Confidence in Second Serve

  • silverfox

    Posts: 3178

    Nov 08, 2009 9:46 PM GMT
    Hey guys I wondered if anyone had some advice for me regarding my second serve. I have always had trouble, but now I feel like it is getting out of control.

    My first service has gotten stronger, and now I am concentrating on accuracy.

    But if I don't make my first serve in, particularly in tournament play...I end up tapping in the second. I know that I would probably have better chance if I tried to whale another first serve then to tap.

    But...when I go to do this, I end up tightening up and many times double fault.

    And then I start to pull back on my first serve, knowing if I miss I got to deal with the dreaded second serve.



    Yes I know I am a head case. icon_smile.gif




    I have taken my bucket of balls out and tried practicing with the thought "I have 3 serves"...therefore going for number 1 and number 2 strong...and then going lighter with the third serve. And it works...

    until match play.

    Anyhow, I thought maybe someone might have a suggestion or two...

    It would be greatly appreciated.
  • Cooldude30

    Posts: 54

    Nov 09, 2009 3:59 AM GMT
    My advice for you would be two fold:

    #1 When serving 2nd serves, focus on only one aspect of your serve at a time. The most important element of any serve starts with a good toss, so I would make sure your toss is starting with a relaxed and fully extended arm. Of course the placement of the toss will differ based on what type of serve you are trying to hit (flat, slice, kicker), but aim for consistency with your toss placement, and the result will be a more consistent serve. Chances are you are "freaking out" on your second serve before you even hit the ball, thus creating an ineffective toss.

    #2, Instead of practicing the "3 serve" drill, I would actually change it to 1 serve. Play games with yourself and a basket of balls by only allowing yourself 1 serve. Every time you miss a serve you lose a point, and your goal is to get 5 serves in (in a row). By only allowing yourself 1 serve, you are putting some pressure on yourself in practice that will help you deal with the pressure in a match. Also, this game can take a long time to actually "win" (trying to hit 5 good serves in a row can be quite the challenge), so you will be hitting lots of balls.

    The saying goes, "a tennis player is only as good as their 2nd serve." It's pretty accuate too, so don't cheat yourself out of developing a solid, and reliable second serve. It will only give you more confidence on the court which will improve your whole game.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Nov 09, 2009 4:05 AM GMT
    . . . arch your back a bit, remember to hit up on the ball, and think of the second serve as an artistic, balletic motion . . .
  • silverfox

    Posts: 3178

    Nov 10, 2009 4:21 AM GMT
    mrbeachboy saidMy advice for you would be two fold:



    #2, Instead of practicing the "3 serve" drill, I would actually change it to 1 serve. Play games with yourself and a basket of balls by only allowing yourself 1 serve. Every time you miss a serve you lose a point, and your goal is to get 5 serves in (in a row). By only allowing yourself 1 serve, you are putting some pressure on yourself in practice that will help you deal with the pressure in a match. Also, this game can take a long time to actually "win" (trying to hit 5 good serves in a row can be quite the challenge), so you will be hitting lots of balls.


    Note from the OP:
    Beachboy....everything you say is great....but this is a fantastic idea. I am getting the bucket out tomorrow.


    PS.... It will prob take me all day to get the 5 good serves in a row And I will try hard to maintain a positive attitude!
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Nov 10, 2009 4:54 AM GMT
    how well do you serve? can you flatten or spin the ball? super-spinning it will put it higher over the net and shorter on the second serve, give you more margin for error.... u can add power as you go. but i am assuming that if you play tournaments, u know that already.... headcase stuff is headcase stuff. reviewing the basics before each point (i.e. visualising the movement) and practice take care of it for me.
  • Celticmusl

    Posts: 4330

    Nov 10, 2009 5:15 AM GMT
    Read up on Tony Robbins, he helped out Andre when he was a mental case.

    Where is your focus? What are you eyes looking at when you serve? If you're looking at the net or the top of the net, that is exactly where the ball will go. You are focusing on the obstacle, not your goal. Focus on the spot where you want the ball to hit, over the net.
  • silverfox

    Posts: 3178

    Nov 10, 2009 7:22 AM GMT
    Well I usually try to follow the ball with my eyes. From the moment I the ball hits my racquet I try to follow it...

