Easiest way to disguise serve?

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by Ballinbob, Dec 5, 2008.

  1. Ballinbob

    Ballinbob Hall of Fame

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    Hey guys

    I was wondering if there was an easy to disguise your serve. I usually serve kick serves, and when I try and do a flat serve the service motion gives it away that im hitting a flat. Would the best way to disguise your serve be to learn how to hit the flat+slice serve by tossing a little to the left so I can still do my kicker without an awkward motion?

    Is there even a general rule on this or is it something you got to go and practice? Also, if your serve is your weapon already, would it be worth spending the time learning how to do this? To me it seems like a good idea but I want to hear your thoughts on this

    Thanks
     
  2. dcjaybutchdc

    dcjaybutchdc Rookie

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  3. Ballinbob

    Ballinbob Hall of Fame

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    bro I would love to serve like federer, but I cant. Any other ideas on how to disguise the serve...?
     
  4. kelz

    kelz Professional

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    Maybe it's the ball toss that gives it away? You can try hit a flat and kick serve from the same ball toss but you're going to give up a bit of spin
     
  5. Ballinbob

    Ballinbob Hall of Fame

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    Well im wondering if anyone has hit a flat serve usuing their kick serve toss and has been successful. Im wondering if this is worth it and if it will work
     
  6. OhDear

    OhDear Rookie

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    Are you trying to hit an actual flat serve or the slice/topspin serve?
    If it's the slice/topspin, you should be able to toss it in relatively the same spot. That's what I do for my slice, slice/topspin, topspin serves.
     
  7. Ballinbob

    Ballinbob Hall of Fame

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    Okay this is pretty much how it is:

    my kick serve is the strongest part of my game and I want to be able to still hit that. And I want to hit a flatter serve, not really a full flat. Topspin slice is still flatter than a kicker and thats fine.

    So how do you toss the ball then? Whats your ball toss for all these serves?
     
  8. Jack Romeo

    Jack Romeo Professional

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    i have 2 tosses. a slice serve toss and a kick serve toss. they're not that far apart in terms of where i place the ball in the air, so that helps the disguise, especially against returners who aren't good at reading tosses. my kick serve isn't very good yet, so i don't use it that often for now. i can hit flat serves off both kinds of tosses and i frequently do this just to keep the returner guessing. one of my friends, who i play frequently against, lists his return as his main weapon. yet when i played him last week, he said he couldn't read my serve. my serve isn't very fast, but well-placed, and apparently, well disguised. there are very few people (even at the pro level) who can hit all kinds of serve off only one kind of toss. so maybe you could compromise a bit, like i do. hit 2 kinds of serves off one kind of toss and 2 kinds off another toss. and don't make the 2 tosses so radically different from each other.
     
  9. OhDear

    OhDear Rookie

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    I'm sure you've seen this picture before:
    [​IMG]

    Now when you say kick, I'm going to assume you're hitting a topspin serve, not that breaking twist.
    In that picture, you can see that the topspin/slice and topspin tosses are a bit far apart, especially because the topspin serve's toss is behind your head and body while the topspin/slice toss is to the front diagonally.

    I've used a toss that is placed towards the server's wrist in the picture. And to hit something with more slice I push it more towards the front of my body, and something with more topspin a bit more behind my head. Just vary a bit.
    I also compensate for the toss by changing to a backhand grip for my topspin serves.
     
  10. Ballinbob

    Ballinbob Hall of Fame

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    haha...unfortunately I am using a twist. A very heavy one.and that pic didnt show
     
  11. OhDear

    OhDear Rookie

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    Well the twist serve is a great serve. And to be honest, I would suggest using the regular topspin serve toss for your normal toss with variations, but I doubt you'll be able to get the twist with that toss.
     
  12. naylor

    naylor Semi-Pro

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    My coach told me that, whereas we place the toss effectively along the baseline (over the head for a kicker, normal for flat, to the right for a Demetieva slider), pros vary their serve by placing the ball closer towards the net - so, furthest back (and slightly over the head) for the kicker, more forward for the normal serve, furthest forward for the slider. That way, the receiver doesn't see any obvious placement of the ball left or right above the player, which might give away the type of serve coming over, and has to rely more on how the server launches at the ball and into the court - by which time, he's already hit the ball!

