Kick serve theory

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by Maximagq, Mar 30, 2014.

  1. Maximagq

    Maximagq Banned

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2013
    Messages:
    6,545
    I notice my kick jumps a lot more when I try to hit more aggressively upward AND forward instead of just upward. Kind of similar to how my forehand jumps more when I hit an aggressive combination of pace and spin. Anyone agree? I'm talking about the heaviness of the serve
     
    #1
  2. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2008
    Messages:
    41,931
    Location:
    East side of San Francisco Bay
    Forward gives the serve more speed, so it jumps out towards the backwall, instead of just jumping upwards to be struck hard.
    Probably real difference in ball speed is neglible, but the bounce effect seems noticeable.
     
    #2
  3. TeamOB

    TeamOB Professional

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2014
    Messages:
    1,173
    Location:
    On the Kyrgios/Thiem/Zverev bandwagon!
    Yeah. Kick serves need some pace. If it is all spin your opponent will have time to get into position and rip it. A serve with spin, height and pace is very tough to deal with.
     
    #3
  4. Tight Lines

    Tight Lines Professional

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2013
    Messages:
    1,100
    Location:
    Sparkill, NY
    For me, the visual images of a 10-3 (for less kick more speed) vs. 8-2 (more kick less speed) helps.

    Harry
     
    #4
  5. 2ndServe

    2ndServe Professional

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2008
    Messages:
    1,111
    I've found if you just concentrate on tossing it further in front instead of just behind the head (which makes it safer) you get a bit more penetration which may be the difference between a liability and one that stays at least neutral.
     
    #5
  6. WildVolley

    WildVolley Legend

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2007
    Messages:
    6,307
    I've sometimes noticed this, but I'm not sure my form is consistent enough to have this happen every time.

    My theory is that by going more aggressively forward, you are actually getting a better contact point and developing more racket head speed at contact. If that is happening, not only are you getting more velocity from a flatter angle into the ball, but the spin rate is higher also due to the greater racket head speed at contact.

    If you can turn this better serve into something you can replicate, it can definitely become a weapon. It is brutal to watch what someone like Raonic can do to an opponent when his kick serve is on.
     
    #6
  7. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2008
    Messages:
    21,259
    Location:
    On my iPhone
    Im still getting mine heavier. My main focus is staying faced to the side as long as I can before contact.

    I also toss over my head.

    Main thing I notice is the action of the ball makes it difficult for the opponent to get clean contact.
     
    #7
  8. Steady Eddy

    Steady Eddy Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2007
    Messages:
    2,894
    Location:
    Arizona
    Thanks for the tip. Yesterday I was serving with my new topspin serve. I was happy about getting nearly every 1st serve in, but after a while, my opponents started really ripping on it.

    So your tip comes just in time. :)
     
    #8
  9. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Legend

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2011
    Messages:
    5,383
    Location:
    Baltimore, MD
    Kick serve at impact. The racket is rising and in a few frames after impact the racket head will be higher. 240 fps.
    [​IMG]

    Slice serve at impact. The racket head is near its highest point and in next few frames after impact there will be little rising. 240 fps.
    [​IMG]


    An attempt to understand what the racket is doing before, during and after impact - These views are preliminary. Has anyone found this kind of detailed description on the internet. I have not found them on the internet.

    1) For the slice, flat and kick serves it looks as if similar internal shoulder rotation motions are used for basic racket head speed.

    2) For the slice and flat serves the ball is contacted near the highest that the racket head reaches. Result is mostly that the strings move to the side for the slice serve.

    3) For the kick serve the ball is contacted before the racket has reached its peak so that the racket strings are rising while in contact with the ball. Because a similar ISR motion is used but impact is lower and earlier for the kick serve the body of a RH server must face a little more to the right for impact because the racket strings have not come around as far as for the slice and flat serves.

    While this is hitting up on the kick serve in a sense, it occurs mostly over a few milliseconds of racket contact.

    Threads on same subject with more detail:
    http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=489960&highlight=forearm+racket+angle+kick+Chas

    http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?p=8132253#post8132253
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2014
    #9
  10. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2008
    Messages:
    21,259
    Location:
    On my iPhone
    I think if you keep your shoulder to the side, toss over your head and then just try and hit the serve cleanly like a flat serve, you can generate that natural topspin and pace you are describing in the OP.

    Still working on this. I want it to be my 1st and 2nd service. My best serve right now is a flat bomb down the T, but we all know thats not a % play.
     
    #10
  11. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2008
    Messages:
    41,931
    Location:
    East side of San Francisco Bay
    Steady Eddy, why not move it around? Hit the backhand corner, hit the forehand corner, hit some right into the reciever's hip pocket.
    Then add some slice serves that bounce lower, so his contact point changes.
    Then add some top/slices that are slower, but aim higher over the net, with a faster swing, so the bounce goes up near his eye heights?
     
