Tips on developing a reliable good second serve

atp2015

Hall of Fame
I have been struggling with my second serve and wondering what to do to develop a good second serve.
Second serves go well in practice sessions, but too many double faults in matches (second serve goes long by foot or two). The problems have been consistency with toss location/height, and lack of racket speed.

A few things I'm planning to try -
1 just hit top-spin second serve for couple of months and hit flat serve only if up 40-0
2 use the same routine as the first serve
3 come up with a plan to visualize target and ball trajectory everytime

Anything else to look at in terms of strategy and planning?
 

sureshs

Bionic Poster
One tip somebody posted here (and I admit I tried it only once) was to focus on the fact that the kick/topspin serve has only upward motion of the swing. Of course it will come down on its own, but imagine you are only hitting up. That might get rid of your going long problem.

Another simple thing is that rec players often use old strings with decreased tension, preventing them from getting grooved to a swing and compensating for it every day. There is a reason pros restring frequently.
 

rockbox

Semi-Pro
Often, people slow down their racquet on their second serve because they think slower means more control. I swing just as fast on my second (kick) serve. I just hit more top spin (swing path) to get more margin of error. The rest is just lots of practice and muscle memory. BTW, don't visualize the ball path. You should swing at the ball while focusing on contact and racquet path and trust the ball will go where it should go. If you visualize the path, you often drop your head to see if the ball actually takes the path intended which wrecks form.
 

mntlblok

Hall of Fame
One tip somebody posted here (and I admit I tried it only once) was to focus on the fact that the kick/topspin serve has only upward motion of the swing. Of course it will come down on its own, but imagine you are only hitting up. That might get rid of your going long problem.

Another simple thing is that rec players often use old strings with decreased tension, preventing them from getting grooved to a swing and compensating for it every day. There is a reason pros restring frequently.
Would add "to the right" as well as hitting "up". And, what's wrong with topspin only for second serve?? Get the toss in the right spot, get the grip right, and swing as hard as you want/can - up and to the right. The high bounce should keep you out of trouble.

As for decreased tension, I string my rackets at 30 pounds and rarely miss a second serve. Methinks strings be over-rated, especially at the rec level.
 

rockbox

Semi-Pro
Another thing to add, if you aren't able to serve the ball at least 3 feet over the net and have the ball land safely in the service box, you are not hitting the top spin serve correctly. You want a huge margin of error.

Here is a good video on how to do a kick serve. The knee drill is really good for learning the proper swing path. There is another youtube video showing a guy hitting a 90 mph serve from his knees, but i couldn't find it. The point is that you have to hit up on the ball and the ball trajectory is well over the net.

 

Dso

Semi-Pro
Good thread. I'm working on similar issues.

I try to make extra sure my wrist/arm isn't tense and I can feel the racquet head drop before accelerating it upward to hit the ball. I really try to feel that topspin on impact. It's taking some work to really accelerate at full speed when working on building that serve… it's easy to say but it's also easy to miss the right contact point as well. WIP.

I fail when I chicken out at the last minute and don't have enough racquet head speed to even get the ball over the net. That's embarrassing but I'm 100% working it during practices….
 

mntlblok

Hall of Fame
Good thread. I'm working on similar issues.

I try to make extra sure my wrist/arm isn't tense and I can feel the racquet head drop before accelerating it upward to hit the ball. I really try to feel that topspin on impact. It's taking some work to really accelerate at full speed when working on building that serve… it's easy to say but it's also easy to miss the right contact point as well. WIP.

I fail when I chicken out at the last minute and don't have enough racquet head speed to even get the ball over the net. That's embarrassing but I'm 100% working it during practices….
Very familiar with that particular "choke". My cure is to force myself to completely straighten out my elbow as part of my "snap up". The hard part is diagnosing that *that* is what the problem is. . .
 
  • Like
Reactions: Dso

Dartagnan64

G.O.A.T.
I got a lot more consistent with second serves when I added leg drive. Moving upwards toward the ball ensured the racket is accelerating up into the ball and more upward than forward momentum. That seems to give enough topspin to bring the ball down in time. If I get lazy with my legs and just swing with my arms and truck the ball will sail a foot or two long.
 

sureshs

Bionic Poster
Would add "to the right" as well as hitting "up". And, what's wrong with topspin only for second serve?? Get the toss in the right spot, get the grip right, and swing as hard as you want/can - up and to the right. The high bounce should keep you out of trouble.

