How to improve your first serve percentage

As Brad Gilbert writes, sometimes your opponent doesn’t really attack your serve, so you can go for more on your first and feel comfortable just getting your second serve in play.

But sometimes you play someone who really attacks your second serve; and that puts a premium on your getting a high percentage of first serves in.  I play just such an opponent in New Hampshire (my “Friday Lefty”, who is an all-around better player than I am). This day something funny happened, which taught me a lesson.  

My goal against him this day was to make few unforced errors and put a high percentage of first serves in.  When I put the balls in my left pocket to serve, they fell right through.  Seems the stitching had come out of that pocket bottom.  So I had to put the ‘second ball’ in my right hand pocket.

Well every time I missed a first serve, I was forced to put the racquet in my other hand, reach around, and take the ball out of the ‘wrong pocket.’  Which made me distinctly aware of anytime I missed a first serve.  It also made me slow down and not rush hitting my second serve.

All in all, my first serve percentage was probably 70% or higher.  That, combined with a very low number of unforced errors allowed me to take a set from my superior opponent (we only played two sets.)

So, the Tip of the Day: Intentionally put the second ball in your wrong pocket and it will help you remember to “get that first serve in!”

2 thoughts on “How to improve your first serve percentage

  1. George,
    There’s a safety aspect to your advice. If the ball is in the “forehand” pocket it makes the pocket stick out a little, and raises the possibility of hooking the right hand thumb in it.

  2. Bud,
    Actually, my hand did brush the other ball a couple of times; but that also told me I was hitting my forehand too close to my body; and should be moving my feet to get into better position.

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