Customer Success Manager
From the deuce side, many players’ motto is, “Kick middle and go.” But is this really the most effective tool most of the time? We explain why you should use the serve out wide more frequently, especially on clay. We also give you an example of a session in which you can work on this serve variation using the drill mode.
We have analyzed data sets of several amateur matches played on Wingfield courts. When it comes to the serves, it quickly becomes clear that a lot of serves are played to the body or through the middle and very little out wide. The safer serve seems to be “the way to go” here. Interestingly, this is somewhat different at the professional level: Evaluations of major tournaments show that professional players serve more and more out wide, particularly on clay. Slice from the right, kick from the left. But why is that?
As you probably guessed, it’s less about going straight for the ace. The serve out wide primarily opens up the court, putting your opponent in an uncomfortable position by increasing the distance to the next shot. That way you can get into a good position to finish the rally.
It is noteworthy that the frequency of errors on the return of a first serve wide is no higher compared to the serve through the middle. However, when a rally occurs, the probability of the server winning the point doubles.
Wasted potential for amateur players?
Of course, we don’t want to generalize and praise the serve out wide as a panacea and guaranteed key to success. However, it is a variation that every player should have in his repertoire, nevertheless. It can be particularly helpful in the following situations:
➡️ You are not a “hard hitter”.
➡️ Your opponent stands far behind the baseline when returning.
➡️ You want to penetrate your opponent’s weaker backhand in the rally.
➡️ You want to make your opponent move (open the court).
➡️ You want to break your opponent’s rhythm (your shot selection becomes more unpredictable).
It is worth working specifically on that to bring in more variability to your service games. Below you find a 30 min drill session that can help you working on your slice and kick serves out wide.
1. Warm up (10 mins)
The first few minutes are dedicated to the warmup. Use the drill mode to get direct feedback on the quality of your session at the Wingfield Box. In the team option we will play five minutes forehand-cross court and five minutes backhand-cross court.
Forehand cross court (5 mins)
Backhand cross court (5 mins)
Focus on good rhythm and placement rather than hitting it hard. Consequently, your accuracy scores should be higher than your speed scores. Set a timer on your smartphone during the session so that you can stick to the five minutes and then start a new round at the Wingfield Box.
2. Kick serve drills from the ad side (25 mins)
In all serve exercises, you take turns serving 15 times each. At the same time your partner can take on the role of the returning player. In the serve-drill mode, he is not tracked, but can work on his cross-court returns at the same time. That way both of you are active and the server always has enough balls on his side.
Serve ad drill (15 serves à 5 rounds)
Pay attention to the following things when hitting a kick serve:
Exercise objective 1: Good height over the net
Exercise objective 2: High bounce
Optional exercise objective 3: Maximum arm speed to increase spin
Aim to give the ball a lot of spin and bounce it so high that it doesn’t bounce on the court three times, but at best would hit the fence after the second bounce. Advanced players should try that the ball does not bounce twice in the court before hitting the fence.
WPlay another round to see if you can beat your serve scores. Additionally, use the Height Map to check if your serve was at least 0.3m above the net. If you can hit the kick serve from both sides confidently in the court, try to increase your serve speed more and more. You can also check this later in the app.
3. Slice serve drills from the deuce side (25 mins)
Then switch to the slice serve from the deuce side. The amount of serves you hit remains the same. This time your partner tries to return “down the line”. Advanced players manage to let the balls hit the side fence after the slice serve. The shorter you hit the serve into the court, the bigger the angle of your serve is. By standing further outside you can increase the angle a little extra and make the serve even more dangerous for your opponent.
Serve deuce drill (15 serves à 5 rounds)
Pay attention to the following when hitting slice serves.
Exercise objective 1: Lateral bounce of the ball to the side
Optional exercise objective 2: Maximum arm speed to increase spin
When hitting a slice serve you will realize that the ball is played closer across the net while the speed increases. As a target value, you can roughly aim for a height of 0.2m above the net. Check both your height and speed scores in the app and compare whether they match the previous kick serve rounds.
That’s it! For more exercise inspiration regularly visit our blog. Have fun on court!
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