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View Full Version : What exactly are you thinking during a second serve?


Cindysphinx
05-06-2007, 05:35 PM
I am getting really frustrated that the second serves I hit in matches are nothing like the ones I do in practice. This doesn't happen with first serves; just second serves.

I feel like I don't have anything in particular in mind for the second serve. Just kind of a blank buzzing, and a little voice whispering, "Go on, just push it in." In contrast, I always have something I'm thinking for a first serve.

So what do you tend to focus on during a second serve? Is it different from what you think to yourself for a first serve? Maybe someone has something that will help me. . . .

Cindy -- who double-faulted twice yesterday at the worst possible times, and the second serves that did make it in were kinda lame

bobo4eva
05-06-2007, 09:06 PM
i dont think bout anything
i just rememeber to slice my ball more
;\
or i go for a first serve again

lethalfang
05-06-2007, 11:12 PM
I remind myself: don't get tentative. Brush up more, but swing away and swing loose. Just trust my topspin.

Oxford
05-06-2007, 11:35 PM
don't think---thinking hurts the team ;)

welcome2petrkordaland
05-06-2007, 11:45 PM
this is like the pot calling the kettle black, since i've been known to hit a few doubles in my day. but i feel like i've got the solution. like someone just said, stay loose and relaxed, brush up more hitting over the ball, making sure to fully swing; you certainly don't want to abbreviate the service motion at all on 2nd serves. and most importantly, use your wrist snap to put that extra top on the ball giving you the margin for error that you need.

go out and practice hitting serves and at some point hit only 2nds (at a righthanders's bh side mainly)

Duzza
05-06-2007, 11:53 PM
I "think" my 2nd serve is better than my 1st, so not much :D

andreh
05-07-2007, 03:23 AM
I think strategy. I think about placement and what type of spin I want and how I will follow up the serve. Same as on the first serve. Thinking "just get it in" is what brings double faults in my experience.

Swissv2
05-07-2007, 03:52 AM
Your second serve is always a challenge because it is your "last chance" to get it right, yes? If this is the general thought, then you are not alone. Most people become timid about the second serve, especially in a match.

Here are three tips that help a lot:

In practice matches (or practice sets), play only one serve if you are currently "winning". If you patty-cake it, then your partner should attack it. If you serve well, then you have put the ball into play and hopefully your partner is in the defensive mode.
In official matches, crank it up just a notch and rely on your kick serve to keep the ball in. Like the previous poster suggested, also think of placement and spin. It is an exercise to keep improving your second serve in matches so you get to a point where the second serve can be come just as much a weapon as your first.
Don't be fussy with the second serve! Many have the same notion: "this second serve is gonna kill me, honestly" and haven't gotten past the "the second serve ball is an evil little monster" phase. That is ME ME ME thinking, not what can you do so your opponents hate you type of thinking.

Matt_MS
05-07-2007, 04:06 AM
If you're hitting a kick second serve, your focus should be hitting up on the ball to generate topspin, which will, in result, pull the ball over the net and give it a kick, which gives you time to get settled after you serve.

If you don't have a kick serve, you just need to be thinking get it in, because I've never seen a server win a point off of a double fault.

ps60
05-07-2007, 05:13 AM
stare at the corner T... and swing the hell up and brush it as fast as possible

Andres
05-07-2007, 06:03 AM
At this point, I don't think about the mechanics and the stroke production anymore, but I'm thinking more about where to place it, and trying to see where the other guys is standing, and what spin to give the ball (if I should hit flatter, with more sidespin, a kick, a twist)

Tennismastery
05-07-2007, 06:14 AM
If you have the serve mechanics correct, (meaning you hit a spin serve with significant racquet head speed), then you only "think" of where you want the serve to go. I would suggest you only PICTURE where you want the ball to go, as if you can imagine a yellow-dotted line of the path of the ball on the serve would take to pass the net and land where you think of it going.

If you think about anything else, you are not thinking of the most important part of what will increase the probability of you getting your serve in.

However, if you are a paddy-caker second serve player, you are still going to do better if you doe what I mentioned above.