As for decreased tension, I string my rackets at 30 pounds and rarely miss a second serve. Methinks strings be over-rated, especially at the rec level.
Not the tension or strings, but the variability in the tension. We rec players often develop lowest common denominator swings to compensate for variability. Well, that and laziness and general athletic inability, but that too.
 

Raul_SJ

G.O.A.T.
I have been struggling with my second serve and wondering what to do to develop a good second serve.
Second serves go well in practice sessions, but too many double faults in matches (second serve goes long by foot or two).
Something is wrong if its landing two feet long. The kick should land well short of the service line, thereby giving it time to rise by the time it reaches opponent's baseline. I suspect you are getting tight and not swinging out.

 

mntlblok

Hall of Fame
Something is wrong if its landing two feet long. The kick should land well short of the service line, thereby giving it time to rise by the time it reaches opponent's baseline. I suspect you are getting tight and not swinging out.

If yer gonna be kicking it really wide into the ad court - as Rod Cross describes in his nice kicker article here on TW University - then, yes, you want it to land short. But otherwise, the deeper I can make it land in the box, the better.

AAMOF, one of the things that I find annoying when trying to take topspin serves on the rise is that there can be so much variation on where the dern things bounce up from. Nothing worse than standing way in to chip a second serve return and it lands very deep in the box and handcuffs me. Being old and slow is sometimes a disadvantage. :)
 

Raul_SJ

G.O.A.T.
If yer gonna be kicking it really wide into the ad court - as Rod Cross describes in his nice kicker article here on TW University - then, yes, you want it to land short. But otherwise, the deeper I can make it land in the box, the better.
Even if it's a serve down the T, I find it easier to return if it lands deep. If it lands short, the kick has time to rise and get up over shoulder height.

Also notice the Rod Cross TWU diagram has a shallow landing point for the T serve as well.

 
Last edited:

mntlblok

Hall of Fame
Even if it's a serve down the T, I find it easier to return if it lands deep. If it lands short, the kick has time to rise and get up over shoulder height.
Interesting. I guess I'm kinda thinking that when I maximize both my pace and spin on my kicker that the ball is moving downward faster (and more steeply??) and will therefore bounce higher. Guess I ought to go test that.
 

snvplayer

Hall of Fame
I have been struggling with my second serve and wondering what to do to develop a good second serve.
Second serves go well in practice sessions, but too many double faults in matches (second serve goes long by foot or two). The problems have been consistency with toss location/height, and lack of racket speed.

A few things I'm planning to try -
1 just hit top-spin second serve for couple of months and hit flat serve only if up 40-0
2 use the same routine as the first serve
3 come up with a plan to visualize target and ball trajectory everytime

Anything else to look at in terms of strategy and planning?
From my personal experience at least, you need to build trust in your swing. It's easier said than done, and you do need to develop a good mechanics / technique, and experience of making the serves in match situations.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Dso

GuyClinch

Legend
I have been struggling with my second serve and wondering what to do to develop a good second serve.
Second serves go well in practice sessions, but too many double faults in matches (second serve goes long by foot or two). The problems have been consistency with toss location/height, and lack of racket speed.
1. Quantify your practice sessions. Aim for specific serves to specific locations and COUNT what percentage go in. Do not count ones that miss your target. The 'it's great in practice' stuff is a problem for everyone - and I think its the lack of stress involved in hitting the meaningless 'anywhere in the box' kicks.

So for example aim for a kick serve to the add court that lands in the outer third of the box and hits the side fence before the back fence. Doing that 80% of the time is no walk in the park.. (at least for me)..

I found doing this really helped all my serves - you have to commit to certain toss locations as well. Don't accept hitting serves when your toss isn't where you want it. Its a bad habit.

2. Accept that kick serves are not automatically in if you are learning it. You will likely serve a lower percentage into you master the shot - as compared to a dink or even top/slice serve. But commit to using it in games.
 
