If you're serve is not 4.5 caliber, it might as well be 3.0 caliber.

Not in a while, would like to go on a playsight court. On my best days I think I can go deep into the 120s, possibly flirt with 130 though I rarely go over 115 in doubles.

I have a video around somewhere of me hitting 121 with a wooden Pancho Gonzalez I bought for $3 in a thrift store.

J
Impressive. I can only guess serve speeds from opponents over the years from tv and pro am speed guns from years ago. I doubt the accuracy of those old speed guns. That said, my guess is the fastest serves I have ever faced were a couple of 120ish flat serves. To me, the difference between ros of 100mph and 120+ was 1) be ready or you will miss the return 2) be ready or you can get hurt. I hadn't been on the court against a big serve for a long time, and played a guy with 120ish a couple of years ago. Let's just say I was "alert" when he was serving. It didn't help that it was a park court with bad spots in the service box.

My guess is very few rec players will ever be on the court with 120+ serves. You kind of have to experience that to get it.
 
The club player wishing to improve playing against the more athletic pusher has two options.
1. Push back and lose consistently because they're not as fast nor as experienced at pushing.
2. Make an earnest attempt to hit fundamentally sound shots and still lose, but experience in-game shot repetition.
3) finish points at net

Many more rec players will be able to develop an adequate net game compared to hitting through a very good defensive player.

This advice is for under 50. :cool:
 
3) finish points at net

Many more rec players will be able to develop an adequate net game compared to hitting through a very good defensive player.

This advice is for under 50. :cool:
Against a real pusher, ie not just a player who bunts it back, this option will become

3) approach net, retreat to hit lob that lands within a foot of baseline.
 
Against a real pusher, ie not just a player who bunts it back, this option will become

3) approach net, retreat to hit lob that lands within a foot of baseline.
Yeah ... solid back pedal overhead comes with the territory of more net play. This is what I meant. Let's say I am a 4.0 player with average groundstroke pace, and I have trouble with good defensive players. I think for most 4.0 rec players it would be a fools errand to try and hit the great defensive players off the court from the baseline. Most will have better odds with some combination of the following:

1) s&v
2) approach net with good approaches

I have seen friends with avg athletic ability and avg vollies improve their 4.5 singles tournament records against defensive specialist by simply changing dynamic by coming in. Not always s&v ... just pick their spots and come in on their terms.

Compare that to someone with avg groundstroke pace deciding they will spend their time improving groundstroke pace and hitting winners againt the defense specialist from the baseline.

Obviously that is a generalization. If it's a slow player, or obvious potential first strike potential with technique improvement, maybe.
 

J011yroger

Talk Tennis Guru
Yeah ... solid back pedal overhead comes with the territory of more net play. This is what I meant. Let's say I am a 4.0 player with average groundstroke pace, and I have trouble with good defensive players. I think for most 4.0 rec players it would be a fools errand to try and hit the great defensive players off the court from the baseline. Most will have better odds with some combination of the following:

1) s&v
2) approach net with good approaches

I have seen friends with avg athletic ability and avg vollies improve their 4.5 singles tournament records against defensive specialist by simply changing dynamic by coming in. Not always s&v ... just pick their spots and come in on their terms.

Compare that to someone with avg groundstroke pace deciding they will spend their time improving groundstroke pace and hitting winners againt the defense specialist from the baseline.

Obviously that is a generalization. If it's a slow player, or obvious potential first strike potential with technique improvement, maybe.
Why over close against a pusher? Closing the net is to cut off a pass or prevent a dipper from getting to your feet. A pusher can neither hit the ball fast, nor dip it so close to the service line and wait for him to hit the ball, if it's a lob you are in great position and if it's a ground stroke you should have plenty of time to close and volley it above the level of the net.

