Pete Sampras ‘How to disguise your serve’

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by Laurie, Feb 14, 2013.

  1. Laurie

    Laurie Professional

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    This is excellent instruction, I should put this thread in the Instruction section if there is one:

    http://www.thetennisspace.com/sampras-exclusive-how-to-disguise-your-serve/

    Pete Sampras tells The Tennis Space ‘How to disguise your serve’:
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    Practise having the same ball toss for all serves. “I didn’t have the fastest serve, but I did have the best, and the disguise helped. There’s no point serving fast if your opponent knows where the ball is going, that’s worthless. If you can have your opponent guessing, that’s worth a lot. People used to say to me, ‘I just couldn’t read your serve’. If your body shape is always the same, no matter what serve you’re hitting, and your service motion and the position of your racket are always the same too, your opponent is going to find it very difficult to read you. It’s all about your hand, your wrist and your grip. It’s not easy, so the earlier you start practising disguise the better. I did it from a very early age, as a kid, and so that went into my muscles, and my muscles had those memories. That’s why I was able to do that as an adult.”
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    Try this drill. “As a kid, my coach would make me do this drill where he would only tell me after I had tossed the ball where he wanted me to hit it. He would shout out, ‘out wide’ or ‘down the middle’ or he would ask me to handcuff the opponent with a body serve. That was great as it meant that my toss was always the same, and I didn’t know myself where I was going to hit it until right until the last moment. You can have some fun with this, waiting until as late as possible before being told where to hit the ball. Do that for hours and hours and you will improve your disguise.”
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    Improve your accuracy. “Accuracy is so important. If you can hit your spots, you’re going to cause problems for your opponents.”
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    Don’t get hung up on one serve – use as much variety as possible. “I think too many players get too fixated into going for the same spot, and that makes them too predictable, so hit all the serves you can, whether that’s out wide, down the ‘T’ or to the body. And learn to hit all the spins. Mix it up. Of course, I was able to hit the ball hard. But it was mixing it up, and disguising all those serves, that gave me a better package.”
     
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  2. SLD76

    SLD76 Legend

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    Its easy..in theory.
     
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  3. President

    President Legend

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    LOL humble Petros
     
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  4. Sid_Vicious

    Sid_Vicious G.O.A.T.

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    Great read. Thanks for posting, Laurie.

    Pete is definitely right about this. He really had an extraordinary service motion. Whether he was crushing, slicing, or topping the ball, the difference in the swings was so subtle that you could really notice it only in the slow motion.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KqRqdbBEzUM
     
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  5. omega4

    omega4 Rookie

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    That's why Pete is one of the best in tennis.
     
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  6. Sid_Vicious

    Sid_Vicious G.O.A.T.

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    Well, you can really improve the readability of your serve with practice. That should be enough to gain the edge over your friends. :)
     
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  7. mattennis

    mattennis Hall of Fame

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    He had a great serve, sure, but it was not the best serve (not even in his own era).

    Ivanisevic, Becker, Stich, Krajicek, Arthurs and some others from his time had better serves (in terms of nº of aces+unreturned divided by nº of points)
     
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  8. Laurie

    Laurie Professional

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    Sigh....

    It's about instructing youngsters how to hit with disguise and become good in a crucial part of the game.....
     
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  9. Laurie

    Laurie Professional

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    #9
  10. smoledman

    smoledman Legend

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    I'd say Federer has inherited that super disguise ability from humble "but mine was the best" Petros.
     
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  11. smoledman

    smoledman Legend

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    #humble #humble Petros

    Stay humble Pete.
     
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  12. DropShotArtist

    DropShotArtist Banned

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    Wow, and people always accuse of Roger being arrogant. This guy takes the cake, he's an egomaniac.
     
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  13. Laurie

    Laurie Professional

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    Oh dear, the schoolboys are out again. Maybe I should know better by now on this forum. Perhaps one of the best players of the game shouldn't pass on their tips, according to some people who possess a "schoolboy mentality" on a tennis forum.

    Oh well....
     
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  14. Tennis_Hands

    Tennis_Hands Hall of Fame

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    Why are some people being snarky?

    It is a great tip.
     
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  15. Laurie

    Laurie Professional

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    Perhaps:

    1. They have never went on to a tennis court to practice serves or the game in general?

    2. It makes them feel better about themselves to diss an achiever?

    3. There is some frustration that to become good at something takes a lot of practice and they simply don't have the inclination to practise anything?

    It is good instruction, I learned a lot from the Sampras serve, which I used in my playing, it takes a hell of a lot of practice to get a really good slice serve down the T on the ad court. But if anyone becomes really good at that it really raises your overall level.
     
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  16. Shaolin

    Shaolin Hall of Fame

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    True if you only take into account the first serve, but factoring in the second serve Pete has the best overall. He was more dangerous with his second serve than a lot of pros are with their first.
     
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  17. mattennis

    mattennis Hall of Fame

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    I know, I simply stated that his serve (that was absolutely great) was not "the best serve" (in my opinion) as he said.

    He was one of the greatest all-court players of all time, but his serve was not "the best ever" as many people want to think.
     