I have been struggling with my second serve and wondering what to do to develop a good second serve.
Second serves go well in practice sessions, but too many double faults in matches (second serve goes long by foot or two). The problems have been consistency with toss location/height, and lack of racket speed.

A few things I'm planning to try -
1 just hit top-spin second serve for couple of months and hit flat serve only if up 40-0
2 use the same routine as the first serve
3 come up with a plan to visualize target and ball trajectory everytime

Anything else to look at in terms of strategy and planning?
You must relax and emulate your practice sessions while serving during a match. Also make sure you don't do so much during practice that you tire yourself out for the match.
 

Lance L

Semi-Pro
Along with the 1hbh, the serve seems to be the stroke that requires good loose technique to make it work. You can't muscle a serve, you have to be loose and smooth and let the technique do the work.
The vast majority of my bad serves are caused by me trying really hard. Almost all of my great serves feel effortless.
If your serve is working in practice, then you know how to do it. The trick is to figure out a way to let yourself serve that way during a match.
 

atp2015

Hall of Fame
You have identified the main problem, but yet have no direct practice plan. How about practicing toss in your garage? I know. It's pretty boring. But it will pay dividends later.
Good catch. I'm going to practice toss at home/garage/backyard - I used to do that before, but has not done that in a long time. One another thing that helps me with consistency is catching the racket throat with left hand after the serve follow-trough. It works when I remember to do it, but I have caught myself not doing it 8 out of 10 times.
 

sureshs

Bionic Poster
The problems have been consistency with toss location/height
I have discovered the secret solution to the problem of the toss. I outlined it another thread but it is so powerful that I will repeat it here. It is quite a revolution is tennis teaching.

You have been told that toss is the key to the serve and many peculiar ways of holding the ball. None of them work. You have also been told to go out on the court and practice a thousand tosses. You have better things to do.

The revelation came when a coach on here pointed out that Federer starts by holding the ball with his palms horizontal, but the palm becomes almost vertical at release. Visualize throwing the ball towards yourself and slightly to the right with underspin (topspin if viewed by someone facing you). Even though you may actually throw the ball a little forward, the pronation of your lower arm will put a few rpm of mild underspin which will control the ball and put it where you want to it. Usually the feeling for the toss is to throw it away from you. Change the feeling to throw it towards you with a slight spin. I takes about 20 serves to get used to that feeling, and then you are good!
 
D

Deleted member 23235

Guest
I have been struggling with my second serve and wondering what to do to develop a good second serve.
Second serves go well in practice sessions, but too many double faults in matches (second serve goes long by foot or two). The problems have been consistency with toss location/height, and lack of racket speed.

A few things I'm planning to try -
1 just hit top-spin second serve for couple of months and hit flat serve only if up 40-0
2 use the same routine as the first serve
3 come up with a plan to visualize target and ball trajectory everytime

Anything else to look at in terms of strategy and planning?
i never hit flat, unless up i'm up 40-love... alternatively instead of thinking first = fast, second = spin... try spinning all your serves, and think: first = placement, second = consistent.

i always hit a top/slice serve for my first serve... takes 10-20mph off my flat pace, but dramatically increases consistency and placement (which overall increases my first-serve-pts-won %).

i always hit a top or kick for my second serve, and occasionally as my first serve.

When practicing the serve you're going to be using as your second serve, try to replicate how you'll hit it in a matched - ie:
* hit a 2nd serve, then run to the other side (ie. simulate a point)
* hit a flat serve, folloed by a spin serve... (ie. don't get into a false sense of security of hitting 10 spin/second serves in a row... when you don't do that in a match - ie. the toss/swing path might be slightly different)

Keep your targeting simple... just visualize 3 regions, fh/body/bh... stay away from lines by at least a ft (every time i hit the line i promies it was an accident)

always need to go after your spin serves, while you feel like you're in more control slowing down your rhs, don't... and accept the fact that you'll shank a bunch as you evolve/improve your spin serves...
 
D

Deleted member 23235

Guest
2. Accept that kick serves are not automatically in if you are learning it. You will likely serve a lower percentage into you master the shot - as compared to a dink or even top/slice serve. But commit to using it in games.
+1
additionally, one thing i did was just to hit 2 kick serves for first and second serves... but i really went after both.

even at 4.5, i could probably get away with just hitting 2 kickers... i might have to work a bit harder on my points,... but in general if i'm having trouble with getting my serves in, it would suffice to place my top or kicker well, and forgo my "big" serve (which is not really big :p)
 

fuzz nation

G.O.A.T.
According to rumors, it's apparently really hard to double fault when we get our first serves in.

