Any 4.5+ players not using flat hard 1st serve?

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by Robert Jones, Apr 28, 2004.

  1. Robert Jones

    Robert Jones Rookie

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    Just wondering if any of the better players use two spin servers vs high heat and spin second.

    I mean realatively flat, most fast serves do have some spin on them.

    Most everyone I play uses heat on the first serve.

    I have a bad shoulder so I stopped my flat serve and worked on a shoulder friendly slice first serve.

    I found people screw up more hitting my slice vs my hard flat. Unless the flat is on the line it can be blocked back often. It seems easier to get the slice in thus higher percentage and I get just as many free points off it. This might only work in 4.0 land and not anything much higher dunno.
     
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  2. Tomek

    Tomek Rookie

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    Pete Sampras, but he retired :wink:
     
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  3. andreh

    andreh Professional

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    I kick almost all serves, but then again, I play S&V. Sometimes I throw in a flatter serv or a slice but the kicker is main serve, 1st and 2nd ball.
     
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  4. whodat

    whodat Rookie

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    I am not a 4.5+ player but I usually start the match serving a heater. If my opponent catches on quickly, then I will switch to a slice into the body or a kick serve and reserve the heater for later. The flat serve up the T at 40-30 is very effective. :D
     
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  5. predrag

    predrag Professional

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    I am 5.0 and for the reasons same as yours stopped using flat serve 6 years ago.
    My shoulder was hurting, so for 6 months I server kick only.

    Now my shoulder is much better, but still I do not server flat until I am really warmed up.

    My kick serve is mean. Gets me a better setup anyway.
    Flat I use only as a changeup.

    Regards, Predrag
     
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  6. kevhen

    kevhen Hall of Fame

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    Last night I played at a 4.5 level (for the first time) knocking off another strong 4.0 level player 6-2, 6-2. I went away from hitting so many hard kickers and came exclusively with my 100mph flat first serve. Then hit the 80-90mph kicker for a second serve. If I double-faulted I would start off my next serve with a kicker to avoid any double doubles. The reason I went to hitting all first serves flat was because the hard kicker is giving me back problems and the flat serve is easier on my body and the points are quicker too then. I got about 45% first serves in and about 75% of my second serves in and just played aggressively once the ball was in play but not overly so. Nice to finally play at a 4.5 level for two sets in a row. I did add 1/2 ounce of head tape to my racquet so it's 11.5 ounces and not quite so headlight whippy. I also added cushions to my shoes and played 3 sets of doubles before starting this singles match, so I was in a good groove once the wind died down and this match started. Last week this guy beat me 7-5 and he used to play tournaments at the 4.5 level but is more 4.0 now in my opinion but I consider him my equal.
     
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  7. fastdunn

    fastdunn Legend

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    As I remember, according to high speed analysis, Sampras
    hit relatively flat ground strokes but his 1st serve had one
    of the highest rpm among top rpos at the time.
     
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  8. Robert Jones

    Robert Jones Rookie

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    LOL I wish I had anything close to a Sampras serve.

    What did he have like a 125mph twist? thats faster than my flat serve. I would guess my sliders are well under 100mph but they are deceptive. Many people wiff at them.

    I don't use a true kick serve much, I have to contort my body to get 100% pure topspin on the serve, its easier to hit a twist at least for me. I don't think I have played anyone that uses a slice.

    The peole I play just use a twist and vary the pace and placement. A few use the kicker which is damn effective. Unless the oppenent is on fire I don't have much trouble with heat. If I can touch it , it usually will come back. Kickers are much harder for me to return. They must be difficult for people to hit it seems not many have good ones in the two leagues I play in. I fear the couple of guys that have good ones though.

    I can't say I have ever faced a slice, I send lots of them but never get one in return :(
     
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  9. Robert Jones

    Robert Jones Rookie

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    What level player are you?

    Is the kicker better for s/v because its slower, allowing you more time to get to net?



     
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  10. Morpheus

    Morpheus Professional

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    The key to good serving is variety. You should mix in kickers with hard, flat serves and move the ball around. There's nothing better than being able to juice up your serve when you really need a point--doing so, however, means many other serves are at 90% of your max.
     
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  11. Robert Jones

    Robert Jones Rookie

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    You sound like a player I want to be like a year or so. I'm using your style only I use slice then twist second. Do the flat to keep them honest.

     
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  12. Poot

    Poot New User

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    I probably only pull out the flat first about 25% of my serves, I generally try to serve about 70% first serves in. I play my best when I do this, I guess I'd be a 6.0. If I want a free point, I'll go with the bigger first.
     
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  13. AndyC

    AndyC Semi-Pro

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    I tend to vary them. Most players of my standard I play against have the ability to get my all my serves back once they get used to it. The key is to mix it up so that they can never quite get the return grooved. I rarely use flat serves to start a match... partly because I prefer to get my arm loosened up with slower serves first but also because the slice/kicker has a lower fault rate. Once I get warmed up I'll start hitting some fast flat serves.. but as someone mentioned earlier unless the flat serves are hitting the lines it can be quite easy to block back.. even worse if your opponent can anticipate and return early it can be quite demoralising seeing your fastest serves returned with impunity.
     
