What’s the most important shot in tennis?
Hopefully, you said the serve.
This is because it’s the only shot where you can choose where to place the ball without having to react to your opponent.
Think about it.
If you want to hit a forehand winner down the line during a rally and move in to the net (just in case you opponent returns your shot), but instead they hit an awesome cross court drop shot to your backhand, it changes everything.
However, with the serve, you can hit a kick or slice serve out wide and leave an open court to hit a winner if your opponent manages to get it back (this is called “Serve + 1”). Or you can hit a serve down the ‘T’ so your opponent has no angle to work with for their return.
In this article I will look at 2 different stances you can use when serving; the platform and the pinpoint stances.
I will also look at the differences between them and the pros and cons of each type.
What is the platform stance?
This is the stance employed by the likes of Federer, Djokovic and Sampras.
Basically, your legs remain roughly shoulder width apart during the whole serve which gives the whole service motion a sense of balance from start to finish.
What is the pinpoint stance?
This is where your feet remain together during the service motion before contact is made.
However, a true pinpoint stance is rarely used as most players use a hybrid version where the feet start off apart (like the platform stance) and come together during the service motion. For example, Andy Murray and Alexander Zverev.
Monfils is one example of a player who uses a true pinpoint stance. He must have amazing balance as it’s very hard to do!
Platform vs pinpoint stance: Which is more popular?
Currently, as of October 2019, 6 out of the top 10 players use the platform stance:
- 1) Roger Federer
- 2) Novak Djokovic
- 3) Dominic Thiem
- 4) Stefanos Tsitsipas
- 5) Kei Nishikori
- 6) Roberto Bautista Agut
These other 4 players use the pinpoint stance:
- 1) Alexander Zverev
- 2) Medvedev
- 3) Rafael Nadal
- 4) Karen Kachanov
However, despite the platform being the slight favourite with the top male players, overall the pinpoint stance is more common on both the ATP and WTA tour.
Pros and cons of the platform stance
The advantage of this method is that you can remain well balanced during the serve, and it’s very consistent.
Furthermore, compared to the pinpoint stance, there’s less things to concentrate on during the service motion. The pinpoint stance requires a good sense of rhythm and timing to do the shoulder turn, toss, and move your legs together.
With the platform stance, you only to focus on two of these things; the shoulder turn and the toss.
Using the platform stance makes it easier to coil your body and perform a good shoulder turn than the pinpoint stance
Finally, you can add more disguise on your serve with this type of stance as with a good shoulder turn, you can shield the ball more during the toss, making it harder for your opponents to read what kind of serve you’ll do.
The disadvantage is that it’s a bit harder to generate a lot of power.
Also, if you find it harder to load the weight on to your back leg during the backswing, due to any physical issues, the platform stance might not be right for you, as you need flexible hips.
Pros and cons of the pinpoint stance
The main reason this type of stance is the most common is because it is more explosive and powerful than the platform stance. You can launch upwards during the serve off both feet to generate more power.
The really big servers like Karlovic, Isner and Kyrigos use this serve.
The main disadvantage is that it isn’t quite as balanced as the platform stance. It’s also a little harder to move forwards into the court after you’ve served.
Also, you need a good sense of rhythm and timing to pull off the pinpoint stance. Trying to bring the legs together, toss the ball, and move into the trophy position requires a lot of practice to get the timing right.
Finally, you’re more likely to foot fault with the pinpoint stance when you bring your feet together, so be sure to watch your feet position carefully.
Which is the better stance if you like to serve and volley?
The platform stance is generally considered a slightly better choice if you want to serve and volley as you can move into the court with more momentum after you’ve served.
The platform stance tends to result in more of a horizontal action moving into the court more, where as the pinpoint stance is more of a vertical upwards motion pushing off both legs.
However, every player is different and there are examples of some serve and volley players who use pinpoint e.g. Dustin Brown
I also like to serve and volley at times and I use the pinpoint stance.
Which stance is easier to do?
Jeff Salzenstein is one of the top online tennis coaches, particularly when it comes to the serve, and he is a big proponent of the platform stance as he feels it is an easier set up to learn.
I have to say for me, when I tried the platform stance I found it put a lot more pressure on my knees. I accept it is easier though, as it’s taken me a month or so to really get used to the pinpoint stance. But it seems easier on my body and my knees and hips feel fine. I might just be out of shape though!
I’d love to know your thoughts on this. Please leave a comment below
Also, bringing my feet together during my serve, by sliding my right foot forward, is certainly wearing out the grip on my tennis shoe quicker!
The bottom line
As you can see, both stances work really well, and you need to decide what is right for you and your game.
If you want a bit more power to your serve, then give pinpoint a try.
If you like feeling balanced during the serve, and you want more consistency, then the platform stance might be for you.
But ultimately you need to focus on all areas of the serve to really make it an effective weapon.