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  1. #86
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    I appreciate this thread for teaching me to hold out my racket and shuttle further than I was. I've found similar success by varying the perpendicular component of the serve.

  2. #87
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    Gollum, thanks for your input above. It's great to hear your view on it and to learn how others deal with similar rushers. I actually started a thread about this some time ago as I think it was worthy of discussion as the guy I know who is perhaps the best returner of serve I have ever seen (except Thomas Lund), really is remarkable.

    Unfortunately he doesn't play at my club anymore as he has now moved away, but to me he was the benchmark by which I judge the quality of my serve. To put it into perspective, I have played for about 25yrs up to advanced level and have played against ex-pro players and I have not played against anyone who can return as well as this chap, but what is incredible he does this without trying too hard.

    As I don't have a video of him playing, to give you some idea of how good he is, I posted a video of Thomas Lund in the 1993 AE final previously, which reminds me of how he plays. Fast forward to 3mins and see how early he takes the shuttle this is exactly how my friend returns all low serves, yet he gets back for flicks very well too! Please note that the camera angle makes the shuttle look like the serve is too high, but this always happens when the camera is below the level of the net.



    You’ve raised some really good points and I’d just like to add/respond with a few of my own. Some of these don’t really have much of an advantage but may give some variation to your serve to keep the receiver guessing. Just some of my observations I’d like to share.

    • Serving out wide – I found that this is a very effective way to prevent them attacking the serve but tends to work best when serving wide to their forehand side, so for right handed players, it would be on the “evens” side. On the “odds” side it isn’t as effective as a RH player usually stands protecting the backhand side. But it needs to be used sparingly.
    • Drive serve – It’s a relatively high risk serve (if done without foul serving), and I find it works well on both sides. I use this very occasionally as you need to be very accurate.
    • Serving beyond the T – I’m sure we have all come across those daft “novices” who occasionally stand in the sidelines and flick to the rear “T” thinking this is a good serve. This is a similar take on that but you don’t change position and is most useful for right handed players serving on the odd’s side. Rotate your trunk slightly and serve slightly further to the left of your body and a little further in front to make the flight path slightly further away from the receiver with the shuttle landing behind the T. The idea is to make the receiver reach that little bit more to get to it – and possibly interrupt their rhythm. The beauty with this serve is, (if your partner is wise to it) it will limit the angles of the return and so your partner can return it easily and hopefully with interest. Also the few inches that the receiver will have to stretch may just be enough to put them in an awkward position close to the net, so providing your partner can then drive the shuttle past them quickly tight to the tape, it may put pressure on the receiver’s partner at the back.
    • Having a good partner – this sounds obvious but this makes all the difference against rushers. In club play you may be partnering players of different levels who may not be able to retrieve a good return of serve. But in advanced MD, you rely a lot on your partner being able to get the return of serve as you may not be able to being so close to the net. A good partner can usually neutralise the advantage quite easily.
    • Topspin serve – as discussed already, I am currently favouring this serve against rushers as I can get better consistency than I can with the undercut serve. The advantage isn’t huge but it is far better than a flat serve because even slightly loose serves (high low-serves) still has the shuttle angling slightly downwards making is less easy for them to attack.
    • Undercut serve – I’m having trouble judging the optimum amount of spin to put on the shuttle so that at the point the rusher contacts the shuttle it is in the most awkward position/angle for them. But the more spin I put on it, the less consistent and less accurate it is. I am experimenting with leaning closer to the net and putting less spin, will see how that works.
    • Serving Underarm – this is a bizarre one. I would never have considered this… One of the “seniors” at my club was a decent singles player in his day and watching him use the traditional underarm singles serve in MD against the rushers I remember thinking to myself this will never work and you’re just inviting trouble. But to my surprise, it absolutely stumps the rushers! They can’t read it at all. It looks like it’s going to be a high flick serve, but he serves low and I do see the rushers standing further back by up to a foot and are also delayed. But having said that, I’m not going to adopt this serve as I see more disadvantages than advantages, but I thought it would be worth throwing it in… I find it amazing that the rushers can’t do anything against it.
    • Flick serves – This is perhaps the most common tactic against rushers as we all know. But I have to say whilst against 99% of rushers, a good flick will work my friend who really is an exceptional returner of serve easily gets back for them and attacks them too. Again watch how Thomas Ludd gets back really quickly for flicks.

    In response to a couple of your comments….

