It happens all too often. Before we know it we are about to serve a second serve. What happened to the first one? Did we just throw it away? Is it because we have a second chance that we treat the first serve with less respect? We might just have a slap at it, go for a big hard flat serve and not really think about it. Then, if it goes in, well that is a bonus.
If you look at the statistics of elite level matches usually the winner has a higher first server percentage. Is this just a coincidence OR are we looking at something obvious here?
Lets think about it. In theory, when you are service your first serve you are in a stronger position than the returner. They do not know how conservative you are going to be, in actual fact they expect you to be attacking your first serve. Therefore most of the time the receiver in defensive mode, just trying to hit a decent return to neutralise your server – then you both can fight for the point.
Now the interesting thing, on the second server the attitude changes. As the server, you must get this one in. You are more conservative. The returner is more attacking than what they were on the first serve.
The receiver steps up into the court and is ready to attack your potentially weaker second serve. The receiver is more positive and more prepared, which you do not want.
The point is that you have so much more advantage on the first serve than the second serve. Treat it with respect. How?
Work hard to increase your first serve percentage by really thinking about it before you hit it. Treat the first serve like you do not have a second serve. Maybe back the pace off a bit from 95% to 85% and add a little spin to increase the margin for error.
The first server already has ‘natural pressure’ associated with it. Let the natural pressure of the first serve work in your favor!
A great way to practice this is play a set only using a single server per point. Pretend second serves do not exist. Sounds scary doesnt it !! Yep, miss the first serve, its the oppontnets point. As I write this t makes me nervous !!
Look forward to your serve !! Until tomorrow !