Serve speed

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by winstonlim8, Nov 14, 2013.

  1. winstonlim8

    winstonlim8 Semi-Pro

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    Bragging rights aside, I've always why anyone should want to worry how fast the ball left his racquet at the point of impact or just after that when what's really really relevant is how quickly it jumps off the ground after it lands.

    Isn't the real measure of a good serve how well you place it with decent speed, how much spin you can put on it to affect its bounce and how regularly you can put it in the court without resorting to dinking?

    I'd have thought that the best servers are those who can either get an immediate error on the return or get a very easily put away return the most often and not necessarily those who hit the most aces.

    Aces are good, but they're a bonus in my opinion, not the main objective when serving.
     
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  2. GuyClinch

    GuyClinch Hall of Fame

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    Main reason is bragging. But I don't see a huge problem with that..
    Why do guys care how fast their car does 0-60. Isn't a Prius is good enough?
    Why do guys care how hot their g/f is? As long as she loves you that's what matters?
    Why do guys care who wins in their MOBA game? Isn't the fun in playing? Haha.

    As a guy I accept our limitations..and just go with it. I am interested in how fast my serve is - though I know its not fast enough.I'd like some drills that add serve speed..I wonder if anyone has given these drills a shot:

    http://www.stack.com/2013/09/06/tennis-serve-drills/
     
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  3. WildVolley

    WildVolley Legend

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    You qualify your complaint with the term "decent speed." So you too are concerned about serve speed.

    The ability to generate racket head speed is not unrelated to generating spin. The ability to precisely place the ball is not going to get you many easy service points if you can only bring 50mph.
     
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  4. anubis

    anubis Hall of Fame

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    I agree with you, I am not concerned with my serve speed at all. I go for placement above all else. Even if you could serve 80, 90 or even 100 mph, if it's right down the middle of the service box, all the opponent has to do is stick the racquet out and block it back.

    Making them move and keeping them guessing, however, is a better way of thinking about it.
     
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  5. WildVolley

    WildVolley Legend

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    One reason that speed is discussed so much on this forum is that it is a measurable part of the serve. Talk of hitting your spots is more subjective.

    Also, players naturally want to see how they measure up against the pros they see hitting on TV.
     
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  6. Topspin Shot

    Topspin Shot Legend

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    They deceive themselves though because their flat 100 mph serve is not the same as a pro's 100 mph kick serve. A pro could flatten out that serve and put it over 130; he chooses not to because he cares more about winning than lighting up the radar gun.
     
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  7. WildVolley

    WildVolley Legend

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    They deceive themselves if they don't pay attention to how the pro is hitting. I agree that we sometimes see posters who think their 100mph flat serve is comparable to Nadal's 100mph topspin-slice, but I think they are the exception rather than the rule.

    While there definitely are players who are speed obsessed, on this board we also have defensive posters who take offense whenever a rec-player says he can hit flat serves over 100mph. Perhaps because of difficulty they have with the serve, they are angered that lower-level rec players can bring over 100mph, even if it is flat. I've been able to hit a 100mph+ flat serve since I've been playing at the 3.5-level (definitely playing above that now). I'm hesitant to bring it up because some will immediately call you a liar, delusional, or start demanding video.
     
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  8. Topspin Shot

    Topspin Shot Legend

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    There are plenty of rec players out there who can hit over 100 mph flat serves. I would probably call BS on the 3.0 who claims he can hit 100, but plenty of 4.0s and above can do it. Of course, doing it once to get the radar gun reading and doing it in a match are two different things.
     
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  9. WildVolley

    WildVolley Legend

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    I can easily hit 100mph flat serves all day long because my technique is fairly good and I'm tall. Unfortunately, I can't consistently hit over 110mph or nail my slider whenever I want.:(

    Most people cite their fastest serve, not their average. The situation is more equivalent to Roddick saying he can hit 155mph than giving his average. In that case, some 3.0s can hit 100mph. When I coached high school I'd sometimes bring the radar gun out just for fun. I've had fairly short players who I'd call 3.0s thump 100mph serves using semi-western grips (I didn't teach them that!:twisted:). So it is possible for a 3.0 to have hit a 100mph serve in the box, but usually it is a losing strategy as it is mostly a matter of luck and most will go well long.

    I think that we need to more forgiving of players who overestimate their serve speed. It really isn't a big deal. Not that it is wrong to suggest that they should use better measuring techniques.
     
