I was working with my friend Bret on a kick second serve.
Bret's a 4.0 player and has a nice second serve, but I was
looking for more consistency, depth and spin. Bret and I
make an interesting Mutt and Jeff team. He is 6'5" and I'm
5'6"! Don't tell him, but as his coach, I love telling him
what to do on the court! :-)
At one point in his lesson while serving he hit a series of
beautiful kick second serves. Each time I said, "great serve"
he said, "But my opponent would hit it back!" Then I said,
"wait a minute, do you think the second serve is supposed to
be hit so well that your opponent cannot return it?" He said,
"yes." And I realized he was judging the effectiveness of a
serve on whether it comes back or not. Do you do the same
The effectiveness of a second serve is determined by the
QUALITY of your opponent's return, not whether they can hit
it back or not. If your opponent hits a return that you can
work with and keep pressure on him or her, you have a
successful second serve. If your opponent is constantly
blasting off winners from your serve and creating stress on
you, YOU have a problem!
Even with the first serve the criterion is not whether or
not it comes back, but whether or not you have created
enough pressure on your opponent to solicit a weaker return.
Yes, even though you would like to hit service aces along
the way, if you don't, this does not mean you have failed.
If you think the serve is not supposed to come back and your
opponent does return the ball, you will think you have done
something wrong. As a result, you begin hitting your serve
harder and wilder and make more errors. The only plus in
this scenario is that you will have many opportunities to
practice "the next shot is more important than the last