At what point does serve actually become an advantage ?

mad dog1

G.O.A.T.
Yeah...there's only one person who says 3.5 hits harder than Nadal or that a 4.5 strokes would be indistinguishable from a pro during practice. I'm not going there. As for you, anyone could see from watching 30 secs of your clips that you'd be sandbagging at 3.5.

My point is what you put in previous post. How you had a great kick serve that seemed to work against 4.0s, but against 4.5s, not so much. That's where I was going with this. To achieve a deadly kick serve at the 4.5+ level that will get you easy points or a clear advantage, is not an easy thing to do. Then to have the confidence to do that in clutch situations time and again, requires even more skill and confidence. You might as well just got a pretty average 2nd serve in...one that didn't require a ton of practice. That's all I was trying to say. Also, once again, if you have the time, goals, and ability to get to that rarified air where you can consistently hit a great 2nd serve..more power to you. I never said that ones who had the ability to do that should not.
My kick serve is still effective against 4.5+ but I have to mix up my serves more to keep them off balance. Against 3.5-4.0s, I can just roll kicker after kicker to the bh wing and force errors or short returns to put away. Against 4.5+ you need more variety. I have to hit my spots and mix up the speeds and spins with flat, slice, top and kickers otherwise they can just camp out in one spot because they know what to expect and can set up to crush the return.
 

OnTheLine

Hall of Fame
Watch navigator's videos here. That's a solid 4.5 Many on this forum would love to accomplish what he has. I'm sure he wishes his 2nd serve was much better, but overall, he's done pretty well at a 4.5 level with that.
Navigator doesn't have a dink serve. I think I defined it pretty well: No pace. No spin. (NO SPIN!) High arc over net, high bounce.
 

mcs1970

Hall of Fame
Navigator doesn't have a dink serve. I think I defined it pretty well: No pace. No spin. (NO SPIN!) High arc over net, high bounce.
I clarified on the dink serve part. However let’s not embellish that serve No high bounce. It is just a low paced average serve to get the rally going. Doesn’t seem to hurt him too much at the 4.5 level.
 

mcs1970

Hall of Fame
My kick serve is still effective against 4.5+ but I have to mix up my serves more to keep them off balance. Against 3.5-4.0s, I can just roll kicker after kicker to the bh wing and force errors or short returns to put away. Against 4.5+ you need more variety. I have to hit my spots and mix up the speeds and spins with flat, slice, top and kickers otherwise they can just camp out in one spot because they know what to expect and can set up to crush the return.
If you can hit a variety of 2nd serves consistently to give 4.5s trouble, you are one of those rare birds I was talking about.
 

mad dog1

G.O.A.T.
If you can hit a variety of 2nd serves consistently to give 4.5s trouble, you are one of those rare birds I was talking about.
Before my shoulder injury, I could hit topspin and kickers reliably but was working on executing the variety of spin and placement on my slice. It was starting to get more reliable until my shoulder acted up so I haven’t reached rare bird status.
 

R1FF

Semi-Pro
Before my shoulder injury, I could hit topspin and kickers reliably but was working on executing the variety of spin and placement on my slice. It was starting to get more reliable until my shoulder acted up so I haven’t reached rare bird status.
Shoulder advice... hang from a chinup bar. Only a few seconds at a time. Be patient, and over the course of 6 months work your way up to a 5 min hang. No pull up. Just hang. Let your tendons do the work (like a rockclimber).

Lotsa UFC guys have massive shoulder injuries/inflammation. As do baseball pitchers.

They’ve been rehabbing & preventing issues by hanging. It allows for good blood flow and stretching everything out. Apparently the theory goes, our shoulders take a lotta abuse from the inactivity of everyday modern human life. But were originally biologically acclimated for swinging (we are primates, right?). So by hanging were stretching everything out in a very natural way and preventing the atrophy that is the root issue of these UFC/baseball injuries.

I gave this advice to a friend (regular dude) whose shoulder was all tore up. 6 months later he was thanking me. Plus, seen tons of athletes rehab this way.

I do it as preventative maintenance every morning & night. I also practice tennis serves (500+ strokes / week). No issues whatsoever after 9 months.
 

mad dog1

G.O.A.T.
Shoulder advice... hang from a chinup bar. Only a few seconds at a time. Be patient, and over the course of 6 months work your way up to a 5 min hang. No pull up. Just hang. Let your tendons do the work (like a rockclimber).

Lotsa UFC guys have massive shoulder injuries/inflammation. As do baseball pitchers.