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  10. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    For sure, there are some 3.0's who can thump a serve 100mph, but it don't go in very often in match play. Does take some practice to get that heater to go in at least 40%.
    Doubt anyone here is dumb enough to equate our 100mph flat serves with Nadal's 105 top/slice. Any takers here. We KNOW Nadal can serve 127's if he wants to. We can give Roddick his "155" because he's done it multiple times.
    Who cares about AVERAGE speed?
    If you drive a Porsche, your AVERAGE speed legally on the freeway is the same as a Prius driver's AVERAGE speed.
     
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  11. shindemac

    shindemac Hall of Fame

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    Aces have to be compared to double faults too.
     
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  12. shindemac

    shindemac Hall of Fame

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    Yes, but a porsche can go from 0 to 60 in 1.00 seconds. A prius can get 100 mpg.
     
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  13. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    "CAN" is your fastest service speed.
    Average is the same as a Prius.
     
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  14. shindemac

    shindemac Hall of Fame

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    Asking for a video of a player's big serve is like asking a girl to send a pic of her big...
     
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  15. winstonlim8

    winstonlim8 Semi-Pro

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    Thank you for your insights, everyone.

    I'm not saying being able to hit a good hard serve isn't important (that's why I mentioned 'a decent speed') but since isn't it more important to be able to hit good reliable 80-100mph serves that go in the court accurately and regularly than the occasional 150mph one? That's why I said that aces are bonuses.

    Anyway, as I mentioned on another thread, since the speed of a serve is mostly measured at the point where they leave the racquet after impact, I really don't see what good that does. Now if they measured the speed of a serve as it jumped off the court after it bounced, that would be something else.

    A receiver can't actually hit the ball before it bounces so wouldn't that be a better measurement of the service speed? Not to mention a better way of estimating how effective the serve is, actually.

    As we've all seen on tv, really big servers like Roddick and Dr. Ivo don't seem to present that much of a problem to the other top pros in spite of the speed at which the ball leaves their racquets whereas accurate, less powerful servers like Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal give their opponents fits with their less powerful serves which are accurately placed wherever they like and have spin to make the balls curve awkwardly to boot. Even Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic's serves seems to be more effective against the other Top 10 for that reason.

    Where Andy Roddick is concerned, I've noticed that his slice serve is really good but he doesn't seem to hit it much as he goes for the big flat one more often than not and that isn't winning him as many points nowadays.

    PS
    I can certainly understand the matter of bragging rights as I really wish I had something to brag about.
     
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  16. Avles

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    I don't agree with this. Karlovic is the ATP career leader in percentage of service games won (91%). Roddick is 3rd. I think it's fair to say that their serves are incredibly effective, especially Karlovic's given that his ground game is pretty lame by ATP standards.

    Guys like Isner, Raonic, Anderson don't hang around in the top 20 because of their serve accuracy. Serve speed does matter.

    Roddick has been retired for a year now, but the serve was his major strength right up to the finish.
     
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  17. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Federer and Nadal have the greatest groundie games, like DJ, like Murray, like Ferrer, and NONE need the top 10 serves to succeed.
    Ivo has horrid groundies...for his level of play, and NEEDS all the serve he can muster.
     
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  18. winstonlim8

    winstonlim8 Semi-Pro

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    :) I couldn't agree more.
     
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  19. corbind

    corbind Professional

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    You are wise if measuring your success not on speed but results (points).
     
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  20. shindemac

    shindemac Hall of Fame

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    Speed is speed so it doesn't matter when you measure it. As long as everybody measures it the same way so we have something to compare. Of course, people like higher numbers, so...

    Roddick retired.
     
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  21. winstonlim8

    winstonlim8 Semi-Pro

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    Thanks, Corbin. I don't have a 100mph serve (at least I don't think so) but I seem to get my share of cheap points on service games, so I have never been worried about the speed of my serves.

    It would be nice to know what my first and second serve sppeds are, I admit, since I never try to serve full out and don't tone down my second serve (I use a topspin serve for that) since I have always believed that my second serve should be good enough to be my first serve anyway. I prefer to play an all-court attack with occasional S-V.

    I don't try to serve flat, for that matter. It's too low percentage for me. And since I suffer from low blood sugar and high electrolyte loss during games, having too many serve variations just makes things so complicated that it throws my coordination, timing and toss off at the tail end of a match and I get a lot of double faults.

