How much is having a consistent serve the difference between winning and losing?

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by HughJars, Nov 13, 2013.

  1. dknotty

    dknotty Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2013
    Messages:
    675
    Nonsense. Absolute nonsense.
     
  2. arche3

    arche3 Banned

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2009
    Messages:
    5,389
    If have to agree that at any level serve is the most important shot. It sets up and allows your advancement into higher levels.
     
  3. dknotty

    dknotty Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2013
    Messages:
    675
    Absolutely! If you can't serve in you lose the point straight off. If you have a weak serve then you put yourself at an immediate disadvantage.
     
  4. Mrnoital

    Mrnoital Banned

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2013
    Messages:
    301
    Location:
    Psychiatric hospital
    :confused: Into a higher level of what? Confusion?
     
  5. Mrnoital

    Mrnoital Banned

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2013
    Messages:
    301
    Location:
    Psychiatric hospital
    There is nothing but weak serves at the 3.5 level.
     
  6. Ballinbob

    Ballinbob Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2008
    Messages:
    3,323
    Location:
    colorado
    Yeah he's kinda right... Serving is almost a disadvantage up until a certain level. I see tons of 4.0 matches with 6+ breaks a match
     
  7. tennis_balla

    tennis_balla Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2006
    Messages:
    3,666
    Location:
    Here and There
    The above comments are funny to read, I have to chuckle. This line in particular...

    "There is nothing but weak serves at the 3.5 level."

    Now imagine if the players in question actually took the time to work on their serves instead of being content with being broken 6+ times in a match. What do you think would happen?
     
  8. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2005
    Messages:
    34,798
    What would probably happen is that they would lose their day jobs and not spend time with their family and ultimately have no money to play tennis at all.
     
  9. tennis_balla

    tennis_balla Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2006
    Messages:
    3,666
    Location:
    Here and There
    I didn't know you had to play tennis 24/7 in order to improve your serve.
     
  10. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2008
    Messages:
    35,717
    Serving is the least time consuming part of tennis that can be improved.
    You only need a court maybe 3 times a week.
    The other days, shadow swinging, listening, looking at your reflection, is good enough.
    Working on groundies takes a court AND 5 days a week, over an hour each session....AND a partner who's somewhat a peer.
     
  11. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2008
    Messages:
    35,717
    Oh, we gotta consider what "consistent" is....
    I'd define, being ABLE to get the first serve IN at least 30% of the time, and ABLE to get the second serve IN at least 90% of the time.
    Hopefully, the first serve is an attempt to win the point or solicit a weak high soft reply.
     
  12. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2005
    Messages:
    34,798
    Well, what you were saying is that you were surprised why 3.5 players don't have good serves and don't want to improve. You can say that about anything about anyone in life, so the observation has no significance. If a 3.5 player becomes a 4.0 player with a good serve, you can say the same about becoming a 4.5 and so on.

    Rec players like me often do not even have 1 more hour to put into the game than we already do.
     
  13. arche3

    arche3 Banned

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2009
    Messages:
    5,389
    Higher level of tennis. If your serve improves you can start to play patterns off your serve and win much more. What my coach did when I was a kid was have me serve a certain spin and placement and play a pattern off that serve. I would drill that with him until it became routine, then we moved on to a new serve and pattern. Without a good serve you can't do this. So it avoids confusion and your setting up the most likely pattern of play before you serve the ball.
     
  14. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2005
    Messages:
    34,798
    The point that goes missing here is that serve is not an isolated stroke. I have never seen a junior or college player with a good serve who also doesn't have an overall good game. Conversely, it is a myth that there is a 3.5 player with a 5.0 serve and 3.0 groundies. Maybe there is one on the planet. The serve requires many and more of the same kinds of body-coordination skills as other strokes, and doesn't exist in isolation. You can't hope to make it disproportionately better than other strokes.
     
  15. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2008
    Messages:
    35,717
    Ah no..:-?
    I have a solid 4.5 serve, both first, and especially second.
    I have a 3.0 mind. That leads to inconsistencies in almost every stroke.
    I can beat 4.5's and lose to league 3.5's.
    I've held my own against 5-5.5's, yet have lost points to middlin 3.5's because of careless mistakes.
    Not everyone is a weak serving, groundstroking 4.0 rightie.
     