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  14. Robert Jones

    Robert Jones Rookie

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    Andy C. Thats all I do. Try to vary my junk ball serve. My problem is after slicing and dicing I try a flat serve to catch them off guard and I almost always hit it a foot long. Then I have a weak chicken twist second serve.

    If I start out with some heat I can get into a groove but it takes me like 2 games to get the percentages up. Then the ole shoulder gets sore.

    I mainly use a slice to jam or send them running wide. I can get about 70-80% 20% second servers I can deal with. When I use heat I'm 50-65% in. I'm in trouble If I have to rely on 40% second serves.

    I have had almost zero winners hit off my junkball slice but I have had my heater pounded back for winners numerous times. Lots of block back artists out there.

    I miss getting those aces up the middle or wide. But I think I frustrate more people when my slow junk goes off their frame into the ceiling of the club.

    Good to know their are 5.0 players out there that don't need heat to win. I think my heater days are behind me.
     
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  15. brijoel

    brijoel Rookie

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    i definitely dont really use flat serves when im playing. what's funny is i still practice them, but it's just not as useful to me when im in competition. the closest i get to a flat serve is when i just hit down a little more to add some pace when going up the T, thats pretty much it.
    and yes, yet another serve and volleyer...
     
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  16. Robert Jones

    Robert Jones Rookie

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    I noticed you are using the old Pete Sampras club. You must be good.
    Seems like every person I've played who used that racquet was a good player. Hmm maybe the racket is that good, naahhhh

    I hit one the other day, I was joking with the owner of it telling him I was going to hit a Pete Sampras serve. I figured I would mess it up just was half joiking. I'll be damned if I did not crush it the first try. Its a nice serving racquet. I can see why it was popular.

     
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  17. andreh

    andreh Professional

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    I'm a 4.0-4.5 player. And yes, It's because it's slower and kicks high (but still hard to return). This gives you one more step towards the net and that's what's makes all the difference for the first volley.
     
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  18. AndyC

    AndyC Semi-Pro

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    I know where u're coming from Rob. I think as we all grow older the arm doesn't take the pounding it receives from flat serves as well. Still it's nice to have them in the armory. It is sometimes difficult to adjust from a slower kick/slice service action to a flat service action (much more snap and arm speed). I show up early before practice sessions (usually 20-30 mins) and once warmed up I alternate serving two slices/kickers with two flat serves over and over.. just so I get used to the situation. It's definitely helped.

    Frustrating players is good :). Anything that throws them off their game is good. Nothing beats a serve where they feel they should have got it back. Remember Chang-Lendl in the French? :).
     
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  19. predrag

    predrag Professional

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    The key is not to slow down at all when hitting second serve.

    That's what I am trying to explain to my 10 yr old son.
    On second serve you should try just to brush more, and this way, even increase the chance of getting the ball in if you swing harder.

    First serve, instead of going for flat, try to hit kicker. Toss the ball little to the left and more into the court, and leap into the ball.
    I mean really go into the ball, starting with legs.
    Second serve, do the same thing,only the toss should be more vertical.

    Regards, Predrag
     
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  20. Hawaii 5.0

    Hawaii 5.0 Rookie

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    The main problem with the flat bomb is placement.If you hit a big bomber down the middle it's soooo much easier to read and react to than any spin serve becuase the trajectory doesn't change nearly as much.All I have to do is block it back and I'm using all you pace against you.Plus if you coming in behind it it's coming much faster and sooner and your likely to take it just a few steps in.The flat serve is and should be the least used serve especially at the 4.5+ levels.The 4.5's and better are better in all aspects of their games,including returns.I'm not saying to not use it, but use it sparingly and place it well.The pro's use this, but they place it in the corners and their heaters are more like 130 instead of 100.I usually hit the flat serve about 10% of the time,kick 30,slice 30,and combinations of each 30%.

    If you hit flat serves to anywhere, but the service box extreme's chances are that you will lose.Now at the 3.5 level your most likely to win because of the lack of return skill and variety at those levels.The better you play and or get the better your weapons better be.So if your going to hit the flat bomb then it should be more in the 110-120 range and placed well not just to get it in and surprise them with the sheer speed.
     
