Kick serve not worth the effort at the lower levels

Discussion in 'Adult League & Tournament Talk' started by Nuke, Oct 31, 2007.

  1. Nuke

    Nuke Hall of Fame

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    I play in a 3.5 men's ladder, and a few of the guys have pretty good topspin kick servers, but I find these servers really easy to return. I've thought of developing a kick second serve (I hit slice and reverse slice now) but my experience with receiving these serves makes me think it's not worth the effort. Sure, better players than my level will hit better kicks that jump up higher, but down here in the lowly 3.5s, I look forward to playing an opponent who throws these reasonably slow, high-bouncers at me. I suppose these guys have been schooled to hit topspin serves for the safety factor, but man, they are easy to put away for winners.
     
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  2. raiden031

    raiden031 Legend

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    Are you suggesting that 3.5 players who do not use kick serves are harder to return their second serve? I highly doubt that. Why would you not choose to learn a serve that is 1) more consistent and 2) is absolutely necessary at the higher levels?

    People don't put away my kick serve and I would say that it doesn't have alot of authority behind it. Most people have trouble being offensive simply because it bounces fairly high. Maybe you like high bouncers but I wouldn't say thats the norm at 3.5
     
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2007
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  3. Venetian

    Venetian Professional

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    If it's that easy for you to return then they're not hitting good serves. That doesn't mean kick serves are bad, it just means those guys suck at serving. :)
     
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  4. WBF

    WBF Hall of Fame

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    Unless you plan on limiting yourself to 3.5 or lower for the rest of your life (eww), I would suggest learning it. A fully developed kick serve can be more devastating than a 120mph flat bomb.
     
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  5. lostinamerica

    lostinamerica Semi-Pro

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    Depends on the placement of that 120 MPH flat bomb. :-D

    Seriously, a variety is what you need. I have a great kick serve but my slice serve is seriously lacking. Kickers are good but one definitelyneeds more than just a kick serve. For those of us who have outstanding kick serves, when we get tight, we always go back to it and it becomes very prediciatble.

    To the OP, youneed to learn the kick but do not fall too in love with it. Learn it for a 2nd serve or when you are going to serve and volley. You will get few aces but it gives you time to get in position for the next shot. (Seriously, how many aces do you actually hit anyway)
     
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  6. KFwinds

    KFwinds Professional

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    Think about it this way. If you have one more serve in your arsenal, you can mix up your serves better. Of course you don't have trouble returning the guys you play in the ladder because 1.) you play them often and know their tendencies and 2.) I would bet that those guys hitting the kick serves either don't use other types of serves or always use the kicker in certain situations (i.e. second serves).

    I know that I always have any easier time returning when I know what's coming. Finally, learning a new shot that you couldn't hit before will ALWAYS make your game better - unless you are not concerned with improving.
     
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  7. Nuke

    Nuke Hall of Fame

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    I'm saying flat out that a mediocre kick serve is no harder to return than a weak bloop serve. I can exploit either one easily.

    As for my own second serve, I can consistently place it wherever I want, with slice, at about 2/3 the speed of my first serve. It's not a weapon, but at this level, most of the other players don't have the notion (or the ability) to murder it. I'm 51 years old and my back isn't as strong as it used to be, so I just don't think it's worth my time at this stage in my life to work on a new serve that won't pay off unless I got really good at it. If I could go back in time, it would have been a good idea to learn a kick serve as a beginner. But then I probably wouldn't be playing in a 3.5 league at this age, and I'd be facing far better players who have a REAL kick serve.
     
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  8. raiden031

    raiden031 Legend

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    Sounds like you aren't trying to get to a higher level, but just simply keep playing as you age. So I guess it doesn't matter if you pick up a kick serve. I don't know any 3.5s that can consistently exploit any serve that easily unless its maybe a pancake serve, so I'd say you are an exception to the rule in that regard.
     
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  9. Nuke

    Nuke Hall of Fame

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    There are a LOT of players at this level who have a creampuff second serve, even if they have a really good first serve. It's not unusual for me to stand four feet behind the service line and dare them to hit a deep second serve.
     
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  10. Sliceboy2

    Sliceboy2 Rookie

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    I guess you're right.......It does not kick...
     
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  11. Nuke

    Nuke Hall of Fame

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    So we're back to my original question, is a kick serve in the lower levels (where it really isn't much of a kick at all) worth the effort?
     
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  12. WBF

    WBF Hall of Fame

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    The serve is one of the most important shots in the game. It's the only shot where *you* determine everything about it. There is no limit where playing a better player will ruin your serve.