  16. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2005
    Messages:
    34,798
    I said 5.0 serve not 4.5. Many 4.5s don't have strong serves

    performing well against better players is sometimes easier than putting away lower players, that is when real level comes out due to mental pressure. always easier as an underdog hitting freely
     
  17. dknotty

    dknotty Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2013
    Messages:
    675
    You have proven my point. Folks don't get broken if they have a decent serve. End of. What an advantage if you can hold your serve fairly consistently.

    Totally wrong! My serve is disproportionately better than the rest of my game. Once you have a good serve you can build a game around it. Serve & Volley and the good old 1-2 punch.

    The serve is the one shot that you play totally on your own terms. If you can't make the most of it then you're at a huge disadvantage.
     
  18. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2005
    Messages:
    34,798
    then that means your volleys and movement is good. strokes do not have to mean baseline only and skills include fitness and speed also. so no disproportionality there
     
  19. arche3

    arche3 Banned

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2009
    Messages:
    5,389
    Ivos serve is the same level as his ground strokes. Same with isner. Did you and bb777 decide to troll today or something? Having a boring day watching TV at the retirement home?
     
  20. mightyrick

    mightyrick Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2010
    Messages:
    4,665
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    Without good groundstrokes, you can't establish a "pattern" for your new awesome serve. Without good groundstrokes, you can't have a hope for being able to break your opponent.

    When coaches teach tennis, they teach the most important shot first. THE FOREHAND. It is the meat and potatoes of tennis. It is the one shot that is hit the most. Then, they teach you to rally back and forth. I'm not sure how you guys think the serve is most important at NTRP 3.5.

    In a thread about NTRP 3.5, I think if I hear another allegorical reference to Isner or Karlovic... I'm going to throw up in my mouth. When will you guys stop comparing inconsistent clods at 3.5 to NTRP 7.0 guys that make millions of dollars per year?
     
  21. arche3

    arche3 Banned

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2009
    Messages:
    5,389
    I guess I dont understand. I was never really a 3.5 and always had a good fh. I might of been 3.5 when I was 10. I didnt have a consistent serve at 10 years old. I guess my argument is the strong serve is the one thing that gets you easy balls hit back to you.
     
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2013
  22. TimeSpiral

    TimeSpiral Professional

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2013
    Messages:
    1,291
    Location:
    Gotham City
    Lulz.

    Those two guys don't self-rate, brother.

    The serve is the most important shot in tennis. If you can't play tennis--can't hit a forehand, can't hit a BH, whatevs--then yeah, it doesn't matter. But 3.0+ can play tennis. They're not good, but they can play.

    4.0's aren't good. Neither are 4.5's. If all you did was read this forum, **** ... 90 of the ATP are hapless hacks.

    I think people are just saying, "in general, the serve and return of serve are the most important shots in tennis." They're right. But at the lower levels, when the rallies and the serves are so bad, you can win with a good FH. But, if you had a good serve, you would win too.
     
  23. corbind

    corbind Professional

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2010
    Messages:
    1,308
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    After reading 122 post I have forgotten what the OP asked. Time for me to read it again...
     
  24. HughJars

    HughJars Professional

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2013
    Messages:
    1,069
    Played my pennants match yesterday, I won 6-2, 7-5, and had my serve broken once, and double faulted twice (which is good for me). I thank my hard work on developing a more consistent second serve over the last couple of weeks. Still very much a work in progress though.

    I crushed him with my approaches from his short/weak returns.

    Being able to serve consistently breeds confidence in the rest of your play as far as I'm concerned, at any level. You can play more freely.

    I'm not sure that having confidence in your ground strokes does likewise for your serving game but, especially if your opponent is a decent server winning cheap points off their own serve....
     
