Advice to other rec. players on serving in doubles.

Steady Eddy

Hall of Fame
Put your first serve in 80% (4 of 5) of the time. How to do that? Start with a serve that goes in maybe 50% of the time, and slow down your swing until you can put it in 80% of the time. That is your doubles serve. What do you do for your second serve? Same serve. With these percentages you will only double fault 4% of the time. You can live with that. Do NOT try to prevent double faults by babying in the second serve. Do NOT put undue pressure on your second serve by allowing for a low first serve rate.

I've found that I can serve 80% in with a slice if I hit it only 60 mph, (estimate). One of my opponents said that my serve has "some pace" and that I infrequently double fault. Another advantage is I only have to learn one serve. Learning one serve is a challenge enough for me, I don't want to try to master two serves.

I think 80% is about the right percentage for first serves.
 
It's a tradeoff: i've gone entire matches without DFing but to me that means I left too much on the table in terms of not getting enough free points [missed returns or weak ones that my partner could attack]. By the same token, if I go an entire match without getting burned DTL, it means I didn't do my job trying to control the middle. You have to consider the unseen as well as the seen.

I'm more about finding a sweet spot where my 1st serve % is high enough to put pressure on the receivers but not so high that I sacrifice the advantage of having 2 serves.
 

Steady Eddy

Hall of Fame
It's a tradeoff: i've gone entire matches without DFing but to me that means I left too much on the table in terms of not getting enough free points [missed returns or weak ones that my partner could attack]. By the same token, if I go an entire match without getting burned DTL, it means I didn't do my job trying to control the middle. You have to consider the unseen as well as the seen.

I'm more about finding a sweet spot where my 1st serve % is high enough to put pressure on the receivers but not so high that I sacrifice the advantage of having 2 serves.
I think we're in agreement here. No double faults might actually mean you're too conservative with your serve. My rule of thumb for anyone is that a serve serve percentage should be no lower than 50%. (I see players who seem to serve around 10%, which means they start nearly every point with a second serve.)

At 60 mph if you study the trajectory, gravity is still you friend. It will pull the ball an additioninal 4 feet after crossing the net. Now if you're in the 90 mph and over group, you get almost no help from gravity, and you need spin to bring it down into the court. Now how slow is 60 mph? Too slow for advanced opponents, but my fellow hackers described it as "good pace". They hit their second serves at about 30 to 40 mph, and that's just too slow. You're not going to force any weak returns at that speed. Bump your speed up to 60 mph, and you should still be able to put it into play consistently.

I get tired of always seeing this bullet 1st serve, that seems to never go in. (I've seen guys serve their entire service game without getting one 1st serve in). And then tapping in that 2nd serve, and thinking that since they always get their 2nd serve in, they're serving "smart". Uggh!
 

QuadCam

Professional
The key to a winning serve in doubles is to be able to serve in such a manner that you set your net partner up for an easy volley or poach.

I'm not saying that you shouldn't go for the occasional ace; you should when you are up 40-0 or 40-15.

You need to be able to control where you place your serves! Especially important is to be able to hit a good T serve from both the deuce and ad sides of the court. The T serve narrows the returners angles and takes the risk out of poaching. A great T serve makes poaching an easy and rewarding task.
 

TagUrIt

Hall of Fame
It’s extremely common at the recreational level to see the “go for it” first serve and the powder puff second serve. At the lower levels of tennis you can get away with that style of serving, but as you go into the higher levels, that just won’t cut it.

I actually played rec doubles tonight and witnessed this (again) first hand. I asked the guy after the match why this serving style he said exactly what I thought he would, he didn’t want to double fault. I told him sending in a weak second serve is basically the same as giving a point away. I told him maybe go for it on his second serve more. (He doesn’t have an effective second serve)

Me personally, I’d rather my partner go for it and double fault rather than serve a serve that will get teed off on.
 

Steady Eddy

Hall of Fame
The key to a winning serve in doubles is to be able to serve in such a manner that you set your net partner up for an easy volley or poach.

I'm not saying that you shouldn't go for the occasional ace; you should when you are up 40-0 or 40-15.

You need to be able to control where you place your serves! Especially important is to be able to hit a good T serve from both the deuce and ad sides of the court. The T serve narrows the returners angles and takes the risk out of poaching. A great T serve makes poaching an easy and rewarding task.
Think of baseball. Some pitchers throw underhand with topspin. This reduces their speed, but they get lots of hitters to ground out. Now suppose you have 'the bad news Bears' for your infield, then you've got to overpower the hitter with speed. Doubles is like having a good infield, singles is like going for the Ks.

And you're right, go down the T most of the time.

It’s extremely common at the recreational level to see the “go for it” first serve and the powder puff second serve. At the lower levels of tennis you can get away with that style of serving, but as you go into the higher levels, that just won’t cut it.

I actually played rec doubles tonight and witnessed this (again) first hand. I asked the guy after the match why this serving style he said exactly what I thought he would, he didn’t want to double fault. I told him sending in a weak second serve is basically the same as giving a point away. I told him maybe go for it on his second serve more. (He doesn’t have an effective second serve)

Me personally, I’d rather my partner go for it and double fault rather than serve a serve that will get teed off on.
Did he ever think that the reason for a double fault isn't solely the missed second, but also the missed first? To win you don't need the ace, just a serve that hurries the returner into a weak return your netman can put away. So amp down the first, amp up the second from what you do in singles.
 
Top