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SpinItIn
05-26-2006, 07:04 PM
I'm a 42 year old beginner & would appreciate thoughts on 1st/2nd serve strategy for lower level players.

I've been playing for about 6 months - mostly group lessons and 2.5/3.0 level drills. Now with better weather & a reliable hitting partner, I'm getting in 1 singles session and a couple of solo practices (1 hr off wall or 200-300 serves) per week. I'm in pretty good shape & fairly athletic, and to this point have been able to at least grasp (if not consistently execute) most of what the local club's pros have been teaching. Of course most days it feels like I'm about 30,000 practice swings from having anything reliable or grooved, but I see that as a welcome challenge.

A lot of what I read (books, magazines, and this forum) proclaims the importance of a reliable 2nd serve, presumably something with topspin or topspin/slice. This all seems to make good sense, so I recently took a couple of weeks off of drills & worked almost exclusively on a topspin/slice serve. I planned to use this for both 1st & 2nd serves in matches for as long it takes to become 90% reliable. All in all I was about as successful as I had hoped to be (I actually thought I had made pretty good progress for someone at my low level), so I was looking forward to the standard 15 minutes of serving practice near the end of the next drill session I attended. To my surprise, on seeing me try to spin in most of my serves one of the pros asked (jokingly - he's really a good guy) when I had started serving like a girl! He recommended that I forget about the topspin serve and instead just take some pace off of my flat serve for 2nds.

So what's the 'right' answer for a beginner like me? Flat/hard 1st serve (low percentage, at least at this point), flat/less pace 2nd (pretty reliable if I swing fairly slow & concentrate on pronating, like I see the pros do when feeding students for practicing returns)? Spin in both 1st & 2nd until I'm consistent enough to throw in an occasional hard/flat 1st? Flat 1st & spin 2nd, like the more advanced players I see? (seems like too many things to worry about for a beginner) I'm confused enough to listen to any good argument at this point.

TIA for any advice, and thanks in general to all of those who regularly post on this forum. There are a lot of us beginners out here who really appreciate the input.

Roddick The Beast
05-26-2006, 07:20 PM
The reason why the PRO said that you served like a girl was not because of the lack of pace! It was because you swing it sooo slow (you even said it yourself!)! On 2nd serves (spin serves), you're SUPPOSE to swing FASTER than you would for a 1st serve. That's why you looked "girly"!

If that guy told you to serve in a soft/slow (whatever!) flat-1st serve as a 2nd serve, than he IS A MORAN! You NEED spin for reliability.

If you make those cjanges that I told you, and he continues to inists that you use a slow 1st serve for your 2nds, tell him to "GET LOST", and send him my reguards letting him know that I told you to say that!" :mrgreen:

Kabob190
05-26-2006, 07:28 PM
I'm going to agree with the beast in that your going to need spin for reliability. My serves are very inconsistent but have plenty of pace, i use spin on both first and second until my spin serve is near 100%. Also its harder to take on a spin serve, at least with the people i play. But i didnt know that you should swing harder on your second serve? Anyways my advice is work on good form, ignore what other people say because if you can use an effective spin serve you get to bag on him for getting aced on a "girl" serve.

Roddick The Beast
05-26-2006, 07:33 PM
I'm going to agree with the beast in that your going to need spin for reliability. My serves are very inconsistent but have plenty of pace, i use spin on both first and second until my spin serve is near 100%. Also its harder to take on a spin serve, at least with the people i play. But i didnt know that you should swing harder on your second serve? Anyways my advice is work on good form, ignore what other people say because if you can use an effective spin serve you get to bag on him for getting aced on a "girl" serve.Yeah, for 2nd serves, you SHOULD swing at least as fast (preferably faster) as the first serve. SInce you are cutting the ball, you shouldn't get that much pace as a flat serve though. So swinging faster on second serves should NOT result in more pace, because if done right, all of that swing speed should go into the spin rather than the pace. I am VERY sure about this. They taught this idea at Bollettiere.

