April 18, 2011 - Fifteen Important Deep Serves

Fifteen Important Deep Serves
By Larry Hodges

When you serve fast & deep, you want to aim at one of three main targets: to the wide forehand, wide backhand, or at the receiver's elbow. It's also best to have at least two variations so they can't adjust, ideally with a fast sidespin or side-topspin serve, and a fast no-spin serve. (No-spin serves don't jump off the paddle as fast, so opponents have to stroke the ball more, which is problematic when you rush them by serving fast no-spin.) So players should develop at least six variations of their fast & deep serves - but preferably more. You can do it with sidespin left, sidespin right, side-top left, side-top right, and no-spin, and can do all of these to the wide forehand, wide backhand, and middle. That's fifteen variations, and that's just to start, since you can vary the degree of each type of spin, as well as the motion used for the serve. (Regarding the motion, I like to serve down the line to a righty's forehand by aiming to their backhand and switching directions the split second before contact. Try it!)

It takes more timing to do a fast & deep serve with great speed than with other serves. So even if you use these serves only occasionally, you need to practice them far more than the proportion of times you use the serves. If you don't, when the score is close and the time comes to catch the receiver off guard with a fast & deep serve, will you really be able to pull it off consistently at full speed?