J
 
The pushers I've seen have perfect lobs. They will destroy you if you date come to net on anything but a perfect approach. I've seen running lobs done all match long
I guess it depends on level and definition of "perfect approach". I think the following generally works against definsive 4.0 singles players without great passing shots:

- have a solid overhead ... consistent put away from service line in
- s&v out wide to deuce and ad ... block volley to opposite corner keeps them running, lob off serve should work in your favor with solid overhead
- approaches that require opponent to be moving when attempting lob ... slice dtl to fh, pretty much any decent approach to bh corner

Passing shots and lobs always tougher to hit on the run. If a 4.0 can hit a perfect lob off his bh while running to the corner ... try hitting some shorter to bh side. If that fails, play someone else because nobody wants to play a lobbing freakshow. :D
 
Why over close against a pusher? Closing the net is to cut off a pass or prevent a dipper from getting to your feet. A pusher can neither hit the ball fast, nor dip it so close to the service line and wait for him to hit the ball, if it's a lob you are in great position and if it's a ground stroke you should have plenty of time to close and volley it above the level of the net.

J
"Why over close against a pusher? "

Good point, depending on level of opponent. I was just making the point that adding net play to your game comes with the non-optional overhead skill ... and back pedal skill. I don't use the term "pushers", I think there is just different levels of defensive specialist. For example, a definsive player with good passing shots is a counter-puncher. A defensive player without passing shots, but a lobbing mistro is a PITA I will not be calling a pusher ... or calling to play.
 
The pushers I've seen have perfect lobs. They will destroy you if you date come to net on anything but a perfect approach. I've seen running lobs done all match long
Anyone that played adult tournaments, particularly those of us that had to work hard to advance levels... know exactly what this thread is about. Most of us had a nemesis ... one of those ... "why can't I beat this pusher :mad: ... ever ... I am beating better players but can't beat this hack ... I suck, I should quit tennis".

It's also what makes tennis fun. One day you figure out how to beat that nemesis, and you jump a level... never look back.
 
Against a real pusher, ie not just a player who bunts it back, this option will become

3) approach net, retreat to hit lob that lands within a foot of baseline.
What's a "real pusher" [oh @Startzel, where are thou?]?

Yes, pushers presumably have better-than-average lobs. Doubtful that they have the accuracy to hit it within 5' of the BL 80+% of the time.

In any case, if they have a great lob, I need to adjust my approach so they don't have it so easy [ie keep it low and skidding].
 
The pushers I've seen have perfect lobs. They will destroy you if you date come to net on anything but a perfect approach. I've seen running lobs done all match long
You must play against a very talented group of people.

I've played against a few great lobbers: one is a 5.0, one is an ex-Div III youngster, and one is a current Div I. They all can beat me in any number of ways and on those occasions, they decided to use their lobs. I have not seen this level of skill in the typical 3.5-4.5 player.
 

IowaGuy

Hall of Fame
The pushers I've seen have perfect lobs. They will destroy you if you date come to net on anything but a perfect approach.
Are you approaching with topspin or with slice?

In my experience, pushers/defenders hit better lobs off of topspin approach shots (often in their preferred strike zone).

Heavy slice approach shots (deep, low) tend to be harder to hit effective lobs off of. Much of the time they'll hit you a sitter overhead that you can take at/in front of the service line.

Against many opponents, low slice approaches will also make them "telegraph" their lobs more. i.e. they'll show a defensive slice/flat FH setup that they would never try a passing shot with. Then you can read the lob earlier and get into position for a putaway. Reading a lob ASAP is key to defending against it.
 
Slow feet, slice gives you a touch more time to creep in.

Placement however is more important than the shot type.
——————————
On pain meds - all contributed matter and anti-matter subject to disclaimer
 
You must play against a very talented group of people.

I've played against a few great lobbers: one is a 5.0, one is an ex-Div III youngster, and one is a current Div I. They all can beat me in any number of ways and on those occasions, they decided to use their lobs. I have not seen this level of skill in the typical 3.5-4.5 player.
Dont you know his group has a 3.5 with a 150mph forehand????
 
I think you're generalizing too much. I don't think there is a magic demarcation line between a 4.0 serve and a 4.5 serve; to me, it's more like a continuum.

