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Welcome to the second edition of 'Learning from the Pros', if you'd like to check out our recent post on Serving- click Here. Serving is becoming a critical part of roundnet, there is always room to improve!

We generated four questions to ask the Pros what they thought... These questions were:

  1. How do you conceptualize serving in roundnet?
  2. Basic tips to improve?
  3. Pro tips?
  4. Anything else you want to add about serving?

Without further ado let's meet the Pros we interviewed...

Peter Jon Showalter- 1/2 of Cisek_Showalter the most dominant team in the world. PJ is one of the most complete servers in roundnet today. Between his variety, footwork, and head fakes he routinely makes people look silly. His long arms allow him to create seemingly impossible angles. His fwango sets him apart from others who excel at serving. For that reason he must be on the list of pros.

Patrick Drucker- Some call him a mammoth.. Drucker is 6'9 and uses all of his wingspan to hit ridiculous angles you didn't know were possible. Even though Drucker may not have a fwango like PJ, and you typically know what's coming... the velocity, angle, and speed he generates can leave you baffled and confused. 

Dan McPartland- 1/2 of Spicy Rubi, the runners-up at 2017 Nationals. If you weren't familiar with Dan's game before 2017 Nationals you certainly knew who he was after the finals. The poise and confidence Dan displayed when the pressure was on was incredible to watch. Cisek_Showalter looked like they were on skates returning his serves which isn't something that many of us had seen before. His mix of angles, crafty drop serves, and general consistency makes many returners uncomfortable when trying to figure out how to return his serve.

Tyler Cisek- the other half of Cisek-Showalter. Typically PJ's serve was feared when you matched up against C_S, but as the season went on Tyler seemed to zero in on his cut serve. Similar to Druckers, you may know what's coming but that doesn't mean you are able to return it. The way he's able to consistently hit front pockets and serve along the side of the net generated many aces in his own right.

Let the interviewing begin!

1. How do you conceptualize serving in roundnet?

PJ- Serving is a huge part of the game. Each player has serves that are more high percentage and those that are a lower percentage. The lower percentage ones are often the most dangerous ones to the opposing team. However, it's a constant process of deciding how much inconsistency you're willing to have for the sake of aces and bad touches. Everybody comes out on at a different spot on this spectrum and that's what makes serving so interesting.

Drucker- Serving is the easiest way to score a break point and it’s the easiest skill to practice. While serving, I’ve been trying more and more to play the returner’s position and movements. My primary serve is a strong forehand hit that kicks farther to the right if I get enough spin and hit the right angle on the net. The next most common serve of mine is one where I try to jam the returner if they are cheating too far to the right, which I do by simply changing where the ball makes contact with the net. Instead of going for the widest angle, I hit the opposite side of the net so the ball comes in straight and hits the opponent’s left hand or the center of their body if they were creeping to their right. I also have a drop serve that I try to mix in every once and a while. When I drop serve, my goal is to sacrifice as little arm speed as possible to make it appear as if I’m serving the typical forehand. I do this by undercutting the ball as much as possible to generate backspin, while maintaining a quick swing.

Dan- When serving I try not to think too hard. The only thing I'm thinking about is how I can make it difficult for the returner. Whether that means hitting it really hard, putting spin on the ball to make it unpredictable, or hitting tough angles, I'm simply trying to force the other team to make a good play.

Tyler- So I think of serving as a way of earning a point when you have no right to win that point. Offense should get the point every time but if you can work some magic and try out some weird things to come up with a great serve, that’s when breaks come into play. I look at serving as an opportunity to make the opposing team get a bad touch so that you have a better chance at getting a defensive play. Many people probably think that I go for aces, I do not. I go for bad touches. If I am able to get an ace on those serves than that is  fantastic, but for me I think bad first touches are key, they lead to defensive plays that bring the momentum to your side.

2. Basic tips to improve?

PJ- Same as the best way to so anything well: do it lots. Just serve. Try different serves, try methods that have been proven successful and try things you've never heard of, but at the end of the day if you serve lots and practice, you'll get better.

Drucker- Practice more than one serve. Even if you have the best forehand serve in the game, people will find out ways to return it. Being able to change directions and keep the returner on their toes is crucial.

Dan- The best basic tip that I have for players who are still looking to develop an effective serve is to try as many different serves as they can. Even if they seem like silly ideas that would never work, just try them out. I'm always thinking up new ways to fool the returner on a serve and most of them turn out being terrible ideas, but every once in a while I stumble upon something worth keeping around. With all that being said, it is important to make sure that when it comes tournament time that you are focusing on serves that you know you can put on the net at a high percentage.

Tyler- One basic tip that I can tell people is work on perfecting one serve. A lot of people want to try and do every serve in the book and have the biggest serving arsenal when what really is key, in my mind, is working on one serve so that you can get bad first touches and then once you have that figured out you can move onto a second serve and so on.

This concludes 'Learning from the Pros: Serving Part 1'. Part 2 will cover Pro Tips and 'Anything else you want to add about serving?' Shout-out to the Pros for their thorough responses! Take these tips and use them to improve your serve!

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