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View Full Version : Is the Kick Serve the Most Physically Demanding Shot?


Funbun
09-17-2011, 08:56 AM
Lately, I've been really trying to hit consistent kickers, starting from the toss.

I realized how straining it is to get into that position to hit the kicker. I'm bending my knees a bit more to keep my body in that weird pose. I feel like I'm going to fall backward on myself if my legs have their last give. I'm trying to bend my knees to get that angle, but I still feel some strain on my back/spine.

I have to do all this and hold it long enough for the ball to drop beneath the zenith of my swing to brush up the ball, and hope it loops into the box and kick up.

The ATP guys make it look so easy and effortless.

I'm not sure if it's just me, but I feel like I have to exert a great deal of effort to do this serve. Or am I doing it wrong?

Sometimes, I can't even tell if I start slacking, like placing the toss a bit forward and hitting a flat/slice instead, so I need a watcher to check that I'm truly tossing behind my head and getting into that "backwards arch" position.

I'm serious, I don't think I can bend my knees to a near 90 degree angle to get myself in that power position. Am I simply weak (I doubt it, I run like 6+ miles a day), or do you truly need your back to compensate a little for your knees?

Xizel
09-17-2011, 09:46 AM
Am I simply weak (I doubt it, I run like 6+ miles a day)

That doesn't mean anything in relation to strength. Running long distances is a matter of the lungs and heart supplying enough oxygen over a long period of time. It has nothing to do with your skeletal muscles being able to do their movements.

I'm not sure if it'd be correct to call you weak, but being strong(er) and (more) flexible would certainly help better the kick serve. The guys I've seen with good serves have not only good technique, but also muscle strength and power. Strength training is the answer if you want a kick serve like the pros that not only contains a lot of action, but also penetrates as well.

The kick serve being physically demanding actually has a lot of merit to it. You're creating pace and spin from nothing.

martini1
09-17-2011, 06:55 PM
More demanding than a running fh/bh winner? I can try 50 kick serves in a row but I can barely do 10 running fh/bh in a row.

Manus Domini
09-17-2011, 09:03 PM
If you mean permanent damage to your spine, then yes...

Ballinbob
09-17-2011, 09:42 PM
I used to have a weird motion for my kick serve where I'd bend my back really far just for some extra spin. That really made it hard for me. Long story short, make sure you have good form before attempting to master the kick serve

mightyrick
09-18-2011, 11:27 AM
For me, a cross-court running forehand from deep in a corner takes more physical demand than a kick serve.

Xizel
09-18-2011, 11:48 AM
For me, a cross-court running forehand from deep in a corner takes more physical demand than a kick serve.

I'd like to think that OP means "shot" as in "stroke" and the running part doesn't count. Obviously any type of running would be more physically demanding than standing still and hitting a ball. So now, what takes more demand, a kick serve or a forehand (JUST a forehand)?

Limpinhitter
09-18-2011, 12:10 PM
Lately, I've been really trying to hit consistent kickers, starting from the toss.

I realized how straining it is to get into that position to hit the kicker. I'm bending my knees a bit more to keep my body in that weird pose. I feel like I'm going to fall backward on myself if my legs have their last give. I'm trying to bend my knees to get that angle, but I still feel some strain on my back/spine.

I have to do all this and hold it long enough for the ball to drop beneath the zenith of my swing to brush up the ball, and hope it loops into the box and kick up.

The ATP guys make it look so easy and effortless.

I'm not sure if it's just me, but I feel like I have to exert a great deal of effort to do this serve. Or am I doing it wrong?

Sometimes, I can't even tell if I start slacking, like placing the toss a bit forward and hitting a flat/slice instead, so I need a watcher to check that I'm truly tossing behind my head and getting into that "backwards arch" position.

I'm serious, I don't think I can bend my knees to a near 90 degree angle to get myself in that power position. Am I simply weak (I doubt it, I run like 6+ miles a day), or do you truly need your back to compensate a little for your knees?

A smash that you have to jump for is more physically demanding than any serve. A kick serve, if you know how to hit one, is no more physically demanding than any other serve.

Ramon
09-18-2011, 02:08 PM
I remember hitting good kick serves consistently on a daily basis when I was 18 and could barely bench press over 100 pounds. Now at 46, I can bench press well over 200, but hitting a kick serve with decent velocity is more challenging. I can still do it, but not every day, so I mix up my serves more.

I think that being able to "snap" my shoulder suddenly was why I could do it better when I was younger and not as strong. Rotator cuffs are just one of those things that don't get better with age. Racket head speed is key, and strength is not the only factor that determines how fast you can whip that racket.

BU-Tennis
09-18-2011, 03:14 PM
A smash that you have to jump for is more physically demanding than any serve. A kick serve, if you know how to hit one, is no more physically demanding than any other serve.

The kick serve takes more racquet head velocity than any other serve, so you have to put more effort into the stroke. Plus, to get the racket moving in the correct way requires some heavy manipulation with your back. This serve is one of the reasons tennis players have such bad backs.

So yes, the kick serve is a pretty demanding shot, and i would rank it in the top 3 of hardest shots physically.