    I am a 3.5 player....but this second serve is holding me back from advancement. That is why I appreciate the comments here.

    The joke is I actually have a more powerful first serve then just about everyone I play with on my level.

  • setter15

    Posts: 20

    Nov 15, 2009 5:25 PM GMT
    If before your second serve you begin to think about double faulting....YOU WILL! so don't even think or say double fault in your head. just serve. bounce the ball and decide where you are serving and do it. i had this problem my second year playing college tennis and i would get so tight i actually ended up injuring my arm because of it.

    also if you hold the racket looser you get more pop on your serve. the tighter you grip it, the more likely you will loose control, spin, pace, and placement...

    hope that helps icon_smile.gif
  • silverfox

    Posts: 3178

    Nov 18, 2009 12:59 AM GMT
    NOTE FROM THE OP:

    Guys these suggestions have REALLY helped me. Yes setter, I realized I was saying..."omg I am going to double fault" and of course "be careful what you wish for". icon_smile.gif

    My doubles partner has told me that my first serve percentage is so high....why not go for another first serve every once in a while....and I have been trying to get this into the mix.

    It is a total mental thing....and now, for the first time...I am actually trying to have fun with the serve.

    Very interesting
  • DocJock9

    Posts: 15

    Dec 17, 2009 4:52 PM GMT
    It's great to see that you're making the effort to change a weakness in your game. I'll start out by saying that at 3.5, the serve is more something that will be a liability rather than a strength. In other words, you really just want to get the serve in. At 3.5, the serve isn't going to be strong enough for you to dictate a point (unlike the higher levels.....even at 5.0, most players won't dictate with their serves), and even if you put in a weak serve, your opponents are not going to be able to return efficiently enough to put you immediately on the defensive. Therefore, you might want to ditch the attempt at a big first serve and go with a 75% first serve and get a high percentage of first serves in. You say that you already get a high percentage of first serves in, but have you charted your matches? At your level, 75% first serves (or even higher) would be something good to shoot for. This means you'll need to put more spin on the ball (whether you need to take speed off your ball or not). Just remember, a spinning ball is much tougher to return than a hard flat one.

    Ok, so you're a head case. ;-) Tennis is such a physically and mentally demanding sport, and it's not uncommon for mental blocks to develop. Pretty common actually. A better attitude about your serve will help, but a better attitude isn't going to help you serve with the deficiencies I see from your pics. Rather, developing a good serve will help your attitude.

    That being said, there is a lot you can do to improve your serve. All the advice you've received so far has been very solid, and it seems to be working for you. From looking at your pictures, I have a few words of advice for you. And a lefty?! Wonderful! You can freak out a bunch of your opponents if you can up the efficiency of your second serve.

    Ok, so it appears that you're using an Eastern grip on your serve. That is the first thing you'll need to change. You really need to switch to a continental grip to have an effective serve. You will never have a decent second serve with an Eastern grip. The grip change is the toughest thing to do, and you're going to get really frustrated with it. Get your basket and prepared to feel pretty foolish. It will certainly pay off though.

    Next, the delivery on your serve needs some work. If you didn't grow up playing throwing sports, it's tough getting the hang of the service motion, which is really just a throwing motion with some minor modifications. From your pics once again, you'll need to develop that throwing motion in order to develop an effective second serve (and first serve for that matter). Here are a few drills that you can do that will really help.

    Get a football and start throwing it around with a buddy. Use a football and not a baseball. A football with train your service motion to have a proper throwing motion. You can't get away "throwing like a girl" with a football, but you can with a baseball, so you really need a football for this drill. What you want to do is learn to throw a perfect spiral. Start with each of you on opposite service lines, and get the feel of tossing to each other with a highly rotating spiral. This will teach you the proper supination and pronation for the service motion, as well as the proper throwing motion, as it very difficult to throw a spiral without the proper throwing/serving motion. Once you get the hang of that, move back to opposite baselines and continue the drill. Once you get the hang of that, move even further and try throwing as far as you can. If you have a buddy that has a good arm, get him out there and have him throw with you, even if you don't play tennis together. This drill is better with someone that can throw

    Next drill is a fun one, especially if you do it right after losing a frustrating match. Get an old tennis racket (one you don't mind trashing). You might want to get one from the thrift store if you don't have one laying around.