    #11
  12. Steady Eddy

    Steady Eddy Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2007
    Messages:
    2,894
    Location:
    Arizona
    Later I started to do some of the things you say. I'd aim for the corners. But when I do that, I have to hit flat. I don't know how to aim my topspin serve.

    I want more spin on slice serves, especially because I'm left-handed, and most of the guys I play against have trouble with their backhand.
     
    #12
  13. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2008
    Messages:
    41,931
    Location:
    East side of San Francisco Bay
    Swing faster on spin serves (except for twists) than you do for any other serve. With top/slice, you should be able to swing your fastest.
    You aim by turning your stance slightly, but better yet, by following thru in the direction you want your ball to go. Don't LOOK at where you want your ball to go, instead visulize your racket following thru to that spot. Look directly AT your opponent, visulize where you want your ball to go.
     
    #13
  14. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2008
    Messages:
    21,259
    Location:
    On my iPhone
    Yes. Finish towards side fence for a kick serve wide on the ad side for example.
     
    #14
  15. Steady Eddy

    Steady Eddy Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2007
    Messages:
    2,894
    Location:
    Arizona
    ^^Thanks! I can't wait to practice that. I have noticed that I can swing as hard as I can without fear on spin serves. Wish I was stronger so it would bounce really high. But meanwhile, I'll work on the placement as well. :)
     
    #15
  16. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2008
    Messages:
    41,931
    Location:
    East side of San Francisco Bay
    The high bounce only needs a day warmer than 70, you warmed up, you're taller than 5'10", and you aim high over the net and deep into the service court.
    I've been regularly getting my second serves up around eye heights in much lower air temps, using DunlopHDHardCourtChamp balls.
    Much higher with Wilson balls.
     
    #16
  17. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Legend

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2011
    Messages:
    5,383
    Location:
    Baltimore, MD
    As mentioned in my reply #9 , this illustrates how the racket head rises during impact for the kick serve.
    On the other hand, a slice or flat serve would be contacted around the highest point that the racket head reaches and therefore there is not nearly as much topspin imparted from rising racket strings. Notice also that Stosur's chest is well to the right side.

    Can anyone supply similar high speed videos to identify what they mean by 'hitting up on the ball'. Is this it?
     
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2014
    #17
  18. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Legend

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2011
    Messages:
    5,383
    Location:
    Baltimore, MD
    What does "toss over your head" mean? Is this a fatal instruction that will doom developing a high level serve?

    Is he tossing over his head?
     
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2014
    #18
  19. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Legend

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2011
    Messages:
    5,383
    Location:
    Baltimore, MD
    The answer is no.

    .....because he moves his body and head forward after the toss.

    (You can also see that the shoulders and chest in general are more right facing at impact for the kick serve than for the slice serve.)
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2014
    #19
  20. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2008
    Messages:
    21,259
    Location:
    On my iPhone
    Chas you have spent 30 years and hours of video and take on your arm to figure out how to serve, and according to you, you still can't do it.

    So Im not going to to argue with you. It's the same post, same pics, same obsession with high speed cameras..etc. It's like you have a super extreme case of OCD.

    Im just going to tell you that my toss is more above my head so I can make contact there. If you want to argue specifics and show 50,000 frames and then put tape on your body and film your serve, go for it.

    I just know what works for me, and its a lot more simple then all the mumbo jumbo you and toly post.
     
    #20
  21. WildVolley

    WildVolley Legend

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2007
    Messages:
    6,307
    If you're going forward into the court, the toss shouldn't be over your head, but as in the fyb image created by Toly.

    The toss should be more to the left for a rh hitter and the contact point should be lower so there is more of a vertical racket component at contact. If you lean your torso over a bit more it makes it easier to hit it.

    I find I try to do more what that fyb guy is doing. My shoulders are more bladed to the target making it easier to create across motion, while when I hit flat, my shoulders are mostly turned to face my target.
     
    #21
  22. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2008
    Messages:
    41,931
    Location:
    East side of San Francisco Bay
    There is NO such thing as ONE way to hit a twist serve effectively. Just like there is NO such thing as ONE way to hit a flat serve, or a topspin serve.
    We are all different, and do things slightly differently.
    Keys that work to help ONE person might totally destroy the serves of another.
    The ONLY way to hit kick serves is to hit kick serves. Thousands. Then you learn what works for YOU, not me or anyone else.
    While tips can indeed be helpful, they can almost as often HURT the development of the kick serve for other's.
     
