Tips on developing a reliable good second serve

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.
I never watch contact point, and instead look down and watch to see where the ball is going. What is the consequences of this? Must keep eye on ball
 

Noah Swift

Rookie
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?
Hit a kick serve
 

SCSI

Semi-Pro
I had a similar issue (erratic toss and missing it long) but approaching the problem in an entirely different way helped solve it. Once you get the pronation action right with your arm, then just focus on the feeling of your body motion. Just give yourself a big target and let you body do its thing while being relaxed and don't even think about what your arm is doing.
 

ByeByePoly

G.O.A.T.
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. :)
You couldn't read my toss because I can't read it... or predict it. :) My experience is that flat serves are more toss sensitive than kick or slice ... with the added value of confusing the opponent. Sure ... you could vary the spin... but why not vary the delivery ... like a pitcher. :)
 

xFullCourtTenniSx

Hall of Fame
Have an aggressive, not defensive, mentality. The time when my kick serves were most effective was when I always looked to attack with the second serve. I threw all my racket head speed at the ball but put it into spin. Beyond that, I also chose aggressive locations. It helps a lot under pressure because you think about executing the best possible serve you can rather than avoiding double faults. Now, I'm pretty lazy with them, but still get decent results since I'm so comfortable with them.

Given what you said though, you should work on your pre-serve routine. It sounds like you're getting nervous or jittery and are messing up your tossing motion (practice your tosses too). In practice, put yourself in pressure situations by giving yourself punishments if you make too many mistakes. For example, do a round of 12 serves, split to the 3 important locations (wide, body, T) from ad and deuce and do lines if you miss more than one serve, or do 10 push ups and sit ups for each miss. This can be made more complicated in a variety of different ways and give you a more realistic serving experience.

I'd almost never hit a flat serve for a second serve. I've done it a few times, but it's a bad gamble.

As for first serve percentages, 60-65% is ideal. (Fast enough so you don't make them all, but slow/controlled enough to still make just under 2 out of 3.)
 

atp2015

Hall of Fame
Latest update on 2nd serve. After looking at my video it was very clear that in an attempt to brush up the ball more the whole serve form was breaking down. No proper knee bend, arm fully not extended and much reduced RHS. In summary, the 2nd serve was totally different than first serve motion. I had no intention of learning two serve mechanics (and no plans in the future either), now I have fixed my first serve issues and hitting the second serve just like the first one with safer targets and a bit more left side toss for a higher upward trajectory. Everything else is the same as the first serve. (I went through an online serve course to figure this out quickly - in about 3 weeks)
 

shindemac

Hall of Fame
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...)
Same here, except I started my journey from my first post on this forum, and I'm still learning. I do think that a good flat serve is necessary to develop a good spin serve, so I spent some time on that too once I realized that. Experimentation is good and it helps me for hitting other spin serves and variations, but yeah, if I had myself to coach me, I would have gotten one serve faster but then I would be clueless on how to flatten it out, vary the amount of topspin and slice, etc. I spent a couple years on flat, and once I returned to the topspin serve, I was able to pick it up pretty fast so all that time I spent on it before was not wasted. It was basically stewing in my head like a slow-cooker for those 2 years, and was ready once I added the right ingredients (practice and rhs from the flat).
 

shindemac

Hall of Fame
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. :)
Not many guys have a kick serve at the higher levels. I don't know why that is. I'm one of the few who can hit it, but it's been my quest ever since high school when the #1 varsity player had one. Yes, kick serve and topspin serve are the same thing, just different names. I have a flat, topspin, and variations of topspin like topslice, flatten it out one, etc. Don't really use a slice. I've had various compliments, but I never seem to win any points with my top except against girls. They usually wiff on it.

Yea, I spent a lot of time working on #1 and chopping up at the ball. I haven't even started on number 2 yet... There's just too much to work on. I'm working on 2 main goals: getting more height on it, and adding in the toolbox of serves. With the amount of variations, i only spend 5 minutes practicing each serve type.
 

mntlblok

Hall of Fame
Coincidentally, messed with a buddy's serve a bit yesterday whilst we were hitting. He hits both first and second serves flat with an Eastern forehand grip. Right foot came around with little or no shoulder turn in the back swing. We fiddled with a topspin serve for about fifteen minutes. Here's some "before" and "after".


and after:

 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
No substitute for practice, and concentration.
One without the other leads to DF's. You need both to have a good second serve.
 