    Stand at the the baseline and get ready to serve just like you always do. Toss the ball, make your service motion, and THROW the racket to the other side of the net, preferably past the opposite base line. Do this a bunch of times, so you might want to get a bunch of old rackets. This drill will teach you ACCELERATION on your serve, and they proper way to hit UP on the serve. When you translate this into a real serve, you want the same feeling of throwing the racket to the opposite side of the court. If you can get a buddy to do this with you, you can throw the racket back and forth, just be careful and pay attention. Kind of unorthodox, but these two drills will turn your serve into a weapon instead of a liability.

    Just keep in mind:

    None of this will do any good without the correct grip (Continental).
    Higher spin rate.
    Proper motion.
    Attitude and confidence with come around in time.

    Lastly, make sure you're using the proper equipment. Strings now days can really help your game, especially getting more spin on your serve.

    Good luck, and keep me posted on your progress.









  • CuriousJockAZ

    Posts: 19138

    Dec 17, 2009 4:56 PM GMT
    See my serve isn't the problem...it's the forehand, backhand, and volleys that kill me icon_lol.gif
  • silverfox

    Posts: 3178

    Feb 09, 2010 6:50 AM GMT
    NOTE FROM THE OP:

    Second service is moving along quite famously in part from the great advice here and a lot of practice! I just won a tournament, have a big one coming up this weekend in south florida....if I do well there I will be moved up to 4.0.

    Thanks for the great suggestions again!
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Feb 17, 2010 6:29 AM GMT
    Some guys here have already offered some great advice! But I played D1 college tennis and the year after I graduated "we" won the NCAA tournament. Heres some pointers to the serve in the men's game.

    -This is the main one....First serve is used as a weapon, second serve is used to start the point without being on defense....keep telling yourself this even after you miss a first serve...take a break, turn around straighten your strings, think about Chaning Tatum, sing a song to yourself, etc. whatever helps relax you and not think about missing.
    -2nd- During the warm up (5-10 mins depending on situation) should all be spent on identifying opponents weaknesses, not actually warming up. I don't remember the last time I hit a first serve in warmups, its all about making sure your oppenent is working on his returns and seeing what he can and cannot do.

    Now the actual second serve part

    -PLACEMENT- above speed, placement is the #1 key in the second serve...sometimes speed can be irrelevant here. Once again if you can pick up early on what your opponent can and cannot do on the return you are way ahead.
    -SPIN- as someone mentioned before having good spin on the ball with the second serve is key....its the same philosophy as topsin. Use your normal ball toss just picture yourself hitting the ball like your your "brushing" up on the back of it, as opposed to more of a flattining out. As you already know, practice is gonna help tremendously! The spin will give you added safety over the net and make it drop in the box. Also this makes the ball bounce higher which makes it more difficult for your opponent to "tee off" on your second serve.

    Also, as someone mentioned earlier a continental grip with the 2nd is not absolutely necessary

    Hope this helps some, if not, feel free to ask about more specific questions!
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Feb 17, 2010 6:49 AM GMT
    Finally, (sorry for the extra post) but a simple knee bend and leg kick back will add extra power and "work" (spin) on the ball
  • silverfox

    Posts: 3178

    Feb 17, 2010 6:56 AM GMT
    Note from the Op:

    Great posts Malibu thank you for the good advice.

    I do agree with everything.....particularly taking your time between a missed first serve and second. I recently double faulted on match point for no other reason than this. Where was Channing Tatum when I needed him?



    PS.....for me....I have come to the conclusion that it is all about the toss. When I get tight I just don't throw the ball up high enough. Everything gets compact. When I make an extra effort to remember about the height of the toss....I get it in.
  • DrewbieDoo

    Posts: 63

    Feb 19, 2010 10:38 PM GMT
    Don't settle for a bad ball toss
    I feel rude when I do it, but sometimes you have to catch the ball and re-toss it

    From your very first post though it sounds like it's really your nerves that gets the best of you on your second serve.

    You play to the pace of the server, so take your time. I have a huge bad habit of hitting my second serve too quickly after my first one is called a fault.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Feb 19, 2010 10:48 PM GMT
    Hit up and out - even MORE SO than on the first serve!