If you are thinking about the ramifications of a double fault, or, are thinking you don't want to double fault...or simply hoping the serve goes in, you are not preparing your mind to connect with your body in terms of executing the serve in the direction and height necessary to get the serve in.

skiracer55
05-07-2007, 07:45 AM
I think strategy. I think about placement and what type of spin I want and how I will follow up the serve. Same as on the first serve. Thinking "just get it in" is what brings double faults in my experience.


...any destination is fine if you don't have a map...

thursdayisgod
05-07-2007, 05:43 PM
I think confidence has a lot to do with avoiding double faults.

shojun25
05-07-2007, 06:02 PM
i usually think about where i should place the ball. although it doesn't work with the ball placement, it helps me get my 2nd serve in ;)

tenniskid3119
05-07-2007, 06:04 PM
I think confidence has a lot to do with avoiding double faults.

excellent.

just dont think much of anything when your hitting it. just think how your gonna win the next point.

fuzz nation
05-07-2007, 06:05 PM
I like to say positive things to myself like "go get it" or if I really hose a first serve, something like "heads up now, you can do it". It's a little cheezy, but it keeps the doubts from creeping in to my kitchen. Along the lines of what Dave was saying, if you are thinking "don't double fault", you're doomed because you're thinking about double faulting.

Find a positive mental cue to focus on so that you know your second serve is going in before you even toss the ball. Hitting a bucket of serves once or twice a week doesn't hurt either - when it's grooved, you know it's going to land just like the bunches that you've already hit.

oldhacker
05-08-2007, 03:05 AM
I think a lot of my df's arise because I make the same mistake on my second serve as I did on my first. My second serve faults usually arise when I have hit my first serve in the net and I go and do the same with the second and the problem is usally that I have tossed the ball too far out in front. So one process I go through is to think about what I did wrong on my first serve and concentrate on not repeating it on my second.

I also find that when practicing serves on my own it is a good idea to spend part of the session serving first and second serves as you would in a match - so if you hit a first serve in you hit another first serve next but if the ifrst is a fault you hit a second from the same side.

Overall I think the ball toss is the one thing which causes most club players a problem in matches. My coach has got me working on hitting all serves off the same toss (out in front) rather than out in front for a first and more overhead for a second kicker. And it works for me as hvaing just one toss makes me more consistant and I can still get enough topspin on a second serve with a toss out in front.

raiden031
05-08-2007, 03:36 AM
I never had any confidence during the second serve until I developed a reliable kick serve, which is within the last 2-3 months.

Cindysphinx
05-08-2007, 04:06 AM
No kick serve here; just a slice.

OK, I practice tonight, so I'll try to implement some of this. Thanks!!!

Jonnyf
05-08-2007, 04:18 AM
The only thing i think is, "Right, let's give them something difficult.!" then kick it in with some pace

Serve em Up
05-08-2007, 05:13 AM
If you have the serve mechanics correct, (meaning you hit a spin serve with significant racquet head speed), then you
If you are thinking about the ramifications of a double fault, or, are thinking you don't want to double fault...or simply hoping the serve goes in, you are not preparing your mind to connect with your body in terms of executing the serve in the direction and height necessary to get the serve in.


Yep, That's me. I serve way better at practice and get all yippy and stiff when it comes to match play. I've got to get over this!! Easier said than done.

max
05-08-2007, 06:00 AM
I'm not big on coaching myself to get the ball over; this just increases my stress. Instead I focus on really brushing the ball with the strings, to get that spin I need to keep the ball in. I suppose I focus on getting that spin, as well as just swinging freely. The combination of spin and unrestricted swing is a good one for me.

GS Dubs
05-08-2007, 06:38 AM
Lot of good posts about the confidence. It really starts there. I try to tell my players that they need to thinking of serving like "hitting the gas" in a car. You can floor it if you want on the 1st serve, and ease off of the accelerator on the 2nd serve. The motion is the same, just slowed down some. Often times my guys who do not have a good slice 2nd serve will not follow through when they try to push it over. The motion has to be the same.

Cindysphinx
05-08-2007, 05:45 PM
I tried your suggestion on focusing on placement. That really helped a lot! I had one double tonight (when I forgot to think about placement). But I was able to get the second serves in *and* where I wanted. A bit more depth would be nice, but already it's a big improvement.