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!)
my main problem with hitting flat (when i was younger):
it didn't go in much, but if i got a streak,... say i hit 3 in game, they were all winners, forced errors, and/or set up a short ball.
so of course, i thought, "i just need to make my flat server more gooder"
(kinda like that one well struck ball (with poor technique) in golf that keeps me coming back to playing a triple bogey handicap)
but for me, hitting 3 in a game was a bit like the same number showing up in roulette 3x in 4 or 5 spins... (or even in a row), happens but not that often
 

FiReFTW

Legend
Coincidentally, messed with a buddy's serve a bit yesterday whilst we were hitting. He hits both first and second serves flat with an Eastern forehand grip. Right foot came around with little or no shoulder turn in the back swing. We fiddled with a topspin serve for about fifteen minutes. Here's some "before" and "after".


and after:

Wow ur an amazing teacher, wish I lived where you are haha.
 

Holliman

Rookie
Choking up on the grip helps me get some control back. During practice if I start shaking my seconds I'll really choke up and I immediately make better contact. During match play I've started choking up just a bit, maybe a half inch and my percentages have really increased.
 
D

Deleted member 23235

Guest
Coincidentally, messed with a buddy's serve a bit yesterday whilst we were hitting. He hits both first and second serves flat with an Eastern forehand grip. Right foot came around with little or no shoulder turn in the back swing. We fiddled with a topspin serve for about fifteen minutes. Here's some "before" and "after".


and after:

good transform
 

Limpinhitter

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). 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?
Whenever a player doesn't hit the ball as well, or doesn't play as well, during a match as he does during practice it is almost always due to lack of match play experience.

What happens is that a player gets tight during the match because he feels more pressure to win the match, and dosen't fully execute his shots the way he does in practice where there is less pressure to win.

So, the answer is more match play experience, which leads to more familiarity and more comfort with match play. In the meantime, the key is focus on fully executing shots one shot at a time and make sure that you're doing what you think you are doing.

When a player is more comfortable with match play, the pressure to win will most often raise his level of play.
 

Shroud

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)
My two cents is that there is something mental going on. Arrange a practice match. Give yourself ONE serve. If you miss it its their point. To compete you will have to get a good reliable serve. And in an actual match you will relax a bunch knowing you have a whole nother serve. And it i think will show the importance of getting the 1st serve in
 

SinjinCooper

Hall of Fame
My two cents is that there is something mental going on. Arrange a practice match. Give yourself ONE serve. If you miss it its their point. To compete you will have to get a good reliable serve. And in an actual match you will relax a bunch knowing you have a whole nother serve. And it i think will show the importance of getting the 1st serve in
This is rock solid advice. I advise every player to hit nothing but second serves until they're steady enough as weapons that you can 100% get into every point without being at any disadvantage. At LEAST in recreational play. If you feel the need to macho up for leagues or tournaments or HS play, so be it. But the phrase, "second serve" should be out of your vocabulary until your second serve is excellent. Until then, it's just, "your serve," and it's the only one you hit.

Even a little less potent, you'd be surprised what the combination of increasing spin and movement, while getting virtually every first serve in will do to an opponent.
 

mntlblok

Hall of Fame
This is rock solid advice. I advise every player to hit nothing but second serves until they're steady enough as weapons that you can 100% get into every point without being at any disadvantage. At LEAST in recreational play. If you feel the need to macho up for leagues or tournaments or HS play, so be it. But the phrase, "second serve" should be out of your vocabulary until your second serve is excellent. Until then, it's just, "your serve," and it's the only one you hit.

Even a little less potent, you'd be surprised what the combination of increasing spin and movement, while getting virtually every first serve in will do to an opponent.
Precisely what I did for *decades*. Only in very recent times have I started trying to branch out a bit and try some flatter type first serves. Some of what I gained from that strategy was that, if I should *miss* my first serve, I would then know precisely what needed to be modified in order to make the next one almost certain to go in, as I had just "practiced" that very shot. If I had just missed a flatter first serve, then I would have much less reason to be confident enough to swing out on a topspin second serve - the worst of both worlds. :) The pain of choking a second serve is beyond what I can bear. Not just double faulting, but knowing that I had double faulted because I had *choked*. Unacceptable. Personal problem.