    Many players quit on the second serve, draw back.

    Remember - up and out!

  • silverfox

    Posts: 3178

    Feb 27, 2010 12:09 AM GMT
    DrewbieDoo saidDon't settle for a bad ball toss
    I feel rude when I do it, but sometimes you have to catch the ball and re-toss it



    Oh trust me! I don't worry about anyone when I have to re-toss now. Sometimes I have to do it twice.
  • cbrock

    Posts: 212

    Mar 20, 2010 4:22 AM GMT
    Your first serve should be the aggressive one. Make it hard and fast - hoping for an ace. Your second serve should be more conservative. While this is kinda predictable to your opponent - so have a few variations of both to choose from just to mix it up. Basically - hope for the ace with the 1st serve and if you fault then be sure to at least have the possibility of scoring with your second serve. No need to give away free points by double faulting.
  • safety43_mma1...

    Posts: 4251

    Jul 21, 2010 8:41 AM GMT
    remember follow your first sevrve form just take a little off it. then when u have it down start pounding it. i use to have a bad second serve then i just took some off it for a whiletill i got it down then turned up the power. now i am not worried if i miss my first because me second is good too. plus my second i normally kick it into the body and handcuff the other guy.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jul 24, 2010 2:15 AM GMT
    You should focus more on first serve percentages and consistency. I used to tighten up on the second serve thinking i had to hit a great serve. All it takes is just placement and some kick by brushing up on the ball.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jul 24, 2010 2:33 AM GMT
    I had the same problem... wonderful first serve, but so many double faults. I worked on a spin serve and my percentages are way up. I played a set yesterday and didn't have any double faults. I also mix up my serves with pace and placement... my control is so much better now.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jul 24, 2010 2:51 AM GMT
    lunchboxwk saidYour first serve should be the aggressive one. Make it hard and fast - hoping for an ace. Your second serve should be more conservative. While this is kinda predictable to your opponent - so have a few variations of both to choose from just to mix it up. Basically - hope for the ace with the 1st serve and if you fault then be sure to at least have the possibility of scoring with your second serve. No need to give away free points by double faulting.


    I always found this "classic" pattern to be the cause of my and almost every other person's issues with serving. I suggest everyone try tossing this conventional wisdom in the garbage can and adopt the "mrbeachboy" theory, which is essentially to, at least temporarily until your serving psychosis abates, stop treating the first and second serve differently.

    Tell yourself: I have an awesome serve. I'll make that same awesome serve again if I miss it the first time. If I miss it the second time, at least I gave my all.

    What you'll find is -- when you fault on your first serve, your opponent will expect the classic conservative shot, and you'll surprise the shit out of him/her with a second that is just as aggressive.

    You have the tools to win the game. You just need to remove one that's not working: that crappo conservative second serve. Just eliminate it from your game. Once you've done that, and your mind is reset, then you can work on varying your "single" combo first/second serve, using some of the rest of the advice in this thread.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Oct 21, 2010 6:58 PM GMT
    Don't arch your back, you will break it. The real technique is to bend the legs which will create an illusion that you are arching your back when in reality it is just that your whole upper body will follow with the bent legs and create an angle that looks like you are arching your back.

    Second serve is conservative. Losing a point from a double fault is like getting aced on your service game.

    Proper ball tossing involves flicking of the fingers in upward motion as the ball leaves the palm. This will give you more control on how to direct it's location to where you want it to go.

    I recommend adding topspin to the second serve, also known as a kick serve. The more spin generated the more the ball will dip into the service box and thus creating less chance of faulting. Read up on how to properly perform a kick serve.

    It is all about technique.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Nov 17, 2010 2:04 PM GMT
    Well you've already gotten a lot of great tips and advice.

    All I can say is most players below the 4.0 level think too much about it. They try not to double fault rather than just hitting the serve.

    I had this same problem for a long time. At some point, you just learn to hit the second serve and not baby it.

    The guys I play with always say there's no difference between my first serve and my second. In fact, some say I actually hit the second serve harder. It's quite possible this is true, but I hit it with more spin.

    For me, accepting I will double fault once in a while with a more aggressive second serve is fine. I win way more points with a strong second serve than I give away by double faulting or hitting a weak second serve.

    It all comes down to trusting yourself.