How to hit flat serves more consistently

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How to hit flat serves more consistently

Postby DTMelodicMetal » 24 May 2015, 03:49

I've been playing the modded version of Tennis Elbow 2013 for about 2 months. Have to say as someone with college level tennis experience and many years of coaching this is by far the most realistic tennis game ever made. With that said, until now online play has been somewhat frustrating. While I've accepted that returning serves well takes months to years of practice to master, higher ranked players (1000+ points) always seemed to hit their flat serves faster and more consistently than me (I use Djokovic, so until today I thought the difference was due to player skill differences or a player being fatigued). However, after losing to someone who also used Djokovic, yet served significantly better than I did with Djokovic, I got a piece of serving advice that was by the far the best serving advice I've come across with this game.

To give some background, I've tried hitting flat serves by pressing and holding down the 1+2 button from start to finish of the service motion. This approach seemed to result in an overall inconsistent first serve - I can't remember playing this game making 3 or more consecutive flat serves, ever. Top players I've played against online would go entire 4-6 point games with making flat serves 120+ MPH every time, though I considered myself lucky to make 2 consecutive 120+ MPH flat serves. Additionally, I also tried pressing the 1+2 button to toss the ball, and pressing it again shortly before contact - this approach was more consistent, but made aiming serves much more difficult.

Getting to the point of this post, after losing to someone who used Djokovic like I did, I asked him about his flat serve approach, to which he responded that he presses and holds the 1+2 button to begin the service motion, but releases it shortly before contact. While he said that mastering this approach takes practice, I told him his advice was greatly appreciated, as now I at least had a blueprint as to how best to hit flat serves.

Since using this newly learned approach offline, I've been able to make 120+ MPH serves 4+ times in a row with Djokovic. The difference is profound - after more practice there is no question I will be able to hold serve to a far greater extent in online matches. Throw in another 100+ hours of practice returning serve and I'll be balling.

I have no clue why no one has mentioned this difference in ways to serve. Maybe most people figure this out on their own, maybe people wanted these details to remain on the down low, maybe I'm stupid as hell for not figuring this out on my own, or maybe there's another reason why not a single post on here mentions this serving technique. Regardless, I hope at least one other person benefits from trying this approach to hitting flat serves.
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Re: How to hit flat serves more consistently

Postby manutoo » 24 May 2015, 09:02

Hello,

the technique you exposed doesn't change anything in your service rate.
Releasing the button(s) a fraction of second before hitting the ball lets you serve & volley more efficiently (because you can start to run right at the moment you hit the ball), but that's all.
More details => http://www.managames.com/tennis/doc/Ten ... ml#serving .

About your experience => https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Selection_bias .

Bonus note : if you want max speed on your serve, do not add slice nor topspin to it (ie: do not press up/down during your serve preparation).
ManuTOO
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Re: How to hit flat serves more consistently

Postby DTMelodicMetal » 25 May 2015, 21:44

While Selection Bias is a likely explanation, I contend that the difference in 1st serve percentage between the techniques I mentioned is too great to be due to chance.

I should have been more specific in my original post. Releasing the flat serve button [(1+2) or 1] significantly earlier than just prior to contact results in significantly more serves going in, and by "in" I mean not in the net and inside the service box, as it is still possible to miss such serves wide. Given that I use Djokovic, I've found that the optimal button release time for flat serves [(1+2) or 1] is close to the apex of the ball toss. Whenever I release the button when the ball toss is at its high point, or has just begun to fall from its high point, my flat serve tends to go in at a much greater rate. This means that releasing the button between half and one full second before making contact with the ball results (on average) with more serves landing in the service box. Though like I was told, there is no exact release point for optimizing 1st serve percentage. Sometimes releasing the button at the high point of the serve/just as the ball begins to drop works, and other times the serve goes into the net or past the service line - percentages/probabilities are still the foundation of making serves, but this difference in releasing the button around half a second before contact (with Djokovic) compared to holding the button for the entirety of the service motion is still significant. I've also found this technique to be especially effective with the 1 button for topspin 2nd serves.

However, Manutoo's reference of Selection Bias is a valid point. As someone familiar with the scientific method/experimental design/threats to internal validity, Selection Bias is the simplest explanation to my perceived difference in serving techniques. Still, after playing 100+ online matches and constantly posting a lower 1st serve percentage in the context of flat serves using the (1+2) and 1 buttons, Selection Bias would mean that serve probabilities favor my opponent 90+% of the time in online matches.

To provide stronger proof that this difference in serving techniques is valid would require to experiment with different flat serve button release times for every player in Tennis Elbow, as every player has their own custom service motion. If I had the time to play this game more than 30 min to an hour a day I might try doing so, but that's not the case. I hope this difference is not actually due to Selection Bias, as I've ready many people's posts on this forum about frustration with finding an optimal way to make flat first serves.
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Re: How to hit flat serves more consistently

Postby manutoo » 26 May 2015, 08:15

Only the button state on ball impact matters ; everything you do before or after as no influence on success rate.
It could have been possible if there was some kind of weird bug, especially with the release early feature, but I double-checked and everything is in its place.

EDIT:
maybe you can check your match log to look at your 1st serve percentage history, but you should be sure that your left/right error rates didn't change lately.
ManuTOO
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Re: How to hit flat serves more consistently

Postby Algo » 26 May 2015, 18:06

I sometimes get a b1b2 serve even if I changed my shot to whatever else like b2.
Probably related to delay
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Re: How to hit flat serves more consistently

Postby manutoo » 27 May 2015, 07:09

Algo,
yes, if you change buttons just before the ball impact when playing online, it will be ignored.
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