    It does work (in my experience), particularly with the slider. If you throw the ball to the right, as well as being a give-away it's a relatively weak shot, whereas if you toss it forward you can hit it a lot harder and you're relying on the swingpath of the normal serve to catch the ball a bit later and thus give it sidespin. In addition, if you use a grip closer to the eastern bachhand, you can get some serves that bounce half-way up the service box on the sideline and spin off to the side-fence. It's a nice one to throw in once in a while, it forces the receiver to move a couple of steps forward to receive, because he no longer has enough time to "wait and see" what you're dishing.
     
  13. Ballinbob

    Ballinbob Hall of Fame

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    Ahh good stuff, this is what I was looking for. I will definitley try this with my flat and slice serves. I think I'm just going to experiment tomorrow with how to disguise my twist serve and ill report back to you guys tomorrow. Thanks naylor, this was helpful. I never thought of changing the toss forward at all.
     
  14. wyutani

    wyutani Hall of Fame

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    same toss...
     
  15. Ballinbob

    Ballinbob Hall of Fame

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    No really!! You should go and publish that, that is some hard-core analysis right there
     
  16. tennisdad65

    tennisdad65 Hall of Fame

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    I am no expert on this, since I hit my topspin and slice with 2 slightly different tosses, but from what I have read on these forums:
    1) have the same toss for both serves at ~12 (like sampras)
    2) hit the kick like you usually do
    3) for the flat, rotate more and angle your body to the side. Your head will also move to the side as it makes way for your shoulder to come under the ball and finally pronate before contact.

    once your opponent sees your rotation the disguise ends, but atleast it is after the toss.
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2008
  17. GeorgeLucas

    GeorgeLucas Banned

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    For the first game: if you yell out "here comes the kicker!!" hit a kicker. If you yell out "here comes the flat bomb!!" bomb it at him. Later in the set call out "here comes flat bomb!!" then underhand serve him... YOU WIN
     
  18. tennis_balla

    tennis_balla Hall of Fame

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    Keep in mind that you'll never hit a truly flat serve. The ball will always have some sort of spin on it. Its impossible as you'll always need the ball to drop into the court because you'll never get high enough to be able to hit it straight down. I also think trying to bomb it flat is a waste of time. One way a coach described it to me was it comes in like a choo choo train, dead straight and not difficult to read. Take that same bomb of a serve at 120mph lets say for example and add a bit of spin and now you're talking. What I would recommend is hit your slice and flat serves off the same toss, your flat serve toss. Learn to do that as well as hitting a 3/4 pace serve with spin, kind of like your second serve but harder with the same toss also and body positioning as your first serve. Easier said then done I know. This is not for everyone of course. Another thing I like to do is toss more to the right on the deuce court making them think I'm going for a slice out wide but instead slice it up the T and curve it into their body.
     
  19. Zachol82

    Zachol82 Professional

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    Instead of disguising your serve, why don't you just make it go down the T or out wide? Usually, it doesn't matter to me what kind of serve someone uses, it matters where it lands.
     
  20. Bagumbawalla

    Bagumbawalla Hall of Fame

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    Actually, I agree with wyutani.

    For example: when you are hitting a groundstroke-- with the ball in the same exact position (say your comfort zone) you can hit it with slice, flat, or topspin. The position of the ball does not need to change at all.

    It is the racket path that changes and not the ball.

    Many servers vary their ball stance quite a bit for the different serves, and sometimes their stance or location as well. There is nothing wrong with that, but, obviously, this is one of the things that gives away the server's intent.

    I find, that with very little variation in my toss, that I can, by adjusting the racket path through the ball, hit quite a variety of serves that, I am told, are difficult to read (and return). Some, slight, variation is necessary, obviously, but it can be kept to a minimum-- if you are seeking disguise.

    Ok, say you can't serve that way. What else can you do?

    One thing is just recognize that your serve does not always have to be that well hidden.

    A frist serve in singles will almost always be a "flat" ball or a slice, and the second serve some kind of spin/kick shot. What you can disguise is the placement of the serve. Move the ball about. Keep the returner guessing- forehand or backhand, spin into or away from the body, change the pace, sometimes come in behind the ball, sometimes stay back.

    So, even if the type of serve is telegraphed, the opponent will still have trouble getting it back.
     
  21. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    What has worked for me (in hitting the same toss for all serves) I got from Ivanovic's coach, namely toss further into the court (instead of behind your head etc).
     
  22. Ballinbob

    Ballinbob Hall of Fame

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    thanks guys for everything. So far the tossing foward-behind has worked pretty good and im still able to serve ok. I played my friend and I played like this and it worked wonders. My serve was slower but the trade off was me being able to hit all my serves from the same toss. I mostly did my kick and slice from the same toss and it worked really good.
     
