The second serve is unlike any other shot in tennis.
If the person serving misses this shot, they give away a point for free. Their opponent literally had to do nothing.
Hitting a second serve is nerve-wracking.
Facing a second serve is very different.
We want to take every advantage we can on the second serve and not rely on our opponent missing for us to score the point.
Don’t Be Greedy
You have an advantage when facing a second serve.
An excellent way to throw away that advantage is when you try to hit a winner right away, often missing in the process.
Some second serves may be good candidates for hitting a winner.
But you can use every returnable second serve to put pressure on your opponent.
Take this advantage and learn to build on it. You’ll realize that by not being greedy, you can hit even more winners (just a little bit later on in the play).
Plan of Attack
The likelihood of getting a returnable serve goes way up on the second serve.
We can use this to help plan our attack.
Odds are, you’re going to be facing a ball either on your forehand or on your backhand.
Because you can expect these serves to have less heat on them, you can plan ahead.
Have an idea in advance where you’ll put a serve that comes to your right and left.
This plan can help make your returns much more consistent, but it’s also a great way to learn how to look ahead in a match.
The second serve usually provides a better bounce than a flatter, harder first serve.
You want to hit the ball when it’s on the top of its bounce for the best return possible.
Hitting a ball that’s already started to drop has several disadvantages.
One, you’re waiting longer to hit the ball, so your opponent has more time to get in position for your return.
Two, you need to hit the ball from underneath, ensuring you get it over the net, which makes for a worse shot.
Don’t Get too Excited
Some players get very excited when they think they have a very hittable ball coming their way.
So excited that they end up getting on top of the ball, jamming themselves on their swing.
Get in the habit of making your swing. Taking just that fraction of a second to ensure your shot is good is well worth the slight delay.
As you get more comfortable hitting second serves, this problem tends to go away.
No matter what, after your return, there are a few moments when you don’t know the result. Did your opponent get to it? What kind of shot did they get? Where do you need to be?
If you wait for their contact to recover and get into position, you will be well behind the play.
Instead, always recover. The moment you hit your return, you’re getting ready for what may come back your way.
Facing a second serve should feel like you have the edge. But if you don’t know how to maximize that advantage, you’re giving your opponents a big break.
Hopefully, these five tips will help make you a scary opponent to face on second serves.
Kalindi Dinoffer is trained in multiple aspects of mindfulness in life and in sports, sharing on her blog MindfulKalindi.com. She is also certified to teach yoga, fitness, reiki, and MFR. Kalindi also serves as VP marketing at OnCourtOffCourt.com, a leading supplier of tennis, pickleball, fitness and yoga training aids and equipment and has been published in Tennis industry Magazine and Pickleball Magazine, and has conducted workshops at conferences around the world. In her spare time, Kalindi plays tennis, pickleball and table tennis and enjoys outdoor activities such as hiking and biking and cross country skiing in the winter.