Funbun
09-18-2011, 05:38 PM
I just tried hitting some today. I actually needed my hitting partner to watch me and make sure that I'm hitting it before I hit the apex of my upward swing, so I can get that topspin. Additionally, I wanted him to make sure he could see the loopy trajectory of my serve, to make certain it was actually spinning it (for starters), and later, the kick up after the service box bounce.

I swear, are you supposed to feel like you're sideways during the entire serve? I've hit kick serves before, but only recently I've ever tried consistently hitting them, making sure I get the basic elements of the kicker down.

Besides the brief vertigo (or should I say, horizontago) during the serve, I can't swing as hard. Maybe it's because I rallied for 2 hours before serving, but still, it can't be that hard to swing up.

I believe I can associate with BU-Tennis and Ramon about this.

zapvor
09-18-2011, 05:39 PM
i just started to learn how to hit a kicker. it's tough!!!

fruitytennis1
09-18-2011, 06:29 PM
A smash that you have to jump for is more physically demanding than any serve. A kick serve, if you know how to hit one, is no more physically demanding than any other serve.

I disagree 100%

mightyrick
09-18-2011, 08:04 PM
I'd like to think that OP means "shot" as in "stroke" and the running part doesn't count. Obviously any type of running would be more physically demanding than standing still and hitting a ball. So now, what takes more demand, a kick serve or a forehand (JUST a forehand)?

In that case -- removing the running -- then a kick serve is definitely more physically demanding.

Caesar
09-18-2011, 08:07 PM
A kicker exposes a poor service action. If you have a bad service action then trying to get the racquet head speed and strike angle is tough, and may require a lot of contortion.

If you have a good service action, it's not that hard.

Roy125
09-18-2011, 08:17 PM
A kick serve is as difficult as you make it out to be. I don't hit the ball as hard as I can and I don't bend my back to unnatural contortions when hitting the serve.

I just put more topspin on the ball.

[ GTR ]
09-18-2011, 08:39 PM
Just look at Fed. One of the few players who rarely grunt.

He grunts the most on heavy kick second serves.

Ramon
09-19-2011, 06:47 AM
If you're having trouble with hitting a good kick serve, I suggest hitting slowly at first. Concentrate on getting heavy topspin and a high bounce. Once you get that part down, start adding speed but not too much right away so as to tear your shoulder. When I was younger, I got a lot of power by turning my shoulder before my upswing (and make sure your back is facing the court before you turn your shoulder). It was like a rubber band effect on my shoulder. When you get older that rubber band gets a lot stiffer and might break! :)

Limpinhitter
09-19-2011, 07:07 AM
The kick serve takes more racquet head velocity than any other serve, so you have to put more effort into the stroke. Plus, to get the racket moving in the correct way requires some heavy manipulation with your back. This serve is one of the reasons tennis players have such bad backs.

So yes, the kick serve is a pretty demanding shot, and i would rank it in the top 3 of hardest shots physically.

No it doesn't. A kick serve requires no different swing velocity or back bend than any other correctly executed serve.

mistapooh
09-27-2011, 03:15 PM
A kicker exposes a poor service action. If you have a bad service action then trying to get the racquet head speed and strike angle is tough, and may require a lot of contortion.

If you have a good service action, it's not that hard.

Good post. Timing is the key with a twist serve. If your timing is wrong, you naturally muscle the ball in order to compensate, then get frustrated to why it doesn't kick.

LeeD
09-27-2011, 03:20 PM
I think the retrieval of a drop shot, lob, drop shot combo is tougher.
As is when I'm run out past my backhand alley, I start to recover towards center while still 4' inside my sideline, and that mean ole opponent hits a service line deep sideline skimming shot BEHIND me, while I'm moving the other way. I might get to it, but I can't put anything offensive behind my shot.
Twist, I've seen 55 year old debilitated old farts hit 6' high kickers.

fruitytennis1
09-28-2011, 04:56 PM
No it doesn't. A kick serve requires no different swing velocity or back bend than any other correctly executed serve.

You sure? For me it feels that to hit any decent paced kick serve takes more energy than any of my flat serves

mightyrick
09-28-2011, 05:25 PM
You sure? For me it feels that to hit any decent paced kick serve takes more energy than any of my flat serves

Same for me. If I try to hit a kick serve with the same swing speed as my flat serve, I would either put the kick serve into the net or barely over the net.

TimothyO
09-28-2011, 05:30 PM
I can hit an amazing kick serve that arcs high and wide into the near corner of the service box and off the court. Impossible to reach. And after several such serves it caused pain in my lower left back so I stopped doing it. Very scary pain...

Now I limit myself to pedestrian 3.0 kick serves designed merely to get over the darn net...the kind high level players put away as winners but fellow 3.0 players put into the net or hit long trying to kill! :)

Clintspin
09-28-2011, 05:49 PM
OP: You really need to bring your hip around to hit a great kick. It also helps to put it where you want it. So no you do not want to stay sideways forever. It's really not that hard and I don't think it is a back killer when done correctly.

Watch Roger bring his body around nicely with this monster kick below:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mM1P2ej4YtY&feature=related