Serving and Stroking It Right


SHAHEED ALAM – Tennis is a funny sport. The better you get at the sport, the more strokes you get introduced to, which might lead you to think that maybe you aren’t that good afterall. But don’t worry because if you’re just starting out with tennis, here are the 5 basic strokes most commonly used in tennis that you’ll need to know to have a good game with your friends, (and stroke your athletic ego)!

The Serve

Photo credits : Leong AC / SportSG
A picture of a tennis serve 📷: Leong AC/SportSG

Let’s start with the serve. The serve is arguably the most important stroke in Tennis because of a few reasons. It is the only stroke that you are completely in control of, as compared to other strokes which largely depend on how well your opponent hit his. The serve is also the first stroke that you start the point with, and therefore having a great serve can present a huge advantage in any game. One good thing about it is that you can practice it on your own! All you need is a basket of balls and a court! Remember, practice makes perfect 👌🏾


A picture of a forehand 📷: Leong AC / SportSG


A picture of a backhand 📷: Cheah Cheng Poh / SportSG

The forehand and backhand are the most basic groundstrokes that you would need to have a good rally with your friend. Having consistent, solid groundstrokes can tilt the match in your favour. Most players have a stronger forehand that they will use to dictate the points with – Nadal is a great example. However, having a good backhand is equally important because it does not allow your opponent to play to your weakness all the time. By having a good backhand, it can limit your opponent’s options and make him think twice about playing to your ‘weaker’ side.


The volley is when you are at the net and about to finish the point. This usually happens when you hit a strong attacking groundstroke and then approach the net to finish the point. When you are at the net for ‘the kill’, your opponent will have significantly shorter reaction time to respond to the oncoming ball which gives you a higher chance of winning the point – Federer is a master at this. However, do keep in mind that once you’re at the net, you will also have significantly less time to react as well so do make sure you have enough practice at the net unless you want to leave the court with a bruised eye (and ego) 🤣

Overhead / Smash

Once you’re at the net, your opponent might try to catch you off guard with a lob. This is when an overhead comes in play. Very similar to the serve, the overhead is an important shot as it shows that you have dominated the point and need to hit the overhead to finish the point. However, keep in mind that unlike groundstrokes, where the ball typically slows down after the bounce, the overhead is the only shot in tennis that the ball comes faster to you. Make sure to have enough practice on the overhead so that you won’t rue over it when you miss on an important point in the match!With that, these are the basic strokes of tennis for beginners but be prepared to learn many more variation as you get better and better. Drop shots, forehand and backhand slice, backhand smash, half-volleys are some to name a few that you will learn as you move up the scale! Till next time, continue to #hititlikeshaheed!

Shaheed Alam is a ONEathlete and Ambassador for Asics (Tennis) and Babalot. He is also supported by Grip String Sports and Pro’s Pro. The tennis prodigy had his first match at the age of 5, and progressed to the Singapore Sports School, before becoming the first male Singaporean to win the ITF Junior Singles Title.

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