Second Serve Practice

John Newcombe (Munson photo)

We all know players who CRUSH their first serve (and usually don’t get it in) and then they poke their second serve in at half that speed.  Those players need to practice improving their second serve; and here is a drill from John Newcombe to do just that.

Add Pressure Practice

Newk says you not only need to practice the serve; but do it under pressure; so this is a way to accomplish that…

  • Play singles, doubles, or cross court doubles
  • Play just games or full set, with regular scoring…
  • Except, you get only ONE serve to start each point
  • And to add pressure to the receiver, they lose TWO points if they miss that easy return of serve

This little drill will help players try to be more aggressive on their second serve and have the returner work on their “controlled aggression” on attacking the second serve.

Balance the Power

What I tell players who suffer from the extremely unbalanced serving power is: take 15% off your first serve power and add it onto your second serve.  So, if you were serving at 100% for the first and 50% for the second; you would then change the balance of power to 85% and 65%.

And one of the basic principles that I also have a problem with is: Accept double faults.  Better to double fault going for a stronger serve than have your opponent get the satisfaction of crushing that sitter you just put in the middle of their service box.  And in doubles, your partner at the net will also appreciate not getting one drilled at them.

What do you think about second serves?

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6 thoughts on “Second Serve Practice

  1. George,
    An effective way to add pressure to serving practice is to set a goal of how many serves in-a-row you must meet. For our junior players I call them “in-a-rows”.
    One day you must meet 5 in-a-rows into the service box, or into a 1/3 section (A for angle, B for Body or C for the center). If you meet the goal, you add on another one or two serves to your goal on the next practice session.
    Add pressure to your practice: If you can’t make your goal, you have to take your wife to dinner, or do the dishes! (Get your wife to sanction your addiction!)

    Spike, great idea. Reminds me of the story i heard about golf great Phil Mikelson practicing his putting… that he wouldn’t leave the practice green till he made 100 short putts in a row (miss at 99 and start all over!). thanks and see you soon! george

  2. Brings to mind that ever enduring phrase “ you are only as good as your 2nd serve”!

    Jim, exactly! thanks, george

    At about the 5:25 mark of Pat Dougherty’s video here, he describes the direction of the swing for a topspin/kicker serve. Not just up, but crazy out to the right. When they first started hitting “American Twist” serves, they finished with the racket following through *behind their backs*!

    This serve gives you *so* much margin for error over the net, and *so* much “curve” downward, that it becomes difficult to miss the service box. And, the harder you swing, the more it curves – assuming a decent grip, somewhere between Continental and eastern backhand, and a toss somewhere reasonable.

    Give yourself “permission” to double fault “long”, and it’ll almost never happen. Great for your confidence.

    (George – that link I put in “Website” is a thread I participated in on “Talk Tennis” on the second serve. I think there’s some good stuff in there. Oh, and I’m two weeks out on my second knee replacement).

    Kevin, one of my tennis pro friends advises to swing AS HARD on your spin second serve as you do on your first serve. Good advice on the kicker. thanks, george

  4. Swing just as hard or harder on your second serve but with a more vertical racquet path.

    Coach, thanks and have a great trip overseas! george

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