I'm a 4.5 and my serve is nothing to write home about. Maybe my 2nd serve is above average because I rely on it to S&V. But my matches don't generally hinge on my serve but more likely my returns, my net game, and my overall consistency.

I've played against a lot of 4.5s and the majority do not have earth-shattering serves. I can count on one hand the guys with overwhelming serves and two of them were not due to pace but spin.
The difference is how the serve is utilized. At 4.0, the defining factor is you have a consistent spin second serve to rely on, meaning you aren't double faulting games away. At that level, you're basically restricted to starting points with your serve, which isn't bad because at this level you can now take risks on the first serve (with regards to placement and pace) to earn more free points. But at 4.5+, the serve is used to set up points rather than start them. At this point, they recognize that simply starting the point in a favorable position is enough since they have the tools to maintain that advantage comfortable until a larger one comes up or to end the point altogether off the advantage. 4.5s will put away points once a short ball appears. 5.0s will put away points once you're out of position. In any competition, the higher you go, the more you can do with even the smallest of advantages. At 4.5, short ball? Point's over. 5.0, out of position? Point's over. 5.5, off balance? Point's over. 7.0, read the head fake incorrectly? Point's over.

Also, I find it funny how this guy thinks that crushing a dink serve doesn't do anything for the match score. Not only does it heavily influence the match score, it broke the other guy mentally and got him to throw his racket. Of course, I wasn't looking to hit a winner every time, I was just looking to take my free ticket to the net. They just happened to be a winner every time.

The "Oh ****! He has a big serve!" response is also a terrible mark for whether someone actually has a big serve or not, because that's entirely relative to the receiver. At this moment, the biggest server I play with doesn't bother me with his pace, it's his spin. And even then, it's largely because I have little experience with lefty serves. You could take 20 mph off the serve and I would still struggle just as much. I've seen plenty of "strong" serves that it's just average to me. But if I go a few levels up those guys will make me look silly. If I play against some old guys, they'll say I have a big serve. If I play against people my level, they won't be bothered. Though I do consistently get comments about having a big kick. It's all relative to whatever you're used to. And even if you're used to the speed it doesn't mean anything if you can't do anything, which is why being able to be aggressive against dink shots is an underrated yet necessary skill (one heavily tied to footwork and preparation).
 
What's ironic about this is TTPS is a guy who should work on his serve - because his game off the ground is never going to be top notch. A big strong guy should play to his strength and try to hit bigger serves.

Its not even all wrong - you can have a better then average serve and lose a ton of matches. If you have no ground game - no net game - guys will be able to send enough of your serves back - even weakly and you will lose matches. So a serve can be overblown - sure. But might as well play to your strengths. Don't model your game after Michael Chang if you don't have wheels. If your like Isner - best to model your game off of Isner..

I don't get this urge to place everyone in a category based on arbitrary 'observations' and make judgments based on that. Seems dumb and easily disproven.

Like I said I knew a guy who legit hit over 100mph on his serve at 3.0. Now he got bumped up to 3.5 and now 4.0. But he ALWAYS had a huge serve. And it legit helped him win. He played #1 singles on his team and he won lot of matches.

Now he could lose because well he literally had no backhand. Like if you hit it that way - point probably over. But players are individuals.

Are there alot of lifers who are stuck at 3.5 and have no serve - but pretty pesky ground games.. Yup. But that's not the only way.
 
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J011yroger

Talk Tennis Guru
What's ironic about this is TTPS is a guy who should work on his serve - because his game off the ground is never going to be top notch. A big strong guy should play to his strength and try to hit bigger serves.

Its not even all wrong - you can have a better then average serve and lose a ton of matches. If you have no ground game - no net game - guys will be able to send enough of your serves back - even weakly and you will lose matches. So a serve can be overblown - sure. But might as well play to your strengths. Don't model your game after Michael Chang if you don't have wheels. If your like Isner - best to model your game off of Isner..