    • Your point about aiming for the receiver’s front foot – this is very similar to aiming at the non-racquet arm shoulder (or between the chest and shoulder). I find this sometimes works as the change in grip needed may just delay the return a fraction and
    • You mentioned taking a step back from the service line. I did consider this, but in all honesty, I think this doesn’t help in MD. Firstly there is a danger that the shuttle trajectory may peak before it reaches the net, making it technically a foul serve. Secondly, it gives the receiver even more time to react which compounds the difficulty. I have this problem when playing mixed.

    • Also you mentioned about deliberately serving short. Again, in my experience most of these “rushers” are wise to this tactic, it rarely works and doesn’t prevent them rushing. In my opinion, the risk of gifting your opponent a point is quite high but the gains, if any is relatively low. Not feasible imo.

    • You said you would favour the undercut serve against good rushers, but I’m still not completely clear on what specifically you find about this serve that works well for you. Can you explain?

    What I find interesting about watching professionals play is that they don’t attack the low serve as often as I see someone like my friend I mentioned earlier. The tendency, particularly for someone like Cai Yun seems to be to play a net drop back most of the time. I wonder if they are playing a more calculated game, a percentage game rather than go all out on the return of serve or is it something about the serve that prevents them attacking it.

    Finally, I’ve come to the opinion that if you can’t beat them, join them – become a rusher yourself, perhaps a better one. I’m currently standing no more than a foot behind the line, but sometimes I feel comfortable with almost 6 inches behind the line and I’m attacking the serves like they do just to even out the advantage. I’ve not given up on perfecting my low serve but for the time being, the easiest way to neutralise their advantage is to copy them! LOL.

  3. #88
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    Quote Originally Posted by TeddyC View Post
    ( ○.○).....my bad...
    .....must have been a tall bloke then...
    He's not particularly tall, I'm 5'10" he's a tad taller than me, 6ft at most. The amazing thing about him is that he does it seemingly without much effort, a bit like Setiawan, relaxed and consistent. Almost as though he wasn't interested.

  4. #89
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    Quote Originally Posted by R20190 View Post
    Firstly there is a danger that the shuttle trajectory may peak before it reaches the net, making it technically a foul serve.
    I would like you to explain which service rule this breaks?

  5. #90
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    Quote Originally Posted by MSeeley View Post
    I would like you to explain which service rule this breaks?
    I believe, (and correct me if I'm wrong) there is a rule that says the shuttle must climb upwards towards the net. So if the shuttle peaks before it reaches the net, it is technically on it's descent and therefore not "climbing up". I can't remember the words, but I may have misunderstood this rule.

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    Quote Originally Posted by R20190 View Post
    I believe, (and correct me if I'm wrong) there is a rule that says the shuttle must climb upwards towards the net. So if the shuttle peaks before it reaches the net, it is technically on it's descent and therefore not "climbing up". I can't remember the words, but I may have misunderstood this rule.
    No - there is no such rule. A serve must be struck in an upward direction (cannot be hit downwards from racket strings) but thats it

  7. #92
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    Quote Originally Posted by MSeeley View Post
    No - there is no such rule. A serve must be struck in an upward direction (cannot be hit downwards from racket strings) but thats it

    Most ppl would have upward strokes...the only ppl, who did downward stroke n still able to get the birdie in, would b playing other sports hopefully (such as american football, basketball, etc) coz I cant imagine a towering giant smash-serving down on me.....
    ( ○.○)

  8. #93
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    Lol... I haven't heard of such a rule as R20190 mentioned either... neither have I ever seen such a fault being called in all the pro matches I've seen online... and I've seen a lot...

  9. #94
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    Quote Originally Posted by R20190 View Post
    Serving out wide – I found that this is a very effective way to prevent them attacking the serve but tends to work best when serving wide to their forehand side, so for right handed players, it would be on the “evens” side. On the “odds” side it isn’t as effective as a RH player usually stands protecting the backhand side. But it needs to be used sparingly.
    Good description.


    Drive serve – It’s a relatively high risk serve (if done without foul serving), and I find it works well on both sides. I use this very occasionally as you need to be very accurate.
    Certainly worth a try, especially in the receiver's forehand court. Usually best straight down the middle, not wide.


    Serving beyond the T ... serve slightly further to the left of your body and a little further in front to make the flight path slightly further away from the receiver with the shuttle landing behind the T.
    That's an interesting tactic. Again, definitely worth a try and it might upset the receiver's rhythm. Note that it might also upset the server's rhythm!


