Need Help With Serve

AgassiFan88

Rookie
I've been playing for almost a year now. I'm left handed with a OHBH. Entered my first local ladder as a 2.0 and went through it pretty quickly. Been told I'm a 3.0 by a couple of local instructors and veteran league players, but my serve is holding me back. My groundstrokes have pace and spin and I can direct my shots fairly well. My serve is my Achilles heel, however. Forehands and backhands are at a high 3.5 level, while my serve is still barely above 2.0. I can serve with pace, but when I do I double fault myself into a break. Either they fly a foot long or dive bomb the net. When I back off on power I have a nasty lefty slice serve that is pure hell, but it's still fairly inconsistent. I've worked on getting a good ball toss consistently, and try to swing up on the ball with every stroke but my results still vary wildly. Like I said, if I could get consistent with the slice serve it would be a weapon in my arsenal...If "ifs" and "buts" were candy and nuts...well, you know how the saying goes. Any advice for improving my consistency?
 

Jin An

New User
You're already working on your toss - which is the first place to start. However, try to get a good server to watch you and make sure you are not reinforcing bad mechanics - in particular, I see many less experienced players toss too low and not able to extend their arm while serving. Don't go the opposite direction and toss too high, though.

Work on your strength - your slice out wide. Lefty slice serves are nasty, as you said. With that said, see if you can place a serve down the T, it'll make your slice that much more useful.

To answer your main question, though. My second serve % went up dramatically and DF's went down dramatically only when I worked on a heavy top spin and kick serves. You'll probably hear this over and over again, but work on brushing the ball up. Also, in rec level, don't worry about hiding your intentions. Compared to your slice/flat, you'll be tossing a bit more right/behind for a top spin or kick. Work on aiming - trajectory over the net with plenty of clearance as well as spot on the service box - maybe start out by cutting the service box into two halves and aim left or right. Being more intentional about aiming helped my % tremendously as well (instead of just serving sort of randomly/thoughtlessly in the general direction of the service box).
 
You need to learn a 2nd serve. If you're a genius, you can watch players with good serves technique, like Roscoe Tanner, Pete Sampras and Fed to name a few. If you're not a genius, find a pro who gives a **** and knows how to teach the serve and take lessons. Then practice as much as you can hitting a couple of hoppers of balls, until you put a hole through the fence. If you go it alone you can maybe get it to "4.0" on your own and ingrain bad habits. See a pro and take at least a dozen lessons on the serve to get you in the right direction. You need to hit the spots with flat, slice and topspin serves to have a "good" serve that is a weapon. serving is like juggling, your toss hand has to put the ball in front of the racket--easier said then done--hit about a million practice balls. There's probably about a hundred elements making up a great serve and they need to be learned in a progressive order--and remember: don't move your feet!!!--except your back one to unwind your leg a little pivoting.
 

johnnyb

Semi-Pro
I've been playing for almost a year now. I'm left handed with a OHBH. Entered my first local ladder as a 2.0 and went through it pretty quickly. Been told I'm a 3.0 by a couple of local instructors and veteran league players, but my serve is holding me back. My groundstrokes have pace and spin and I can direct my shots fairly well. My serve is my Achilles heel, however. Forehands and backhands are at a high 3.5 level, while my serve is still barely above 2.0. I can serve with pace, but when I do I double fault myself into a break. Either they fly a foot long or dive bomb the net. When I back off on power I have a nasty lefty slice serve that is pure hell, but it's still fairly inconsistent. I've worked on getting a good ball toss consistently, and try to swing up on the ball with every stroke but my results still vary wildly. Like I said, if I could get consistent with the slice serve it would be a weapon in my arsenal...If "ifs" and "buts" were candy and nuts...well, you know how the saying goes. Any advice for improving my consistency?

Story of my life. :(
 
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