How fast do recreational players serve?

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by Steady Eddy, Mar 19, 2014.

  1. psv255

    psv255 Professional

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    ^Neither - a D1 player is in the third category of collegiate player.

    [LeeD]
    Klahn WAS a COLLEGIATE player back when he wasn't playing PRO tournaments, me lefty, because he didn't have legal clearance with NCAA to play PRO tournaments, 65 mph twists, because he WASN'T a PRO
    [/LeeD]
     
    #51
  2. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    OK, got one for you.
    I was playing A/Open as a real B, or 4.5. I went more than 3 rounds in at least 6 of the 13 Open tourneys, and made the 3rd round in both Q's for the TransAmerica tourney in SanFrancisco.
    I was NOT going to college at the time. I never won a Q nor went to any 4th rounds, which were mostly semis or even finals in the Open events.
    I was ranked "amateur" in the fast serve contests.
    Was I merely a rec player?
     
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  3. psv255

    psv255 Professional

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    No, not merely a rec player - you were a decent amateur and open-level player, but neither were you a pro
    Once you get out of the black-and-white of rec and pro, it gets easier...
     
    #53
  4. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    OK thanks.
    Of course, now I"m a hasbeen never was old fart who has torn tendons in his left ankle and a nerve problem in my right thigh, making me limp on both sides.
    I got axed pretty good by one of my surfboards while trying to ride closeout hollow 4' shorebreak surf....
     
    #54
  5. Steady Eddy

    Steady Eddy Hall of Fame

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    Where's the link? So I'm not as bad as I feared. :)

    I think to a lot of people, 100% has morphed into 100 mph.

    At the batting cages, one of them throws pitches at 70 mph. And they look like they're humming!
     
    #55
  6. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    I hate to agree with anyone, but I think Will is correct, only half the rec players can serve over 80, while less than 10% can serve over 100mph.
    That's why it's important for me to say a 100mph serve is actually very fast for a non pro player. And just as important, the player has to try his fast serve during match play, not just keep it hidden until it's rusty, relying on his top/slice serve for every first serve in match play.
     
    #56
  7. Maximagq

    Maximagq Banned

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    Yeah b/c we all know UCLA is better than Stanford :twisted: jk haha. Stanford was my dream school, but both are awesome universities. I want to go to Stanford for grad school if possible. Need to get that GPA up though :(
     
    #57
  8. Maximagq

    Maximagq Banned

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    I don't consider collegiate tennis to be comparable to an average rec player. Rec player usually implies that you're screwing around and having fun playing tennis.
     
    #58
  9. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    TWO of my former windsurfing buds are going to Stanford right now. They'll have the summer off to windsurf of course.
     
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  10. TCF

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    Pretty much everyone overestimates their serve speeds. We have used radar for a long time and are always measuring. Just Monday night we put a player on the gun whose serve everyone was saying "had to be 100 mph".

    Top speed was 81 mph. Rec players ain't hitting 100 mph routinely, just is not happening.
     
    #60
  11. JW10S

    JW10S Hall of Fame

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    Klahn has a singles ranking in the mid 60's right now and has earned just under $70,000 as of mid-March so far this year. He will earn more than $9,000 more even if he loses in the 1st rd of Miami tomorrow--not bad for a recreational player....

    To you a player is either a pro or rec player--nonsense. There is a big difference between a rec player and a serious, competitive, tournament and match playing player regardless of whether they are earning prize money or not.
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2014
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  12. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    Sure, that should be true for a ton of reasons, but few that apply to most players on here. To start with some wild guesses here, but 2/3s of the total players you reference probably only play a few times a year and have had little to no training. Over half the players are women. Likely a very large % of all players are under 15 or over 45.

    On here I don't know the percentages, but most of the posters are regular male players, that are on here seeking answers at a min and also taking lessons on court and with video like your FYB in many cases. We have plenty of older guys, but quite a few from 17-45. I'd be quite surprised if the percentage of posters here that could break 100mph would be higher than expected. Of course that isn't saying much, since most folks here seem to think it is amazing to break 100.
     