    Having said this, working on a serve is very important. If the rest of your game is stuck at the 3.5 level, and you have the chance to work on a kick serve, why *not*? If you develop it into a half decent kick serve, very, very few 3.5 players will have a response to it.
     
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  13. ananda

    ananda Professional

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    Nuke, don't people at the lower level (your opponents) have a problem handing high balls on the backhand side ?
    Even a kick serve that bounces up a bit higher than an ordinary serve shoud elicit a weak response when given to their backhands? Allow for you to punish the return ?
     
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  14. Sliceboy2

    Sliceboy2 Rookie

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    I find it too slice serves are often effective at these levels. Kick serve is effective on 1HBH returners at this level plus it gives you enough good clearance at the net. Of course is worth the effort, any serve that will make your opponent guessing is good. Its your opponent that returns your serve, you have to find a serve that your opponent is not comfortable returning so you'll have easy points. Kick serve maybe one of them. If you could smack easy winners on their kick serve, credit for you and just enjoy hitting them.
     
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  15. Raiden.Kaminari

    Raiden.Kaminari Semi-Pro

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    The quick answer is "yes," as long as it isn't the only serve in the arsenal.

    As other posters have pointed out, that variety is what makes the kick serve very effective, even if it's weak. In fact, floater balls work just as well.

    Say you're expecting some heat on the first serve, and someone sends you a weak serve instead. What happens usually if you're dug in? Most of the time at the lower level I see people scrambling to get the ball, and either hit the net or back fence.

    By the way, a well taught/learned kick serve actually doesn't use the back, but the legs and core, to generate the thrust and motion for the kick / twist serve.
     
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  16. JavierLW

    JavierLW Hall of Fame

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    If they are hitting them too slow, then I would agree with you. Especially in doubles (where you dont really want the ball going high and slow).

    However I think your real reasoning should be that it's only not worth the effort if it's not a GOOD kick serve. If it's floating up in the air slowly at all, that's not a good serve for even an above average 3.5 player.

    The same could be said for a big topspin forehand as well. I play a guy who ONLY hits with lots of loopy topspin but he doesnt hit it hard (like Ive seen from 4.5 players), so I feel like I could just sit back there, drink some coffee, eat a bagel, wait, wait, wait, wait, and then just return it nicely to him and then wait some more.

    (it does spin really fast which is challenging if someone isnt used to it, but once you've seen it enough it's easy to counter)
     
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  17. Nellie

    Nellie Hall of Fame

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    I worked hard to develop a decent kick serve, but I find that as I get older it is harder on my body to hit. Looking back, I wish I had worked more on a good, biting slice serve. The down side to a slice serve is that the old guys are really good at hitting it back.
     
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  18. Geezer Guy

    Geezer Guy Hall of Fame

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    I have a reasonably effective kick serve that works fine against my usual 3.5 and 4.0 opponents. However, yesterday I was playing against a 4.5 and he was hitting about 75% of my kick serves back for clean winners.

    Just because YOU can pound great returns off kick serves doesn't mean your opponents will be able to.
     
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  19. vandre

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    i myself am the lowly 3.5 player and the aforementioned kick serve is my least favorite to return. even if you don't have a great deal of side to side action on it, it still bounces up and out of the returners strike zone. if if does kick side to side and away from my 2hbh, i hate it.

    i like to return the heater the most. but that slice that stays low i like also because i can be aggressive with the return, especially once i get the timing.

    that's just me, though, maybe im a mutant in addition to sucking! ;)
     
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  20. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Here's the answer, IMHO:

    It depends.

    It depends on what else you might spend your time on.

    My serve is strong for my level, but with some real attention it could be stronger. I am not working on it, though (beyond just practicing what I already do so I don't get rusty). Why?

    Because I don't lose matches or points because of my serve. I lose them because of my groundstrokes and my approach/defensive volley. Those are weaknesses. So I use my time and energy to improve those shots. When those get more solid and my serve starts to lag, I will turn my attention to the serve.

    If the rest of your game is well-developed and you feel like a kick serve (or any other serve) would help raise the level of your service game, then it might be a good investment of time/effort.

    If you have, say, a weak backhand, forget the kick serve and fix that backhand.
     
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  21. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

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    Wow, and I thought I was losing my mind there for a while.

    http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=163326&page=6

    Apparently, in the aforementioned thread, the guys in your same level are hitting some nasty "kick serves". LOL
     
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  22. smoothtennis

    smoothtennis Hall of Fame

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    No, a sucky kick serve is not worth the effort at any level. However, a good solid kick serve is definately worth the effort at ANY level. The point is, don't learn a crappy kicker, learn to hit it aggresively, and develop the thing into a good serve.
     