Okay, a little on the tough love side of the street, but without video of your serve motions, I figured this might be a good thought to offer. Many of us throw away too many first serves by cracking the ball and looking for a cheap point. If you're not landing even half of your first serves in a match, I'd say that percentage should be sounding some alarms. You're forcing yourself to hit way too many second serves like that.

Yes, you need to get comfortable with using your full motion to hit every serve. That absolutely does NOT mean you should swing out of your shoes with every serve - that's just not consistent. But for your second serve to have ample spin to give it a rather large margin to land in the service box, it needs enough racquet speed to make the ball turn over.

Lots of talk here about a topspin serve or a kicker. These serves can be learned and put to work just fine, but if you're either not familiar with these serves or not hitting them confidently yet, I'd say don't overlook the slice serve if you need a spinner that will go in a lot. I think the slice serve is a rather simple variation of a more flat serve that can offer huge consistency without needing a ton of practice to develop it. Work on the topspin and kick serves, but use whatever you can land in your matches along the way.
 

rockbox

Semi-Pro
According to rumors, it's apparently really hard to double fault when we get our first serves in.
I'm a big believer in not going 100 percent on your first unless you have a very dependable second serve with decent pace. The last thing you want to do is give people an opportunity to tee off on the second serve because they know its going to be wimpy.
 

atp2015

Hall of Fame
According to rumors, it's apparently really hard to double fault when we get our first serves in.
Okay, a little on the tough love side of the street, but without video of your serve motions, I figured this might be a good thought to offer. Many of us throw away too many first serves by cracking the ball and looking for a cheap point. If you're not landing even half of your first serves in a match, I'd say that percentage should be sounding some alarms. You're forcing yourself to hit way too many second serves like that.
hope I'm not being arrogant here, but I think my serve technique is not bad for my level and my first serve percentage is good - 6 out of 10. The second serve percentage should be 80%, but mine is 40%.
As a result, instead of double faulting once in 3 service games( expected double fault probability - 20% of 40 = 8 which means once per 12.5 serves - 4 good serves per game) , I'm giving away a free point every game on average ( real double fault - 60% of 40 = 24 i.e. once per 4 serves).
As the things stand now, I'm better off hitting first serve as my second serve which will decrease the double fault rate to 40% of 40 = 16 (2 doubles per 3 service games)
 
Last edited:

mntlblok

Hall of Fame
+1
additionally, one thing i did was just to hit 2 kick serves for first and second serves... but i really went after both.

even at 4.5, i could probably get away with just hitting 2 kickers... i might have to work a bit harder on my points,... but in general if i'm having trouble with getting my serves in, it would suffice to place my top or kicker well, and forgo my "big" serve (which is not really big :p)
A really nice side benefit to that is that if you *do* miss the first serve, you've just "practiced" it and know *exactly* what minor little adjustment will fix it for this next one, so you can now confidently go after the second one. I find that it sort of annoys some opponents to see you go after your second serve and still never miss it. :)
 
D

Deleted member 23235

Guest
hope I'm not being arrogant here, but I think my serve technique is not bad for my level and my first serve percentage is good - 6 out of 10. The second serve percentage should be 80%, but mine is 40%.
As a result, instead of double faulting once in 3 service games( expected double fault probability - 20% of 40 = 8 which means once per 12.5 serves - 4 good serves per game) , I'm giving away a free point every game on average ( real double fault - 60% of 40 = 24 i.e. once per 4 serves).
As the things stand now, I'm better off hitting first serve as my second serve which will decrease the double fault rate to 40% of 40 = 16 (2 doubles per 3 service games)
how is your 2nd serve % lower than your 1st serve %...
you're definitely better off hitting whatever you hit for your 1st serve,... for your 2nd serve!