One of the "swing thoughts" that I developed over the years for the serve was that I would allow myself to miss a serve (first or second) "long", but not into the net. It's sorta like the golfer who takes one side of the hole out of play, say starting it down the left side, because he knows it's either going to fade or just fly straight, but no chance of hooking. In doubles, I would sometimes warn my partner prior to a second serve on a break point that I might miss long. It's *amazing* how much this freed me up to hit decent, topspin second serves - and I can't recall very many that *did* land long in those situations. I've also had some pretty good success with playing partners who had become shaky with their serves to give them "permission" to double fault every point, but only if they missed long. There's a *lot* of topspin serves (before you really have command of them) that "feel" like they're going to be long, before they suddenly dip down into the service box. I suspect that I'm not the only one that may have had trouble coming to "trust" that.

When I occasionally subject myself to singles these days, I'll often come out on top simply because of the opponent's pitiful excuse for a second serve. They can often blow me off the court with their first serve (when it's "working"), but when I stand in a few feet behind the service line to await that second offering, things get very interesting. :)
 

SinjinCooper

Hall of Fame
Precisely what I did for *decades*. Only in very recent times have I started trying to branch out a bit and try some flatter type first serves. Some of what I gained from that strategy was that, if I should *miss* my first serve, I would then know precisely what needed to be modified in order to make the next one almost certain to go in, as I had just "practiced" that very shot. If I had just missed a flatter first serve, then I would have much less reason to be confident enough to swing out on a topspin second serve - the worst of both worlds. :) The pain of choking a second serve is beyond what I can bear. Not just double faulting, but knowing that I had double faulted because I had *choked*. Unacceptable. Personal problem.

One of the "swing thoughts" that I developed over the years for the serve was that I would allow myself to miss a serve (first or second) "long", but not into the net. It's sorta like the golfer who takes one side of the hole out of play, say starting it down the left side, because he knows it's either going to fade or just fly straight, but no chance of hooking. In doubles, I would sometimes warn my partner prior to a second serve on a break point that I might miss long. It's *amazing* how much this freed me up to hit decent, topspin second serves - and I can't recall very many that *did* land long in those situations. I've also had some pretty good success with playing partners who had become shaky with their serves to give them "permission" to double fault every point, but only if they missed long. There's a *lot* of topspin serves (before you really have command of them) that "feel" like they're going to be long, before they suddenly dip down into the service box. I suspect that I'm not the only one that may have had trouble coming to "trust" that.

When I occasionally subject myself to singles these days, I'll often come out on top simply because of the opponent's pitiful excuse for a second serve. They can often blow me off the court with their first serve (when it's "working"), but when I stand in a few feet behind the service line to await that second offering, things get very interesting. :)
Awesome. I hope lots of 3.5-4.0 types read this post.
 

atp2015

Hall of Fame
Probably this thread has been the most useful thread I have created here. (Useful for me).
My approach to serve has completely changed in the last month or so. I no longer think of first or second serve mechanics. (Which I wad doing before). Its just one serve motion and I just deal with it. End of story.
I have been able to translate the form and approach from practice to competitive games and have been able to increase my level of play and win sets against my playing buddies. It has helped me engage in my strengths (groundies).
Cannot wait to employ them in actual matches.
 

mcs1970

Hall of Fame
Awesome. I hope lots of 3.5-4.0 types read this post.
Same thing here. I used to double fault and then once I did that, it would set off a chain reaction of double faults. I used to have b2b games with 4 straight double faults, and I even thought of quitting tennis and reverting back to racuetball. Just like OP, I'd be serving fine in practice. It took me a long while to shut down my ego to consistently loop the ball on 2nd serves and give myself a huge margin of error. I was so determined to not dink balls, that I didn't even rationally think of something between a blistering serve and a dink. Now, I very rarely double fault. I no longer feel embarrassed to play doubles because I'll let my teammate down. As time has gone on, I've now shifted my 1st serve to the same style. The only difference is on the first serve, I hit it a little higher up on the string bed and a little flatter, while the 2nd serve, I consciously hit it a bit lower with more pronounced spin. Else it's the same motion and not much difference. It's been so liberating to get my serve in consistently with decent depth, spin and speed. Once in a while I feel the need to rip the tar out of the ball, just to prove to my opponent that I can hit a hard serve, but it's more satisfying to play smarter and not give free points to my opponents.

