The second serve’s strategy against an offensive player
By Marcin Bieniek
You are as good as your second serve. This famous quote shows that players have to pay attention to the quality of their second serve. Of course, the first serve is a great option to look for easy points but an improper second serve can be the reason why the opponent has many break points. Especially offensive opponent.
At lower levels of performance players have different serving strategy than at more advanced levels. Beginners and intermediate players tend to use first serve to put pressure on the rival while using more power but at the same time when facing second serve their only goal is to make the ball in. Advanced players approach serving from completely different perspective. On the first serve they use combination of power, spin and direction to constantly make opponent adapt under the time pressure. On the other hand when they miss the first serve they use a lot of spin while aiming to the weaker side of the opponent to prevent possible attacking shot from the rival.
Every player who wants to get better has to improve different areas of tennis development. One of the aspect that can’t be omitted is second serve. It is important to understand that good opponents will try to put pressure on server by taking advantage of easy second serve so to avoid many lost points players have to train serving skills to achieve high quality. Without solid skills player will make more double faults or will be constantly in defense after using second serve so these situations put a lot of pressure on player and can result in significant underperformance during the competition.
To solve the problem with an offensive player attacking our second serve players have to start with understanding the situation. Offensive player can be dangerous when he can predict the second serve and when he can hit it easily without feeling too much pressure. That is why implementing some various factors into second serve will positively impact our game as also will make it much more difficult for the returner to hit the ball hard and still control it with expected consistency.
You can win more points off your second serve than you think. Hard-hitting opponent can make you be scared or can give you valuable information on how to increase the chance of return going into the net or outside the lines of the court. Here are the areas that if you don’t have now, you should implement in the near future:
Variety of spins
The worst mistake that all players can make is to let the opponent receive the same kind of balls over and over again. That leads to comfort zone which will result in really difficult returns to answer for every player. That is why using variety of spins while serving is necessary to put more pressure on the return. Every spin has own individual traits so every time returner will have to adapt technically and physically to maintain good quality while trying to hit the ball with more risk.
More body serves
The easiest way for offensive player to hit powerful and controlled return is when he can move forward through the ball. Body serve is the only direction that prevents this action to happen because opponent will have to move away from the ball to set up good position. Using this direction after missing first serve is a good way to test opponent’s physical preparation as also technical adaptation. Many times this tactic will definitely force opponent to change own plans and deliver neutral or even defensive return.
Move further behind the baseline
Effectiveness of your points while serving is not related just to the serve. Players have to remember that the positioning after the serve has big impact on their quality of the first shot. Because opponent plans to hit the ball with more power it is a smart decision to immediately move few steps back behind the baseline to get good position for the possible offensive shot. These 2-3 additional meters will give extra time to prepare own shot and stay in the point even when the quality of the return will be high. There are 2 serves in tennis but it doesn’t mean that players can take advantage only while hitting the first delivery. Percentage of winning points after second serve can decrease when there are some weaknesses in technical execution or when player doesn’t have the tactical plan that works. Every time you play against offensive player make sure you use second serve to see if rival is able to maintain good quality with offensive return while having to deal with various changes of your second delivery.