Slap it like Sally or Slam like Sampras?

Discussion in 'Adult League & Tournament Talk' started by aurelius, Sep 20, 2012.

  1. aurelius

    aurelius New User

    Jun 14, 2011
    Playing in the USTA, it seems like everyone attempts a much more timid or safer second serve but there seems to be a suggestion our there that two firsts is better than a weaker or safer 2nd.

    What do you recommend? Would if differ if you're playing on the singles line or doubles line? Combo team - should the higher rated person do a double first?

    Here's a link to some stats and argument -
  2. jonnythan

    jonnythan Professional

    Jul 20, 2009
    Depends on the level. At the lower levels, your opponent is not at all likely to be able to hit a putaway winner on a soft second serve.
  3. IA-SteveB

    IA-SteveB Professional

    Jun 6, 2012
    Agreed. When I was playing 3.5 early in the season, I had not gotten a decent second serve developed so it was way under paced. My opponents didn't really crush it back and rarely returned a winner on me. Compare that with playing against high 3.5/4.0 people and I quickly realized my second serve needed prompt attention. :) I probably have a 50-60% first serve, so I needed a good second obviously.
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2012
  4. NTRPolice

    NTRPolice Semi-Pro

    Aug 11, 2012
    Depends on so many things.

    In the large scale of things most people do not have a "second serve" that they can take a full swing on. For your second serve to be "good" you have to be able to take a full and confident swing. The biggest misconception about second serves is that you swing softer so it goes in more. A properly executed second serve uses a full swing.

    In doubles you have to take into account how each of the receivers are taking your ball and whether or not your partner at net is being effective. If your partner at net is getting killed you may want to serve that person harder than if he/she is just doing generic returns and poaching the return is common.

    In singles you have to consider how many of your first points youre winning compared to your second. If you're losing more first serves than you are second serves you're serving too hard and making too many errors.
  5. mib

    mib New User

    Jun 13, 2012
    Most people, who play USTA do not have the first serve that is both deadly enough and reliable enough to try this strategy.

    Say, if your hard serve goes in 30% of the time and always wins the point, while the soft second serve goes in 90% of the time and wins only 40% of the points, you would still be better off serving the soft second serve.
  6. Clive Walker

    Clive Walker Rookie

    Apr 16, 2006
    Mcr UK
    THe majority of people I play with in UK league tennis could do with upping the commitment to the 2nd serve- while taking 10% off of the first serve. THere's too much of the all out wrench on the first serve (and therefore a low percentage of serves in) followed up by the dolly 2nd serve.
  7. Maui19

    Maui19 Hall of Fame

    Sep 18, 2010
    I hit two aggressive second serves (playing mostly doubles). A soft second serve will often get my partner killed. I find I have more success hit mostly kick serves and changing speeds and locations than I do with a hard first and spin second.
  8. therecanbeonlyone

    therecanbeonlyone New User

    Mar 16, 2012
    I took a whole high school season to develop a great 2nd serve. I didn't hit any 1st serves that whole season. Even after a 10 year layoff, that 2nd serve confidence is still there. One advantage that is often overlooked is that the returner's mindset changes for second serves (maybe they relax a bit), and I am almost certain I have hit more second serve aces than 1sts lately.
  9. NTRPolice

    NTRPolice Semi-Pro

    Aug 11, 2012
    Yup. I catch myself all the time doing that. I either over swing (over confident) or get lazy with the feet (under estimate) and make a pointless error. I catch myself making more errors on second serves than on firsts all the time especially when im playing for fun.
  10. SlapShot

    SlapShot Hall of Fame

    Sep 7, 2006
    Minneapolis, MN
    I think it gets more critical as you move up the NTRP chain. My first season at 4.5, I was amazed at how much harder it was to hold serve based on my serve alone, so I had to really focus on being on point for both firsts and seconds.

    That being said, I am still mostly aggressive on my second serve, and am OK with hitting 2-3 doubles if it means that I hit 6-7 unreturnables and start most points off with an advantage rather than neutral ground.
  11. OrangePower

    OrangePower Hall of Fame

    Sep 7, 2007
    NorCal Bay Area
    It really depends on so many things, including level, how good your serve is, etc.

    Personally, I tend to go for bigger serves in dubs than when I play singles.

    In dubs I'm looking to win the point on my serve, either service winner, or weak return that can be finished off at the net. That goes for 1st and 2nd serves. I'm willing to risk a few more DFs as a trade off.

    In singles, I'm looking to get some free points off my 1st serve, but on the 2nd I am more conservative. I don't want to risk DF and am ok with just getting into the point with a slight advantage.
  12. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

    Jun 20, 2012
    Fort Lauderdale, FL
    Interesting article, thanks. Yes, I think serving two first serves makes sense -- focusing not on the power of the serves, but on varying the placement and speed just enough to keep the receiver off balance. While staying well within your power capabilities, but serving essentially two first serves, you should produce more unreturnables (more service winners) and more weak returns than hitting a faster first serve and much slower second serve.

    Doing it is just a matter of getting past the mental block of the erroneous notion that serving a much slower second serve with some spin on it gives you better chances. For many, maybe most, players the better percentage play is to hit two first serves. At least that's what the numbers suggest.
  13. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

    Dec 28, 2008
    Depends on the player and his mindset.
    Some like to crush (and miss 75%) of first serves then hit a second.
    Some like to percentage in a weaker first, to avoid seconds.
    Some have great second serves.
    Some have puffball second serves.
    Some like to play aggressive tennis.
    Some need to play percentages.
    Which are you?
  14. TennisCJC

    TennisCJC Legend

    Apr 20, 2010
    The articles points to the statistical probability of winning more points if you hit your 2nd attempt like a 1st serve. But, I noticed when they interviewed the players that did not agree with the theory.

    I think the common sense approach is to work to have a good 2nd serve that is not as fast as your 1st serve but goes in 90+% of the time.

    If my opponent is a good returner, I will attempt a faster or more aggresive placement on a 2nd serve but I will not hit every 2nd serve like a 1st serve.

    I have never played anyone or seen any good players who hit both serves like 1st serves either.
  15. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

    Dec 28, 2008
    Well, we both have played plenty of players who hit a second serve for every serve, their first attempt just a little faster than their second try.
    Kinda like Connor's/Agassi tennis, where their groundies and passing shots are sooooo superior, they need only to start the point with their serves.
    But, if you can serve like Roddick or Milos, why not use it?
    As for the second, you need to play your percentages.....hard fast second for a weak return or a double fault!

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