BTW...not that I copy his style since what I do now works for me. However, if one wants a safe, good spinny serve, look at Bautista Agut's serve. Simple, very consistent, and effective.
 

atp2015

Hall of Fame
mcs1970 said:
I even thought of quitting tennis and reverting
Boy... exactly my thoughts. My second serve game me so much heart burn and I didn't want to go back to my 3.5 style dinking, after losing games after games and i did in fact take a break(just 3 months) from playing matches. Thought of quitting crossed my mind a few times.
 

Dartagnan64

G.O.A.T.
Whenever a player doesn't hit the ball as well, or doesn't play as well, during a match as he does during practice it is almost always due to lack of match play experience.

What happens is that a player gets tight during the match because he feels more pressure to win the match, and dosen't fully execute his shots the way he does in practice where there is less pressure to win.

So, the answer is more match play experience, which leads to more familiarity and more comfort with match play. In the meantime, the key is focus on fully executing shots one shot at a time and make sure that you're doing what you think you are doing.

When a player is more comfortable with match play, the pressure to win will most often raise his level of play.
That's why I encourage people to practice like they play. Grabbing a hopper of balls and hitting serve after serve doesn't make a serve match ready. No one hits 30 serves in a row back to back. Take two balls out of the hopper, hit a first and second serve from deuce court pretending the game is at deuce. Then if you hit those serves well, go back to the hopper and hit two from the ad court as "ad in". If you hit those well, give yourself a point. If you don't hit your spots from the deuce side, go hit two more from the ad side as "ad out". If you miss your spots then take away a point. Try to get to 6 points.

Same thing with people hitting from the ball machine. Put some targets out there and try to hit them. Don't just mindlessly hit FH's. Try to set the timing on the ball machine so it would replicate the pacing of a real rally so you can hit - recover - split step - hit again.
 

mntlblok

Hall of Fame
Wow ur an amazing teacher, wish I lived where you are haha.
Don't know if yer serious or making fun, but to me, the key to teaching is having a good student. I've had some good success with folks who are both very athletic and very intelligent. I'd hate to have to work as a teaching pro with students who weren't both. :) (I'm not a teaching pro).
 

ByeByePoly

G.O.A.T.
Precisely what I did for *decades*. Only in very recent times have I started trying to branch out a bit and try some flatter type first serves. Some of what I gained from that strategy was that, if I should *miss* my first serve, I would then know precisely what needed to be modified in order to make the next one almost certain to go in, as I had just "practiced" that very shot. If I had just missed a flatter first serve, then I would have much less reason to be confident enough to swing out on a topspin second serve - the worst of both worlds. :) The pain of choking a second serve is beyond what I can bear. Not just double faulting, but knowing that I had double faulted because I had *choked*. Unacceptable. Personal problem.

One of the "swing thoughts" that I developed over the years for the serve was that I would allow myself to miss a serve (first or second) "long", but not into the net. It's sorta like the golfer who takes one side of the hole out of play, say starting it down the left side, because he knows it's either going to fade or just fly straight, but no chance of hooking. In doubles, I would sometimes warn my partner prior to a second serve on a break point that I might miss long. It's *amazing* how much this freed me up to hit decent, topspin second serves - and I can't recall very many that *did* land long in those situations. I've also had some pretty good success with playing partners who had become shaky with their serves to give them "permission" to double fault every point, but only if they missed long. There's a *lot* of topspin serves (before you really have command of them) that "feel" like they're going to be long, before they suddenly dip down into the service box. I suspect that I'm not the only one that may have had trouble coming to "trust" that.

When I occasionally subject myself to singles these days, I'll often come out on top simply because of the opponent's pitiful excuse for a second serve. They can often blow me off the court with their first serve (when it's "working"), but when I stand in a few feet behind the service line to await that second offering, things get very interesting. :)
"Some of what I gained from that strategy was that, if I should *miss* my first serve, I would then know precisely what needed to be modified in order to make the next one almost certain to go in, as I had just "practiced" that very shot."