that said, i bet your overestimating your 1st serve %

Many of us throw away too many first serves by cracking the ball and looking for a cheap point.
+1, and i think another reason why I used to do this, is because i feared/wanted to avoid my other weaknesses...
* long rallies (ie. poor conditioning)
* inconsistent bh
* no volleys/overheads
* etc...
 

atp2015

Hall of Fame
how is your 2nd serve % lower than your 1st serve %...
Because I'm re-working my second serve to add more spin/kick which was not good enough for my new playing level. The weak second serve was okay earlier, but I'm trying to upgrade my second serve to match with my other improved aspects of the game.

that said, i bet your overestimating your 1st serve %
it's possible - it might be 5 out of 10 instead of 6. But happy with my first serve, on average I hit 2 aces in 3 service games and force at least 1 return error per game.
 
D

Deleted member 23235

Guest
Because I'm re-working my second serve to add more spin/kick which was not good enough for my new playing level. The weak second serve was okay earlier, but I'm trying to upgrade my second serve to match with my other improved aspects of the game.
ah makes sense... in that case, stay at it, and kudos for making the change (it's always painful to go back before you take 2 steps forward) :)
personally i do (have done) what others suggested... hit your "new 2nd serve kicker" as both your 1st and 2nd serve... so you can get more match time hitting it.
you're gonna get worse before you get better... so might as well embrace it, and stop going back to your "old 2nd serve technique".
eventually your kicker will be so consistent, you'll find yourself going for more on your first, because you know you won't care if you miss your first.
 

mntlblok

Hall of Fame
Because I'm re-working my second serve to add more spin/kick which was not good enough for my new playing level. The weak second serve was okay earlier, but I'm trying to upgrade my second serve to match with my other improved aspects of the game.
Find a way to post a video - preferably using 240fps as with a smart phone. We ought to be able to get you making this topspin serve close to 100% in about 5 minutes. :)
 

willeric

Rookie
The best way to have a great second serve, is to have a great first serve. It's more than a cliche. If you can generate lots of racquet head speed on a first serve, you just redirect that speed up and out for a second serve.

The problem is if you really aren't generating enough head speed, and then you start using the little speed you have to create spin, there wont be enough spin or speed.
 

atp2015

Hall of Fame
The best way to have a great second serve, is to have a great first serve. It's more than a cliche. If you can generate lots of racquet head speed on a first serve, you just redirect that speed up and out for a second serve.

The problem is if you really aren't generating enough head speed, and then you start using the little speed you have to create spin, there wont be enough spin or speed.
sounds appealing, going to try the redirection strategy asap.
 
D

Deleted member 23235

Guest
The best way to have a great second serve, is to have a great first serve. It's more than a cliche. If you can generate lots of racquet head speed on a first serve, you just redirect that speed up and out for a second serve.

The problem is if you really aren't generating enough head speed, and then you start using the little speed you have to create spin, there wont be enough spin or speed.
but most folks asking the question in the first place are hitting a flat 1st serve... plenty of rhs, but no way to put it into spin.
i've taught former baseball players that had bigger serves than me (ie. they have a very lively arm, ie. from throwing all the time) - that went in occasionally, but had not clue how to get spin on it... so it's kinda humorous to see an athlete hit a 100+ mph "flat" heater, then dink the next ball in. i think most really good athletes can hit a hard flat serve, even with a frying pan grip... and can easily hit a flat one with the correct continental grip (ie. it's like high-fiving your buddy with a twist into it)... but learning to pronate, and hitting with an partially open face, hitting up, etc... that doesn't come easy to most,... certainly not for me.

for me anyway,... learning to hit a spin serve took at least a decade of trial and error... but that was before the internet, videos, etc... i was too broke to buy lessons (and the few i did at the time, did not know how to teach a serve). to be honest, i wish i had me around when i was a kid to teach me how to serve... i'd have gotten the mechanics down in a few lessons, and spent the rest of my time practicing the right thing (vs. experimenting, making mistakes, etc...)
 

