The shooting gallery at the carnival usually features plastic ducks that move across a target area out in front of us. Hopefully, if we concentrate, we might be able to hit one with our BB gun.
Of course, everyone would win lots of prizes if the ducks weren't moving. If they were "dead" still, they would all be "sitting ducks".
Apply this concept to your serve. When you lift the ball up out of your hand, you are attempting to "place" it to exactly the correct spot so that your swinging racket face will meet it squarely.
For one quick moment, your tossed ball is not going up or coming down; it's "dead" still. Like a golf ball on a tee, it's easier to hit when it's motionless.
So when you serve, arrange your timing so that your hit occurs when your tossed ball is exactly frozen. If you are too early or too late, the chances for a mis-hit go up.
Gary Sherby is tennis director at Racquets and Togs Tennis Center, 115 Bradford St., just off the downtown square. His tennis tips appear Sundays.