  25. 7zero

    7zero Rookie

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2013
    Messages:
    364
    Location:
    Central Europe
    I have better ground strokes but worse serve than whats on video. So I guess I would end up defeated 6-1 6-0 to these guys :)
     
  26. dominikk1985

    dominikk1985 Legend

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2011
    Messages:
    6,368
    well there is a reason why players practice baseline hitting 10 times more than serves.

    generally in a lesson players will play baseline for like 45 minutes, do 10 minutes of net game and 5 minutes of serve.

    ground game is the basis of tennis. however the higher you get the more important the serve becomes and I think at higher levels the serve is often not practiced enough.
     
  27. shindemac

    shindemac Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2005
    Messages:
    2,225
    It baffles me why people say a 3.5 can't have a strong serve and all 3.5 double fault and get broken. I've worked on my serve for a long time now, so it's definitely the strongest part of my game. My forehand is sometimes a weapon because I developed that first, but it didn't make that much of a difference in terms of winning more.

    About my serve, I can hit a topspin second serve, and if I need to, I can sometimes hit my spots. I can flatten if out for a first serve, but I rarely do it unless my first serve is off that day. My flat first serve is a weapon and I get a lot of unforced errors and occasionally some aces. If I'm playing a 3.5 or lower, I usually don't try to aim it. For 4.0s, I will always aim for the lines. I don't know how fast I serve, but it usually bounces 1 to 2 feet high on the fence when I get an ace.

    I played doubles today. It was me and another 3.5 against 2 4.0s. At least that's what I would rate them. My first service game, I was serving into the sun, so I was just tossing the ball over my head and hitting spin serves in. I lost that game. The second time I served, the sun had almost dipped below the horizon. So I was able to pull out my serve and hold serve pretty easily. The set score was 2-6.

    I played another set today against 2 low 3.5/high 3.0 players. I served twice that set, and won both my service games. Set score was 6-1. So besides that one game I was serving into the sun, I held my 3 other service games. I don't know how anyone can say having a good serve is not necessary at the 3.5 level, or how anyone can say a 3.5 can't have a good serve and hold more than half their service games. I'd say, this year has been my best at holding serve, and I'd guess that I was able to hold serve for at least half my service games. Who knows? Maybe i should consider myself a 4.0 now because of how much my serve has improved my game. :)
     
  28. dknotty

    dknotty Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2013
    Messages:
    675
    Wrong on a couple of points. You could break your opponent through them double faulting.

    Also you don't get to play forehands if your serve is out!
     
  29. dknotty

    dknotty Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2013
    Messages:
    675
    Mostly that's because people don't think things through. If you want to improve match outcomes, the fastest way is by improving your serve.
     
  30. tennis_balla

    tennis_balla Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2006
    Messages:
    3,666
    Location:
    Here and There

    ...and thats why they do not really improve.
     
  31. dominikk1985

    dominikk1985 Legend

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2011
    Messages:
    6,368
    but why are those paid coaches make lessons like this? even relatively good tennis coaches often use that kind of lessons a lot.

    I have even seen that with nationally ranked junior training (the coaches should really know what they do). they would do a ton of baseline drills then 5 minutes of serving and then at the end of the lesson playing some points.
     
  32. tennis_balla

    tennis_balla Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2006
    Messages:
    3,666
    Location:
    Here and There
    Nationally ranked juniors train everything. Its possible the day you saw them train they were working on groundstrokes, did 5min of serve to warm up and then played points/live ball drills. A lesson plan (spanning months) should be split up, you can't work on everything during that 1 hour or 2 hours or however long you play. Besides, working on too many things at once is never good.

    I can't speak for the other coaches you've seen as I have no idea who they are or how they coach. Its true groundstroke will take a large slice of your training, however working on your serve for 30min during a 1hr lesson is normal, at least on my court, especially if the player needs it.
     
  33. shindemac

    shindemac Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2005
    Messages:
    2,225
    The serve needs to be practiced like any other shot. If you practice everyday, you probably only need 15 min of serve practice to improve. There's no way you can serve for an hour everyday. It's just too much.

    Look up videos of junior players who work on their serve and develop it into a weapon. They spend a lot of time working on their serve, but most of it is just shadow swinging or hitting lightly against the fence. Never at full speed for the entire session. For the players who spend 5 min on their serve, did they develop it into a weapon? What about the players who spend more time on their serve? Who has the better serve? Also think about the average rec player who hardly practices their serve, except for during actual matches. Why do you think they double fault and have terrible serves?
     