Man ... just think if we got to hit a second putt in golf.
 

mntlblok

Hall of Fame
"Some of what I gained from that strategy was that, if I should *miss* my first serve, I would then know precisely what needed to be modified in order to make the next one almost certain to go in, as I had just "practiced" that very shot."

Man ... just think if we got to hit a second putt in golf.
Back before I gave that stupid game up (and had a five hdcp), my buddy and I would often play in the late afternoon when nobody else was out on the courses, and one of the games we would play was sort of an "individual" scramble - you got two tries on every shot. We'd play from the tips and would generally shoot par or under. We once tried changing it up and would play two shots each time, but you had to play the worst of the two. We couldn't finish nine holes. :) Devastating.
 

graycrait

Legend
100+ practice serves a day if you don't have a reliable first and second serve.

A couple of years ago a kid from Macedonia took me on the court and watched me serve. Which for old man's rec/hack tennis my serve was pretty good and other "old" guys said so. I told him I wanted my serve effortless so I can do this into my 70s and beyond if I am lucky, I'm 62 now. Besides fixing my ball toss to be more efficient and consistent he told me to work up to hit 100-150 serves per day. Because I have the time I do and have been for every day I can for the past 21 months. Today I went out and hit 170 serves, but some days I quit at a 100 or some days I go 200+. I can walk them across the service line. But I mainly go up the T, then body then out wide. Repeat, switch sides, then go TS the same way. I work on my slice and some on the kicker. I am working on shortening the service box for 6 sectors. Then I change serve position for doubles. This would have been so much more fun when I was 16, but maybe not. But I noted no one in the 40+ category steps inside the baseline to return my serves.

If I know I am going to play points I show up early and hit 60-70 serves to warm the old shoulder up and get my head "right."

The other thing is to develop a routine before serve - this is a must. When I hit one in the net I now know why I did it so then go through my routine - mentally talking myself during the preserve routine literally from the ground up, ending with emphasizing my "eyes to the sky." I don't even consider the previous serve or why it wasn't an ace or the start of a 3 hit put away. Takes 5 ball bounces and maybe a crotch tug:) Nothing much good happens consistently without watching ball contact which other than slight knee bend is a fundamental issue with me. But if I "slow down" and do my "engaged" pre serve routine it works out pretty well. I had a hard but inconsistent hitting 30 something who was partnered up with me in doubles practice ask me why I don't hit a "second" serve if I fault on my first. But I do. It is just that my slice or TS 2nd serve works pretty good and works better than his first serve.

Lastly, as rec/hack, not a 'one percenter' (those that had good and many lessons as a youngster with millions of good reps) I am at a point where I feel like a good baseball pitcher. I can throw some good pitches but my batting sort of sucks. Man, I need lots of work on serve returns - something I work at. If I conquer serve returns I'll be a true first strike rec/hack.
 

Shroud

G.O.A.T.
This is rock solid advice. I advise every player to hit nothing but second serves until they're steady enough as weapons that you can 100% get into every point without being at any disadvantage. At LEAST in recreational play. If you feel the need to macho up for leagues or tournaments or HS play, so be it. But the phrase, "second serve" should be out of your vocabulary until your second serve is excellent. Until then, it's just, "your serve," and it's the only one you hit.

Even a little less potent, you'd be surprised what the combination of increasing spin and movement, while getting virtually every first serve in will do to an opponent.
Rock solid serving advice from Shroud?? Who would have thought it possible...
 

crux

New User
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.
thanks for your video, I really upset with my topspin serve, net so often with no power. Maybe I brush the ball too much (lack of forward) and my leg didn't transfer power to my body...
 

Power Player

Bionic Poster
I just hit second serves for a season. I warmed up by focusing on hitting up on the ball and getting really high net clearance. I found that if I warm up that way, by the time that match began, my contact point was very clean and I was able to serve top/slice while still getting good pop on the ball. I would simply serve that way the entire match. Over time I was able to move the ball around the box and get more and more pace on it. When I go back to sliding in a flat serve, I get a lot more aces due to pace and location.