They’ve been rehabbing & preventing issues by hanging. It allows for good blood flow and stretching everything out. Apparently the theory goes, our shoulders take a lotta abuse from the inactivity of everyday modern human life. But were originally biologically acclimated for swinging (we are primates, right?). So by hanging were stretching everything out in a very natural way and preventing the atrophy that is the root issue of these UFC/baseball injuries.

I gave this advice to a friend (regular dude) whose shoulder was all tore up. 6 months later he was thanking me. Plus, seen tons of athletes rehab this way.

I do it as preventative maintenance every morning & night. I also practice tennis serves (500+ strokes / week). No issues whatsoever after 9 months.
I have a torn labrum. At the moment I am willing to try anything non-surgical so thank you!
 

R1FF

Semi-Pro
I have a torn labrum. At the moment I am willing to try anything non-surgical so thank you!
BE PATIENT. You gotta go slow. Work your way into this.

Start off with something under your feet so your not hanging on your full body weight. Do it that way for a week or more if needed.

Please please please.... trust me on this - Go slow. Lack of patience might hurt you and taking your time will get you right.
 

mad dog1

G.O.A.T.
BE PATIENT. You gotta go slow. Work your way into this.

Start off with something under your feet so your not hanging on your full body weight. Do it that way for a week or more if needed.

Please please please.... trust me on this - Go slow. Lack of patience might hurt you and taking your time will get you right.
Thank you! Really appreciate this! I assume using a lat pull down machine to hang with minimal weight would work as well to start.
 

R1FF

Semi-Pro
Thank you! Really appreciate this! I assume using a lat pull down machine to hang with minimal weight would work as well to start.
Yes exactly.

Added benefit of lat pull down machine and eventually working your way to pullups is that it will strengthen your rhomboid muscles while also lossening up tight pectorals.

If any of you have upper/mid back pain, the cause is tight pectorals that pull your shoulders forward. Rhomboids are then in a constant state of stretch. Eventually fatiguing and causing a lot of pain for some people - tennis players can be especially prone to this.

Pulling the shoulders back requires stronger back muscles & looser chest. It seems counter intuitive but the relief dont lie.
 
Navigator doesn't have a dink serve. I think I defined it pretty well: No pace. No spin. (NO SPIN!) High arc over net, high bounce.
Having played a match against Navigator, I would not call his serve high-bouncing or no spin. In fact, the flattish trajectory is part of what makes it less attackable, because it stays low. His serve has more slice on it than it appears on video too. Yes he’s not trying to get offense out of it, but he’s spent years finding a serve that balances energy conservation and limited attackability. He puts just enough pace and spin on it to make it not worth the risk for a 4.5+ player to attack.
 
I know a guy with a chopDinkBackslice serve.
It is nearly impossible to attack
and generates massive UE's from 3.5 trying to crush that "sitter" for a winner.

Weak serve is a huge weapon against 3.5 bashers
 

undecided

Rookie
Show me a 3.5 that can do that consistently. :) . Against 3.5s, all you need to do is dink to the BH.
I am raising my hand. My ROS is closer to 4.5. 3.5 is an average of all the skills so you can face good returners although so far I have not faced a good returner at 3.5, they all just roll the ball back. I on the other hand am very aggressive on the ROS, hit towards the corners and usually break the opponent. I have to as my serve blows at the moment. 90% of the games I win are on the opponent's serve.
 
3.5 tend to crush the ROS, and spray it wild and give away tons of points.
4.0 are smart and bunt back ROS and not give away points.

As a sandbagging 2.5
I crush ROS into the back fence.
 

FiReFTW

Legend
You don't need to bunt back a weak dink serve, yes a ton of rec players make tons of errors trying to hit aggressive, but I find their problem is they try to take big cuts with the swing and arm.
You need to move forward and really push your bodyweight into the ball and take it on the rise and its easy to attack.
I notice it miself too, when I really get nice and forward into the weak serve and take it on the rise I can hit really good aggressive shots, but when I missjudge it a bit and I can't really move my body into it and are forced to use more arm its extremely easy to completely misshit if going for too much.
 
I always try to crush a weak serve.
Just to send a message to the opponent.
Your serve is garbage.
I love hitting ROS for a clean winner.
If I am having a terrible day, I will start drop shotting a weak serve just to stop the bleeding of free points.
 

R1FF

Semi-Pro
Whoever he's talking to.....