Many thanks!

Now, if you can fix my volleys. They've started to stink . . . . :(

N4n45h1
05-08-2007, 06:10 PM
i normally think of where i should place my kick serve and how itll effect them

BounceHitBounceHit
05-08-2007, 06:55 PM
A simple question: do you know how to hit a topspin/kick serve?

If not, get some lessons.

If you do, then don't think, visualize. ;)

CC

VGP
05-08-2007, 08:01 PM
I think....."Lots of PSHHHHH!"

You know, like the sound you want when you put topspin on the ball.......

Cindysphinx
05-09-2007, 05:12 AM
A simple question: do you know how to hit a topspin/kick serve?

If not, get some lessons.

If you do, then don't think, visualize. ;)

CC

I'm working on a topspin serve, but it's not ready for prime time. I pull it out in practice matches when I am up 40-love.

My pro is not enthusiastic about teaching me a topspin serve. He thinks a good flat and a good slice serve are all I need for now, and I should perfect those before we learn something new.

What's the fun of that, I ask you? :)

yemenmocha
05-09-2007, 07:03 AM
There's a little catch 22 I noticed here.

If you have confidence, then you don't double fault so much. But if you double fault often then you don't have confidence, so you end up double faulting more.

Like other pointed out maybe you need a nice kick serve. I rarely miss mine because it has such a nice arc that clears the net safely and it is a very reliable serve. Whether or not it occasionally lands short (but still in) is another issue for me, but at least it's not a double faulting worry.

Go learn a kick serve!

GuyClinch
05-09-2007, 07:32 AM
Kick Serves are hard. Can't you just add some top spin to your slice? Cause I sure can't hit a kicker..

Pete

Tennismastery
05-09-2007, 09:55 AM
I think....."Lots of PSHHHHH!"

You know, like the sound you want when you put topspin on the ball.......

I like this point...we call it Wooosh at my academy. In fact, we even have a saying, "I got my WOOOSH at the SGTA."

Get woosh, and you get spin. (Or vice versa!)

onehandbh
05-09-2007, 10:10 AM
I focus on three main things:
1) decide on placement & type of spin
2) breathe & stay relaxed
3) hit up

Trinity TC
05-09-2007, 11:09 AM
Not really thinking..more like visualizing the path of the ball and imagining the sound I want it make off the racquet like Tennismastery, Craig and VGP mentioned. If I'm struggling, I'm thinking...get your damn first serve in next time!

just out
05-09-2007, 12:47 PM
Don't think about mechanics, pick your spot in the box and aim for it. IMO this is the only way you will begin to hit your target. Don't just think please get it in, always have a spot and with practice and hitting that spot more and more often you will build a better more reliable second serve. The time to think about mechanics is during practice but if you don't care about how well you serve during a match you can do it then :-)

BounceHitBounceHit
05-09-2007, 04:37 PM
I'm working on a topspin serve, but it's not ready for prime time. I pull it out in practice matches when I am up 40-love.

My pro is not enthusiastic about teaching me a topspin serve. He thinks a good flat and a good slice serve are all I need for now, and I should perfect those before we learn something new.

What's the fun of that, I ask you? :)

I respectfully disagree with your pro! ;)

The topspin or 'kick' serve is the SAFEST of all serves. It allows you to hit a powerful, difficult to handle serve with LOTS of margin for error.

There are lots of instructional sites on the web. Check them out!! ;)

Best,

CC

drakulie
05-09-2007, 05:07 PM
^^^ I'm in agreement with CC. Although you should try and master the flat and slice, you should also be working on the Topspin. As CC said, it is the safest of all serves to hit. And, if you have a good one, you could use it exclusivley as a first and second serve.

Good luck!

103xStateChamp
05-09-2007, 05:13 PM
Dont Double and hit the back fence

Cindysphinx
05-10-2007, 02:48 AM
^^^ I'm in agreement with CC. Although you should try and master the flat and slice, you should also be working on the Topspin. As CC said, it is the safest of all serves to hit. And, if you have a good one, you could use it exclusivley as a first and second serve.

Good luck!

Did I mention that I'm a middle-aged Chick? Sounds mighty amibitious . . .

