Second Serve – The Glancing Blow

There is a lot here

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

Pete Sampras about his 7 Wkmbledon titles, “I had the best second serve in the game.”

Whenever possible  the first and second serve deliveries should be similar

And certainly when watching Federer, the first and second delivery appear remarkably similar

That said in the recent US Open mens final there were instances of fist and second serve speeds as high as 137 followed by a second serve of 83

But lets bring this back to you – Keys to a reliable second serve include

  • Trusting your ability to put either heavy side spin or topspin on the ball

  • The ability to swing at nearly the same speed on first and second deliveries

  • Fully understanding and able to swing well off the target line – the more offline the better

Truly the second serve is a GLANCING BLOW

Take a moment with the diagrams from Fundamental of Tennis by Stanley Plagenhoef (one of the best books on tennis)

  • Tje toss location varies from first and second serve

  • And importantly, the direction of they swing varies considerably

  • This glancing blow requires a toss less in front

  • The hitting action is well off line – as much as 60 degrees offline!

  • And most importantly – the server stays sideway at impact – opening up into the court at the finish and not at contact





  • James Ward

    Reply Reply September 21, 2020

    As always, great technical breakdown, Jim. Are we seeing more leg bend with the disguised toss?

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply September 22, 2020

      James – I am not sure about the leg bend and the toss disguise – what did you mean?

  • Dave Ferguson

    Reply Reply September 21, 2020

    Always enjoy your ideas, Jim.What Stan & your demo man are hitting are quite different strokes. Stan is hitting kick & your guy is slicing the ball. When I played on hard courts, slice worked very well but now that I play on clay I believe I need more top spin mixed in with the slice to get it out of my opponent’s hitting zone. Is this true? Your comments would be appreciated.

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply September 22, 2020

      Dave – for sure a kick may actually “bite”the clay a bit more – not totally sure – but as to the demo man it was more about a drill that can promote the feel for heavy spin if not for a serve withy lots of racquet head speed that builds the spin – at my end the Plagenhoef material has totally opened my eyes to mistakes I have made over the years as a coach – best Jim

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