Shoulder advice... talk to a surgeon.
Never EVER take serious injury advice from internet posters with zero medical qualifications.
Dont pretend you’d respect credentials. You’d argue with a PhD if given the chance.

I dont personally know a single pro athlete in which going under the knife fixed their shoulders. Often, things got worse. And they get some of the best doctors in these respective areas.

I know several who healed their shoulders this way.
 
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OnTheLine

Hall of Fame
Having played a match against Navigator, I would not call his serve high-bouncing or no spin. In fact, the flattish trajectory is part of what makes it less attackable, because it stays low. His serve has more slice on it than it appears on video too. Yes he’s not trying to get offense out of it, but he’s spent years finding a serve that balances energy conservation and limited attackability. He puts just enough pace and spin on it to make it not worth the risk for a 4.5+ player to attack.
I was not trying to define Nav's serve. I was trying to define a Dink Serve that I keep saying Nav does NOT have ....
 
Nah. If an Ortho MD says I have a SLAP tear that needs surgery, I'd respect that.
Voodoo alternative remedies can often worse outcomes. Like in the case of cancer.
The only medical advice I would heed from internet posters would be resting.
Resting does wonders. Except if its cancer.
 
Nav is the bald guy?
Seems to be a dink serve, as there is no spin, no legs, little body action.
He's just hitting it flat, nice and safe. Total dink serve

 

R1FF

Semi-Pro
Nah. If an Ortho MD says I have a SLAP tear that needs surgery, I'd respect that.
Voodoo alternative remedies can often worse outcomes. Like in the case of cancer.
The only medical advice I would heed from internet posters would be resting.
Resting does wonders. Except if its cancer.
When your only tool is a hammer, all you see are nails.

“Professionals” are guilty of this far too often. They’re is an inherent conflict of interest. Surgeons recommend surgery by default. Lawyers often recommend you sue even tho they know you cant win. Auto mechanics recommend repairs that aren’t necessary.

I know doctors have a code of ethics, so what. They got a business to run.

And resting btw, might be the root issue on these shoulder injuries. Atrophy followed by intense use is a bad combo.

Most Americans cant do a single pushup or pullup.

I was recommended surgery for my broken back 20 years ago. Instead i did some research (easy to do in the information age of the internet) and went with traction/decompression therapy instead. 6 weeks later at my checkup the doctor couodnt believe my recovery. He said my MRI looked like someone 3 months after surgery & rehab. I was playing full court basketball later that weekend.

Due to sports, I’ve probably spent more time around doctors than most. Certainly more than I’d ever prefer. They arent novel superheroes. They’re regular flawed humans like the rest. Some good, most below average at their given duties.

And no I dont blindly hate doctors or surgeons. My brother in law is a 2x national champ in his respective sport. Was a very prominent figure at one time. He blew out his knee while training. I watched it happen. He wanted to rest it. The team and myself both begged him to get it fixed with surgery. Due to his experience of going under the knife on his shoulder (with elite team physician - torn labrum) he was resistant to surgery again. Knees & shoulders are very different. But to no avail our pleadings went unheard. His career was never the same. Lost out on millions in income.

What’s worse is that we were in Europe at the time. We had access to better technologies & doctors than in America.

Sometimes surgery is necessary. Sometimes it aint.

Do research. The number of times Ive had to correct doctors is alarming. Sometimes something as basic as a damn X-Ray they’re misreading. I currently employ 4 different law firms. The number of times I’ve had to catch gross errors on their part is again, alarming. Average humans make mistakes, lots of them.
 
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Sometimes surgery is necessary. Sometimes it aint.
Right, and you're the last person who knows the answer to that.
You have back issues 20 years ago, and therefore are now an expert on shoulder injuries (actually, all injuries)?
LMAO, consistently delusional. Diagnosing and prescribing rehab to someone he's never even met.

Never EVER take serious injury advice from internet posters with zero medical qualifications.
 
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R1FF

Semi-Pro
Right, and you're the last person who knows the answer to that.
Guy has back issues 20 years ago, and therefore thinks he's an expert on shoulder injuries (actually, all injuries)
Delusional. Never EVER take serious injury advice from internet posters with zero medical qualifications.
You dont have a clue what my training or qualifications are. And in other debates you dismissed them when presented. Your schtick is to argue first, ask questions later.

Never said I was an expert on shoulder injuries. Just gave my anecdotes on the subject. Doctors fresh out of med school without anecdotal experience are useless. And the stuff they learned in med school is easy to research on ones own.

Speaking of delusional, you are aware you demand everyone listen to your “expert” advice on these forums right?