  23. wyutani

    wyutani Hall of Fame

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    im one of those posters who explains in Lehhmanns term, not junk a load of stuff, enuf to implode.
     
  24. mikeler

    mikeler G.O.A.T.

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    Interesting post by Naylor, I will have to try this out. I telegraph most of my serves by the toss. The only thing my opponent does not know is the location, but he already has an advantage knowing the type of serve.
     
  25. phoenicks

    phoenicks Professional

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    same toss or short toss, or you can maintain the same toss in terms of forward and backward, not center or right.
     
  26. fuzz nation

    fuzz nation Legend

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    Good thoughts on the toss.

    One other thing I can point out is to use the same set up at the baseline for all of your serves so that you don't telegraph your specific serve a half hour before you hit it. Some players turn a lot farther sideways for their spin serves and a lot more square to the net for a flat serve. One guy I play doubles with moves closer to the center to serve up the "T", but sets up about two feet further over toward either sideline when he serves out wide. I know these types of serves are coming even before the ball gets tossed.
     
  27. kelz

    kelz Professional

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    Federer is the first person that comes to mind, he hits his first serve (often slice) and second serve with the same toss. His toss goes to the left of his head.
     
  28. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    If you want a better way to disguise your serve, the toss is a big component of that.

    If you are tossing pretty much in the same place, it is more difficut (not extremely difficult) for your opponent to read the spin of the serve coming.

    Your ability to place your serve, change speeds with your serve, and use your serve to setup your next shot based on the tendencies of what your opponent will try to do is paramount as compared to disguising your toss. If you can toss normally for a certain serve, at will, and hit it on the dime, this is most important and is what you should be practicing first. You should be able to hit your serve with a high percentage wide, up the T, into the body, into the hip, etc...

    Keeping your returner guessing where you will be hitting too is IMO more important than having them guess what spin is coming. I will let a returner know the spin any day compared to having them worried about covering a wide service box because I can place my serve well with good spin and pace.

    You have to remember, some returners will read other components of your serve motion to pick up clues about what is coming to them. Sometimes, you will give away your placement before you even hit the ball. If you do, you really need to solve this giveaway because you need to guard your tendency to project where you will be hitting the ball as critical.
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2008
  29. mikeler

    mikeler G.O.A.T.

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    Currently I don't worry about what spin my opponent knows is coming. For example, I'll throw the ball out wide when I want to hit a slice. I normally hit my righty slice out to the righty forehand side. On every 4th or 5th slice, I'll change the placement and hit it to the righty backhand or into the body. This change up itself usually wins some free points plus it keeps my opponent from just camping out on his forehand based purely on my slice toss.

    I use the same concept when I hit my kick serve. Most of the time I swing it out to the backhand of my opponent. Just to keep them honest I'll throw a few over to the forehand side from time to time. Many times I'll do this on a 2nd serve and can often generate aces because my opponent moves over a few feet to protect their backhand and they leave their forehand side wide open.
     
  30. Ballinbob

    Ballinbob Hall of Fame

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    Thanks. Yeah, I dont think I'm that advanced to disguise my spins perfectly while still hitting targets. Your right, its smarter to work on placing your serve with the right spin than worry about hiding what spin your going to use. The only serve I can place with spin is a kick to the backhand and thats about it, so I have a ton of work to do.

    Thanks guys
     
  31. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    Yes, then I would advise developing good appropriate tosses for your spin serves. Work on placement, spin, and pace. When you master placement with a good serve, then consider fine-tuning the toss to make it less distinguishable.

    Chances are you feel you need to disguise your toss because you dont have good placement with your serve, and worse, you have limited placement. So, in your case, I would simply protect the kick to my backhand against you cause I know you cant place the kick to my forehand well. In other words, I will guard your high percentage shot and give you the low percentage shot.

    Do you see what I mean? If you could hit up the T and wide with a good kicker, in a split-second you have to be prepared to calculate where the ball is going and move quickly in a fraction of a second. The wider you can spread your serve, the more service court I have to cover. The more service court I have to cover, the easier it is for you to get one by me or get me off-balanced on my return.

    If you cant place your serve, and you can only hit well to one half of the court, or only towards the center, I will just camp and wait there.
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2008
  32. mordecai

    mordecai Rookie

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    You can hit a flat or twist serve off of the same toss placement by varying your contact height and timing. For disguise, throw the ball the same way you would for your flat serve, but hold your trophy position just a moment longer while you move under the ball. Then when the ball is dropping slightly, cut the ball upward and away to the right. A very pronounced body turn in the trophy position is usually needed to be succesful with this method.
     
