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View Full Version : I may have finally figured out the second serve...


Nanshiki
07-19-2009, 04:47 PM
Well, after two+ years of strugging I think I may have figured out how to hit a second serve that consistently has enough spin to go in regardless of how fast (but not slow) I swing... and all it took was adjusting my swing path from up and out to almost straight up....and that was it. Suddenly my balls drop in more than they go out, assuming I hit it well enough, regardless of the racquet and string... or ball condition.

Go me.

(now I can just pray I can keep it up and do it consistently in a match)

some6uy008
07-19-2009, 04:59 PM
Good for you! I'm still working on mine =/

Still having good and horrible serving days.

VaBeachTennis
07-19-2009, 05:43 PM
Good for you! I'm still working on mine =/

Still having good and horrible serving days.

I'm willing to bet that it stems from the toss, balance, and or timing......................
If my toss is off, my serve sucks. If my toss is good and consistent, my serve is PRETTY DAMN GOOD.

pvaudio
07-19-2009, 05:48 PM
Now the question is, can you aim it?

destroyer
07-19-2009, 06:28 PM
Hope it continues.
Relax during the match it will happen.
Good luck.

Nanshiki
07-19-2009, 06:28 PM
I can aim all my serves... problems come from hitting the net or going long. Even at the pro level, second serves are almost always hit down the middle of the box.

naylor
07-19-2009, 07:18 PM
I'm willing to bet that it stems from the toss, balance, and or timing......................
If my toss is off, my serve sucks. If my toss is good and consistent, my serve is PRETTY DAMN GOOD.

One thing that does help is not to have too high a toss, i.e. hit the serve at the top of the toss, or within about six inches of the top of the toss (when the ball is dropping, but still very slowly), so you have a smooth rhythm and no stop-start bits in the serving motion.

An example of someone not having that is Safina. Her toss is so high that she has to stop and wait for the ball to drop, so the fluidity of the serve disappears (more of a slap than a swing). On a windy day, the position of the ball at contact goes all over the place, with results as one would expect. And even if it's not windy, as the ball drops from high up it gains speed, the timing often goes off and the tendency is to let the ball drop too far (for second serves, in particular) to ensure you can brush over and around the ball to put spin. The result is an unreliable second serve, exactly what you don't want when your first serve is misfiring.

It's a lot easier to place a ball accurately if it will only travel 50 inches from release from the outstretched non-racket hand (basically, 1.5x the length of the racket) and dropping very slowly, than something that travels 8 feet up (c.100 inches) and then drops 50 inches down (and relatively fast by then) - 3 times as much. Like sinking a 4-footer flat putt, or a 12-footer on a sloping, rolling green.

Wes_Loves_Dunlop
07-19-2009, 07:20 PM
good for you. my second serve is a topspin-slice serve with mainly heavy topspin and some slice to move it around a bit. it goes in really consistently and i could get probbaly 90% of them in

Nanshiki
07-19-2009, 07:28 PM
The most important part of a second serve is being able to generate enough topspin to force the majority of your serves into the service box with enough margin of height and depth... your left/right accuracy only has to be to be about six feet from the middle of the box.

coyfish
07-19-2009, 08:28 PM
Grip helped me a bunch. I was always taught to serve using continental. For my 1st serve its fine but for the 2nd I could never generate kick. I was getting too much sidespin. I changed me grip to basically an eastern backhand and now my 2nd serve is much better. Rarely miss, can place it anywhere, good kick.

some6uy008
07-19-2009, 08:50 PM
I'm willing to bet that it stems from the toss, balance, and or timing......................
If my toss is off, my serve sucks. If my toss is good and consistent, my serve is PRETTY DAMN GOOD.

For me, it's about 75% the toss, and 25% the others. Some days I can't seem to toss the ball where I want it even if my life depended on it.

