Why is the Second Serve Slower in Tennis? (A Simple Guide)

The game of tennis revolves around the serve. A good serve in tennis requires a high level of body coordination.

This demand is the primary reason for the difficulty tennis players experience.

Higher velocities of service are often preferred in tennis but these velocities also give room for errors.

According to Chow, players use the flat or power serve as their first serve and switch to the slice or kick serve for their second serve.

This article will discuss why this switch is made and why the second serve is slower.

The second serve requires the most technique in the game of tennis. It is different from every other shot in tennis. The second serve requires more spin. The higher the spin in your second serve – the lower your error margin.

First and Second Serve

A lot of people don’t know the difference between the first and second serve and as a result they often hit two first serves making the serve quite unreliable.

Others simply hit the first serve too fast and the second serve too slow.



An image of an execution of the flat serve is displayed above. The flat serve is often used as a first serve.

The standard first serve goes for power and speed. The first serve goes for an ace.

You are not meant to use the same method of delivery for your second serve. If you use the same method with your second serve, it might not go badly but the risks of failure are higher.

When you apply speed and force alone to the second second serve you may end up with very little aces and a lot of double faults.

It doesn’t make sense for you to go for two huge serves, risking a lot and making very little points.

To balance the risk and reward scenario with the second serve, a different method has to be used.

The first method most players use for their second serve is to slow their arm down but apply the same technique. These players are observed to end up with fewer aces and more double faults.

The reason is by slowing your arm the  rack will move slow and the contact point between the rack and the ball will cause the ball to bounce off.

Simply slowing down your arm will cause you to lose grip of the ball as the ball will simply bounce off the racket as it comes in contact with the string. 

Two things could happen in this scenario.

  • Firstly, the ball might stray out meaning that you would lose a point outright.
  • Secondly, you manage to make the ball but the player on the other side simply puts the ball away. 

How to Make a Good Second Serve

This brings us to the need for a better second serve. A serve that maintains the power required of a good tennis serve but limits the risk.

Consistency is key in this case and there are two serve types for you to choose from. 

You can either go with the slice curve serve or the kick serve.

The slice curve will cause the ball to curve inwards while the kick serve will cause the ball to curve outwards thereby delivering a high bounce.

Remember with the first serve your focus is on power.

Your aim is to put your opponent off balance so he will not be able to return the ball whereas with the second serve you have to go for a more skilled approach. 

Your aim with the second serve is to deliver a bounce so difficult that your opponent will be unable to return the ball.

For the slice serve the ball will bounce inwards while for the kick serve the ball will bounce upwards which will make it very tough to return because your opponent will hit the ball over his shoulder.

For the second serve, the player will have to swing the racket in a slightly different direction to where the ball is going.

The second serve by nature is a safer serve, it possesses a higher arch. 

A lot of professional players use the kick serve for their second serve. This is because the upward bounce of the kick serve makes it very difficult for your opponent to return the ball.

If you can master the kick serve, it will be the most effective serve that you will ever learn.

How to Make a Kick Serve

In order to achieve the kick serve as a right handed player, you will have to throw the ball a few inches behind you.

This will allow you to move your racket around the ball from the left side and from there curve your ball outwards. 

The kick serve is a relatively difficult skill to master.

While delivering, your wrists will have to be loose. Your wrists will have to curve slightly outward, this will cause the ball to both top spin and side spin out.


The racket movement for the kick serve is quite different as well. For the first serve, the path of the racket follows a flat-like through the ball path.

The racket moves from a twelve o’ clock position down to a six o’ clock position.

The path of the racket will, however, move from an eight o’ clock position down to a two o’ clock position for a kick serve. 

The aim is to brush from underneath and then move around the ball. This will cause the ball to begin to spin upwards and sideways simultaneously. The end result is a nice and high bounce.

The kick serve is similar to the forehand. It involves more wrist movement.

The goal is simply to come from underneath the ball, get a solid grip on the ball and continue through the path. 

Misconceptions of the Second Serve

A common belief by players around the world is that you have to slow down your racket speed in a second serve to ensure that you do not miss the ball.

In reality, you want to speed up your arm movement during a second serve

The reason why the ball is slower in the second serve is rooted in the two differences between the execution of the first and second serve.

The second serve involves a spin which was not present in the first serve. In addition, the path of your racket also changes. 

Instead of going through the shot, the racket moves away from the shot in the second serve.

The result of this is that the velocity of your arm movement will not be fully felt by the ball. In addition part of the velocity of the ball will be employed to ensure the ball spins. 

All these factors cause the ball to slow down. Hence in the second serve, a lot more power is required from you – by doing this, you will achieve more consistency.

According to Hizan, the kick serve is not the preferred second serve.

He argued that the execution of the kick serve shows your opponent the direction in which you want to play the ball.

When you are using the kick serve, the win is not guaranteed by the power of the direction of the ball but by the bounce. 

If you hit the back hand with enough top spin and bounce, it will be difficult for anyone to return the ball even if they know the direction in which the ball is going.

The fact that your opponent knows the direction in which you want to play when using a  kick serve is not a problem for you because if you execute your kick serve properly, he will not be able to respond.

How to Make a Good Slice Serve

The slice can also be used as a second serve. With the slice, the racket moves from underneath the ball upwards.

The difference is the arc of the racket will curve towards the right.

Another difference between the kick and slice serve is the change in the direction which the ball bounces. 


In the execution of the slice, your racket will move from the three o’clock position up towards one or two o’ clock. You will  have to go up and around the ball when making a slice serve. 

A common misconception of this serve type is that you have to slice through the ball sideways.

The fact is if you serve your ball this way, the ball will have the side spin but it will not deliver the curve which the ball needs to come down. 

There are different directions in which you can make your slice serve which will give the best results.

You can play the ball from the back hand. If you allow the ball to go into the back hand, the ball will curve into the body of your opponent. 

If you serve the slice from the deuce side you can utilize a white serve which will drive the ball towards your opponents forehand.

The end result is that he will find it difficult to return the ball because the ball will be placed away from his contact point.


The second serve is a slower pass because the velocity delivered by the arm movement of the player is used to spin the ball.

There are two serve types that can be used for the second serve:

the kick serve and the slice serve. The kick serve is the prefered method of making a second serve.