Second Serve plus 1: the Unfashionable Practice!

Posted on: April 8, 2020 |
Tags: 2nd serve, 2nd serve plus 1, Elite Tennis, tennis training, unfashionable practice

Nigel Beavers discusses the Second Serve plus 1 “Unfashionable Practice”

As a Senior coach at SotoTennis Academy I often get asked by players, coaches and parents “what should tennis players practice more often?”.

Through my experience most players would choose what I call “exciting practice”, those drills and practices that incorporate dominating their opponent, timing the ball well and executing heavy groundstrokes. Players love drills that fall within their tactical, technical, mental and physical comfort zones. Although these types of practices are important, I believe that exposure to challenging tactical situations needs greater repetition to build a more robust player.

Unfashionable Practice

One of my suggestions to develop better practice is a term I call “Unfashionable Practice”, but what is it?

By this I mean practicing difficult defensive tactical situations where time pressure is at a high, resulting in the player having to manufacture their technique to deal with the situation they find themselves in.

The prime example of this would be a defensive ball 3 situation after a second serve. This situation often takes away what a lot of players crave which is rhythm. For me this is the most under practiced area of the game, yet statistically the percentage of points won behind second serve is often the overriding stat that either wins or loses you a match.

Recent studies by Craig O’Shannessy have shown that out of all points that end in the 0-4 rally phase, 23% of all these points are serve plus 1 errors. From charting my own players matches at ITF Tournaments I believe a larger percentage of serve plus one errors happen from second serve points.  Practicing these difficult tactical situations will allow you to develop your skill base under pressure.

How you can Practice

Drills I would recommend that expose players to these situations are:

  • Coach led drill where the server shadows a serve, the coach then feeds an aggressive ball in from the returners position.the coach then moves aside and the point is played out between the two players.
  • 2nd serve points where the server is aiming to get to neutral or better after ball 3 of the point. If this is achieved, they receive a bonus point.
  • 2nd serve points where the server is aiming to increase the rally length past 5 shots. If this is achieved the server wins an automatic point.
  • Players play points to 7 but can only gain a point when serving. If they lose the point their opponent becomes the server.

All the above are drills used with the intention to put the server into uncomfortable situations where he/she is often under immediate pressure.

I hope this is helpful and an insight into some tennis techniques, get in contact with SotoTennis Academy to find out more!Email  info@sototennis.com

You can also check out the online programmes we offer here.


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