    #62
  13. asimple

    asimple Semi-Pro

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    Was this out of a group of 12 year old girls.

    About 2 years ago, someone pulled out a radar gun after a 4.5 match. At least 8 low range 4.5s were hitting in the low 100s with a max of around 108. This group was far from unique and not known as big servers.
     
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  14. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    Don't you expect they are all pretty accurate within their range, and that most of the variance is with the set up?
     
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  15. Maximagq

    Maximagq Banned

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    Any good Android phone apps to measure serve speed? I want to get mine clocked next week
     
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  16. wihamilton

    wihamilton Hall of Fame

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    No link - it's our internal data.
     
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  17. GoudX

    GoudX Professional

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    That adds up with the speeds I was seeing when they set up a speed gun at the WTFs. By the tim you take into account the fact that players with 'slow' serves aren't going to be queueing up for a speed gun, and that the majority of the serves were recorded at lower than 85mph, I was very happy to average 97mph over three serves (97, 97, and 96) as no-one else in the queue except my brother hit a single serve above 90mph when I was there (my brother hit a max of 95mph and averaged nearer 85mph, and I think the highest recorded that day by anyone was about 125mph).

    I'd really like to have another shot on a speed gun, with my own racquet, having warmed up, getting to hit more than 3 serves, wearing shorts and a t-shirt rather than jeans and a shirt, as I know I could hit bigger in proper conditions. Also my serve has gained at least 10mph in the last two years anyway, so I'd be surprised if I couldn't hit over 120mph occasionally. Of course, if I was aiming to hit that hard it would be far too low percent for match play, whilst 120mph is 'rolling it in consistently' for a powerful tour level player.
     
    #67
  18. GuyClinch

    GuyClinch Hall of Fame

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    So we think counting frames doesn't work? Why not? What radar guy did Drakulie use. Maybe I should get one of those..

    That guy was hitting well over 100.
     
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  19. TCF

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    No, this was a grown man, a solid 4.5. We have a guy in our group who is an engineer by day and calibrates the radar, and he seems current on how to properly measure the serve speed. I have no clue about that part of it though as he is our 'guru' when it comes to that stuff. Also, we also only count serves that go in.

    All I can tell you is that with the calibrated gun, supposedly with the proper set up to accurately measure serve speed, and only counting serves that go in from a regulation baseline, over a regulation net, into a regulation service box....100 mph plus serves are not as common as many think.

    As a side note, there are some freaky girls out there. We have had a 9.5 year old who is very big for her age and can throw a ball crazy far, record a 79 mph serve. Only hit one of those in and her average was closer to 65 mph.
     
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2014
    #69
  20. mightyrick

    mightyrick Hall of Fame

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    ^^^^ I think this is key.

    Anybody can stand up there and try to crank one into the back fence. But keeping the ball inside the service box is something else altogether.

    I've faced two servers in two years who have dependable first serves that break over 100mph. Both were 4.5s. I have never personally seen a 4.0 do it. I have seen one 3.5 do it with a first-serve-percentage of like 25% but he had a dink second serve.

    Once people hit 4.5, they usually have some sort of coaching... so it shouldn't surprise people that a lot of 4.5s can regularly get over 100mph on their first serves.
     
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  21. Sir Shankalot

    Sir Shankalot Rookie

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    Interesting question (about counting frames).

    In principle, counting frames should be pretty accurate. I checked the maths on the Serve Speed Calculator web page
    and the formula derivation is solid. Check it out for yourself. If you are of the mathematical persuasion that is.

    However the problem with the calculation is that he has implicitly assumed a certain drag coefficient and ball mass by using a reference serve to "calibrate" his equation. However the drag coefficient will vary according to altitude / atmospheric pressure, temperature, humidity, and the amount of fuzz on the ball. Basically, if you count frames and plug the results into the serve speed calculator the estimate may be off (either way).

    Having said that, in the absence of a properly calibrated radar, the frame counting method will be a lot more accurate than a lot of the arm-waving self-puffery you see on this site.
     