SlapShot
05-10-2007, 05:23 AM
The only thing that I am thinking on a second serve is "look at the back of the ball - watch it slow down - swing!". I usually have a high enough margin for error with my second serve that I can try and place it a little bit and start the point even.

mucat
05-10-2007, 07:47 AM
Did I mention that I'm a middle-aged Chick? Sounds mighty amibitious . . .

I am a middle-aged nerd, if I can do it, you do!! 8-)

Kaptain Karl
05-10-2007, 01:05 PM
I think strategy. I think about placement and what type of spin I want and how I will follow up the serve. Same as on the first serve. Thinking "just get it in" is what brings double faults in my experience.BINGO!


<snip>

In practice matches (or practice sets), play only one serve if you are currently "winning". If you patty-cake it, then your partner should attack it. If you serve well, then you have put the ball into play and hopefully your partner is in the defensive mode.

<snip>This is what I was thinking when reading your OP.


If you have the serve mechanics correct, (meaning you hit a spin serve with significant racquet head speed), then you only "think" of where you want the serve to go. I would suggest you only PICTURE where you want the ball to go, as if you can imagine a yellow-dotted line of the path of the ball on the serve would take to pass the net and land where you think of it going.

If you think about anything else, you are not thinking of the most important part of what will increase the probability of you getting your serve in.

However, if you are a paddy-caker second serve player, you are still going to do better if you doe what I mentioned above. Good stuff!

I like this point...we call it Wooosh at my academy. In fact, we even have a saying, "I got my WOOOSH at the SGTA."

Get woosh, and you get spin. (Or vice versa!)I like that!


My pro is not enthusiastic about teaching me a topspin serve. He thinks a good flat and a good slice serve are all I need for now, and I should perfect those before we learn something new.With due respect for the "TT Dissenters" ... don't listen to them. If you have confidence your Teaching Pro has your best interests at heart ... if he's been helping you advance to-date ... if you trust him ... listen to HIM; not some faceless "ones and zeroes" on an InterNet Forum.

I'd lean towards trusting that your TP knows what he's teaching you. (And I've always been of the opinion a good Slice serve should be a player's Number One Serve of choice.)

[I *still* have nightmares about a guy who wiped several of us off the court in Jackson, Mississippi (over 30 years ago!). We all noticed him in the Round 1 match ... that "all he had" was a Slice serve ... and he won the tourney with one serve.]

- KK

Bagumbawalla
05-10-2007, 04:29 PM
My wife is always thinking of something. It's like a rainy-season stream of consciousness, a cascade of ideas, and it never ends. She hates to ever have an "empty" moment, an empty mind.

I am the complete opposite. Most of the time my mind is just blank, kind of in hibernation.

That's the way it is for both my first AND second serves. I am thinking of nothing, really, not even the serve, especially. Blank slate.

And, I believe, that's the way it should be. When you practice enough, it becomes automatic.

When a Japanese caligrapher or even a samuri, pauses to analyze his stroke, it is already too late. The paper becomes soggy and ruined, the sword hesitates and misses its mark.

In fact, in all (tennis) strokes, thinking too mush during the stroke is inefectual. Preparation and then execution without much thinking is the way to go.

If you are thinking too much, you have not trained properly. You lack confidence.

Good luck,

B

LarougeNY
05-10-2007, 04:37 PM
On a second serve (now that I started hitting them harder and with more spin) I'm ususally thinking "Oh crap, don't miss" or "You fool, you're gonna mess it up". Maybe that explains why I've stopped winning singles matches lately...:sad:

NoBadMojo
05-10-2007, 06:27 PM
I'm working on a topspin serve, but it's not ready for prime time. I pull it out in practice matches when I am up 40-love.

My pro is not enthusiastic about teaching me a topspin serve. He thinks a good flat and a good slice serve are all I need for now, and I should perfect those before we learn something new.

What's the fun of that, I ask you? :)

I would listen first to what your teaching pro has told you <assuming you feel you have chosen a good one>. The TW posters havent seen you hit and he/she has. at your level <i think you are around a 3.0?>, you've got bigger fish to fry than trying to learn to hit a kicker which is an advanced serve which requires lots of racquetheadspeed which 3.0's really cant effectively develop because they dont have the technique.

