Second serves are the ones that you, obviously, cannot miss. The pressure is on you and your opponent knows it (by the way, if he is a savvy player he will prepare to attack your second serve).
1. Before you toss the ball up, tell yourself what you intend to do with your second serve: – if your opponent shows intention to attack it, consider slicing it (brush sideways). That will keep the ball low and difficult for your opponent to go for an aggressive shot. – if your opponent stays back most of the time, a simple kick serve should do it to dip the ball over the net and make it bounce high off the ground.
2. Everything you’ve learned in practice… forget about it. This is not the time to think about your technique. You should just let your habits take over your movements. Toss the ball up and hit it after you previously told yourself what you’d like to accomplish (see previous point).
3. Hit your second serve with confidence. It is easy to let doubting thoughts cripple into your mind, therefore training your mind to stay on the positive side is crucial for delivering consistent second serves.
The two types of serve returns (first and second) should not be treated the same in any way.
While returning first serve is just a matter of avoiding being on a defense as the point begins, on the second serve return the player should think a lot differently:
1. From a psychological perspective you must understand that your opponent is tense getting ready to deliver the second serve. He now realises he just missed the first serve and failing to deliver the second one will cost him the point. Not only that but if his serve does not have enough “juice” on it (spin, depth) you could be taking control of the point.
2. From a technical aspect, pay attention to your opponent’s tendency of delivering the second serve: is he hitting it hard or slow? is he applying good spin on it – what kind? does he usually hit it deep or short into the service box? This kind of information can help you decide where to position on the court for the second serve – inside the baseline or on the baseline? Also it can give you clues whether you can attack it with your strong wing or not.
3. From a tactical point, is he trying to deliver the second serve to any of your weak sides, deep into the court or is he just…. getting it in?
Try taking these notes during the first two receiving games.
As a general rule, be aggressive with your second serve return. That doesn’t mean you should try to hit winners off of a return; instead take the ball as early as you can (move forward) and preferably hit it to your adversary’s weak side.
By being aggressive and attacking the second serve you will put a lot of pressure on your opponent every time he will miss his first serve.
Mentally you should realise that an upcoming second serve is your chance to take control of the point from the start of it. Use your strong wing to hit the second serve return as often as you can.