I don't get this urge to place everyone in a category based on arbitrary 'observations' and make judgments based on that. Seems dumb and easily disproven.

Like I said I knew a guy who legit hit over 100mph on his serve at 3.0. Now he got bumped up to 3.5 and now 4.0. But he ALWAYS had a huge serve. And it legit helped him win. He played #1 singles on his team and he won lot of matches.

Now he could lose because well he literally had no backhand. Like if you hit it that way - point probably over. But players are individuals.

Are there alot of lifers who are stuck at 3.5 and have no serve - but pretty pesky ground games.. Yup. But that's not the only way.
Don't worry, he is going to lose to a 3.5 who's serve he can't break and make a thread about how the serve is the most important thing you can have and it can carry you even if the rest of your game is trash.

J
 
It seems to me that once you reach a high enough level, any weak shot will be punished, so you need a style of play in which all the shots you rely on are pretty good. Then it becomes a battle to see whose pretty good shots are better.

At lower levels of play, everyone has weaknesses. If you keep the ball to your opponents' weaknesses, you can prevent them from taking advantage of your weaknesses. So at these levels, victory mainly depends upon which player more aggressively makes unforced errors. In serving, that means being able to place the ball to your opponent's weakness and not double-faulting.
 

Avles

Hall of Fame
Seems the main fallacy in the OP here is equating "good serve" with "big serve."

A serve can be pretty good without being particularly impressive, if the server can place it where he wants to, mix up pace and spin a bit, and not fault. Serve quality is determined by serve results, so if a serve is working at the 4.0 level, it's a probably a "4.0 caliber serve" no matter what it looks like.

And I suspect that the "weak" serves you see from 4.0 players are pretty different from the ones you'd actually see at the 3.0 level, where players will often be hitting serves that are neither impressive nor consistent.
 

J011yroger

Talk Tennis Guru
Seems the main fallacy in the OP here is equating "good serve" with "big serve."

A serve can be pretty good without being particularly impressive, if the server can place it where he wants to, mix up pace and spin a bit, and not fault. Serve quality is determined by serve results, so if a serve is working at the 4.0 level, it's a probably a "4.0 caliber serve" no matter what it looks like.

And I suspect that the "weak" serves you see from 4.0 players are pretty different from the ones you'd actually see at the 3.0 level, where players will often be hitting serves that are neither impressive nor consistent.
I think a solid winter playing 7.0 and 8.0 mixed will clear all of this up for the OP.

J
 
I refused to reply to these till now (since I know OP is not going to listen). But hei... I will try...

There is nothing called a "4.5 serve" or "4.0 serve" or "3.5 serve". There are 4.5 level players, 4.0 level players and 3.5 level players. The play styles differ a lot in the same levels.

So if someone at 4.5 serves huge (for his level), then he has to have some other weakness. Maybe his ground stroke is weak. There could be another player who serves weak, but he may be leveling it off with his anticipation and strong ground strokes.

The guys who like to counter-attack, and have extremely good anticipation actually prefer to serve with lower effort, to get ready for their strength, which is the next shot after return. More effort you spend on serve, less ready you will be fore the next shot. The guys who generally play first shot tennis prefer to serve big.

So in summary if there is a 3.5 guy plays in a specific style, you can be sure there is a 4.5 guy playing in the same style, just a bit more better. (same is true for reverse).

But also there is a fact that consistency is the best factor many folks can improve with hard-work than accuracy, pace or spin, which leads to the fact that more number of improved rated players does come out of 3.5 to 4.5 by improved consistency than anything else. And yes at 4.5 it is not difficult to compensate for weak serve with anticipation and counter punching. So you let the returner take a swing at your serve, and still would be in control of the point.





4.0 serve is a pattycake with 0% DF rate.
3.5 serve will be a rocket with tons of DFs
 
I assume I am 4.0ish. In the league I am in (climbing it), against most opponents at my level (most are worse players than me, though more experienced), I look to take some of the 2nd serve in each match early and blast them, with generally good results. Although I don't have the fastest serve, I do throw slice both ways, aim both my 1st and 2nd serves, do hit 1st serves occasionally in the 90s. So I am comfortable in making play with my service games. Mostly, my plan is to exploit the backhand, use variety and stay positive. Against guys younger and fitter than me, it is more about staying in the point and not allowing them dictate with angles.