    #71
  22. tennis_ocd

    tennis_ocd Hall of Fame

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    Exactly. Even NCAA men aren't hitting 100 mph routinely.
     
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  23. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Hall of Fame

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    The 80 MPH estimate offered by wihamilton is one of the few creditable estimates for recreation players.

    However, presented data on men and women recreational players is not easy to find. I can't find any. Tennisspeed has the best presented data that I've found for high school and college players.

    It seems to me that many serving techniques could be applied to serve at 80 MPH. For any established technique, that has been used for some time, adding practice might increase the serve speed by maybe 10-15% ?, and the consistency by a lot. At some point, the technique limits the serve speed for biomechanical reasons. More practice won't add much pace and there are unknown safety issues if body part speeds are increased using the self-developed techniques.

    For serves above 90-100 MPH it probably becomes necessary to efficiently apply internal shoulder rotation.

    I get this impression from looking at a small sample of men club players, mostly at the 4.0 level, and comparing them to pro servers. No serve speed measurements. The club players have a degree of ISR but it is not the very strong ISR seen in high level serves.

    These look typical to me. There would be a lot of technique variations among the amateurs but not much among the pros -

    Amateur serve with weak ISR. See other amateurs on Vimeo.
    https://vimeo.com/21512296

    Pro serve with strong ISR.
    https://vimeo.com/27528701
     
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2014
    #73
  24. TCF

    TCF Hall of Fame

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    True. We train with a 21 year old D-1 player. His serve seems downright scary at times. Yet it tops out in the high 90s.

    I do not think this is a deliberate attempt by guys to lie about their serves. I just think its very easy to overestimate. When you are right there, an 85 mph serve can seem epic and way faster. You swear its got to be 110 mph. I think part of it is we are used to seeing 65-70 mph serves for the most part, so 80 plus just seems bigger than it actually is.

    The proper set up of the radar probably also is a big factor.
     
    #74
  25. wihamilton

    wihamilton Hall of Fame

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    If you're got an iPhone/iPad check my boy Joris' serve speed app -

    https://itunes.apple.com/app/servespeed/id581908085

    REALLY accurate.
     
    #75
  26. Fuji

    Fuji Legend

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    I'm downloading it now! Usually I find that the iPhone isn't that great for picking up ball speed, but I look forward to trying this one. :)

    -Fuji
     
    #76
  27. TennisCJC

    TennisCJC Legend

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    My serve is probably in the 80s on average and my biggest serves into the 90s. Maybe crack 100 from time to time when I had a good breakfast and well rested.

    I base this on 2 experiences. We had a #1 D3 player on our USTA team years ago. He graduated in the spring and this was summer league so very recent college player. He had been clocked at school several times and said he was in the mid-90s. Another guy in our area playing USTA was the biggest server I have ever seen in USTA at 4.0 and 4.5 in the Atlanta area in 35 years. He said his biggest serves going in had been clocked at 120. My serve on average and my hardest serves are much slower than both of these players.

    I think you do see a few 100 MPH serves in 4.0-4.5 levels that go in more than 40% on average but this is rare. I think the average serve speeds are in the 70-89 range and the biggest serves in the 90 to 110 range for this level. Most serves over 100 mph go in less than 50%, and most over 110 mph are probably in the 10% consistency range at these levels.
     
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2014
    #77
  28. Fuji

    Fuji Legend

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    After playing around a little bit with it of video of my buddy hitting, he hits a 120MPH first serve and a 93MPH second serve. He's a massive server who's top 20 in Canada for doubles, so It definitely seems close.

    -Fuji
     
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  29. TennisCJC

    TennisCJC Legend

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    Are those his average speeds or highest speeds. If those are match averages, he is serving at ATP "pace" levels. If those are him practicing and going for "bigger" serves, there could be a lot of difference in his actual match averages.
     
    #79
  30. JoelDali

    JoelDali G.O.A.T.

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    Some of the top tier windsurfers in Maui have serves well over 125mph.
     
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  31. WildVolley

    WildVolley Legend

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    Setup is probably the biggest issue, but usually there is a range of speed over which the radar reads accurately, and some of the older Bushnell guns were said to be inaccurate at speeds over 110mph. Some of the newer Bushnell guns say they are designed to read speeds up to 200mph, and those are probably better.