I never professed myself an expert anyways. I just gave some advice on how I’ve helped & seen others heal their shoulders.

Why dont you stick to telling everyone the secrets of tennis? You have a hard enough time being the anecdotal police in that realm.
 
I am an expert on how to go from 3.5 to 4.0 in 2 years.
I have the experience to back that up.
That is the only advice I ever give on this forum.
This is stated clearly in my sig
 

NastyWinners

Professional
There’s a long list of players you’ve coached thru this process? If not, you’re hardly an expert.



Oh, so now personal experience is credible? Funny how that shifted.



That is blatantly false.
You'll end up on the ignore list in the signature lol
 

ShaunS

Semi-Pro
I think the worst advice I received on this forum is to just serve 2 solid 2nd serves every time. I spent months practicing and doing that. But the reality is that it is no advantage in a real game. Yes you don’t give up cheap points but you don’t get any either considering all the time you put in.
There's a solid kernel of truth to the idea that you "hit two second serves", but it's very dependent on how good your serve is to begin with.

The idea that you just crank a hard serve and roll the second one in is, respectfully, advice you'd hear from a low level player. It's rare you wouldn't be better off hitting a more controlled first serve with a reasonable second serve.

It might not seem like an opponent is doing much with a bad second serve, but if they're getting to start the point easily that's a big win for them. A good server starts with the advantage on most of their points, and putting no pressure on your opponent for every second serve would be such a gift.

As far as time spent on serving not being worth it... I don't know that there's a more important shot in the game. It'll start half of your points, and if it isn't good that's half you'll be starting from behind. If there's anything that's worth working on a decent serve is it. It's also one of the easier things to practice since you don't even need a second person.

The thing is you don't have to develop two completely different shots. If you have a good baseline, you can just be more aggressive on your first serve. That's probably more where the advice about "two second serves" came in.
 

undecided

Rookie
3.5 tend to crush the ROS, and spray it wild and give away tons of points.
4.0 are smart and bunt back ROS and not give away points.

As a sandbagging 2.5
I crush ROS into the back fence.
Literally none of the 3.5s I play do this. They are all super conservative with their ROS. They are just trying to start the point. I am the aberration it seems.
 

mcs1970

Hall of Fame
There's a solid kernel of truth to the idea that you "hit two second serves", but it's very dependent on how good your serve is to begin with.

The idea that you just crank a hard serve and roll the second one in is, respectfully, advice you'd hear from a low level player. It's rare you wouldn't be better off hitting a more controlled first serve with a reasonable second serve.

It might not seem like an opponent is doing much with a bad second serve, but if they're getting to start the point easily that's a big win for them. A good server starts with the advantage on most of their points, and putting no pressure on your opponent for every second serve would be such a gift.

As far as time spent on serving not being worth it... I don't know that there's a more important shot in the game. It'll start half of your points, and if it isn't good that's half you'll be starting from behind. If there's anything that's worth working on a decent serve is it. It's also one of the easier things to practice since you don't even need a second person.

The thing is you don't have to develop two completely different shots. If you have a good baseline, you can just be more aggressive on your first serve. That's probably more where the advice about "two second serves" came in.
I said if you have goals clearly > 5.0 and/or if you have the time to do it go for it.


All the other advice you are giving about it being the most important shot, is cliche advice. I would love to see some stats where someone at a 4.5 who tries a much faster serve followed by an obviously inferior 2nd serve is losing more points than if he just tried two solid second serves.

As for cranking it, it is just a term. I am not advocating hitting the first serve to the back fence 9 out of 10 times. I am saying use the first serve with a clear mindset of bringing heat.
 

Heck

Rookie
I play a ton of USTA and I worked on my serve to be a weapon higher than my current 3.5 level so I pick to serve first.
I feel at 3.5 an early hold sends a message. Playing up to 4.0 if the other team is home and warmed up extra before we
showed up I let them serve first so we can warm up before we start serving. If outdoors and windy I let them serve so they
get off to a shaky start lol.
 

R1FF

Semi-Pro
@mcs1970 I think i agree with you on this.

4.5’s are really good. But I haven’t played any in which their 2nd serve was a “weapon”. It was a consistent and quality fallback option. But never anything I fear.

4.5’s are in that weird middle ground where the 2nd serve still has room for growth. If i know it’s coming I can get a good crack at it and at least start the point off even.

I fear the player whom uses two 1st serves much more. They also seem to have a better 1st serve % imo.