SpinItIn
05-26-2006, 07:39 PM
Thanks for the quick reply. I probably wasn't clear in my (wordy) original post - I understand & do use a faster (as opposed to harder) swing on spin serves. I only slow down when trying to take pace off my flat serve. Trying to serve flat but slower was quite frustrating (everything was landing deep) until a couple of days ago, when I found that I can swing slower up until the point pronation starts then really speed up with the wrist. I can put most of a hopper full of balls in that way, but I'm afraid I'll get beheaded against even a solid 3.0 player :eek:

goober
05-26-2006, 08:09 PM
I can't believe your "pro" told you to forget about the topsin serve and serve a slower first serve. That might work on the 2.5-3.0 level but you are not going very far with that type set up.

I would forget about the hard flat first serve, especially on your level. Work on placement and spin. That will serve you better in the long run. When you are a beginner it is hard to see the big picture. Sure you can dink your second serves in and you won't double fault. You may win some matches at the 3.0 level but if you ever plan on moving up you that serve will hold you back.

Roddick The Beast
05-26-2006, 08:12 PM
I can't believe your "pro" told you to forget about the topsin serve and serve a slower first serve. That might work on the 2.5-3.0 level but you are not going very far with that type set up.

I would forget about the hard flat first serve, especially on your level. Work on placement and spin. That will serve you better in the long run. When you are a beginner it is hard to see the big picture. Sure you can dink your second serves in and you won't double fault. You may win some matches at the 3.0 level but if you ever plan on moving up you that serve will hold you back.That's what I was saying. His "PRO" is a moran! :mrgreen: I think that so-called "pro" needs lessons from a 2.0 junior girl. He might learn a thing or two!

SpinitIn, if I were you, I would not take any lessons from that guy. I bet he got his certificate online at some site where they sell phony minister certicates and fake IDs! :mrgreen: He says that you hit like a girl? . . . well tell him that he "thinks" like a nincompoop!

35ft6
05-26-2006, 08:37 PM
Priority number 1, don't double fault. Yeah, seems like a no-brainer but at your level I would spin both serves in however you can. Work on developing a nice consistent motion. Also, at your level, serving to their backhand 90% of the time probably wouldn't be a bad idea.

Roddick The Beast
05-26-2006, 08:44 PM
Priority number 1, don't double fault. Yeah, seems like a no-brainer but at your level I would spin both serves in however you can. Work on developing a nice consistent motion. Also, at your level, serving to their backhand 90% of the time probably wouldn't be a bad idea.<<In 3-2-1 . . . >>>: I had "ALREADY" mentioned about the "spin serves"! Of course you can't see that, asswipe! :mrgreen: <<end of test #8>>

Roddick The Beast
05-26-2006, 08:46 PM
Will someone please tell 35ft6 that I am here? Don't tell him that I wrote anything directed towards him, but just type a post that mentions me being here, like: "Roddick The Beast has a point there." That should make him aware that I posted in here. Thanks. :)

shindemac
05-28-2006, 09:00 PM
To tell you the truth, it's up to you Spinitin. We don't know your abilities, your opponent, and your match situation. The most general answer I can provide is to maximize your serve to get the most points.

Let me explain. At your level, you may be comfortable doing a hard flat serve, and a dink second serve. Why a slow second serve? Because it may be more important to get the ball into play, and your opponent is not good enough to attack it. Now, you said you have a spin second serve. This is pretty rare at your level, so you may want to use that instead if it's better than your dink serve. At times during a match when you're up 40-0 or 40-15, you may want to throw in a hard flat second serve. You may doublefault, but you have a few chances to get it in.

Back to the first serve. If you have a very low % of getting it in, then you may want to hit it at 80-90% of full power. If the returner is unfazed by your power, you may opt to slow it down to get your % up. If your second serve becomes good enough, you may want to use that as your first. As you move up a level, you may find your second serve no longer cuts it as a first serve, so you have to work on your flat serve again.

These are only examples to help you make the right choices. As you can see, the situation changes depending on you, your opponent, and the match. The only other advice I can give you, is to keep working on your spin serves.