just focus on getting the ball up and down, eliminating other thoughts from the mind.
While it may seem strange, it actually works for serious players.
Developing a Tactic
Players often use the seconds before serving to devise a strategy for the next point. In pro events, players use this time to concentrate and develop a tactic about aiming the serve.
When bouncing the ball prior to serving, players generally think about the score, their energy level, the wind direction, the opponent, and other things to develop the game plan for the next point.
Executing the Serve Technique Right
A good reason for bouncing the ball a few times before the serve is that it improves the concentration on the serve technique.
The serve is the most significant shot of a game and the only shot where the player has full control over it. You have the ball in your hand and you need not adjust to anything, translating to better control over the shot.
Experienced players who hit hundreds of serves every day master the technique to optimize their serve and develop a habit or routine that they follow every time they hit.
Such technique generally involves a number of micro-steps they repeat in an order to have a good serve at each point. Bouncing the ball is often a part of their serve routine that becomes automated for such players.
Getting into the Position
This is another reason players bounce the ball before serving. Bouncing the ball helps get the right momentum and position before the next point. Many professional players follow this ritual for this reason.
A player can not just get the right position of the body during these few seconds but also utilize the time to catch the breath and adjust the grip.
Breathing and Relaxing
Finally, spending a few seconds bouncing the ball before serving gives the player a chance to breathe and relax before the next point.
Professional tennis allows a 25-second break between points and penalizes players who exceed it.
Within these 25 seconds, players need to select the balls for the next point, use the towel to dry hands, go to the baseline and get ready for the point.
The break is too short to do all these things, particularly when you had been running from side to side.
Bouncing the ball is considered a part of the serve routine and does not count in the break.
So, if the player spends time breathing while bouncing the ball, he gets it on top of the 25-second break.
When you are playing a tough game running here and there, having a few extra seconds to relax can be valuable.
If you have ever noticed, professional players generally spend more time bouncing the ball after playing a hard and long point.
They often do this to have some extra time to relax and normalize their breathing.
What’s the point about bouncing before serving?
It’s called a serving ritual. A player bounces the ball at least five times to calm and focus their energy, as well as to stay in rhythm with themselves.
The repetition helps them remember what they want to do with each stroke, which is important because they need an even tempo throughout the entire service for it to be successful.
Have you tried using any rituals like this when playing tennis or any other sport?
When you go to serve, do you have a pre-routine? Serve rituals are used by many players on the pro tour, but they also work for recreational players.
The point of serving rituals is not just about calming and focusing yourself before your first serve of the game they can be helpful in any situation where it’s important that you repeat strokes or movements as consistently as possible, like when putting at golf.
If playing tennis isn’t already part of your daily routine, try incorporating these simple steps into your next time out on the court! There’s no need to reinvent the wheel–just find what works for you and make sure to engage with it every time.
How Many Times Tennis Players Bounce the Ball?
A tennis ball needs to be bounced 1-2 times to confirm that it behaves right. Once you are experienced with the sport, you know how the ball should bounce and feel.
However, most players develop the habit of bouncing the ball multiple times before serving.
Though there is no limitation on the number of times a player can bounce the tennis ball before serving, players are generally known to do it 5-10 times in general.
Some professional players are even seen bouncing the ball more than 15 times before critical points.
While it is a part of their serving ritual, it can be frustrating at times for other players in the court as well as the spectators.
It is however important to develop routines that suit personal comfort, particularly when it comes to the serve.
I hope that this blog post has helped you understand why tennis players bounce the ball before serving. The bouncing of the ball is a way for them to settle their nerves, focus on what they are doing, and prepare themselves mentally.