Mixing in a 4.5 level second serve as a random change of pace is highly effective against me. But so is a underhanded dink so there’s that. I have a nasty tendency of playing up AND down to the level of my competition.
 

FiReFTW

Legend
It depends on the level too, but asuming on a normal rec level I would say if you can hit 80mph first serve and place it decently and hit 50-70% in on average in matches and have a non attackable 2nd serve that is reliable and doesn't get u many double faults then its a weapon.
 

R1FF

Semi-Pro
If your 1st serve % is 50% or better, wouldn’t it be fair to say that the odds of a 2nd attempt at it being a fault are extremely low? Low risk & high payoff situation.

First serve = 50% success rate means if I fail at attemt one, two will certainly be a success

So why use a second serve that is both less dangerous to the opponent but also only a 95% probability? Assuming your 2nd serve has a 95% success rate.
 

mad dog1

G.O.A.T.
When your only tool is a hammer, all you see are nails.

“Professionals” are guilty of this far too often. They’re is an inherent conflict of interest. Surgeons recommend surgery by default. Lawyers often recommend you sue even tho they know you cant win. Auto mechanics recommend repairs that aren’t necessary.

I know doctors have a code of ethics, so what. They got a business to run.

And resting btw, might be the root issue on these shoulder injuries. Atrophy followed by intense use is a bad combo.

Most Americans cant do a single pushup or pullup.

I was recommended surgery for my broken back 20 years ago. Instead i did some research (easy to do in the information age of the internet) and went with traction/decompression therapy instead. 6 weeks later at my checkup the doctor couodnt believe my recovery. He said my MRI looked like someone 3 months after surgery & rehab. I was playing full court basketball later that weekend.

Due to sports, I’ve probably spent more time around doctors than most. Certainly more than I’d ever prefer. They arent novel superheroes. They’re regular flawed humans like the rest. Some good, most below average at their given duties.

And no I dont blindly hate doctors or surgeons. My brother in law is a 2x national champ in his respective sport. Was a very prominent figure at one time. He blew out his knee while training. I watched it happen. He wanted to rest it. The team and myself both begged him to get it fixed with surgery. Due to his experience of going under the knife on his shoulder (with elite team physician - torn labrum) he was resistant to surgery again. Knees & shoulders are very different. But to no avail our pleadings went unheard. His career was never the same. Lost out on millions in income.

What’s worse is that we were in Europe at the time. We had access to better technologies & doctors than in America.

Sometimes surgery is necessary. Sometimes it aint.

Do research. The number of times Ive had to correct doctors is alarming. Sometimes something as basic as a damn X-Ray they’re misreading. I currently employ 4 different law firms. The number of times I’ve had to catch gross errors on their part is again, alarming. Average humans make mistakes, lots of them.
You are right about some doctors being below average at their jobs. About 13 years ago, I had a herniated disc in my lower back. I knew it because I’ve had a history with my lower back. Went to 2 family doctors looking to get a MRI referral so I could know how bad it was. 1st doc thought it might be rheumatoid arthritis. Didn’t think it was a herniated disc. 2nd doc was worse. Had a bad attitude and determined I had a hip pointer. Both were quite young and didn’t have much experience. 3rd doc was an older fellow. He immediately determined I had a herniated disc based on my symptoms and ordered the MRI.

Now onto my shoulder. I actually did go to an orthopedic surgeon shoulder specialist about 3 years ago when I hurt it serving. He ordered the MRI. Determined it was a tear in the labrum. The injury happened when I was in college. The MRI showed scar tissue and early stages of arthritis. He said the only thing that could be done was getting a shoulder replacement which he absolutely did not recommend unless it was so bad that I could not raise my arm. He couldn’t offer much more than that. I told him cupping helped to relieve the pain and tightness in my shoulder so he told me to continue doing that. After a few months, it healed up and I was able to serve again. Then about 3 months ago, I hurt it again serving. This time the pain and stiffness is worse. Cupping isn’t as effective anymore and only helps temporarily now so I will absolutely do the exercises you recommended. Thank you for sharing!
 

R1FF

Semi-Pro
You are right about some doctors being below average at their jobs. About 13 years ago, I had a herniated disc in my lower back. I knew it because I’ve had a history with my lower back. Went to 2 family doctors looking to get a MRI referral so I could know how bad it was. 1st doc thought it might be rheumatoid arthritis. Didn’t think it was a herniated disc. 2nd doc was worse. Had a bad attitude and determined I had a hip pointer. Both were quite young and didn’t have much experience. 3rd doc was an older fellow. He immediately determined I had a herniated disc based on my symptoms and ordered the MRI.

