View Full Version : 1st or 2nd serve?

05-05-2007, 04:29 AM
A friend taking lessons from a pro was given this advice. How sound is it? Lets say his first serve percentage is approximately 70% and his second serve is shaky, so lets say its about 65%. In a match, he was told that he should use his first serve as his second serve and just keep practicing his second serve during practice only until it becomes more reliable.

I argued no. As long as its not the finals of some god important tournament you've entered, yes, your second serve may be weak and not even as reliable as your first serve but a match is a good place as any to practice the second serve. Especially, if the difference between 1st and 2nd is negligible. He argued that I should play the higher percentage shot. If thats the case, one might as well dink in the second serve. Lets assume this is for a 3.5 rated player so that I dont hear any comments like one should have a higher second serve percentage for a player thats rated any higher than a 3.5. Also, I know this isnt practical in real play but please dont take into consideration about what your opp. feels more comforatable returing.

Mr. Blond
05-05-2007, 05:00 AM
I always argue to practice second serves only. The reason for this logic however is because the hardest point to win in a match for alot of people is matchpoint. Nerves become a huge factor in important points. That is why we see soo many matchpoints go badly for the server. Having a second serve that is near 100 percent gives much more confidence at the line, and can really intimidate the recieving player.

The coach is just recomending playing safe in terms of percentages, and I agree with him. You win in tennis by reducing errors, not by always smoking winners. It is nice to be able to hit winners, but at the end of the day, the player with the least amount of errors wins, and that is the idea here.

The reason the Opp feels more comfortable returning is because there is no confidence in the second serve. I know it sounds ***** backwards, but the second serve is truley more important in terms of reducing lost points due to faults. Its the foundation of safe, error free tennis.

Trust the coach and practice your second serve, the only thing you have to loose is a lack of confidence on serve.

05-05-2007, 05:50 AM
Yeah, I suggest only use 2nd serves. If you can win a match or lose a match with a close score with just a 2nd serve, then once you throw a 1st serve in there you won't have a problem.

Just make sure while during that match you don't double fault, otherwise there is no point.

05-05-2007, 06:11 AM
You didn't say what your second serve was? It sounds like a pattycake serve. If this is the case, get rid of it as soon as possible.

05-05-2007, 06:13 AM
I guess I disagree. After all, what is the definition of a second serve? From a practical standpoint it is a very consistent serve. Well for that guy (for whatever reason) it happens to be a flat serve with pace.

The time to be playing around ith serves of low consistency is the first serve.

However, all of this is moot. Physics is still physics, so unless there is a major inability to perform spin serves for some unknown reason, this 70 vs 65% thing may be in his head.

05-05-2007, 06:59 AM
Trust the coach and practice your second serve, the only thing you have to loose is a lack of confidence on serve.

We are on the same page. I completely agree with you. Second serves are important and should be played and practiced during a match.
I personally have a top spin slice serve as my second serve which is pretty reliable at around 80%, so of course I use it. The debate is if the second serve is just a tad bit unreliable as the first serve if it should be used.

05-05-2007, 07:09 AM
You didn't say what your second serve was? It sounds like a pattycake serve. If this is the case, get rid of it as soon as possible.

The second serve in his case is a pretty decent top spin serve when he gets it into play. The dink serve bit was my way of explaining to him that if the serve percentage is whats always important then he should dink it in each and every time he finds himself at a second serve. Im not saying that playing percentage tennis is not the most important thing, rather the debate is the practicality of using his second serve for his second serve during a match instead of always going with a slightly more reliable serve. The gist of all of this is that Im saying to him to use his second serve during a match instead of waiting for it to become a higher percentage play solely during non match practices.

05-06-2007, 02:03 AM
i would say serve a 1st serve/ riskier serve once or twice per game then do reliable serves the rest of the way. that way, the pace and spin is mixed up and you get a good rhythm going. i would even save the hard flat 1 on important points.

05-06-2007, 06:08 AM
Well, some things don't make sense. He has a topspin second serve, yet it's lower % than his 1st serve?! I'd say practice his second more. Use it more in matches too, and pull out the flat occasionally.