    Having a good partner ... A good partner can usually neutralise the advantage quite easily.
    Yes, absolutely. Even with a good serve, strong receivers will not just lift all the time. Your partner needs to do something constructive with the third shot.


    You mentioned taking a step back from the service line. I did consider this, but in all honesty, I think this doesn’t help in MD. Firstly there is a danger that the shuttle trajectory may peak before it reaches the net, making it technically a foul serve. Secondly, it gives the receiver even more time to react which compounds the difficulty. I have this problem when playing mixed.
    As Matt mentioned, that is not a fault.

    The time difference is minimal. Consider your point about mixed doubles. We do not see the man's serve getting trashed all the time, even though he is substantially farther back.

    I'm not saying you should stand farther back. I'm just saying this is something players can try, and it's often forgotten.


    Also you mentioned about deliberately serving short.
    Yes, I nearly left that out. I don't consider it a reliable tactic at all, but it works against some players who are very committed to the rush. On the other hand, a flick serve is usually a better tactic in these cases.

    As I said, it's a bit of a last resort, but worth considering if you've already tried everything else.


    You said you would favour the undercut serve against good rushers, but I’m still not completely clear on what specifically you find about this serve that works well for you. Can you explain?
    Honestly, it's personal preference. It's about which serve I find easier.

    All these "advanced" serves achieve roughly the same thing. Yes, there are small differences; but I'm more concerned about what works for the player than about what is theoretically the best (which is impossible to determine anyway).

    By far the biggest problem with "advanced" serves is getting consistency. If you have found a method that gives you consistency, then use it. It doesn't matter if I am using something different.

    ...besides, I'll probably change my mind in a month! I am the Silvio Berlusconi of serving.


    What I find interesting about watching professionals play is that they don’t attack the low serve as often as I see someone like my friend I mentioned earlier. The tendency, particularly for someone like Cai Yun seems to be to play a net drop back most of the time. I wonder if they are playing a more calculated game, a percentage game rather than go all out on the return of serve or is it something about the serve that prevents them attacking it.
    There are two reasons:

    Their opponents are very good at flat play too, so unless the drives are going downwards, it's somewhat neutral. There will be a flat exchange of shots. Whereas a well-placed net shot or push leads to a lift.

    Also, their opponents serves are very tight, and landing near the service line. This encourages net play, because the drives are going to travel upwards a bit.

    Personally (for what little that's worth!) I find I play a lot of net against opponents who have very tight low serves. If the low serve is looser, I attack hard with drives or use more pushes.


    I’ve not given up on perfecting my low serve but for the time being, the easiest way to neutralise their advantage is to copy them! LOL.
    Absolutely yes.

    I'll let you in on a little secret too. Even if you're not that good at attacking the low serve, you will get points just by looking dangerous. It makes your opponents worry about their serves, and they make mistakes.

    I toe the line, and I reckon half the benefit I get from this is not from any skill of mine, but due to what's happening inside the server's head.

    Quite recently I played against someone with an outstanding straight low serve. Really astonishingly good. I was having trouble doing anything positive with it. But rapidly he started playing wide serves and other nonsense, which I proceeded to demolish.

    He had simply lost his nerve. He was beaten by psychological pressure, and failed to realise his advantage before abandoning it. I told him after the game.
    Last edited by Gollum; 08-21-2014 at 10:16 AM.

  10. #95
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    Interesting side topic of excellent receivers.

    Eg R20190's friend, I'm always interested in how someone can anticipate (ie read) a serve and react so quickly to it... whether it be a short or flick serve.

    How do you guys read a serve? What tell tale signs do you look at/for to know when it's short or flick?

    Or I suppose one can toe the line and prepare 70% towards receiving a flick?
    Last edited by visor; 08-21-2014 at 12:30 PM.

  11. #96
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    Quote Originally Posted by visor View Post
    How do you guys read a serve? What tell tale signs do you look at/for to know when it's short or flick?
    You can't always tell. It does depend a lot on the quality of the serves. A really good flick serve gives you almost no warning; you just have to be quick moving back.

    But there are some things you can look out for:

    Different preparation. For example, the server positions the shuttle near the edge of the strings for a low serve, but in the centre for a flick; or he holds the shuttle farther in front of the racket (making more space) for a flick serve.

    Faster or longer backswing. This doesn't give you much warning, but a split second is still useful. Note this can sometimes be used to create a wide low serve instead.

    "Tells". For example, the server looks at the corner where he is about to serve; or he takes longer to serve, or less time; or he doesn't look up before serving (or he does look up).

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