Is there too much emphasis on serve speed over consistency and accuracy at the rec level?

jm1980

G.O.A.T.
You cannot have a slow serve, or even 4.0 returners will aggressively take control of the point. However, emphasizing speed is only good up to a certain point. After achieving moderate pace (enough to make sure the returner can't step in and pound it), trying to achieve extreme pace for the rec player is a fools errand.

Overall though, the serve is under emphasized and under practiced at the rec level. In most (maybe all?) rec level matches, holding serve is meaningless. IOW, players are equally likely to win return games as they are service games. Even some stand a better chance of winning the game if they are not serving. Instead of the match being "on serve" they are "on break".
Lol. Most 4.0 players could underarm the serve in and be competitive at that level. Very few 4.0 returners will "aggressively take control of the point." More likely than not, your average 4.0 who tries this will overhit the return and give the server a free point.

Getting the ball in play is underrated, specially among middling recreational players. That's why pushing wins
 

Moveforwardalways

Hall of Fame
Lol. Most 4.0 players could underarm the serve in and be competitive at that level. Very few 4.0 returners will "aggressively take control of the point." More likely than not, your average 4.0 who tries this will overhit the return and give the server a free point.

Getting the ball in play is underrated, specially among middling recreational players. That's why pushing wins
You underestimate what I mean by “a slow serve”.
 

jm1980

G.O.A.T.
Couldn't disagree more..

#1. Most rec league players are quite conservative with their serves - and hit low speed serves in critical points. There is not a lot of rec guys going for big serves - only guys trying this in matches that don't count or talking about it on forums. Internet forums are nothing like real life.

#2. RHS is the key for a good serve - accuracy can be improved - but if you don't develop the RHS - you will never be able to hit advanced serves.

#3. Your experience may vary but I know guys with big inconsistent serves who have gone up NTRP points in the past couple of years. I don't know anyone with the safe serves that have steadily improved them. The 'safe' people generally get stuck at a low level of play and use a 'crutch' kind of safe technique to do well at that level..

I have noticed similar things with volleys and forehands.. The more confident players will miss and miss badly - but they keep at it. They have confidence in their athletic ability so eventually things start to 'click' and they can play much much better. Dinkers OTOH - never go anywhere. They can do well at their level but that's it..

It's even the same on the woman's side. I know one girl - big - pretty athletic. Man she double faults ALOT - she hits volleys that miss WILDLY. But now she is 4.0 and her unathletic dinker 'lob' specialist friend is stuck at 3.0 as she plays things 'safe'.
Couldn't disagree more.

Rec league players, specially the ones who are smart, are conservative in their serves because it works. Nobody under 4.5 (ie: >90% of recreational players) is going to consistently crush returns off a slow serve. What I see a lot, specially from guys with big egos, is trying to wail at slower serves, missing, losing, and then still walking away thinking they are the better player.

Just looking at players who stuck to their guns and continued to hit hard and have moved up in the ratings is a case of survivorship bias. These are players who would likely have moved up regardless of how they developed their games. But more importantly, for every 3.0 basher who gets to 4.0 (not a really high bar, to be honest) there are 4 or 5 more who are stuck at 3.0 for life, hitting way harder than they should be.

Moral of the story: get the ball in play if you want to win in rec tennis. Even if you are seeking improvement, the first priority should still be to get the ball in. That 100 mph serve that lands on the baseline isn't impressing anyone.
 
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Irrefutable

New User
Might be wrong, but it seems like there is a quite a dominant attitude out there that serve speed is more important to a lot of rec players than having a consistent and accurate serve. Lots of talk about breaking the 100mph + barrier, hitting the back fence on the bounce etc. Getting the ball in the box with accuracy doesn't seem to matter as much. I see it down the courts too. Rec players trying to smack the ball as hard as they can, meanwhile piling up double faults like Christmas presents.

Why is it that? Is it an ego, chest beating thing? Is it a mark of a man to be able to serve big? I see a bit on this forum, but why do people a) like to boast they serve big and b) are quick to call bull**** on others that claim to serve big?

Something I have never understood. Seems a bit neanderthalic.

There is at the High School level. I had a boy who hit 119 mph and rarely won his serve. His first serve % was less than 20, his second serve was about 30 mph.
 

FiReFTW

Legend
Couldn't disagree more.

Rec league players, specially the ones who are smart, are conservative in their serves because it works. Nobody under 4.5 (ie: >90% of recreational players) is going to consistently crush returns off a slow serve. What I see a lot, specially from guys with big egos, is trying to wail at slower serves, missing, losing, and then still walking away thinking they are the better player.
Thats because 99% of tennis players NEVER practice return of serve (apart from during matches), and it is the 2nd most important shot in tennis.
 
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