The latest episode of the Tennis Quick Tips podcast is now available! In TQT 009, I give a tip that may not seem so obvious – how to improve your first serve by getting a “real” second serve. By a real second serve, I mean a serve that has something on it and is not just a puffball that is sure to land in the box. You'd be surprised how much better a good second serve can make your first serve.
Below is an edited version of the transcript for this episode that you can read through for more information.
How many times has this happened to you? Your opponent has an incredible, hard, flat first serve that you can barely return. But, they have a lot of trouble getting that first serve in. And when you get their second serve, it’s a puff ball that plops in the service box and you easily nail your return? This happens to me so often that I’m wondering – Why do so many tennis players work So hard on their first serve and ignore their second serve? Why don’t players get a real second serve?
Now, maybe you’re thinking a serve is a serve. And as far as you’re concerned, there’s no difference between a first serve and a second serve. And why should there be?
Well, while your first serve may your rocket, the one that you’re hoping will intimidate your opponent with its awesome power, your second serve has to be something that you can rely on to not just get the point going. It has to be a serve that keeps you competitive.
So that second serve can’t just be a puff ball. It’s got to have a little something extra on it that can give your opponent a challenge to return. And that little something extra is usually spin. By adding topspin, for example, your serve will easily clear the net and then bounce a little higher than expected. Your opponent may have trouble when they find the serve bouncing up in their face or at shoulder height when they go for their return.
Or you might hit a slice serve, adding spin to your serve so that it curves off to one side after bouncing in the service box. Again, this can result in your opponent being either too close or too far away from the ball when they hit their return.
Now, how does a spin second serve result in you having a better first serve? Well, the nice thing about a spin serve is that, when your first serve isn’t working for you, a real second serve gives you something to fall back on without sacrificing your service game. Sure, it’s easy to hit a puff ball second serve that goes in and gets the point started. But having a second serve with spin on it is a lot more valuable to you and way more disconcerting to your opponent. It means that you can really go for that first serve because you know you have a second serve that is also troublesome for your opponent.
And when your first serve just doesn’t seem to be working, a second serve with spin is a great back-up. You can just hit second serves for awhile until you’re warmed up, comfortable and ready to go for that first serve again.
So how do you get a “real” second serve? Well, a spin serve is going to require some work on your part. First, you may have to change your grip. If you’re not already using a Continental grip on your serve, you should be. Making that change all by itself may give you the tool you need to acquire a spin serve. It will feel uncomfortable at first, it certainly did for me, but by keeping at it and practicing with a Continental grip, it will soon feel “right” to you and you’ll be easily able to add spin to your serve.
Second, you’re probably going to have to hit your serve differently. There are all kinds of spin that can be applied to your serve. And each of them requires hitting the tennis ball in a different way, on a different spot. While I’m not going to list all the kinds of spin you can hit here or tell you exactly how to hit the ball to get the kind of spin you want, I’m going to include a link in the show notes to my post called Ten Types of Service Spin. That title has four question marks on it by the way. Anyway, It’s a good introduction to the different types of spin you can put on your serve and has some additional links in it to serve lessons you can find on-line.
Finally, if you want a “real” second serve, I highly recommend practicing your serve. This is such a simple thing to do and can be done on your own so you don’t even need to find a friend to work with.
So start working on getting a “real” second serve now. This may not be a completely fun process. In fact, I can tell you from experience, it can be frustrating for a little while. But, in just a few weeks, you can have a “real” second serve. And that is definitely worth it when it not only helps you relax and hit a better first serve, but it also gives you something more to show your opponent than an easy puff ball. Because, face it – if you want to move up to a higher level of play, you can’t be serving puff balls.
Here’s a link to the article on service spin that I mentioned in this episode:
Be sure to let me know what you think of this episode in the comments below. And I hope you’ll SUBSCRIBE to Tennis Quick Tips!
Thanks for listening and, as always, Happy Tennis!
[ois skin=”End of Blog Post”]