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  23. Nuke

    Nuke Hall of Fame

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    A lot of guys at my level can pop in a good first serve, but often not with great consistency. I think a lot of them remember the handful of actual good serves they hit and forget that they're only hitting 30%. And the guys that are so proud of their creampuff sorta-kick serves don't quite get it that the returns are zipping right by them.
     
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  24. raiden031

    raiden031 Legend

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    I don't understand how you can go from no kick serve to a good serve instantaneously. If someone wants to develop a kick serve, it is going to suck for a while until it develops into a good one. Everyone's kick serve is going to get put away during this stage.

    So whats all the criticism about 3.5s hitting sucky kick serves when obviously they are developing players since they are only 3.5s. I'd say its better to have a terrible kick serve than the best pancake serve because at least a kick serve can become a real weapon later on.
     
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  25. Fedace

    Fedace Banned

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    ^^^Kick serve at 3.5 level is not same as kick serve at 4.5 level. at 3.5 level, you are just learning to hit the twist serve so what happens is the serve will have tendency to just kind of sit up nice and high and say hit me please. as you progress with your kick serve, you will learn to toss the ball little more in front of you to get more forward movement on the ball with twist spin. so as you become good at the twist serve, it will bounce up high and move forward and away into the corner with alot of pace. that is the one that is very difficult to return.
     
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  26. SB

    SB Rookie

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    I think it depends on matchups, too. These are generalizations, but here goes: Against older (pre-Western grip) women, kickers (even bad ones) are pretty effective. Usually women are shorter, so the balls get up higher on them, and so they are hard to hit with traditional grips. Plus, women don't see kick serves that often.

    I am a tall-ish woman with a semi-Western forehand ... so I LOVE kick serves, even men's, up to about the 4.5/5.0 level. Then it gets tough for me because of the movement, as you were describing.

    But I would still much rather see a good kick serve in my strike zone (or just slightly above) than some women's crappy low backspin slice serves that come in no higher than my knees. At least in doubles. For me to pick it up and over the net with my topspin too often plays right to the netperson. It's easier for a traditional grip or slicer to hit those, though.
     
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  27. smoothtennis

    smoothtennis Hall of Fame

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    Nah, you do go through the stage of weak to strong over some development time sure. The OP asked if it was 'worth the effort' to develop a kick serve at 3.5. And my position is, that most 4.0-4.5's who have a good kicker, started developing that serve at 3.5. I say it's worth the effort if improving one's game is a consideration.

    True. There should be no criticism of sucky 3.5 kickers, or backhands, or whatever else at 3.5.

    Right? It's just a single stroke and nothing more. I have played 3.5's here in TX, with strong kick serves, but had inconsistent games to go with it, and thats why they are 3.5's. But yeah, I mostly see duck second serves at 3.5.

    I say just the opposite of the OP's question. One should most definately work to develop that kicker, so when you play 4.0+ players, who have even MORE ability to put away sucky serves, you have once less weakness for players to pick on.

    Fedace said:
    Right on Fedace. That is a big key to the puzzle of making that second serve hard to attack. It is simple, and so obvious, most players just don't do it. A good knee bend, smooth motion, and forward leaning into the court, really add a ton of spin to that ball using basically the same exact service motion.

    And funny you mention that, most 3.5's problems with the serves are not their racket path, but rather, not using the body's kinetic chain effectively. And on second serve, most guys are scared to use that whole body for fear of hitting a double fault.
     
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  28. smoothtennis

    smoothtennis Hall of Fame

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    That is a very interesting observation, and statement. Consider the goal of a good serve at the higher levels. Yes I, and everybody here, wants their serve to be a weapon sure. But the first level on that rung, to compete well, is a serve that has just enough power, and spin to prevent the opponent from attacking, and start out dictating off your service. And by that I mean specifically the second serve.

    It may sound odd, but I don't care if my opponent has no trouble with my kicker, as long as he can't attack me with it. Mine is at the point now, where 4.5's with strong strokes, are not attacking it. Does it look a little like a duck to me? Yes it does. But they aren't attacking it. And I have asked them after matches, why they are not attacking my second serve, and the response has been: It bounced deep in the box, and it just had too much motion on it.

    The next level, as FedAce mentioned, is getting the toss a little more into the court, and that gets the second serve to be really aggressive. It takes a lot of faith to do that second part. *smile* Something I am still working on.
     
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  29. JohnP

    JohnP Rookie

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    If you ever find yourself playing doubles at a high level, having a big kicker that is consistent AND be placed well, is a huge asset. In doubles, a placeable kick serve becomes a first-serve weapon, rather than a "reliable second serve" as it tends to be in singles.
     
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