Dso

Semi-Pro
but most folks asking the question in the first place are hitting a flat 1st serve... plenty of rhs, but no way to put it into spin.
i've taught former baseball players that had bigger serves than me (ie. they have a very lively arm, ie. from throwing all the time) - that went in occasionally, but had not clue how to get spin on it... so it's kinda humorous to see an athlete hit a 100+ mph "flat" heater, then dink the next ball in. i think most really good athletes can hit a hard flat serve, even with a frying pan grip... and can easily hit a flat one with the correct continental grip (ie. it's like high-fiving your buddy with a twist into it)... but learning to pronate, and hitting with an partially open face, hitting up, etc... that doesn't come easy to most,... certainly not for me.
Ha!! I used to hit them flat… but after being in denial for many years I've come to realize that a flat serve just isn't easy for a 5' 7" guy! All my serves have some spin- mostly slide. Working on more topspin/slice is some work. Kudos to @atp2015 for sticking with it during matches. It's not easy when most of your game is 4.0 level and your 2nd serve is 2.5 level. LOL (that's me not OP!)
 

TennisCJC

Legend
I have been struggling with my second serve and wondering what to do to develop a good second serve.
Second serves go well in practice sessions, but too many double faults in matches (second serve goes long by foot or two). The problems have been consistency with toss location/height, and lack of racket speed.

A few things I'm planning to try -
1 just hit top-spin second serve for couple of months and hit flat serve only if up 40-0
2 use the same routine as the first serve
3 come up with a plan to visualize target and ball trajectory everytime

Anything else to look at in terms of strategy and planning?
Peel the fuzz off the ball is a concept that will help you get spin. But, you aren't peeling the fuzz off by making any crazy wrist manipulations to wrap around the side or over the top. Don't try to manipulate the strings by wrapping around the ball. Rather think of it as attacking the ball with the side of racket instead of the strings. You are making a glancing hit with the strings swiping the ball. Think of hitting up and to R and peeling the fuzz off the ball. Go slow and easy in wind-up and toss but accelerating smoothly to contact. As you get the feel and more confident, you can speed up the swing to contact. I am old man 4.0 but the swing speed on my 1st and 2nd serves is about the same.

You should also see a good pro to make sure you have good grip, stance, wind-up, swing to contact and follow thru.
 
D

Deleted member 23235

Guest
Ha!! I used to hit them flat… but after being in denial for many years I've come to realize that a flat serve just isn't easy for a 5' 7" guy! All my serves have some spin- mostly slide. Working on more topspin/slice is some work. Kudos to @atp2015 for sticking with it during matches. It's not easy when most of your game is 4.0 level and your 2nd serve is 2.5 level. LOL (that's me not OP!)
flat serves are not easy for anyone shorter than 7ft tall.
 

movdqa

Talk Tennis Guru
Try an Eastern BH grip on your second serve. I switch to this from the Continental when I want more topspin on the serve.

Practice your toss off the court. If you have cathedral ceilings, this should be easy to do. If not, sit on a chair and practice your toss while watching TV.

Maybe an Extended Length racquet would help.
 

Dso

Semi-Pro
flat serves are not easy for anyone shorter than 7ft tall.
OK- I used to hit "flatter" serves till I realized it was too difficult for me being at 5' 7". :)

Seriously though, most people's "flat" serves have some spin on them for sure… but I, like the OP, am working on getting more topspin. Slice is good but you still need some topspin to give you more margin over the net IMO.
 

mntlblok

Hall of Fame
for me anyway,... learning to hit a spin serve took at least a decade of trial and error...
Surprised to hear that. When I've had the chance to work with tennis friends who are good athletes, it's usually only a few minutes until I have them getting the hang of, at least "how", to hit a topspin serve, and then successfully hitting a good many of them pretty quickly. It seems the piece of the puzzle that has become more clear in recent times is that the swing path is much more out to the right than what I used to hear about. I keep going back to the video of Pat Dougherty showing the kid swinging up at a plastic tube for picking up balls - swinging up and dead out to the right.
Around the 4:45 mark. With the right grip (between Continental and Eastern Backhand) and the toss far enough to the left (YMMV), there's not much that can go wrong.
 