    #22
  23. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2008
    Messages:
    21,259
    Location:
    On my iPhone
    Yes I agree. Over my head is not an exact thing. That is what I hate. Guys get so focused on little details and nuances. I definitely toss to the left on a kick serve and its definitely right near my head which is where I make contact.

    I had to focus on that because my toss on all my serves was way too left for a while. It was not good.

    Out in front a little is fine - I feel like just having a general idea (like toss 12 o clock or 1 o clock ) and practicing is going to help sort things out.

    Which leads me to this:

    Which is true.
     
    #23
  24. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2008
    Messages:
    41,931
    Location:
    East side of San Francisco Bay
    OK, please tell me why, after having lost my twist serves while in PuertoRico for a month of no tennis, it took a week to get it back, have lost it a bit, and this Monday, couldn't hit any at all while trying at least 5. What did happen was short topspin serves, that bounce really high at NML, but dropped hard when they reached the baseline, for a normal contact zone.
     
    #24
  25. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Legend

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2011
    Messages:
    5,383
    Location:
    Baltimore, MD
    Just maybe you tossed over your head....
     
    #25
  26. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2008
    Messages:
    41,931
    Location:
    East side of San Francisco Bay
    What is the most important element of any stroke?
    PRACTICE, repeated practice, more practice, and some practice.
    I hadn't hit any twists for a couple of weeks, my new toy the slice into the body serves, which go in so often, I don't get to hit second serves.
     
    #26
  27. osutennis24

    osutennis24 Rookie

    Joined:
    May 22, 2013
    Messages:
    343
    Kick serves have always been the weakest part of my game, just gets zero kick
     
    #27
  28. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2008
    Messages:
    41,931
    Location:
    East side of San Francisco Bay
    Aim higher over the net, usually around 3' above the net.
    Make sure the ball lands as deep in the service box as practical.
    Hit up and outwards for twist, just up and forwards for topspin kicks.
    Slow the ballspeed down so it arc's more, the zenith well above 12' off the ground, usually while over your own service court.
    Typical flat serve, 100.
    Typical fast top/slice, 85.
    Typical safe second top/slice, 75.
    Typical high bouncing twist, 60.
     
    #28
  29. boramiNYC

    boramiNYC Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2011
    Messages:
    2,742
    Generally feels true since more friction at contact the more potential for spin. But if your understanding of the technique is sound enough and the command of the kinetic chain is very good, you can swing extremely slow and still can hit a kick serve with some topspin, albeit it'll be a weak loopy one.
     
    #29
  30. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2008
    Messages:
    41,931
    Location:
    East side of San Francisco Bay
    Sure, we can all just drop feed a forehand groundie for our first serve, using extreme topspin, and it kicks, sometimes twists, well over head heights.
     
    #30
  31. boramiNYC

    boramiNYC Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2011
    Messages:
    2,742
    LeeD u lie. Drop feed and hit a topspin groundie that goes in the service box and bounce over the head. That won't be easy.
     
    #31
  32. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2008
    Messages:
    41,931
    Location:
    East side of San Francisco Bay
    Easy, but maybe not for me. I don't hit heavy topspin on forehands.
    My 4.0 bud, a friend of Kiteboard's, easily hits his forehand serve into the service box, has it bounce higher than my eyes, when I'm at mid deep NML to chip the return. I'm 5'10", don't crouch to hit high backhand volleys. His net clearance is around 5', that's 5' above the netcord.
    I didn't say it was a fast serve, just a forehand serve with heavy topspin.
     
    #32
  33. Steady Eddy

    Steady Eddy Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2007
    Messages:
    2,894
    Location:
    Arizona
    This has been my experience. Some tips really helped, others didn't make sense to me, and to this day I still can't get them to work. The most dependable thing has been practice.
     
    #33
  34. cjs

    cjs Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2013
    Messages:
    769
    I have an awesome kick serve and my ball toss is over my head.

    I try to hit all my different serves with roughly the same ball toss, but there are subtle variations in ball toss for different combinations of power and spin.

    I'll throw it more over my head for more spin and less power, and more towards my serving shoulder for more power and less top spin (or on occasions more slice spin). I generally don't vary how far into the court my ball toss is.

    The only way to learn to exactly where to toss the ball is to keep throwing it up there and serve buckets and buckets of balls and find out what works with your motion.

    Varying your serving grip is also a neat trick for creating variations in spin with no discernible change in motion that mess with your opponent's timing.

    A vicious kick serve requires racquet head speed. Swing fast, launch upwards, brush the ball. Don't be afraid of catching a few serves on the frame from trying to spin the ball so hard.