  34. dknotty

    dknotty Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2013
    Messages:
    675
    The answer to your last question is lack of practice.
     
  35. tennis_balla

    tennis_balla Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2006
    Messages:
    3,666
    Location:
    Here and There
  36. shindemac

    shindemac Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2005
    Messages:
    2,225
    I guess all the serve naysayers will pretend this post doesn't exist because the 3.5 player with a good serve is like the mythical unicorn.
     
  37. shindemac

    shindemac Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2005
    Messages:
    2,225
    There are 4.0s with 3.5 serves. There are 3.5s with 3.0 serves. There can also be 3.5s with 4.0 serves. Now imagine the 3.5 with the good serve played the 3.5 with the bad serve. No one is talking about a 3.5 having a 5.0 serve. That's just ridiculous, and I don't know what the point is of bringing up 5.0 and pro level serves as a counter argument.
     
  38. ForehandReverb

    ForehandReverb New User

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2013
    Messages:
    47
    I'm developing the serve now. When I play sets with others I'm way better when I'm thinking I have two chances to get a serve in rather than bash the first and try to not DF next. First is a topspin slice with placement, second is the same without trying to go for much placement but still trying to find the backhand. My hardest serve (relaxing the arm and really slapping it) doesn't have much precision yet but I throw it in sometime to intimidate the opponent. Bouncing the ball on the edge of the racquet is good for intimidation too :)
     
  39. mightyrick

    mightyrick Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2010
    Messages:
    4,665
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    The 3.5 with a "4.0" serve is not going to get it in as often as a real 4.0 with a "4.0 serve". I've seen 3.5s with 4.5 serves... problem is... they can only get it in 25% of the time.

    The 3.5 with the bad serve will beat almost everyone else in that level as long as they move well and have a consistent ground game. Why? Because they will be able to return the ball... and they will be able to sustain long rallies. Pushers do this all the time.

    There is no 3.5 "good server" who is going to be able to beat a 3.5 with solid consistent ground strokes.

    The only thing I'll agree to here is that a 3.5 with a good serve AND good groundstrokes is going to crush everyone else. No question about that.
     
  40. NLBwell

    NLBwell Legend

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2004
    Messages:
    7,083
    ?????? Really? Do you actually believe either of them at their peak would still easily beat someone like Michael Russell or the kid who played Davis Cup for Serbia today if all the points were started with drop feeds from the baseline? They wouldn't stand a chance of winning without their serves.
     
  41. arche3

    arche3 Banned

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2009
    Messages:
    5,389
    Oh I was making joke. I know those guys are all serve no ground game. Was trolling sureshs.
     
  42. shindemac

    shindemac Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2005
    Messages:
    2,225


    Sorry, not true at all. There are examples of 3.5 players in this thread that have focused on their serve and started winning more games. If direct evidence doesn't convince you, then nothing will.
     
  43. mightyrick

    mightyrick Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2010
    Messages:
    4,665
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    I'm speaking from direct experience. When I was 3.5, there were some decent servers. I'm talking high percentage, decent pace, and good placement. And I beat all of them.

    Why? Because my groundstrokes were good enough to return a good 3.5 serve. Once the rally started, nobody was going to outplay me. Because my movement was superior and my forehand was superior.

    A good 3.5 server is not going to get out of 3.5. High-3.5s have too good of a ground game to beat them with a serve. Aces are very few and very far between.

    Keep in mind, you must have a good ground game to put away weak returns. The hardest ball to put away is a backspinning short-sitter. It requires excellent footwork, micro-steps, and solid ball vision.
     
  44. dknotty

    dknotty Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2013
    Messages:
    675
    [​IMG]
     
  45. Avles

    Avles Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2009
    Messages:
    1,505
    Location:
    The Peak of Good Living
    Looking back at the original post, OP wasn't talking about being able to win matches on the strength of a plus serve. He was talking about losing matches because his serve used to be a big liability.

    If you can't get your first serve in and your second serve is bad, you're going to have a hard time winning matches against decent players. You need a serve that is at a minimum a reasonable point-starter. That was OP's point and I think it's a fair one.