fuzz nation

G.O.A.T.
hope I'm not being arrogant here, but I think my serve technique is not bad for my level and my first serve percentage is good - 6 out of 10. The second serve percentage should be 80%, but mine is 40%.
As a result, instead of double faulting once in 3 service games( expected double fault probability - 20% of 40 = 8 which means once per 12.5 serves - 4 good serves per game) , I'm giving away a free point every game on average ( real double fault - 60% of 40 = 24 i.e. once per 4 serves).
As the things stand now, I'm better off hitting first serve as my second serve which will decrease the double fault rate to 40% of 40 = 16 (2 doubles per 3 service games)
You're not being arrogant - I was a little bit of a wench in my post just because I like to get on my own case when I'm missing too many first serves. That's why I was such a punk about encouraging a stronger percentage of first serves... It's not you, it's me o_O

Forgot to add that I don't use a lot of hard flat first serves myself, unless I'm really dialed in and reeeeeally hitting my spots. I generally hit one flat bomb per service game or maybe even one every other game, just to keep my opponent honest. Rock on...
 

mntlblok

Hall of Fame
Surprised to hear that. When I've had the chance to work with tennis friends who are good athletes, it's usually only a few minutes until I have them getting the hang of, at least "how", to hit a topspin serve, and then successfully hitting a good many of them pretty quickly. It seems the piece of the puzzle that has become more clear in recent times is that the swing path is much more out to the right than what I used to hear about. I keep going back to the video of Pat Dougherty showing the kid swinging up at a plastic tube for picking up balls - swinging up and dead out to the right.
Around the 4:45 mark. With the right grip (between Continental and Eastern Backhand) and the toss far enough to the left (YMMV), there's not much that can go wrong.
*And*, watching that again, a bit further in, where he describes the changes for turning it into a kicker, I picked up on something that I've missed in the past - the fact that he's having him lean into the court with his upper body in order to get that bit of "backward" swing angle. May be some serve improvements coming. :)
 

GuyClinch

Legend
Surprised to hear that. When I've had the chance to work with tennis friends who are good athletes, it's usually only a few minutes until I have them getting the hang of, at least "how", to hit a topspin serve, and then successfully hitting a good many of them pretty quickly. It seems the piece of the puzzle that has become more clear in recent times is that the swing path is much more out to the right than what I used to hear about. I keep going back to the video of Pat Dougherty showing the kid swinging up at a plastic tube for
Not seven foot tall - but I am very tall. And for me hitting flatter serves down the T is not that much lower percentage then kick serves. Especially kick serves to harder locations like up the middle deuce side - yeah Fed hits that one - not me.

I think for me easiest serves to hit - slice deuce-side (out wide) - flat up the T (add and deuce) - kick out wide. I generally focus on practicing those serves. I realize you can hit like 9 different serves - but I feel that spreads me too thin. Had better luck just focusing on those big 4.
 
D

Deleted member 23235

Guest
Surprised to hear that. When I've had the chance to work with tennis friends who are good athletes, it's usually only a few minutes until I have them getting the hang of, at least "how", to hit a topspin serve, and then successfully hitting a good many of them pretty quickly. It seems the piece of the puzzle that has become more clear in recent times is that the swing path is much more out to the right than what I used to hear about. I keep going back to the video of Pat Dougherty showing the kid swinging up at a plastic tube for picking up balls - swinging up and dead out to the right.
Around the 4:45 mark. With the right grip (between Continental and Eastern Backhand) and the toss far enough to the left (YMMV), there's not much that can go wrong.
1. i must not have had the friends you had...
2. i didn't have the vids we have today...
nowadays it's super easy to learn as a DIYer (and willingness to learn, put effort, video, etc...)
i was surprised that tennis content on youtube hasn't killed off alot of the rec-tennis teaching business --- then realized that folks want things to be spoon fed to them anyway (don't want to watch youtube vids)...and even knowing conceptually how to do something... doing it well still requires quite alot of practice, feedback loops, etc... all much easier to do with a good coach.

ps. i love that pat dougherty vid.... all of them.
 
D

Deleted member 23235

Guest
Not seven foot tall - but I am very tall. And for me hitting flatter serves down the T is not that much lower percentage then kick serves. Especially kick serves to harder locations like up the middle deuce side - yeah Fed hits that one - not me.

