Serving

My coach has told me that kick serves should definitely not only be used on second serves. He said that if you are 0-30 down for example, a kick serve would be a better first serve option, than perhaps smacking it down the T, as this would end up in more errors. A simple kick serve to someone's high backhand is better under pressure and forces them to make mistakes. Thoughts?
 

Dragy

Legend
Legit.
Smacking first serves hard is frequently unreasonable. One should humbly evaluate his %% and if he has at least 60-70% of those heaters landing in. If one is not a high level consistent server, he’s better using kick and top-slice serves all day long.
 

fuzz nation

G.O.A.T.
Agree that your coach is pretty much right. But if you're having a day where your flat serve can't miss, it's reasonable to use what's reliable.

Flip the script and consider which of your opponent's serves you'd rather face when you're the returner and you're up 0-30. If the other guy is being a meathead, wailing on every first serve, and only landing one in eight or ten, he's making life easy for you, right?

You also want to land your first serve when you're down 0-30, 15-40, etc. because you don't want to risk double faulting. A spin serve should land at a higher percentage than a hard flat serve for most players - that's the assumption any-who. Sometimes when you get behind, it's a good call to just get steady and force the other guy to beat you. Make him play more shots.

Now if you're serving and you're up 40-0 or 40-15, then you're playing with house money. That's where you may want to occasionally crack a flat second serve, but only if you're landing a lot of your flat balls. You're still serving a game point even if you double fault.

Definitely experiment with a kick first serve. If yours had an unpredictable bounce that forces a lot of weak returns and it also goes in almost all the time, then you'd be smart to use it a lot. I know that I'll only hit one or two flat serves per service game just to keep my opponents a little off balance.
 

MyFearHand

Rookie
A lot of players are taught that they should be defensive on the first serve and just try to get it in play. They are also taught that they should try to attack second serves when they can. This is actually really nice because it gives you the freedom to hit a safer kick serve as a first serve and often times your opponent won't attack it just because it's your first serve and they're conditioned to be defensive. Of course if you did this ever time they might start to be more aggressive. It's definitely not a bad tactic occasionally though.
 

Dragy

Legend
A lot of players are taught that they should be defensive on the first serve and just try to get it in play. They are also taught that they should try to attack second serves when they can. This is actually really nice because it gives you the freedom to hit a safer kick serve as a first serve and often times your opponent won't attack it just because it's your first serve and they're conditioned to be defensive. Of course if you did this ever time they might start to be more aggressive. It's definitely not a bad tactic occasionally though.
Very good point! More to it, they might wait farther back to return 1st serve, which actually allows to pull them wide with reliable kick serve, and generally make them hit an awkward ball - slow, falling, from far back.
 

Morch Us

Professional
I would say depends on personality and reasoning.

For example, if you are going for the flat first serve, on a pressure point, because you just want it to get over with (and just don't want to deal with pressure of an extended rally, or want to work hard to earn the point), you most probably should not do it. On the other hand if you are going for the first flat serve, because you feel truthfully confident, you should.

In fact it is the same with the aggressiveness on ground shots on a pressure point as well. If you are being aggressive for the right reasons, you will gain advantage on the point.

I also added personality to the mix, because some folks naturally are better in one direction (aggressiveness) or other (defensive) in pressure points.

Thoughts?
 

5263

G.O.A.T.
My coach has told me that kick serves should definitely not only be used on second serves. He said that if you are 0-30 down for example, a kick serve would be a better first serve option, than perhaps smacking it down the T, as this would end up in more errors. A simple kick serve to someone's high backhand is better under pressure and forces them to make mistakes. Thoughts?
this is especially true if you can kick it pretty wide to open up the court, with the idea of setting up the serve +1 or 2.....Using the kick on the 1st serve allows you to try a bit wider than normal and if you miss, you should have a good groove started for the 2nd effort at a kicker to a bit more conservative target.
 

zaph

Professional
It depends on how reliable your second serve is. If you have a really reliable second serve which doesn't break under pressure, you may as well try to get a free point on the first delivery.

I am guessing from the fact you have a coach, you're playing at quite a high level, so you need to hit a decent serve to have a chance in the point.

For use mere rec players a kick serve can actually be more effective than a faster slice serve. I am one of the few players a my level who can put a bit of topspin on the serve and even make kick on occasions. It is surprising the number of people who really struggle to return it. However that isn't going to work against the sort of quality you'ill be facing.
 
My coach has told me that kick serves should definitely not only be used on second serves. He said that if you are 0-30 down for example, a kick serve would be a better first serve option, than perhaps smacking it down the T, as this would end up in more errors. A simple kick serve to someone's high backhand is better under pressure and forces them to make mistakes. Thoughts?
Good observation.

I don't have a big, flat serve and thus don't normally get a lot of free points from the serve [there are exceptions]. Additionally, a slower kicker allows me more time to close the net. As long as my opponent is not jumping all over the slower serve and passing me, I think the kicker 1st makes a lot of sense.
 

eah123

Rookie
I agree with your coach. Kick and slice serve should be mixed in the flat serves as first serves. The more variety on first serves, the more likely that you get a return error.

When I start a match, I usually start with kick and slice serves until I feel pretty warmed up. Getting first serves in with a high percentage helps me build confidence early.

Another play I like very much is kick serve as first serve in a serve and volley play. I can’t tell you how often this catches the receiver by surprise. When they see me rushing the net, they lose focus on the ball, and the ball kicks high above their head resulting in a return error.
 

socallefty

Hall of Fame
I think it is OK to mix up your 1st serves if you have a variety of pace and spin you can hit - if the returner doesn’t know what he will get next, he will be more stressed especially at big moments. But, you have to execute confidently and not have doubt in your mind as 1st serves are a ‘confidence’ shot (as are overheads) - when you are felling good, the % and pace goes up.

I‘m an advocate of ‘being aggressive to big targets’ or ‘being more conservative, but to smaller targets’ whether it is serves, strokes or volleys. So, if I’m trying to serve big on my 1st serve with a flat or slice serve, I might just be thinking ‘left‘ or ‘right’ side of the service box and not try to be too precise on location. If I hit a slower top-slice or rarely kick serve as my 1st serve, I’ll split the box into wide, body/FH side, body/BH side, down-the-T and pick a target - so, precision and careful selection of the target based on the opponent’s weakness matters if you are going to hit slower serves as your 1st serve on some points. I am much more precise in selecting and executing the serve location on 2nd serves also with many to the body/BH location.

If you hit a kick as your 1st serve sometimes, you could try to have higher RHS and get a higher kick than when you hit it as your 2nd serve - that will also make it more effective.
 

GuyClinch

Legend
Coach is correct for the most part - but if you have a very good flat serve - you can still go to that in a pinch. For tall players with good technique a flat serve is actually quite reliable.
 
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