Biggest mistake people make is warming up by cranking flat serves. Don't do that. Warm up by hitting up on the ball, super high net clearance, and don't worry about MPH. The goal is clean contact while still imparting spin on the ball.
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
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.
We sometimes get 4 lefty's on court for doubles, but the serve varies widely.
One guy hit's mainly top/slice 85 mph firsts and 75 mph seconds, great placements.
One guy hit's only 35 mph skidding sidespin short serves with great placement all over the service box.
One guy hit's 35 mph deep floater's, good placement, but his main strength is a great groundie to back up his weak serve.
Me you know. Inconsistent 100 mph flats, nothing 70 mph second that can walkabout.
But all 4 of us are totally different, and not good practice for any player trying to get used to lefty serves.
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
What's the difference between topspin serve and kick serve? Thought it was the same thing
Topspin is a normal fast first or safe second serve hit with some amount of topspin, but bouncing only mid chest heights.
Kick's are serve that go slower, but bounce higher than typical mid chest.
Twists arc in one direction, bounce the OTHER direction, usually higher than mid chest. That is usually the slowest of the topspin serves. Good twists can bounce chin high or slightly higher to a 6' tall player who is standing straight up.
Of course, the pros can do better, like Isner, who can twist a serve up over our heads easily.
 

movdqa

Talk Tennis Guru
We sometimes get 4 lefty's on court for doubles, but the serve varies widely.
One guy hit's mainly top/slice 85 mph firsts and 75 mph seconds, great placements.
One guy hit's only 35 mph skidding sidespin short serves with great placement all over the service box.
One guy hit's 35 mph deep floater's, good placement, but his main strength is a great groundie to back up his weak serve.
Me you know. Inconsistent 100 mph flats, nothing 70 mph second that can walkabout.
But all 4 of us are totally different, and not good practice for any player trying to get used to lefty serves.
You got a couple of service winners and a near ace of Matt - no slouch against a 5.0.
 
D

Deleted member 23235

Guest
What's the difference between topspin serve and kick serve? Thought it was the same thing
once you hit topspin serves consistently... you'll hit a "kick" by accident (result of a "bad" toss), and then you'll try to recreate that "kick"... and then you'll know the difference :p (but until then i'd recommend not worrying about it, as it will confuse your current (sidespin) serving progress :p)
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
You got a couple of service winners and a near ace of Matt - no slouch against a 5.0.
Walkingabout is good for something! Matt had no idea what serve I was going to hit, and neither did I.
We practiced groundies for about 20 minutes, much more than I'm used to, then hit about 12 serves to each other in warmup. I hit maybe 11 flat first serves, some of which went in, and Matt and little trouble crushing them back. I suspected a flat first serve from me was useless against him, but didn't hit more than one second serve.
After the groundie warmup, before the serve warmup, I knew my topspin forehand wasn't going to scare anyone, nor did my flat backhands. But Matt did initially had trouble with deep low slices, so I made a note of that for my reference to be applied if a rally started. None did.
I actually did not hit any volleys in warmup, as anyone could tell.
 

atp2015

Hall of Fame
once you hit topspin serves consistently... you'll hit a "kick" by accident (result of a "bad" toss), and then you'll try to recreate that "kick"... and then you'll know the difference :p (but until then i'd recommend not worrying about it, as it will confuse your current (sidespin) serving progress :p)
And if you hit lots of them, be prepared for some shoulder 'what the heck is wrong' feeling the next morning.
 

ChaelAZ

G.O.A.T.
...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)
Only thing I notice for many players is they seriously decelerate for second serves, equating slower swing to slower ball. The slower swing almost always messes up timing and form. Worth considering and checking.
 

newpball

Legend
To develop a reliable service takes practice, lots of practice!

And when you practise the practice of service, practise both the first and second serve separately, they are different strokes.

There are no shortcuts!



:D
 

atp2015

Hall of Fame
To develop a reliable service takes practice, lots of practice!

And when you practise the practice of service, practise both the first and second serve separately, they are different strokes.

There are no shortcuts!



:D
I was hoping you would reveal a sacred hymn that could be recited to unleash powerful and definitively reliable second serves. I guess the wait may be worth the... wait.
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
And worse, when you practice just your second serve, you need THREE different locations to TWO different courts, so don't just mumble jumble your practice sessions into one mixed bag of I don't know's.....
 
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