    So what I've learned is to stick to a reliable slice for going out wide or into the body and a dependable topspin serve for going in the other direction, both hit at around 80% effort and no more.

    I measure the success of my serving by how accurately I place each one, how much spin I can get on it without compromising the speed too much and whether the returner can stand anywhere near the baseline to return it. Most people at the club have to stand 3-5 feet behind the baseline. The only exceptions are two 70-year-old gentlemen who stand 2-3 feet inside the baseline and take my serves on the rise whenever possible. They have fantastic reflexes and play very aggressive volleying doubles. No dingdongpingpong for them, I assure you.
     
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  22. Mrnoital

    Mrnoital Banned

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    Where do you guys come up with this stuff?
     
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2013
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  23. Mrnoital

    Mrnoital Banned

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    You've got to be kidding?

    Perhaps because the speed that is generated by the racket determines everything beyond that point?
     
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  24. Timbo's hopeless slice

    Timbo's hopeless slice Hall of Fame

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    yes, I'm more interested in how many times it doesn't come back to be honest!

    (I get to play a few tournaments with guns, so I know I average only about 105 or so and top out at about 115)

    wish I was a 3.5, then I could serve 125!!
     
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  25. winstonlim8

    winstonlim8 Semi-Pro

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    LOL...So do I and I'm barely 3.5
     
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  26. GoaLaSSo

    GoaLaSSo Semi-Pro

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    Well the guy with the best serve on my team hits power topspin/kinda flattish (don't know what these serves are called exactly) serves between 90-105ish mph, heavy kick serves, and change up slice serves; but places them really well and uses s&v tactics. He is capable of hitting completely flat serves, but rarely does because the serve is more than just power. Placement, disguise, and mixing up spins are just as important as power. I have broken him once out of what seems like a million service games because of how hard it is to prepare for his serves. He is a former starting lineup d1 player and is now a masters student.

    Another guy with a great serve hits flat serves in the 120s and is 6'6. He has pretty good consistency on his first serve, but everyone knows what to expect. We know it is possible to get back if we just bunt it back and get solid contact. He hits a good kick serve too, but never really mixes it up. He doesn't have nearly as good of volleys or game to follow up his serve either. I know a lot of people here exaggerate serve speeds, but I really am not! This guy serves so fast you can barely see the ball coming, but I still break him occasionally by standing pretty far back and blocking my returns back. This guy walked onto the d1 team at my school for a year, but got injured and never found his way back. He wasn't really good enough to break into the starting lineup of the team anyway.

    tl;dr: Power is only important to a degree. Players should focus on placement, disguise, and mixing up spins once they learn to hit with reasonable power.

    EDIT: Serves that are 130+ are practically lightning strikes. Many pros might have the ability to hit that big, but only the ones that can do so consistently use it as a staple part of their game. There are a lot of pros with great serves that do not hit roddick and karlovic style bombs.
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2013
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  27. winstonlim8

    winstonlim8 Semi-Pro

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    That's why I prefer not to try to cream the ball but work on making both my slice as well as flat topspin serves reliable enough that there is very little difference whether it's first or second serve.

    We have left handed players at my club so my slice out wide or even down the middle has to be reliable as a second serve.
     
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  28. Mrnoital

    Mrnoital Banned

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    :confused:

    Obviously you would want to serve as fast as you can. You would only purposely slow your speed if you have to choose between fast and accurate. If you can do both than you should be serving bombs every time.
     
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  29. Topspin Shot

    Topspin Shot Legend

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    You want to generate as much racket speed as you can. But that speed can translate into spin as well as pace.
     
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  30. winstonlim8

    winstonlim8 Semi-Pro

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    Yeah, I really wish I could do that but I can't. No stamina, poor coordination, no talent, and lousy timing - kinda hard to go 100% and not mess up 99 times out of a hundred for me.
     
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  31. Mrnoital

    Mrnoital Banned

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    OK.... and?
     
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  32. GoaLaSSo

    GoaLaSSo Semi-Pro

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    he answered your question. Some people go for spin>speed, rather than just hitting flat serves all day.

    Of course we would all hit 150 mph lasers in the corners of the box if we could...

    I don't see where you are going with this.
     
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  33. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Let's tone it down to reality...
    Even if we HAD a 115 flat serve, we would NOT hit it every single first serve. Returner dials it in, and we don't care about playing rummies or guys a level below us, we're talking PEERS.
    Variety is key. A couple of 85 mph top/slices, a 100 is a heater.
     