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  18. tipsytennis

    tipsytennis New User

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    I play tennis alot but haven't got to the point yet where i can actually decide right away whether im going to go down the middle of wide. Sometimes i can try and hit down the middle but usually it ends up well in the box lol. I think you're really special when you can decide where you're going to hit in the blink of an eye.
     
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  19. DropShotArtist

    DropShotArtist Banned

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    I guess if YOU believe you are GOAT, that's all that counts.
     
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  20. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    Was it Sampras or Tim Henman that Agassi could read intended serve direction by the position/direction of the tip of his tongue? This would certainly be ironic if it was Pistol Pete that had this "tell".

    Sampras was said to have one of the heaviest serves of all time. His serve had a great deal of linear momentum/kinetic energy but also has a great deal of rotational momentum/kinetic energy due to massive amount of spin. He often exceeded 3000 rpm on his first serve (which is what many servers had on their much slower 2nd serve). His 2nd serve would sometimes exceed 5000 rpm.

    His disguise and placement were also quite excellent. But then this thread is really only about disguise.
     
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  21. heftylefty

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    It was Becker.
     
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  22. Laurie

    Laurie Professional

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    That's not idle talk, studies proved this. Even more interesting is he generated that amount of spin with older string technology, so extremely skilled indeed.
     
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  23. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    It was Boris Becker :p
     
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  24. Laurie

    Laurie Professional

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    Ok, I will bite momentarily here, are you trying to tell us that Krajicek, Wayne Arthurs and Becker had a better 2nd serve than Sampras? Before you answer, remember it is about the serve as a package, not how fast you can hit a first serve with perhaps 1500 rpms at 145mph.
     
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  25. DropShotArtist

    DropShotArtist Banned

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    Has anyone calculated how many RPMs Nadal gets on his serve?
     
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  26. mattennis

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    It was Becker.



    I know all this. His serve was one of the best, no doubt. But I remember many years in the 90s, at the end of the year (usually during the WTF broadcast) they showed different statistics, one of them was nº of aces+unreturned divided by nº of service points, and Sampras was not in the top-5 in this concrete statistic (if memory doesn't fail) in many different years during the 90s. That's all.
     
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  27. Sid_Vicious

    Sid_Vicious G.O.A.T.

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  28. Laurie

    Laurie Professional

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    I remember what Bill Threllfall said all those years ago "Statistics, damned statistics."
     
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  29. Laurie

    Laurie Professional

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    I don't know but perhaps someone could tell us.

    But I think there is a big difference receiving a serve with 4000rpms at 125mph and 4000 rpms at around 100mph, I have never seen Nadal hit fast serves full of spin.
     
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  30. mattennis

    mattennis Hall of Fame

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    First serve: in my opinion Ivanisevic, Becker, Krajicek, Stich and Arthurs are some of the players from the 90s that had a better first serve than Sampras (not by much, but in terms of nº of aces+unreturned divided by nº of service points played, and I know this because they showed those statistics during several years in the 90s and, if I remember correctly, those players were some of the players that were higher than Pete in this statistic).

    Second serve: Pete possibly has the best second serve of his time taking into account serveral different things like fewer DF than other great servers, great second serves in important points and super-heavy second serve that was difficult to attack (although all this is subjective, whereas the other thing was objective, it was an statistic).

    Another thing worth mentioning is that the statistic "nº of aces+unreturned divided by nº of first service points played" is blind to some things. For example, Sampras not always tried to make an ace or unreturned with his first serve. Many times he just hit a good enough first serve so that he could hit an easy first volley to take command of the point.

    Other players (Becker, Ivanisevic, Philippoussis for example) tried to hit aces or unreturned with almost all their first serves and that is why their numbers may be higher.
     
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  31. Laurie

    Laurie Professional

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    Thanks for the reply.

    Your last sentence is interesting and people should take note, especially up and coming players - tennis is about playing smart, not looking flash..
     
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  32. mattennis

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    But I agree that statistics never tell the whole story.

    For example, during many years, Agassi did a great use of his first serve, not in terms of aces+unreturned, but in terms of many many first serves that drew a short return that he subsequently hit to win the point (plus, he had a high % of first serves in).

    In his case, the statistic "nº of aces+unreturned" doesn't show how efficiently he used his first serve (not winning many points with the first shot, the serve, but winning many many points with two shots, first serve and forehand or backhand winner off of a short return).
     
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  33. Overdrive

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    Wow, that's another thing that my coach never told me before..
    After two years on being on his team, he told me that the grip I was using for my serve and backhand was a 'beginner grip' before I would clearly have my index finger sticking out.
     
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  34. Moose Malloy

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    I followed tennis pretty closely in the 90s & never saw this stat. Considering how limited their stats(and manpower) is still today(no winners, no ue's), I have my doubts there was some guy tracking all unreturned serves year round in the 90s. that would require a major effort. or maybe it was just that stat for the WTF? that seems more plausible. or it was just aces divided by service points, much easier to track.

    some posters have tracked that stat in some matches with Sampras, Goran, Becker etc & Sampras seems to come out pretty well in that stat.

