If you wish to catch an opponent off guard and elicit a weak return, then occasionally hit your drive serve to your opponent’s forehand. An ideal serving strategy includes this “change-up” drive serve because your opponent is expecting serves to their backhand and they “mentally lean” to this side.
Proper Technique for a Deceptive Serve
To be effective and not telegraph your intentions, your serving motion to the forehand side must look the same as to the backhand side.
If you are right-handed and serving to a right-hander, drop the ball about 8-12 inches further back in your stance (towards the back wall) from your normal ball drop position for the backhand drive serve. The further back you make contact with the ball, the more it will move to the right. Your actual ball direction will also depend on your technique and height.
For a left-hander serving to a right-handed forehand, make contact further forward to hit the ball cross court to the opposite corner.
Optimal Target Area
Aim the drive serve for the corner, with the ball taking its first bounce between the service short line and the 5 ft safety line. The second bounce should land near the corner before the back wall. If struck too high on the front wall, the drive serve will come off the back wall for a “set up” for your opponent!
Reaping the Benefits
If you serve an occasional drive serve to your opponent’s forehand, then you will keep them guessing, and reward yourself with a weak return or an occasional sweet ace through the element of surprise!