    In general, range and cosine error are going to be the biggest factors. The SpeedTracX has range issues and there will always be some cosine error if you don't get the gun in line with the ball path.

    As you've mentioned previously, professional setups are better with both range and cosine error and tend to read faster in your experience than the inexpensive consumer models. That seems credible to me.
     
    #81
  32. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Hall of Fame

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    Serve Speed Measurement with Video Camera

    The most basic way to measure speed is to measure distance traveled in a known time.

    Typical video cameras have a frame rate of 30 fps. Time = 1/30 second
    (use 1/25 sec for 25 fps cameras)

    Camera on a tripod or propped on something fixed and squarely to the side of the serve's trajectory. Video the serve. You must catch at least two frames after impact with the ball in the frame.

    Without moving the camera, take your racket, or another reference to calibrate length, and hold it up high approximately aligned with the ball's trajectory. Video it as your walk along the ball's trajectory toward the service box.

    You have now recorded all that is necessary to measure serve speed.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Using the known length of your racket measure the distance that the ball traveled in 1/30 second.

    For 100 MPH, or 1760"/sec, the ball will move 58.7" in the 1/30 sec between frames.

    How far did the ball move in inches?

    Serve Speed / 100 MPH = Distance Measured / 58.7"

    Serve Speed = Distance Measured / 58.7" X 100 MPH


    Issues - Probably in bright sunlight smartphones have accurate frame rates of 30 fps but I an not certain. Avoid smartphones for now and use a 30 fps video camera.

    If the length calibration racket is approximately aligned (<10°)with the trajectory the measured speed errors will be small. (Estimate 1 1/2 % high for 10° misalignment). But if the length calibration is very carelessly aligned the serve speed will be inaccurate and larger than the real speed.
     
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2014
    #82
  33. WildVolley

    WildVolley Legend

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    This seems correct. The membership of TTW is a self-selected group which is unlikely to be the same as a random selection of recreational tennis players. In general, I'd expect more enthusiasts, more high level players and coaches, and more teens with a lot of free time.
     
    #83
  34. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Problem is, camera speed is not always the same, and can depend on battery condition, court temps, and some other factors I don't know.
    Just like computer speeds, they are NOT the same day to day.

    TennisCJC, your examples correlate with mine. 100mph at 50% is plenty good enough for any kind of match play, because that 100 puts the reciever where the server wants him, so he can hit a spin serve in as a first serve, to effectively force a weak return.
    For me, playing at only 4.0 levels, a 100 mph first serve at 40% works just fine, especially since my second serve is around 95%, hit as hard as I can swing, and much more spin and faster than any second serve of ANY 4.0 who doesn't double fault, and it's lefty with excellent placement.
    Plus, the ability to hit 100 on the fast first serves allow a more consistent flat first serve that goes in more often at 93 mph, which is fast enough for an ace once the returner starts to cheat to one side or the other.
    It's not always the pure MPH that get's the ace, it's the positioning of the returner opening up a huge court to hit into, where a slower serve can be a clean ace.
     
    #84
  35. beernutz

    beernutz Hall of Fame

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    I bet everyone reading this immediately assumes they are in the above 80 mph half. Kind of like how everyone assumes they have above average intelligence.
     
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  36. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Didja read my post of the local SanPabloPark courts players?
    Out of at least 30, only 2 other's can exceed 90 mph. And they are the alpha 4.0 doubles guys, guys with the FASTEST serves in weekend 4.0 doubles.
    I don't count, I show up once a weekend for only ONE set max.
     
    #86
  37. Fuji

    Fuji Legend

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    Those are pretty standard for him in match play. Dude is the top college level doubles player in Canada, and was top 12 in Canadian open doubles last month haha.

    Needless to say, he's good. :razz:

    -Fuji
     
    #87
  38. Netspirit

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    Pros do not serve at cosmic speeds, and good club players can sometimes serve faster.

    Sometimes.