So, I assume my serve is not 4.5, but I can hang with the 4.5. I can return their serves and my serves have enough of them to carry me.

Then again, just this weekend, playing a doubles match against two guys far more experienced than us. One of them has a good serve but no slice. I could handle it ok. The other is a leftie, whose 2nd serve I could not handle (ad court). First generally was ok, as I could take ever recurring the slice on my BH, and some of the occassional flat to T. But as he hit top slice to the body as his 2nd serve, I kept on hitting them way out... so in the end resorted to just blocking, dumping it back. They took those service games easily. We lost 1-6, 3-6, 2-6, which was as expected. So, the more experienced team won, no surprise. Partially due to the better serving, no surprise there either.
 
I was at a new club and was watching contract doubles last week and I saw a lot of 3.5 serving. Typically a ton of pace on the first and something slower on the second. The amount of pace that these guys could put on the first serve was often impressive. They didn't have efficient motions or put a lot of spin on the ball but they could nonetheless bring the heat. These guys were typically 40s to 50s, overweight and they didn't move around that much but it's different from what I'm used to watching (more 4.0 players).

So yeah, you can get by without the strongest of serves at any level. If the rest of your game makes up for it.
 
noticed that it's very very hard to attack a weak or average serve.
Many hard returns will go wide, and many others will go long, and others will laned in the net.
A whole lot of others just go right back to the server.
At under 4.5, a weak serve is simply not going to get punished consistently,
and hugely impact the match in any direction.
Ain't that the truth. I have completely given up serving hard and concentrate on slice. What u said is so true
 
There is some accuracy to the statement that 4.0 and under tend to make as many mistakes trying to crush a weak serve as they actually hit winners or strong forcing shots. So what i would say is there is no reason to EVER over swing on a 2nd serve at these levels because no matter how bad your second serve is, it is not going to consistently be destroyed by players at your level if you're playing 4.0 and under. I play guys who are mid to high level 4.0 doubles players (tennis record) who frying pan dink every second serve. You can do more damage at singles against a dinker because there's much more court and the drop shot is much easier to do damage with, but it's still surprising how often guys struggle to do anything with these serves.
 
Ain't that the truth. I have completely given up serving hard and concentrate on slice. What u said is so true
A way to practice is to crush short balls back to the person in practice. That will help you practice your range and it will help the other player to deal with heavy pace without having to move that far.
 
There is some accuracy to the statement that 4.0 and under tend to make as many mistakes trying to crush a weak serve as they actually hit winners or strong forcing shots. So what i would say is there is no reason to EVER over swing on a 2nd serve at these levels because no matter how bad your second serve is, it is not going to consistently be destroyed by players at your level if you're playing 4.0 and under. I play guys who are mid to high level 4.0 doubles players (tennis record) who frying pan dink every second serve. You can do more damage at singles against a dinker because there's much more court and the drop shot is much easier to do damage with, but it's still surprising how often guys struggle to do anything with these serves.
What happened to adding more topspin to keep the ball in the court.

I watched some doubles last week and one guy lobbed every single shot (presumably except for his serve). I have played with people like this before and it is good because it gives the other side practicing running back and hitting overheads, if they can.
 
OP you are generalizing most 4.0 players based on a few 4.0 players you have seen. I am assuming that these 4.0 players are lower 4.0 or 3.5 who think they are 4.0. I’ll give you that your statement is true with 3.5 players who can’t attack a weak serve consistently and don’t have good serves. But the good 4.0 players do have serves which are weapons in the sense that it’s used to set up a point or served to the returner weaker side to setup the second shot. Good 4.0 can attack a weak serve, maybe not winners but good deep shots to the open court or weaker side.
 
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