    I also have pronounced back arch and use a lot of stomach/core muscles to snap my body straight again. These core muscles are always ridiculously sore the next day if I haven't played tennis for a while. My body is asymmetrical from a lifetime of serving since I was a young kid.
     
    #34
  35. Raul_SJ

    Raul_SJ Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    May 19, 2011
    Messages:
    1,686
    Location:
    San Jose, California
    I am able to stay sideways, contact to the left of 12 o'clock, and swing up and hard towards the side fence (not forward) but it doesn't quite have the kick.

    Not quite sure where the "forward" component comes in to make it bounce higher.

    Should I think of it as swinging to the side with the racquet hand while the rest of the body moves forward, in order to generate the heavier kick?
     
    #35
  36. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2008
    Messages:
    21,259
    Location:
    On my iPhone
    Cjs, great post. Really good one for anyone to read who wants tips on the kick serve.
     
    #36
  37. dknotty

    dknotty Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2013
    Messages:
    684
    Yes. This is an excellent post. I think I had my first really decent kick serves over the weekend, took a basket of 95 balls and did 270 serves, mostly kick. I found that the toss position is best about 6 inches to the left of the toss for a flat serve - anymore and it's hard to get a good contact.

    For the first time I managed to consistently get balls to reach the back fence without bouncing.

    I also found that the key is to get as much RHS as possible. Brush the ball, rather than hit it. I found it difficult to get the ball consistently deep in the serve box but I suspect that with more practice I'll be able to finess the ball better. Even during the serves on Sunday, my accuracy improved loads.

    I'm still aching, 3 days later, mostly my shoulder, back and legs. Can't wait to practice again, and I'll get some video in if I can.
     
    #37
  38. Maximagq

    Maximagq Banned

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2013
    Messages:
    6,545
    I am now going to hit mostly kick serves as my first serves. My percentage is obviously much higher and this puts less pressure on my service games.
     
    #38
  39. dknotty

    dknotty Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2013
    Messages:
    684
    I think this is a winner, if you've got an accurate, high bouncing deep kick serve.
     
    #39
  40. Maximagq

    Maximagq Banned

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2013
    Messages:
    6,545
    Could be placed better and bounce higher, but I think it's an okay serve at my level, especially after I made my technique adjustment.
     
    #40
  41. dknotty

    dknotty Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2013
    Messages:
    684
    Question, do you ever go out and only practice your serve?
     
    #41
  42. Maximagq

    Maximagq Banned

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2013
    Messages:
    6,545
    Not since I started college. But I used to.
     
    #42
  43. GoaLaSSo

    GoaLaSSo Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    May 7, 2009
    Messages:
    731
    Location:
    On the pitch
    I used to love practicing my serve alone, but I haven't really had enough time to do this recently. It is kinda fun to just be out there in your own world and work to improve.

    btw maximaqq, are you and UCLA going to spring invitational?
     
    #43
  44. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2008
    Messages:
    41,931
    Location:
    East side of San Francisco Bay
    I haven't practiced serves in about 14 years. More a problem with rotator cuff than anything else, I only have a couple dozen fast swings left each day.
     
    #44
  45. Steady Eddy

    Steady Eddy Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2007
    Messages:
    2,894
    Location:
    Arizona
    It worked. Mixing it up confused them and they made lots of errors. Even though they could get to every serve, not many came back, and I always held serve easily. :mrgreen:
     
    #45
  46. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2008
    Messages:
    41,931
    Location:
    East side of San Francisco Bay
    Good Stuff !!!
    I always look directly AT the returner, then visualize where I"m going to hit my serve, THEN start my service motion without looking at the opponent's court.
    By the time they read "twist toss, top toss, or slice/flat toss", it's too late for them to do anything but react to my serves.
     
    #46
  47. Maximagq

    Maximagq Banned

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2013
    Messages:
    6,545
    UCLA is but I'm probably not. I would love to go out to Tucson, but I would miss too many days of school and fall behind :(
     
    #47
  48. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2008
    Messages:
    41,931
    Location:
    East side of San Francisco Bay
    Thanks, Ace47....
    But I"m 65, both rotator cuffs are screwed up from years of surfing and throwing things, I have no medical insurance yet ..:):), and I won't be around when I really realized the need for better body parts.
     
    #48
  49. GoaLaSSo

    GoaLaSSo Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    May 7, 2009
    Messages:
    731
    Location:
    On the pitch
    Ya I understand. I missed a lot of tournaments my first few years because of class, but as long as there wasn't huge test coming up I usually could find a way to make it work.

    Tucson isn't that far from where I'm located.
     
    #49
  50. Maximagq

    Maximagq Banned

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2013
    Messages:
    6,545
    I'm not even the best club player at UCLA so I don't think I would make it anyway
     
    #50

Share This Page