Technique for doubles 1st serve

#1
I'm primarily a singles player that is playing doubles on a 4.0 league. Doubles faults have been an issue (to put it mildly) for years so I've just been hitting kick serves in matches. In my last match I made almost all my first serves and my kick was actually causing trouble for our opponents and I was able to hold serve easily. Since I'm more confident w/my kick serve now I'm thinking of taking a bit more risk w/my 1st serve and also want to mix it up more.

I've always heard "take something off" or "put a little more spin" on your 1st serve, but my normal 1st serve I'm not blasting as hard as possible or hitting completely flat and I still miss it quite a bit.

What am I trying to do technique wise for a good doubles 1st serve?
 
#3
I also don't know what you mean by technique wise, but your goal should be a high percentage of first serves that are well placed. Whether flat or some kind of spin is better will depend on your opponents, but generally I hit a harder spin serve and go for a corner more if I'm "taking a risk." Most players have more trouble returning a spin serve that kicks in some direction than a hard flat serve, those are too easy to block. Sounds like you have a solid kick second serve, perhaps start with developing that into a better placed and slightly heavier kick serve to use as a 1st? A flat serve will always be harder to be accurate with because you don't have a lot of net clearance, but I like to hit a flat serve at the T on the deuce side every so often so my slice out wide stays effective. It's more of a serve I'll throw in every so often to keep my opponents on their toes than a go to choice.
 
#5
Your current choices are good for your current level. If you are happy with your current level, there's no need to take additional risk.

However, if you have an eye towards improving and breaking into the next level, you will need a better serve because higher level players won't be bothered by your kick as much as your current competition.

The way I look at it is two-fold:
- The serve is a weapon; use it
- If I go the entire match without DFing, I'm not being aggressive enough; I'm leaving free points on the table [I have the same philosophy about being the net man: if I go the entire match without being burned DTL, I'm not doing enough to control the middle.]
 
#6
Technique is the same.

However many recommend to hit it mostly up the middle when both players approach the net because that gives the opponent a worse angle for the CC return.

You don't want to do it every time as you need to keep him guessing but generally up the middle is better than wide unless he has a weak return from that side.
 
#7
not sure what you mean by "technique wise", but i spin 90% of 1st serves in, in dubs.
i don't care about hitting aces, i just want to elicit a poachable response for my partner.
What kind of spin though? By "technique wise" I mean should I be hitting a kick serve, but try to go through it more to get more pace and less spin? I thought Rafter or someone said he does that for his 1st serve. Or should I modify my normal slice 1st serve for slightly more spin to make it more consistent? I thought maybe there was a technique for hitting doubles 1st serves that's different from in singles.
 
#8
I also don't know what you mean by technique wise, but your goal should be a high percentage of first serves that are well placed. Whether flat or some kind of spin is better will depend on your opponents, but generally I hit a harder spin serve and go for a corner more if I'm "taking a risk." Most players have more trouble returning a spin serve that kicks in some direction than a hard flat serve, those are too easy to block. Sounds like you have a solid kick second serve, perhaps start with developing that into a better placed and slightly heavier kick serve to use as a 1st? A flat serve will always be harder to be accurate with because you don't have a lot of net clearance, but I like to hit a flat serve at the T on the deuce side every so often so my slice out wide stays effective. It's more of a serve I'll throw in every so often to keep my opponents on their toes than a go to choice.
The last few years I've been working almost exclusively on my kick serve and still have nightmares about the time I double faulted over and over in an important tournament with a lot of people watching. I changed my technique again about 6 months or so ago am now able to hit it pretty well when I'm serving well. What do you mean by "better places and slightly heavier"? Where should I be aiming?
 
#9
Your current choices are good for your current level. If you are happy with your current level, there's no need to take additional risk.

However, if you have an eye towards improving and breaking into the next level, you will need a better serve because higher level players won't be bothered by your kick as much as your current competition.

The way I look at it is two-fold:
- The serve is a weapon; use it
- If I go the entire match without DFing, I'm not being aggressive enough; I'm leaving free points on the table [I have the same philosophy about being the net man: if I go the entire match without being burned DTL, I'm not doing enough to control the middle.]
What kind of serve would be better in doubles? In singles I use flat/slice for 1st and sometimes on the ad try the short kick to pull my opponent off the court. In doubles it seems like the main thing is getting a reply that my partner at the net can crush. I think part of the reason my kick worked well the other night is that the opponents couldn't get a clean hit and my partner did a good job putting their return away. Obviously I didn't have any aces and hardly had any missed returns so maybe I should do my normal singles 1st serve when I'm ahead or just start mixing it in.
 
#10
Heavy spin. High percentage to various locations. Do not get into a predictable pattern. Serve from various locations - near center hash all the way out towards the doubles alley. Give the returner different looks. Set your partner up.
 
#11
depends...
which one is most reliable? consistency and placement.
which one is giving opponent more trouble?
are trying to give a different look?
is your partner poaching?
where are you trying to serve to?

ideally you have mastery of all spin serves:
top, kick, heavy slice, hard slice,...

some examples:
1. deuce side: partner is staying/faking, I might slice heavy out wide to elicit a dtl return
2. deuce side: partner is poaching, ill kick it to the centerT
3. deuce: partner faking, 2nd serve, opponent has been cheating to bh side expecting the kicker,... I might go for a wide topside serve (I need the added safety, I want to pull him wide to elicit a dtl return)
 
#12
The last few years I've been working almost exclusively on my kick serve and still have nightmares about the time I double faulted over and over in an important tournament with a lot of people watching. I changed my technique again about 6 months or so ago am now able to hit it pretty well when I'm serving well. What do you mean by "better places and slightly heavier"? Where should I be aiming?
ah if you’re just having issues with consistency... just focus on top spin serve, or heavy slice serve and that’s it.

you must develop a serve you’re 90% confident in in a) getting it in b) putting it where you want

I prefer topspin for the consistency and clearance over net, but some people have a lot of trouble learning it... so the heavy slice seems to be the easier serve to learn at the cost of slightly less clearance (doesn’t dive as much). eventually it will become more a topslice


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#13
What kind of serve would be better in doubles? In singles I use flat/slice for 1st and sometimes on the ad try the short kick to pull my opponent off the court. In doubles it seems like the main thing is getting a reply that my partner at the net can crush. I think part of the reason my kick worked well the other night is that the opponents couldn't get a clean hit and my partner did a good job putting their return away. Obviously I didn't have any aces and hardly had any missed returns so maybe I should do my normal singles 1st serve when I'm ahead or just start mixing it in.
If you want to prepare for future, better competition, start throwing in some flat and slice to force the weak reply.
 
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