I would work on your basic serve motion for consistency and ball speed and placing it where you want both directing it <usually to the backhand> and getting it to land deep in the box. Learning the slice serve is a logical progression as it is typically far easier to learn than a kicker

fatboysmiles
05-10-2007, 07:44 PM
doing two first serves isn't exactly bad, especially if you're only playing one set with your opponent. I often do it to surprise my opponents and control the flow of the game.

thejackal
05-10-2007, 09:27 PM
on second serves i just think to put the ball deep on the backhand side. it's a simple mindset that gives me the best results.

odessa
05-11-2007, 12:39 AM
My wife is always thinking of something. It's like a rainy-season stream of consciousness, a cascade of ideas, and it never ends. She hates to ever have an "empty" moment, an empty mind.

I am the complete opposite. Most of the time my mind is just blank, kind of in hibernation.

That's the way it is for both my first AND second serves. I am thinking of nothing, really, not even the serve, especially. Blank slate.

And, I believe, that's the way it should be. When you practice enough, it becomes automatic.

When a Japanese caligrapher or even a samuri, pauses to analyze his stroke, it is already too late. The paper becomes soggy and ruined, the sword hesitates and misses its mark.

In fact, in all (tennis) strokes, thinking too mush during the stroke is inefectual. Preparation and then execution without much thinking is the way to go.

If you are thinking too much, you have not trained properly. You lack confidence.

Good luck,

B

There is a big different between visual thinking and verbal thinking. To imagine the flightpath of the ball (aiming with the mind) is a very powerful help. Verbal thinking like saying the words in your head "brush up on the ball", "generate rackethead speed" is really distracting your own brain and takes away valuable capacity.
The beauty of it is that if you imagine the flightpath you shut up your inner voice.
Does the concept of aiming with the mind come from martial arts and archery ?

skiracer55
05-11-2007, 09:38 AM
...I just thought of a good one, and it works on the first serve, too. My coach told me to make a little videotape in my head of what my toss, serve motion, and the resulting serve are going to look like...you can even add in the surprised look on your opponent's face when you give him/her another navel...and then just replay the video while you're serving...works like a charm...

imsoaznwashed
05-11-2007, 11:12 AM
kick kick kick kick kick kick

SLICE O_O

obow
05-11-2007, 03:34 PM
I normally keep the two deliveries at roughly the same power & pace but vary the spin slightly, and on both serves I go for the placement, either wider or the "T" (I suppose I am a risk taker, and have my fair share of double faults). Basically I reduce the power (say only 60% to 70% of the full force. I have the tennis elbow and donít want to aggravate it) so I am comfortable with placing the ball, and occasionally I hit the 2nd serve with much more power (close to 80% of the power) just to surprise the opponent. I am only 5í5 with a pair of trainers and sockets on, and I get about equal numbers of aces from the 1st and 2nd serves (against 3.5 or 4.0 players).

Bagumbawalla
05-12-2007, 02:55 PM
Odessa,

Concerning mental images.

In "Scientific American" a few months ago, there was an an artical about how certain people, who are not gifted, are able to make complex (and correct) decisions almost instantly. For example, a chess master playing an exibition against twenty opponents, simultaneously.

The chess master does not look at each chess board and analyze each possible move and strategy for each separate player. What he (or she) does is immediately see the relative positions of the pieces, arrangements he/she has seen thousands of times and for which there are certain strong replies.

The same thing is true in tennis. We don't have to reinvent the wheel for every stroke. Instantly, we are aware of the relationship of the ball, ourselves, the net, the opponent, and instantly (without thinking) we hit the most effective shot.

At a certain level, it is valuable to visualize the stroke-path and flight path of the ball, but when you are really playing "in the moment" it is like they say. You are playing "out of your head".

Perhaps, this is a bit off topic, but the question was what do YOU think during a second serve, not what Cindy should think during a second serve.

My advice for the unspoken question would be-- get a basket of balls. Practice the kick (or whatever) serve over and over, staying loose and looking/feeling for the best toss and service mechanics. Do this over and over and over- until it just feel natural and to the point where you never miss and can place it to the forehand, backhand or at the body.

Of course it is boring and it takes time. That's the price for iprovement.