Now onto my shoulder. I actually did go to an orthopedic surgeon shoulder specialist about 3 years ago when I hurt it serving. He ordered the MRI. Determined it was a tear in the labrum. The injury happened when I was in college. The MRI showed scar tissue and early stages of arthritis. He said the only thing that could be done was getting a shoulder replacement which he absolutely did not recommend unless it was so bad that I could not raise my arm. He couldn’t offer much more than that. I told him cupping helped to relieve the pain and tightness in my shoulder so he told me to continue doing that. After a few months, it healed up and I was able to serve again. Then about 3 months ago, I hurt it again serving. This time the pain and stiffness is worse. Cupping isn’t as effective anymore and only helps temporarily now so I will absolutely do the exercises you recommended. Thank you for sharing!
With back injuries, these days I recommend researching the latest tech in Germany and going there if you can afford it. And that is only for severe/crippling injuries.

Ultimately we wanna get to the root issue of pain/injury and how to prevent it. I’ve spent most of my life/career in sports. It’s the ultimate what works/what doesnt proving grounds.

My brother in law’s shoulder is a mess and always will be. Because of the surgery. But he’s made a lot of progress via stretching & hanging. I dont think it will ever be 100% again, because of the damage done by the surgery. And now his knee is toast, because he didnt get surgery.

Also if you can, anything you can do to reduce inflammation in your body will go a long way in your rehab. Give up sugar for a while and you’ll be thankful you did.
 

ptuanminh

Hall of Fame
Everyone is different and they have to find a way to win on the court. Some relies on serve, some relies on slice, some on FH BH.
I am raising my hand. My ROS is closer to 4.5. 3.5 is an average of all the skills so you can face good returners although so far I have not faced a good returner at 3.5, they all just roll the ball back. I on the other hand am very aggressive on the ROS, hit towards the corners and usually break the opponent. I have to as my serve blows at the moment. 90% of the games I win are on the opponent's serve.
Do you have videos of your ROS in a match? I have never seen a 3.5 with anything 4.5.
 

ShaunS

Semi-Pro
I said if you have goals clearly > 5.0 and/or if you have the time to do it go for it.
I'm thinking more <3.5. I've never played a good 4.5 player who had a big first serve and just started the point with their second one. It's not even common at 4.0 amongst the better competition I've seen.

All the other advice you are giving about it being the most important shot, is cliche advice.
I'm unclear what you mean by "cliche advice". It's commonplace because the logic is strong and easily proven. You will start, approximately, half the points with a serve. Serve & Return of Serve are the most important parts of your game because everything has to pass through them.

I would love to see some stats where someone at a 4.5 who tries a much faster serve followed by an obviously inferior 2nd serve is losing more points than if he just tried two solid second serves.
The variables are too numerous for this to be accomplished by watching one person's serve though. The more relevant point is finding a serving plan that you can hit in with high consistency that gets you started "with an advantage". I'll explain below the way I'd recommend arriving at that point.

To be clear, I'm not advocating that just hitting two second serves is a great idea for everyone. However, as you mention, many people are looking for the easiest path to the best results. Going with two high percentage pretty good serves is a simple way to start off with something more effective than real big, real soft.

If your 1st serve % is 50% or better, wouldn’t it be fair to say that the odds of a 2nd attempt at it being a fault are extremely low? Low risk & high payoff situation.
That's not quite how the math works. 50% on both means you're double faulting 25% of the time, and that's a number that nobody should find acceptable.

So why use a second serve that is both less dangerous to the opponent but also only a 95% probability? Assuming your 2nd serve has a 95% success rate.
The part that makes this math "tricky" is how you value one in ball versus another. If you hit a junk serve, but it goes in how much did you gain?

IMO - If we want to come up with the best plan, we need to understand how frequently we can hit in a "good" second serve, and build our first serve aggressiveness based off that.

So hypothetically, let's say I can hit in a good second serve (that doesn't surrender all advantage to my opponent) around 80% of the time. It might sound low, but pros only hit theirs at about 90%. Let's run these numbers quickly to illustrate how much that still results in missing.

50% of your first serves and 80% of your second serves means you will hit the ball in 90% of the time. That's still 10% of your serve attempts resulting in a double fault. This is why I believe most players overestimate the shot they should be going for on first serve. I want my double faults to be well below 10%, and that means you have to do better than 50-80. The problem with changing the second number is that only goes against every serve you miss, so it has much less impact than first serves.