    Whether a "big serve" (by 3.5 standards) is likely to make up for relatively inferior groundstrokes is a different question.
     
  46. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2005
    Messages:
    34,798
    I am quite consistent when I serve slow.

    But that is not where I want to be. And then I try to serve faster than what my fundamentals allow, and that is where the problems start.

    So you can be slow and consistent and be happy with the results and watch your opponents double fault and lose their games. But soon the urge comes to serve like the pros and then everything goes downhill. Rec players (males) secretly believe that they can serve like the pros, and it is just a matter of when, not if.
     
  47. NLBwell

    NLBwell Legend

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2004
    Messages:
    7,083
    Sorry, guess I skipped a few posts and missed that.
     
  48. anubis

    anubis Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2012
    Messages:
    3,009
    As a 3.0, I've never lost a match in my life because my serve was a liability. I've never won a match because my opponent's serve was a liability. I've played and lost to people with underhand and patty-cake serves. In 3.0 and 3.5 tennis, the serve is meaningless -- it starts the game, that's it.

    Furthermore, I've been broken multiple times in a given match and still won without too much trouble. I've broken other people's serves left and right, only to lose.

    At the 3.0 and 3.5 level, there are two things, and only two things that you can do that will truly be a liability and almost guarantee a loss:

    1. A mountain of unforced errors
    2. Hitting short on every shot (on or behind the service line)

    And, the opposite is true. If you can:
    1. Minimize unforced errors
    2. Hit the ball deep, beyond the service line, on every shot
    ... then you will win.

    I'm not a 4.0, so I don't know how to win games at that level. But for 3.0 and 3.5, I really think this pretty much sums up the game.

    I'm not advocating to keep and maintain a poor serve (if that's all you have). You should strive to have a better serve someday. But if you do have a poor serve (as I do), you can still be successful if the rest of your game can make up the difference.
     
  49. TimeSpiral

    TimeSpiral Professional

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2013
    Messages:
    1,291
    Location:
    Gotham City
    Your two lists essentially describe tennis at all levels. I will leave some thoughts here though anyway.

    Competitive tennis is all about match-ups, and it would seem this importance is even more profound at the rec-levels. It's not even as much about your ability to hit serves, groundstrokes, volleys, or your movement as much as it is how you can respond to the match-up you find yourself in. I would imagine that in the 3.0 level of play, the competitors don't have a ton of variety to work with, so if they find themselves in a bad match-up the result of the match may as well have been preordained.

    I see several people here suggesting that the serve is not the most important shot at this level because it essentially just "gets the rally started." Perhaps this understanding of tennis is contributing to your relatively low level of play (not meant to be derogatory, just literal).

    The rules of tennis favor the server.
    If your serve simply starts the rally, and then you commit an unforced error, you may want to think it was the unforced error that lost you the point, but was it? If your serve merely starts the rally, and then you get into a long point, and your footwork was not good enough to track a ball down, you may think your movement lost you the point, but did it?

    When you are playing tennis correctly, and you land your first serve in play, you should be playing the next ball with a positional and material advantage. At that point, an appropriate-level groundstroke of volley should maintain the advantage until the point is over. In other words: you should have the advantage on every shot after the serve until the point is over, forcing your opponent to come up with something special, or to capitalize on a routine mistake from the server. When you miss your first serve, you lose the advantage, and now things are closer to even, with the returner potentially having a slight edge.

    You might want to think it's the literal mistake you made that cost you the point--and sometimes it is, for sure--but so often it's something that happened earlier, or something more fundamental.
     
  50. Mrnoital

    Mrnoital Banned

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2013
    Messages:
    301
    Location:
    Psychiatric hospital
    OR perhaps it's the correct perspective based on the fact that 3.0 players are barley able to hit the ball? And because there is not a credible coach on earth who would even think about teaching their 3.0 students about setting up points?


    Oh brother, what a load of poppycock. According to the USTA you can't even hit first serves with power and accuracy until at least the 4.5 level and you want 3.0 players to come to terms with advanced strategies?

    There is not a 3.0 player on earth who should be concentrating on any of this.
     
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2013

Share This Page