Nellie
07-20-2009, 10:12 AM
To me, the mark of the good second serve is that the harder you hit it (not faster, but harder) the more it goes in. This is because you are brushing on the ball so much, that the spin puts so much force to dip into the service box that you can hit the serve in reliably

LeeD
07-20-2009, 10:18 AM
Second serves at 4.5 + level....
In 48 out of 50.
Out wide backhand 60% of the time.
Wide forehand 20%.
Into the body 15%.
Vary the speed and spin a little.
Bounce it to the opponent's weakness of return..sometimes high, sometimes low, sometimes wide, sometimes into the body....always looking for the softest and least aggressive return.

LuckyR
07-21-2009, 10:52 AM
Second serves at 4.5 + level....
In 48 out of 50.
Out wide backhand 60% of the time.
Wide forehand 20%.
Into the body 15%.
Vary the speed and spin a little.
Bounce it to the opponent's weakness of return..sometimes high, sometimes low, sometimes wide, sometimes into the body....always looking for the softest and least aggressive return.


IMO that it a bit too high of a percentage for 4.5 singles (I would agree for doubles). Around here, percentages that high (96%) will lose you more points on being teed off on than say a 85-90% second serve.

pvaudio
07-21-2009, 10:59 AM
No 4.5 singles player has a 90+ 2nd serve percentage that is an offensive second serve like a 5.0+ player would have. Getting 48/50 second serves in is easy as breathing. Getting 48/50 second serves at the 4.5 level that is an aggressive, well placed and offensive serve is not.

Nanshiki
07-21-2009, 11:11 AM
That wouldn't be 90%... that would be 96%, which is beyond the level of the average pro's second serve reliability.

Two of the best second servers on the planet, Roddick and Federer during the Wimby final both only got ~94% of their second serves in, and together (averaged) they won 52% of those second serve points...

pvaudio
07-21-2009, 11:37 AM
That's why I said 90+ :D

prattle128
07-21-2009, 11:42 AM
Good for you! I'm still working on mine =/

Still having good and horrible serving days.

story of my life

Mick
07-21-2009, 11:51 AM
the problem with the second serves is the good players will just eat them up. against them players, your second serves have to be nearly the same as your first serves.

LeeD
07-22-2009, 07:51 AM
I found very few 5.5 + players can "eat up" a second serve that is moved around, placed generally head high to the backhand, and doesn't double fault.
All you need is a real second serve. Not a second serve practiced for 2 months or 2 years. A 4.5 is usually a player who's been playing seriously for over 4 years....plenty of time to develop a real second serve.
The pros double fault because they're serving against 7.0 players, and are trying to add some extra spice.
We don't get to play 7.0 players very often, so a high bouncing serve to the backhand, coupled with some slices and kicks into the body, with an occasional out wide to the forehand (both the latter we back up by positioning defensively to counter a possible strong return) should be effective and doable over 90 odd percent of the time.
Don't serve into the wheelhouse unless you plan on returning a big strong shot, but occasionally DO IT to keep the returner honest.

LuckyR
07-22-2009, 10:25 AM
I found very few 5.5 + players can "eat up" a second serve that is moved around, placed generally head high to the backhand, and doesn't double fault.
All you need is a real second serve. Not a second serve practiced for 2 months or 2 years. A 4.5 is usually a player who's been playing seriously for over 4 years....plenty of time to develop a real second serve.
The pros double fault because they're serving against 7.0 players, and are trying to add some extra spice.
We don't get to play 7.0 players very often, so a high bouncing serve to the backhand, coupled with some slices and kicks into the body, with an occasional out wide to the forehand (both the latter we back up by positioning defensively to counter a possible strong return) should be effective and doable over 90 odd percent of the time.
Don't serve into the wheelhouse unless you plan on returning a big strong shot, but occasionally DO IT to keep the returner honest.


Huh? This issue is the same regardless of level. If you are a Pro you are serving to Pros, if a club player, you are serving to a club player with club player abilities. The point is if you are second serving in 96% of the time, you are taking too much off the the serve and your similarly skilled opponent will take advantage.

Nanshiki's point is well taken. If the best second servers on the planet are only winning 52% of their second serve points, it illustrates that they are losing their advantage on the shot.