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  34. GoaLaSSo

    GoaLaSSo Semi-Pro

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    100 is still a good flat serve speed as long as it is placed well. I personally hit mostly kick/power topspin type serves because I have found it gives most people a lot of trouble and I don't double fault :)
     
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  35. Mrnoital

    Mrnoital Banned

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    :confused: I didn't ask any questions. He quoted me and stated the obvious and I was waiting for something more because nothing he said contradicted what I said.
     
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  36. GoaLaSSo

    GoaLaSSo Semi-Pro

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    Oops I meant to say statement.

    Maybe he said the same thing as you because Mrnoital and Topspin are secretly the same person :twisted:
     
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  37. Topspin Shot

    Topspin Shot Legend

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    Absolutely not. I have nothing to do with that clown.
     
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  38. Mrnoital

    Mrnoital Banned

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    Or do you...
     
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  39. Topspin Shot

    Topspin Shot Legend

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    Jeez. I've posted numerous videos of myself serving and playing points on here, and it's pretty obvious from looking at me that I'm not old enough to have a nine year old daughter.
     
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  40. Ballinbob

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    He's just joking around lol
     
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  41. GoaLaSSo

    GoaLaSSo Semi-Pro

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    This is exactly what Mrnoital/Topspin would want us to think :shock:

    To stay on topic a bit...

    I think most of us agree that you should not be changing your racquet head speed too drastically for different serves, rather that you should be using that speed to impart spin to mix up serves. I know there are some people that hit a slower version of their first serve as their second, but this seems detrimental for a few of reasons.

    *The player will have trouble developing a strong second serve
    *On spin serves, increased racquet head speed allows for more consistency
    *And slowing your motion lets hesitation and nerves creep in. Ideally, you shouldn't be lowering your swing intensity in key moments where hesitation could hurt you.
     
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  42. Topspin Shot

    Topspin Shot Legend

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    Or maybe I'm you. :shock::shock::shock:

    Anyhow, I agree that racket speed should be the same for first and second serves.
     
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  43. Mrnoital

    Mrnoital Banned

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    Or maybe I'm you. :shock::shock::shock:

    Anyhow, I agree that racket speed should be the same for first and second serves.



    Oops.. Double post.;-)
     
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  44. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    I don't think there should be any "SHOULD" in tennis, regarding most aspects of the sport.
    I see lots of pros swing slower on second serves, and it works for them.
    I know I swing FASTER on second serves, and it works for me. I know you are not going to ask..."how can he swing faster on second serves".
    Faster or slower, it's up to the server to decide on the balance between solid hit, controlled depth, against super fast spin, variable depth, both with the same placement options.
     
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  45. winstonlim8

    winstonlim8 Semi-Pro

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    I agree with that last bit especially, LeeD. I don't try to slow down my swing on my second serve, like I said. When you've got as many physical problems as I do when playing, the risk of double-faulting a few more times is worth it compared to the number of cheap points and weaker returns I can get by hitting both serves at the same controlled speed.

    Quite simply, the quicker I can end a point, the more energy and fewer potential problems I'll have on later ones because my blood sugar or electrolytes are low or I've run out of stamina especially when the score reaches 4-4 or 6-6.
     
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  46. corbind

    corbind Professional

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    + 1 on that. Unusual for me but today I hit a lot more flat bombs to see what would happen. Sadly they got more heaters back than my usual serve (slower kickers). So at least for me I can conserve energy, DF less, and score more points with a slower serve.
     
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  47. winstonlim8

    winstonlim8 Semi-Pro

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    Yeah. I don't try to flatten out my serve unless I'm ahead 40-0 or 40-15 and preferably with a break in hand, too.
     
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  48. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Seems I can swing FASTER on second serves, and get it in about one DB every TWO sets. That's fair enough.
    Faster swing, more topspin, higher target over the net, more room for error, more spin causing a weaker return, or certainly more mishit returns.
     
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  49. winstonlim8

    winstonlim8 Semi-Pro

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    I think it's a matter of confidence and what kind of second serve they have, Lee. It's quite hard for most people to believe that when your first serve is not going in, swinging faster on the second one might be better, especially if their second serve isn't a topspin-based one or have much topspin to start with.
     
    #49
  50. Fintft

    Fintft Hall of Fame

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    ^^^
    Not for me, as I look at the first serve like a warm-up for the second...Sometimes I do change placement though.
     
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