ETI 045 | Sidespin Serve


  • ETI 045 The Sidespin Serve
    ETI 045 The Sidespin Serve

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Rod Laver, “You are only as good as your second serve.”

Pete Sampras, “I won 7 Wimbledon titles because I had the best second serve in the game.”

The second serve is about spin that will make the ball curve down as it crosses the net.  Yes it may corner the opponent and either swing them wide and out of court, or kick up into their backhand.

But at the end of the day the serve is about spin – and one of your best routes to improvement is the side spin serve.

13 Comments

  • Fred

    Reply Reply August 18, 2016

    Love your description of technique for executing a slice serve. I have a slightly ‘enhanced’ version which I was showing my pro last training session…

    For a RH slice to the outside corner of the duece court, I toss the ball up as if I’m hitting a flat serve down the tee. With a relaxed grip, I purposefully hit the ball slightly off center to the ad side with pretty much the same motion as I might have for a down the tee shot. The wrist flexs a bit to allow the racquet to slice the outside of the ball with huge spin AND power to the outside corner.

    The trick is to spend a bit of time learning how far off center to hit… Once one determines the ideal range of slightly ‘off-center’ to hit, the ball reliably slices to the outside corner/edge of the service box, with additional outside spin creating a very challenging return…

    Additionally, it takes a very discriminating eye to discern that I’m not hitting a flat shot down the tee. Since this slice serve can be a reliable second serve, the flat serve down the tee on the first serve may be a reasonable 1st serve choice. Mix this up with some small variants to execute a twist serve aimed at the tee, but that spins slightly across and down into the returner’s body, and you’ve got a full triangle of service challenges to bamboozle opponents of all levels…

    The same triad works on the ad side, using the outside corner as the ‘center’ direction mark.

    DON’T complicate things with changing your stance and positions to execute other fantasies… You’ll just confuse yourself, but not your opponent when serves hit the net, go long or wide…
    h
    For some background on this technique, I’m also a grand pro disc golfer. Golf discs come in various ‘flavors’, some curve right, some straight, some curve left. Then some fly flat, up, or down… All with the same throwing motion.

    One of the practice drills for disc golf is to practice throwing a disc straight down a line and see where it goes…. Be the machine… let the disc do what it wants to do… Then, in disc golf, when you want a disc to go around an object to the target, you pick the path to execute, the disc to use, THEN THE DIRECTION TO EXECUTE this flight pattern, and throw the disc down that direction, let the disc do the rest. Don’t outthink yourself…

    Serving in tennis can be basically the same thing… Learn a solid flat shot service and how to hit it solidly, WITH A RELAXED GRIP and proper, repeatable, body mechanics. Then learn how to hit the ball a bit off center, with a relaxed grip…

    The key here is to have a relaxed grip. Let the off center hit and repeatable body mechanics do most of the work for your slice, rather than trying to turn your wrist and change your mechanics to get the racquet to add the slice…

    Yes, there’s a variant of this for topspin serves, and twist serves… And that rarely seen American (reverse) twist…

    The key to all these service options is to learn to hit your serves with a relaxed grip, not a death grip…

    Taken to the extreme, for the purposes of training/learning, it is possible to RELIABLY hit all of these serves with an OK grip of thumb and middle finger at the hub of the racquet (two fingers off the end)…. Start from there (perhaps with one finger off the end?) with easy serves, and work your grip back up as you figure out how to hit with a relaxed grip…

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply August 21, 2016

      Fred – Federer can hit just the serve you describe – out wide in the deuce or to the T with the same toss- and Pancho Gonzalez had the same loose grip with some fingers removed – upload your serve some day and let me see it – it sounds quite good
      Jim

  • tapas

    Reply Reply March 9, 2016

    I would love to here a few words on the toss, I mean it should be– in front of your head , on your head or behind/side wise so that you can drag the ball a bit ?

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply March 10, 2016

      Tapas – hard to give a precise answer – but depending on your grip and your intended spin – the best answer is above you at 12 o’clock – though some toss right of that for sidespin and or a bit left and behind for more topspin – the most common error occurs from tosses too far in front
      Jim

  • Ziga

    Reply Reply March 9, 2016

    Hi Jim.Nowhere I could find exactly explanation how to hit a second serve like professional player when the ball fly in big curve first high and on the right and then on the left side and down into the serve field.If possible please expl.with ball like clock.Thanks in advance and nice greeting from Croatia.
    Ziga

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply March 10, 2016

      Ziga – the professionals create this spin from a glancing hit – where they make contact with a brushing motion to create either topspin or sidespin or a version of either one – but for a brushing hit the swing path must be off line of the target – consider trying a month of the ETI network where I go into much much more depth on this – is use the ETI site to introduce myself and to start conversations
      best
      Jim

  • Warren

    Reply Reply March 9, 2016

    Hi, thanks for all the good info re: the second serve I hit the ball up and out as in the flat first serve but speed the swing dramaticly faster and I get the ball to dive down .I do not use a slice serve I prefer this for control. Your thoughts . Thanks

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply March 10, 2016

      Warren – if you are using more racquet head speed to increase the rate of spin – then all is good – but so much of this depends on your grip, on the swing path, on your feel, and truly this is why they say players are only as good as their second serve
      Jim

  • john Lee

    Reply Reply March 8, 2016

    should we pronate as much on a sidespin(slice)serve as on a flat serve?

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply March 8, 2016

      John – the action of rotating the forearm should be done on all serves and for this particular serve the racquet must approach the ball on edge and be rotating or pronating in you will during the hit but still hitting the side of the ball – I know this is confusing as some feel that this is like “peeling the orange” but that action of the arm is the opposite of pronation
      Jim

  • Noushin Kananian

    Reply Reply March 8, 2016

    Many thanks for sharing your invaluable experience!

  • Charlue

    Reply Reply March 8, 2016

    Hi Jim, I’ve been working on the slice/ kick serve, also known as SICK serve, I’m trying to do the 8-2 hit, as opposed to pure slice at 3. Any other tips for this great serve? Cheers, Charlie from London

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply March 8, 2016

      Charlue – 8 to 2 is the kick, what about 5 to 2 for an up side spin – really the art here is do develop a serve with confident spin – mostly to curve it down, but equally to be able to take a confident swing but to use the spin to take speed off the ball – at the pro level they suggest the guys swing faster at second serves but because of the glancing blow the ball doesn’t fly as fast
      best
      Jim

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