Just to see how that works out practically, if you go first serve 65% in, second serve 65% in then you'll hit about 88% in. Now if you just ease off that second serve a little, you can get your double fault rate down to 5% without a big hassle.

--

This is a complex area of discussion, and it's hard to debate empirically something that lacks data for amateurs. In the absence, I do look to what we see for professionals (male players specifically here).

{All these are rough numbers}
They average first serve in 63% and second serve 92% hit in. They win first serve points about 75% of the time, and on second serves it's around 50%. While we don't all have the same quality of shot, I find their percentages as a good starting point from where you can develop your own game.
 

R1FF

Semi-Pro
I'm thinking more <3.5. I've never played a good 4.5 player who had a big first serve and just started the point with their second one. It's not even common at 4.0 amongst the better competition I've seen.


I'm unclear what you mean by "cliche advice". It's commonplace because the logic is strong and easily proven. You will start, approximately, half the points with a serve. Serve & Return of Serve are the most important parts of your game because everything has to pass through them.


The variables are too numerous for this to be accomplished by watching one person's serve though. The more relevant point is finding a serving plan that you can hit in with high consistency that gets you started "with an advantage". I'll explain below the way I'd recommend arriving at that point.

To be clear, I'm not advocating that just hitting two second serves is a great idea for everyone. However, as you mention, many people are looking for the easiest path to the best results. Going with two high percentage pretty good serves is a simple way to start off with something more effective than real big, real soft.


That's not quite how the math works. 50% on both means you're double faulting 25% of the time, and that's a number that nobody should find acceptable.


The part that makes this math "tricky" is how you value one in ball versus another. If you hit a junk serve, but it goes in how much did you gain?

IMO - If we want to come up with the best plan, we need to understand how frequently we can hit in a "good" second serve, and build our first serve aggressiveness based off that.

So hypothetically, let's say I can hit in a good second serve (that doesn't surrender all advantage to my opponent) around 80% of the time. It might sound low, but pros only hit theirs at about 90%. Let's run these numbers quickly to illustrate how much that still results in missing.

50% of your first serves and 80% of your second serves means you will hit the ball in 90% of the time. That's still 10% of your serve attempts resulting in a double fault. This is why I believe most players overestimate the shot they should be going for on first serve. I want my double faults to be well below 10%, and that means you have to do better than 50-80. The problem with changing the second number is that only goes against every serve you miss, so it has much less impact than first serves.

Just to see how that works out practically, if you go first serve 65% in, second serve 65% in then you'll hit about 88% in. Now if you just ease off that second serve a little, you can get your double fault rate down to 5% without a big hassle.

--

This is a complex area of discussion, and it's hard to debate empirically something that lacks data for amateurs. In the absence, I do look to what we see for professionals (male players specifically here).

{All these are rough numbers}
They average first serve in 63% and second serve 92% hit in. They win first serve points about 75% of the time, and on second serves it's around 50%. While we don't all have the same quality of shot, I find their percentages as a good starting point from where you can develop your own game.
Except their 2nd serves are still pretty tricky shots.

At the amateur level, I’ve never feared a 2nd serve that I knew was coming.

I see why you want to use pros in breaking down the math, because there is readily available data to pull from. Which very much applies in their context.

I dont agree that it translates over to us mortals tho. Different variables. And since there is no amateur data, all we can go off of is theory.
 

mcs1970

Hall of Fame
I'm thinking more <3.5. I've never played a good 4.5 player who had a big first serve and just started the point with their second one. It's not even common at 4.0 amongst the better competition I've seen.
As I said for all the talk on this forum I have watched my share of solid 4.5s and I can count a handful who serve a great 2nd serve when the going gets tough. I live in an area that has good talent too. Yet you see better among 4.0? That’s fine. We will just disagree.
 

ShaunS

Semi-Pro
Except their 2nd serves are still pretty tricky shots.
True, the quality of serve is much better, but so too is the quality of return. That's why I tacked on the win percentages. I would've expected pro men to be winning more than half their second serve points, but it speaks to why first serve percentage is important... the next point is a literal toss up.

You're right though, that's why all of this is academic discussion. I bring up these numbers as a reference for where I'd recommend an amateur player start working on their "serve strategy". I don't mean improving technique or quality. Just if I "go for it" in this way, how can I hit approximately the same percentages as the pros do. Play like that for a little while, and try to honestly evaluate the results. How are you doing with respect to winning first and second serve points? Then mix it up, try going for it more/less, whatever you want, but don't be afraid to make a pretty sizeable change. Unless you've got a statistician with you on court, subtle differences could be hard to notice.