    Pros serve when the sun is in their eyes, when the rain is starting, when the wind is messing up their toss, when a huge crowd is making noises during the 5th set of a Grand Slam. Despite the nerves, fatigue, pain and intimidating opponents.

    All season long.

    Going to the baseline and hitting the ball as hard as possible is not the sport they are pros in.
     
    #88
  39. RockChalkOhio

    RockChalkOhio New User

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    My pro/instructor at the club tells me my fastest serves are in the 100-110 mph range. I dunno. Maybe. For the most part, I only try to crank those out 1 or 2 times a service game.

    There's one other 3.5/4.0 guy I have played with who serves faster, and he's a 6'4" Russian kid.
     
    #89
  40. wings56

    wings56 Professional

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    We have a wooden racquet tournament once a year where I live. It includes a fast serve contest. Radar gun held behind the person pointing in the direction of service. Everyone must serve with the same wooden racquet. You only get 3 serves so you better be warmed up. I won with 108 mph. Fastest out of the 4 years they've had it. 102 was the closest. No idea how this translates into normal racquets, but we have several ex D1 players participate in this.
     
    #90
  41. wings56

    wings56 Professional

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    BTW it has to be an in serve.
     
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  42. Dimcorner

    Dimcorner Professional

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    I am 3.0 rated and I clocked just over 110mph radar. I'm also 5'7" and 145lbs. It's all technique.
     
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  43. WildVolley

    WildVolley Legend

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    In my experience, the modern rackets don't give much of a boost on serve pace (so maybe 2mph faster than what you hit?). It really wasn't that difficult to hit hard flat serves with an old wood racket. However, I find it more difficult to hit a lot of spin with a wood racket.
     
    #93
  44. tennis_ocd

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    Another 3.0 with the technique for 110 mph.
     
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  45. tennis_ocd

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    Playing around with wooden racquet and I don't think you lose much pace on a flat serve... just not as much margin for error. Big difference in slice/kick etc. 108 is what I'd expect for a local fast serve tourney with several ex D1 type players. Congrats.
     
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  46. TCF

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    I think the disconnect continues....is it a match worth serve that goes in at least 2/3rds of the time, or a parlor trick of bashing balls as hard as possible and hoping to catch one just right?

    Common sense check, anyone coordinated and diligent enough to develop a 110 plus mph serve would also be able to develop the rest of their game very quickly....and blow by 3.0 like it was standing still.
     
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  47. Dimcorner

    Dimcorner Professional

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    I dunno about another, but I don't think there are that many. I have posted videos of my serve and in those I'm not going all out on them. You can do a frame count if you wanted to and the faster ones will be over 100 (calculated at racquet impact). Trying for 110mph I would say my % of landing them in would be about 30%. I'm trying to work out what works best for me and see if I can up the % rate. Right now I'm not even trying to go for 100 in match settings. No real need to at 3.0/3.5.

    The 110 radar was for fastest serve competition. In game I probably hit 90ish if I go for it but it's not really necessary so I dial it back even more to increase first serve in percentage. So the 110 was a bragging rights competition they had (didn't win, someone else hit a 116 BUT it went long, they counted it anyway). I never said I served 110 in matches, I just said I was clocked with a 110 serve.

    For the record I started playing in 2012 spring and while I'm now computer rated 3.0 I have improved very quickly in the last few months. I won my first 2 singles 3.5 matches singles and lost the last one in 3 sets to a mid/upper 3.5 player here so yes, I'm trying my hardest to blow by 3.0 AND 3.5! I just need more matches and experience.
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2014
    #97
  48. Chas Tennis

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    I looked at the radar speed for good serves. 1st & second serves.

     
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  49. JoelDali

    JoelDali G.O.A.T.

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    I have watched some of the top 3.0 players in the nation train recently and these guys serve well into 110-115 area.

    Solid players. Bright USTA GOAT future.
     
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  50. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Who cares about "average"?
    "Average" is a mixture of safe serves, tentative serves, spin serves, and slower serves to set up your faster serves.
    Dimcorner can indeed serve over 100.
    Some guys have live arms, he's one of them.
     

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