  33. Ballinbob

    Ballinbob Hall of Fame

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    Oh I know exactly what you mean. I S&V when serving, and after the first game (or 2 if they're really slow) they just start camping on the backhand side and they're able to get my serve alot easier. I get some good action off my kicker so its not easy to attack, but it still sucks to see how they can get to it so easy once they figure where it goes. I think for now I'm going to work on my slice so I can catch them to their forehand if they're camping on the bh for my kick. As a S&Ver im not a big fan of flat serves, so Im just going to work on placement for my kick and my slice.

    Thanks BB ill work on it. This thread really helped me. I was too caught up on something that I shouldnt have.

    :)
     
  34. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    Yes, exactly. The serve and return of serve has more pre-stroke thinking in it than any other shot. It is a battle of what you can and cant do and what the returner has figured out. Most players are too absorbed with their previous shot to give much thought to how they are going to return.

    However, when you do play against a person that is able to focus on the present, and you can only hit well to one-half of the court, guess what, he will put a lot of pressure on your serve and you will get frustrated because he figured it out and you cant "do" anything with it. You just got a spin serve. After a couple games, he figures out how to handle the spin, and dumps you quickly. So much for the spin serve.

    It isnt hard to find out which side of the service box a server has trouble with. Most players dont practice their serve so they have limited placement.

    So, lets further confirm our understanding of this to help give you confidence on what you are about to practice is the right thing to do.

    If I toss the ball and show I am going to hit a twist serve, but I can hit that thing anywhere in the service box, even if the returner picks up the direction quickly, do you think it still gives me a good chance to place my next ball? Do you think I have blown my serve and now have to resort to a same toss serve motion for all serves?

    Absolutely not. The purpose of the serve is to start the point. If I get an ace, great. However, I am not necessarily looking for the ace otherwise I am a one shot wonder. I am looking to out think my opponent with my serve.

    Now, if I can command my serve to go to any spot in the box, how much of an advantage do I have? I mean the poor returner has to move for every serve! If I hit up the T serveral times and I get the returner to cheat, what would I do? Yeah! Hit it out wide!!!! Believe me, if you can do that, and do it with decent pace, the poor guy will know he has his hands full and I will put a lot of pressure on his ability to return well!

    And guess what also happens? If he now knows you can hit it anywhere in the service box, he will have to play in the middle of my possible serve placements. This gives me a huge advantage to get a weaker return to setup my next reply.

    Yup, good luck.
     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2008
  35. Fedace

    Fedace Banned

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    Easy, FULL shoulder turn. like this
    http://www.dono.com.cn/tujie/sampras02.htm

    Also it is easy to hit flat and slice serve with same toss as kick. as long as your kick serve toss isn't extreme to the left.
     
  36. mikeler

    mikeler G.O.A.T.

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    Work on that kick serve out to the forehand. Some players can chip a kick serve back all day with their backhand put may hit the back of the fence with a high forehand. Plus, as Bungalo Bill has pointed out, this will keep your opponent from cheating over to protect the backhand. I'd say if you can throw 1 per game (not counting extended deuce games) out to the forehand, that will be enough to keep your opponent honest.
     
  37. x5150

    x5150 Rookie

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    Easiest way to disguise your serve, don't keep hitting the same serve lol. Not sure what level you are, but I can't even toss the ball in the same spot when I want to, and if my opponent is adjusting his position on my toss it's probably helping me.

    If you keep hitting a kick serve your opponent is going to adjust and find his sweetspot to return it. Start out with the kicker, then when you notice your partner cheating for a forehand, throw the same toss at 11 and hit it flat down the T. If you can't get the same toss thing down, just hit some aggressive 2nd serves down the T (on the ad side for righty) to keep your opponent honest. Mixing up your serves is probably enough to keep your kick serve disguised/effective.
     
  38. FloridaAG

    FloridaAG Professional

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    I do not serve for aces generally and for my level have a medium paced serve but this explanation sets forth basically what my serving strategy is (far more clearly than I could) - My success level varies but the strategy is to keep the opponent guessing, make them uncomfortable and force weak returns.
     