    I suggest you read through this thread(note that in some of these matches Goran had more aces than Sampras, but Sampras had more unreturnables. Again to my knowledge, 'unreturned serves' has never been a stat tracked by the atp)

    I'm sure slice serve ace will chime in, he's the expert on that stat.

    http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=306579&page=26

     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2013
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  35. DropShotArtist

    DropShotArtist Banned

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    Isn't hitting a first serve ace or unreturnable serve ALWAYS more desirable than hitting a serve that requires a follow-up volley?
     
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  36. RogerRacket111

    RogerRacket111 Semi-Pro

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    It doesn't just happen. The first way to start making the ball go where you want to go is to decide and visualize where you want your serve to go. If you have a target your more likely to hit it. Just saying I want it to go somewhere in the box wont let you start directing the ball where you want to go. Try it set a target every time you will be surprised how can start serving where you want.
     
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  37. tipsytennis

    tipsytennis New User

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    Definately, although it depends if you have power or not. If you have power like John Isner, you can place them where you want with power but if you dont have as much power you can always just place them wide lets say and then crawl in for the volley.
     
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  38. Overdrive

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    Wow, that's another thing that my coach never told me before..
    After two years on being on his team, he told me that the grip I was using for my serve and backhand was a 'beginner grip' before I would clearly have my index finger sticking out....
     
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  39. Overdrive

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    But the problem about Isner is that he can't return..
    That's why he isn't as dominant as he could possibility be.
     
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  40. Laurie

    Laurie Professional

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    I know you guys get obsessive, but let me bring everyone back to the orginal thing, it is about disguise and placement and passing on tips to youngsters - not statistics.....
     
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  41. DropShotArtist

    DropShotArtist Banned

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    ^^^ So maybe you should have posted this in the tennis tips section then?
     
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  42. Laurie

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    A more technical question now.

    If I think of Sam Stosur, she has a great kick serve, but we all know it is predicatble and the very best returners are waiting for it, there are certain serves Sam cannot do to a very high level.

    Her serve down the middle on the ad court can be much better. But her serve is limited by how she holds the racquet, if anyone else has observed it, does she use a forehand grip to come round the ball to get the kick? It looked like a forehand grip to me when I see close up clips.

    As far as I can tell, to hit all of the serves with great disguise and a lot of spin, the continental grip still gets the job done doesn't it?
     
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  43. Laurie

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    Indeed I should have, I mentioned that in the former pro player thread, and I will, thanks.
     
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  44. mattennis

    mattennis Hall of Fame

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    Great data, Moose Malloy.

    Maybe my memory fails, maybe it was only for the WTF as you suggest.

    I would love to see those statistics for any entire year and it would not surprise me at all to see Sampras fifth or sixth in some years (behind Ivanisevic, Krajicek, Becker...) or maybe not, maybe he would be top-3 in that list (in any case, your data seem to suggest that though Goran or Krajicek hit more aces, the nº of unreturned is not that different).

    The reason I would not be surprised by that (some players having more unreturned serves than Sampras, per first service point played) is that, like I said earlier, Sampras not always tried to make an ace or unreturnable with his first serve, whereas other big servers usually tried to make an ace or unreturbable almost with all their first serves.
     
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  45. mattennis

    mattennis Hall of Fame

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    Depends. Trying to hit an ace with EVERY first serve can tire you down quickly and you won't get a high % of first serves in trying to hit absolutely perfect first serves (aces) all the time (Well, maybe you can if you are Goran Ivanisevic or Richard Krajicek, but few people can do that).

    A good kick first serve can make you win the point as well with an easy first volley and you will get them in with a higher % than other types of serves.

    In fact, in my opinion, Rafter's or Edberg's first serves were just perfect to win easy points with first volleys, for example (and they both won more points that way than when they tried to hit aces).
     
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  46. Relinquis

    Relinquis Hall of Fame

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    great tip from pete... thanks for posting this, will try to incorporate it.

    anyone know what grip he used for his serve? i use continental, but shifted slightly (half a bevel) towards eastern backhand.

    also, any space between fingers?
     
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  47. smoledman

    smoledman Legend

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    Super #humble Petros filled with advice for all!
     
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  48. Laurie

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    I believe he used continental. Still the best grip to serve in my opinion.
     
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  49. BeHappy

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    Actually, if you look at atp world tour final matches/end of year masters, from the 90's on youtube, they occasionally had an (amazing) overhead angle of the serve, they'd do it every 5-6 points and you can see that Sampras threw the ball way to the right when he hit a big flat/slice first serve, and further behind and to the left when he wanted kick etc.

    It's possible that the toss was the same every time and he twisted his body so it was further to the right or left relative to him depending on what serve he wanted. But it was very noticeable and even if you look at normal matches I think I could definitely tell if he was going to kick it or slice/cannonball it, although I obviously wouldn't return one out of a 100.

    Maybe the real disguise was his ability to disguise the direction?
     
    #49
  50. Bobby Jr

    Bobby Jr Legend

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    Do you really think Stich had a better serve than Sampras?

    Seriously? :lol:
     
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