Serving Stats – What Do They Mean and How to Use Them
You’re looking at the serving stats for your junior. They’re showing 60% first serve in but only 40% won. The second serve says 75% in but only 25% won.
Those numbers are a lot different compared to Roger Federer And Serena Williams. In fact, they’re a lot different to almost all the pro players you’ve looked at. Is your junior doing something wrong? Are your junior’s serving stats good for their age?
All excellent questions that we’ll delve into below.
What Are Serving Stats?
In a nutshell, “percentage in” versus “percentage won” are the major stats. Pro players these days are looking for a first serve percentage above 60%. The best male players are around 80% first serve points won and the best females a touch above 70%.
The second serve points won stat drops significantly to around mid 50s for pro men and mid to late 40s for pro women. A pro player will be looking for a second serve percentage above 90%.
Aust Open Final 2018
Both Federer (above) and Cilic (below) had 1st serve percentages around 60%. RF was near 80% points won vs 70% for Cilic. Both players were above 90% 2nd serve but points won dropped to below 60% for Fed and below 50% for Cilic. Pretty typical pro stats.
How could these juniors improve? The top one has a low 1st serve percentage at below 50%. Points won is above 60% which is pretty good. The player below wins around 85% of 1st serve points but gets less than 40% in. Sub 40% is way tool low and is an indicator of going for too much. The above player is in the 60s for 2nd serve percentage (too low), while player below is pushing 90% 2nd serves in and winning above 50% – perfect! Advice for player 1: practice both serves to bring percentage in stats up. Player 2: You’re probably going for too much on the 1st ball which will put pressure on the 2nd serve in a tight match
What About Juniors?
While having a benchmark would be nice, it’s not that simple. Junior serving percentages tend to be a little all over the place in the 10s and 12s and can depend on the quality of the returner at the other end. Once into mid to late teens, the serving percentages should be on the improve towards more pro based stats.
It’s not uncommon to see younger juniors with either very similar percentages for first AND second serve, OR wildly different. So, your junior might go for a big first serve and win the point with it 70% of the time but it only goes in 30% of the time. Then their second serve is the other way round ie above 70% in but 30% won.
Conversely, they might get 70% of first and second serves in and win 40% on both. This would be while they’re developing a more powerful first serve that hits spots and a kicking second serve on which they can rely.
What to Look Out For
Rather than provide unrealistic benchmarks that juniors should live by, I’ve given some examples below of what parents and players should look out for on the road of serve development. What we’re aiming for in time is serving stats that look a little more like the pros. What you might be seeing on your junior’s stats is:
1. A first serve percentage between 70% and 90% but a points won percentage below around 40%. While consistently getting the first serve away, this player is probably just getting the ball in rather than developing a weapon out of their first serve. This is especially the case if the second serve percentages are similar.
2. A first serve percentage below 55%. This player probably needs a little more spin to get more balls in. Grip and ball toss the likely culprits early on.
3. A second serve percentage below 80%. While wanting to get this closer to 90% in time, something in the 80s isn’t all that bad for a junior. Below that and there are too many double faults. Best thing to do is look at the “Service Games Played” stat and compare it to Double Faults. If it’s 1:1 or worse, they’re giving their opponent a big leg up every service game.
4. A second serve percentage in the 90s with points won below around 30%. Again, it’s all very well to be consistent, but if all the player is doing is “powder puffing” the second serve into the box, the return will go whistling back past them more times than not.
Improvement is what it’s about. Your junior’s serving numbers should improve over time, working towards a solid first serve that earns some cheap points with power and/or placement. Then a second serve on which they can rely totally without it being a 90%-in-lolly-pop with a woeful points won percentage.
As a player develops through juniors, their serve will be become more and more important…..as will their ability to return!