Lots of people playing league tennis have no interest in putting more time in, and I can understand that. The good thing about these types of adjustments is that they don't actually require more time just a little more thought.

At the amateur level, I’ve never feared a 2nd serve that I knew was coming.
I love a challenge. :cool:

As I said for all the talk on this forum I have watched my share of solid 4.5s and I can count a handful who serve a great 2nd serve when the going gets tough. I live in an area that has good talent too. Yet you see better among 4.0? That’s fine. We will just disagree.
Fair. I can't speak for what you're seeing. I have been playing at the 4.0 and 4.5 levels for the last decade or so. I've gotten around a bit playing some matches in Southern at the state level, and in the Mid west up to the Sectional level. I'm basing my opinions on the experiences I've had with them, but I'd be foolish to pretend that it's reflected the same everywhere.

Yet you see better among 4.0?
I'll clarify further. 4.0 is a much more mixed bag, but the top players there begin to resemble those at 4.5.

At the 4.5 level, most of the people that I know have played some higher level of organized tennis. That increases the likelihood that they've received instruction that helped guide their play style, and that normally translates into more consistent types of play than people who picked up the game later on.

From a practical standpoint, this means I rarely see someone who's going for first serves that aren't pretty reliable. That isn't to say guys don't hit absolute bombs, but if I'm playing a 4.5 guy who's hitting his hard first serves in less than 50% of the time I'm excited.
 

R1FF

Semi-Pro
True, the quality of serve is much better, but so too is the quality of return. That's why I tacked on the win percentages. I would've expected pro men to be winning more than half their second serve points, but it speaks to why first serve percentage is important... the next point is a literal toss up.

You're right though, that's why all of this is academic discussion. I bring up these numbers as a reference for where I'd recommend an amateur player start working on their "serve strategy". I don't mean improving technique or quality. Just if I "go for it" in this way, how can I hit approximately the same percentages as the pros do. Play like that for a little while, and try to honestly evaluate the results. How are you doing with respect to winning first and second serve points? Then mix it up, try going for it more/less, whatever you want, but don't be afraid to make a pretty sizeable change. Unless you've got a statistician with you on court, subtle differences could be hard to notice.

Lots of people playing league tennis have no interest in putting more time in, and I can understand that. The good thing about these types of adjustments is that they don't actually require more time just a little more thought.


I love a challenge. :cool:


Fair. I can't speak for what you're seeing. I have been playing at the 4.0 and 4.5 levels for the last decade or so. I've gotten around a bit playing some matches in Southern at the state level, and in the Mid west up to the Sectional level. I'm basing my opinions on the experiences I've had with them, but I'd be foolish to pretend that it's reflected the same everywhere.


I'll clarify further. 4.0 is a much more mixed bag, but the top players there begin to resemble those at 4.5.

At the 4.5 level, most of the people that I know have played some higher level of organized tennis. That increases the likelihood that they've received instruction that helped guide their play style, and that normally translates into more consistent types of play than people who picked up the game later on.

From a practical standpoint, this means I rarely see someone who's going for first serves that aren't pretty reliable. That isn't to say guys don't hit absolute bombs, but if I'm playing a 4.5 guy who's hitting his hard first serves in less than 50% of the time I'm excited.
Too each there own. I practice my serves a LOT more than most.

I’ve found that mixing up placement is far easier than mixibg up serve type with regards to tangible results in a match.

On a good day I can go down T or out wide on command. Using the same serve mechanics.

On a bad day my T seeve can be less than consistent so I just keep going out wide with my first serve. Both attempts. No change in rhythm or mechanics. Ive found this to be vastky superior than switching to my 2nd serve. Of which my coaches think is very good. But my fault % goes way uo.

I get less aces. And more double faults when changing my mechanics. And, i dont see what they see in my 2nd serve. It’s pretty. But it doesn’t give anyone trouble when they know it’s coming.

But again, to each their own. Too many variables to definitively say which is the “best way”.
 

undecided

Rookie
Everyone is different and they have to find a way to win on the court. Some relies on serve, some relies on slice, some on FH BH.

Do you have videos of your ROS in a match? I have never seen a 3.5 with anything 4.5.
No but I hit straight up winners or unreturnables on 4.0 opponents serve. I am 3.5 because I DF 10+ times per match. Rest of game is > 3.5
 
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