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  21. Japanese Maple

    Japanese Maple Semi-Pro

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    Just recently I have been working on tossing the ball off my left
    shoulder and hitting all the serves from this one toss with only slight variations. As the toss goes up, I am rotating my shoulders
    and leaning my upper body backwards like you would for a topspin/
    american twist serve, but I can also hit a slice,hard slice, and flat
    off of the same toss and body mechanics-great disguise! Because of my disguise and placement I am getting a fair amount of aces,
    but the real value of hitting all serves off the left shoulder out front
    with different spins,speeds, and placements is your opponent never gets comfortable and the returns are usually hit back with less pace because they don't get the same type of ball in their strike zone and they are constantly having to adjust to your disguise and variety. Stephan Edberg and Patrick Rafter did this
    to perfection, along with Pete Sampras-great for serve and volley.
    Instead of hitting a flat serve try hitting what is called a hard slice.
    Toss the ball out front and instead of pronating and hitting the ball square on, hit the ball towards 2:00 with a glancing blow with
    the forearm pronation after contact being the same as a flat serve.
    Your percentage will go up, without losing much speed at all.
    Slice serves are very effective against opponents with big western
    grips-the ball stays low and slides away form them. Going for too
    much flat serves will hurt your first serve percentage and disrupt
    your rhythum. Remember, to have a quality serve you must be
    adept at placement,variety(spin and speed),disguise,power, and
    most importantly consistency of doing all of the above and getting
    a high percentage of 1st serves in. Heavy spins allow you to do this and can be more difficult to return than flats because of the movement and bounce the spin provides. Just yesterday, I hit aces
    to both sides of each service box, and often my opponent didn't
    even move or quessed wrong because of my disguise through keeping my toss and body mechanics the same. I realize this is a
    very advance way to serve, but why not try it out and see if you
    can make it work. Also, I use a very strong eastern bh grip to hit all the serves-best for tight spin production and glancing blows with pronation. Next time I practice with my partner I am actually
    going to try the Pete Sampras drill where Pete Fisher use to tell Pete what serve to hit(flat,slice,kick) when his toss was released and at its peak. I thought I could never do this but I think I can now-can't wait to try it out.
     
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  22. kevhen

    kevhen Hall of Fame

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    I was varying my first serve hitting maybe 75% hard spinners and 25% flat serves, but then my opponent got used to my hard spin serves so they weren't as effective and the hard spinners seem to take more effort than hitting flat. So that is why I am switching to hitting almost all first serves hard and flat so that my second serve is more difficult for them to handle having not seen as many hard spin serves and being so much different than the flat one in how it comes off their racquet tending to sail long. Some guys are just good at blocking and getting serves back, so against those guys I may either go for the lines and more aces or back off on hitting everything so hard and just get more in. But hitting hard and flat is great when you are 6'4! I do have a 4.5 level serve and if I could place them better it would be 5.0. But the rest of my game is 4.0 at this point.
     
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  23. Robert Jones

    Robert Jones Rookie

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    Thanks guys some really good information.

    I don't think I warm up enough. I feel so confident about my slices/spins that I only take like 2-4 practice shots then play. I had not tried flat in a long time so for the heck of it I warmed up hitting flat only. And played 2 sets doing flat/twist. I only went wide or middle with flat. I tried to use more finess rather than pound it.

    I think I found a flat serve that does not kill my shoulder and almost gives me full pace. At about the 4th game serving my flat was pretty grooved. Had a two games that I served 3 aces in a row then a jamming shot for a love service game. Had not done that in a long time. I'm thinking if I warm up with like 10-20 easy flat serves I can start to use it again. Played 4 sets last night and the arm is still decent w/o pain killers.

    I think I could give the 4.5s -5.0s a game if I could keep it up. LOL if I played 5.0 my first serve would no doubt drop to 30%.

    Speedwise hmm 110-115mph I would guess. Seems plenty if I hit near the lines.
     
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  24. kevhen

    kevhen Hall of Fame

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    Yes, I start my warm up hitting flat at about 50mph and probably add about 5 mph each warmup until approaching 100mph. Otherwise you tear muscles in your shoulder if you try to hit too hard right away. Then I will hit soft kick serves once my arm is more warmed up since more muscles are involved in the kick and then start hitting that harder and harder until full warmed.

    I try to vary my flat serve placement like 40% up middle, 40% into the body, and 20% outwide. If my placement were better I would hit less into the body and more outwide. I do go outwide more on the ad side when I turn my wrist outward and go for deceptive aces as I still swing like I am going up the T. It would be nice if I could get up to 110-115. I was clocked at 104 last summer and probably max out at 110 on a good serve but usually hit around 100 I think.
     
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  25. Tomek

    Tomek Rookie

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    When my first flat serve is not coming in, I like to change my grip to what I use in the second serve, but I don't change the rest. I use the same toss, swing etc. with different grip. Now the ball goes in much more often, is pretty fast and has some nice spin...
     
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  26. kevhen

    kevhen Hall of Fame

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    Yeah, I have been experimenting a little with using a semi-continental grip to add just a little bit of spin instead of hitting so flat all the time, just to mix it up a little, but still hitting hard and coming mostly over the top with my arm extended but helping to improve that first serve percentage just a tad. I think that is more of what a Sampras serve was all about. I am still not sure how he got so much spin on his with the pace he put behind it.
     
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