I think for me easiest serves to hit - slice deuce-side (out wide) - flat up the T (add and deuce) - kick out wide. I generally focus on practicing those serves. I realize you can hit like 9 different serves - but I feel that spreads me too thin. Had better luck just focusing on those big 4.
you have a pretty damn good flat serve then :) (or a very bad kicker :p)
to me the kicker % should be waaaay higher...

if your flat serve down the T is around the same % as your kicker, you're probably better off just hitting flat down the T all the time (ie. more free points in exchange for slightly more doubles)
1st serve: 100 of 75% flat 75% win-rate = 56pts won
2nd serve: 25 of 75% flat 75% win-rate = 14pts won (70pts total won)
2nd serve: 25 of 80% kick 60% win-rate = 12pts won (68pts total won)

but my guess is that your split is more like 60% flat T serves, and 95% kicker which makes it more valuable to kick the 2nd:
1st serve: 100 of 60% flat 75% win-rate = 45pts won
2nd serve: 40 of 60% flat 75% win-rate = 18pts won (63pts total won)
2nd serve: 40 of 95% kick 60% win-rate = 23pts won (68pts total won)
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Dso

Semi-Pro
So I had some practice time with some buddies- weekly contract time. I was focused on really getting more top spin on my serves and tried some advice given here. Probably not totally top spin but a combo of top and slice. I really accentuated the brushing up on the ball on the 2nd serves while throwing the racquet with pace if that makes sense. All in all it was pretty good. Ironically after some good 2nd serves, I managed to miss hit many of my follow up shots! I guess I was too focused on what was going on with my serves! LOL yeah that's it.
 

ByeByePoly

G.O.A.T.
So I had some practice time with some buddies- weekly contract time. I was focused on really getting more top spin on my serves and tried some advice given here. Probably not totally top spin but a combo of top and slice. I really accentuated the brushing up on the ball on the 2nd serves while throwing the racquet with pace if that makes sense. All in all it was pretty good. Ironically after some good 2nd serves, I managed to miss hit many of my follow up shots! I guess I was too focused on what was going on with my serves! LOL yeah that's it.
I have said it here before ... I almost killed a mixed doubles partner learning the kick serve. Winter indoors mixed league ... I was in my 20s ... not the best time to work on it. Learning the kicker is like skiing ... at first you can't go fast enough to get hurt.

For adding the kicker ... I would definitely start with these two swing thoughts ... one from each video above:

1) graze the ball
2) really arch your back (in video with kid ... called it pointing chest up or something)

If I was learning it now ... knowing what I do now, I would really concentrate on those two thoughts. I would take a ball hopper to the court ... and hit very easy kickers as long as it took to get the motion down. Very relaxed arm ... arched back ... just enough rhs to hit the spin/kicker high over net and in the box. I don't think it would matter which one you started with ... topspin or kicker. It seems that would be an easy tweak later. I have hit a kicker for 30 years ... never really knew there was a "topspin" version of it. To me ... the kicker should be your endpoint/goal ... because the bounce up and to the right is difficult for the returner. Even a slow kicker works ... and gives you a lot of time to come in behind it in doubles. I pretty much kick first and second serves now ... particularly doubles. The exception is spin out wide in deuce court ... I hit that a lot also. I'm guessing my kicker isn't as good as Raul's ... because I have better results deeper in the box. Also short and wide in ad side ... but that is for angle for me ... not higher to opponent. The kicker becomes a really good addition because you can get to where you have no need to double fault. At 4.5 and lower ... I have not run into that many that can make you pay to much for even a slow kicker as long as it moves enough. In fact, on second serves ... depending on opponent ... anywhere in the box is fine in doubles. I really don't see many kickers in my age group. I was the only one on my team ... 14-15 guys. Lots of spin serves.

btw ... being of similar height ... when we get that flat serve in down the T with a low ball toss ... no bounce. :)
 

mntlblok

Hall of Fame
Faced a lefty kicker in a league match last night. Only the second one I've come across. Very hard to get used to, and he didn't kick it sideways every time. Variety kills. Tried reading his toss, but it wouldn't compute. :)
 

movdqa

Talk Tennis Guru
Faced a lefty kicker in a league match last night. Only the second one I've come across. Very hard to get used to, and he didn't kick it sideways every time. Variety kills. Tried reading his toss, but it wouldn't compute. :)
Lefty slice can be really tough too. It's good to have a lefty in your regular practice rotation.

Good practice hitting crosscourt backhands against a topspin forehand too.
 
Top