  39. Ballinbob

    Ballinbob Hall of Fame

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    I agree 100% BB. As for the guy who asked my level, im a 15 year old highschooler and I would rate myself an upper end 3.5 who can compete with 4.0s on a good day. The reason I only really use the kick serve is because it really fits with my S&V game. It just feels natural to me to hit it. I can hit a flat serve and make it to the net though b/c Im fast as hell (11.75-11.8sec 100m dash). I'm definitley going to work on my kick out wide. I'm not so great at breaking serve and holding serve is what I'm about. I play percentage tennis when I S&V and its really effective at my level. I get 90% of my first serves in with heavy spin, and volley to the open court every time so I make it in. Its repepetive but it works and its consistent. And yeah, I rarely get aces. The only aces I'll get is maybye if I kick the serve like 7.5 ft with some crazy twist, and that happens once in a blue moon lol. The kick to the forehand feels unnatural to me, but I will figure it out. I obviosuly have the spin down and consistency to one side down, so i dont think it will take too long. I'm willing to do anything to improve my game. My goal is to get a scholarship to a DII school. Man if I could accomplish that I'd be so happy. I'll probably get one for track, but if I can get one for tennis Ill do that b/c I enjoy it more. Track is soo boring... Typical track practice: Run 10 100m sprints, rest,run 5 200m sprints,rest,run 5 100m sprints ect ect...

    Anyway,I just need practice now. I know exactly what to do and how to do it, just need to go out and practice. And once the snow dries up here in Colorado then I'll go out and practice...damn snow
     
  40. junbumkim

    junbumkim Professional

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    You should be more concerned with developing all areas of your game. With that being said, you should also work on developing good slice serves and flat serves and learning to utilize them.

    Kick serve is a great weapon esp at 3.5 and low 4.0 level because players aren't used to handling them. But if you want to compete at DII level in the future, you need all aspects of the game.
     
  41. Ballinbob

    Ballinbob Hall of Fame

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    I am improving my whole game, and im improving fast with the amount of time I spend practicing (5hrs a day when theres no snow). I've been working hard and its been paying off. Ive started focusing on groundies instead of all S&V now and im able to hold my ground against the best 3.5s. I dont quite have 4.0 groundies, but I make up in that department with my volleys and consistent serves. Volleys can be a substitute for groundies if you need to, and thats what I do. Im hard to pass because as Ive said, im quick, and I never miss either. I have never been lobbed and not been able to get to it with ample time to loop it back. Never, and it wont happen anytime soon. I'm just cosistent with my serve and volley. I'm working on moving into my serve more so I can get more body weight and pace into it, for its on the slower side now. I just focus on brushing as hard as I can to create the spin and I get a loopy serve with a crap load of spin and not as much pace as I would like.

    Anyway, I plan to keep S&Ving. I made a thread to see if people thought that S&V will get me to the DII level, and everyone said it would get me to the pro level even if I was good enough.So im not giving it up, but neither am I neglecting my ground game
     
  42. oneguy21

    oneguy21 Banned

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    Not to be mean or anything, but I'm somewhat doubtful that you play at a level where disguising a serve is necessary. I surely don't find the need to.
     
  43. Ballinbob

    Ballinbob Hall of Fame

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    Why would I take that as a mean remark? Your right, Im not even close to the level where I need to disguise the serve. If you read the thread you would have saw that Im just a high 3.5-low 4.0 and I need to work on placement on the serve more than disguising the spin. I just need practice
     
  44. BullDogTennis

    BullDogTennis Hall of Fame

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    throw the ball the EXACT same place EVERY time
     
  45. WildVolley

    WildVolley Legend

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    How exactly did Sampras and Ivanisevic disguise their serves so well? Was it simply a matter of altering pronation slightly at contact to hit one corner or the other?

    I just used those two servers as examples because they seemed to catch returners wrong footed all the time.
     
  46. Ballinbob

    Ballinbob Hall of Fame

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    I honestly have no clue lol. Can someone help us out with this? By the way, kinda a random question, but can a topspin slice be used as a 2nd serve? I mean if it has a good amount of topspin it can be used to the effect of a reverse twist serve? I have no idea why im asking this, but i was just thinking lol
     
  47. mikeler

    mikeler G.O.A.T.

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    Any serve that is effective for you can be used as a 2nd serve.
     
  48. Nellie

    Nellie Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2004
    Messages:
    3,773
    Some thoughts for you -

    1) people have trouble seeing the toss depth relative to the baseline. They can easily see a slice serve with a toss well to the side versus a twist serve tossed way to the other side.

    you can you this, for example to hit different serves from the same toss position. Specifically, a serve wide (to the backhand side) is tossed further out front than a serve to your forehand side. So, if you are a righty on the deuce side, you can hit a kick serve wide or a flat serve down the tee.

    Alternatively, you could pratice leaning more into the court for kick servers.
     

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