Twist and kick serves

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by Thunderace, Jul 23, 2006.

  1. Thunderace

    Thunderace Rookie

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    Can you explain where the differences lie and how to properly execute them?
     
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  2. tnig469

    tnig469 Semi-Pro

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    The ball for the kick serve will land where ur suppose 2 direct it...like u want to hit a kick serve out wide in a certain spot...u aim for that spot....and the twist is suppose to have a slicing and kicking motion...so that means that for a right handed person the ball would curve to the left and bounce to the right....a kick serve is accomplished by changing the contact point and some what brushing up the ball from about 7 o'clock to about 12 or 1.....the twist serve is harder to do...i really dont use it...
     
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  3. Thunderace

    Thunderace Rookie

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    Yea thanks... I know how to kick more or less, but I have no clue as for twist serves so that's why I was askin'.
    So the twist is kinda a combination of slice + kick, the ball hitting and twisting away... would be interesting to know how to execute it exactly as it may be a major weapon. Where do I have to make contact (brush the ball) and how is the toss? Kind of behind my shoulders at 12 o clock position?
     
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  4. KennyNguyen

    KennyNguyen Rookie

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    Yo yo yo, twist serve is easy if you know how to do a kick. Take the kick serve, but also move the racquet from the left to the right when hitting the ball if you're a righty. left to right

    also, try not to throw behind your head. If you put a racquet on the ground, on the baseline so the the handle is touching the tip of your front foot and the racquet is perpendicular to the line, the ball should land pretty much on the racquet strings or near the racquet.

    Toss variates only slightly for different serves. 12 to 1 o'clock, more towards twelve slightly if you want an easier kick.
     
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  5. Thunderace

    Thunderace Rookie

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    OK. Where should I make contact when brushing? Lets say 7 to 1 for twist? And where do you brush (contact) for the kicker???
     
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  6. Supernatural_Serve

    Supernatural_Serve Professional

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    I hit two kinds of kick serves.

    One that spins from 6 to 12 o'clock - all top spin

    I bend my knees a little more, and I toss the ball a little closer to my body (not much). I hit it kind of soft, travels high over the net.

    This is similar to the classic "American twist" serve, but I don't arch my back much like the classic style suggests, I use my knees and a modern racquet to accomplish the same effect.

    the other one...

    One that spins from 7 to 1 o'clock or 8 to 2 o'clock. This one I hit, like any other serve. It bounces both up and off to an angle. I swing very hard upward (much harder than other serves) generating a lot of spin.

    In both cases, you need to get full extension and hit up on the ball.

    Since I am tall, they are hit from a high place and bounce high, very deep in the box, the first one bounces higher but the 2nd one I described has a far nastier bounce.
     
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  7. TennsDog

    TennsDog Hall of Fame

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    Many people don't distinguish between the kick serve and twist serve, as the twist serve is indeed a form of kick serve, where a kick serve is just one with a good deal of topspin, causing it to "kick" up higher than normal on the bounce.

    However, my distinction, and I believe the one you are looking for, is that a kick serve (aka topspin) has only topspin to it, that is, completely virtical rotation (happens from hitting from 6 to 12). A twist serve has a sideways component to its spin as well as topspin. It is mostly topspin, which is why it kicks, but the sidespin is what makes it twist. The twist serve (or American Twist) is struck from 7 to 1, and will curve to the server's left (for a righty) in the air like a regular slice serve, but will bounce to the server's right. This is why it's such an effective serve, it starts out looking like a slice in the air, but not only does it kick up high, it kicks to the receiver's backhand side (righty), and a high backhand return is very difficult to put anything on.
     
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  8. Thunderace

    Thunderace Rookie

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    Wow, sounds nasty! I HAVE to master this one to make jaws drop and heads turn!!! 8)
    What type of grip do you use? For my kicker, I usually go with a continental grip, I wonder if I have to turn it further towards the left side (western backhand).
    May I ask you how well you're able to master this shot? And how long did it take you to real nail it down? Seems a bit difficult and strange... tomorrow I'll have a 30 min. serve hitting session and I'll practice my new weapon. 8)
     
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  9. Supernatural_Serve

    Supernatural_Serve Professional

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    The most important fundamental of hitting any variation on a kick serve is to hit up on the ball. Your instincts might make you think you are going to hit the ball 100 feet into the air and 2 tennis courts to your right (for a righty). Try to resist being concerned about this.

    You must accelerate your arm upward. As if you are throwing a football straight up into the air over your head with the intent of the football falling straight back down to you.

    The next most important fundamental is to get extension. Do not short arm the ball or it will go into the net. Get full extension. It is critical.
     
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  10. Thunderace

    Thunderace Rookie

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    Hit up... very interesting... do you pronate after hitting? Where does the follow-through go, I would think finishing rather to my right (I'm a righty) than to the left, a little bit like Edberg did it... I don't remember about Rafter, I'm sure he had a pretty insane twister as well.
     
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  11. TennsDog

    TennsDog Hall of Fame

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    The motion for a twist serve is nearly identical to a kick serve. If you toss the ball a little bit more behind your head and hit the same motion as for a kicker, you should be able to generate the twist. A lot of times, if I'm not careful with my toss, I accidentally hit some twist on my kick serves.
     
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  12. Thunderace

    Thunderace Rookie

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    So should I toss behind my head? KennyNguyen was suggesting not to throw behind you. :confused:
     
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  13. Supernatural_Serve

    Supernatural_Serve Professional

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    This is a personal choice.

    The objective for those who toss the ball closer to their body or "behind" them a little is to get a better angle of attack by the racquet on the ball as they accelerate the racquet upward.

    BUT, this objective can also be achieved by bending ones legs.

    One of the reasons I place little variation on my toss, is because my opponent doesn't know the kick serve is coming until I actually make contact with the ball (if they are concious), some don't even know its coming until the ball bounces (if they are unconcious returners).

    The folks who toss over their head or behind them, they've just advertised long before they hit the ball "KICK SERVE COMING AT YOU" which of course as a concious receiver causes me to take 3 steps into the court (2 or 3 of those steps happen before they have even hit the ball) and take the ball on the rise versus trying to hit a ball at or above my shoulders or backing up to return a high bouncing serve (not something I will ever do).

    As for tossing close to your body or a little behind you:

    It may be a good technique for beginners because you will get a better feel for hitting up on the ball and initially you will likely have better success at generating spin, but as you progress, you should ween yourelf away from this so that you can better hide your kick serve better from you opponent.

    Ideally, you would have 1 toss and 1 service motion for all serves.

    - consistency will improve
    - opponent will not know what's coming

    this may not be realistic for you, but to have 1 toss and 1 service motion with a little variation on it does seem realistic (kind of where I am at). Its one enough to hide it from my opponent, yet slightly different enough to compensate for the different attack angle of the racquet.

    flat serves, ones with a degree of side spin, top spin kick serves, top and side spin kick serves. Its all about the angle of the racquet head's attack on the ball and if an alternative motion/toss helps you get that racquet head where you need it at the moment of truth with the ball, then you should use it until you have command over the shot and then try to incorporate it into your fundamental motion.

    Here's some other metaphors that may be helpful:

    Imagine a dart board over your head or slightly to the right where you toss a ball to serve. My motion to hit a kick serve mimicks the motion I would use to throw a dart at a dart board over my head

    Imagine using your racquet to hammer a nail in the ceiling above your head. Not the racquet face, but the side of the racquet head (the part of the frame of your racqet between 12 and 2 o'clock). Imagine using that to pound a nail into a ceiling above your head.

    This is why kick serves are harder on my elbow joint. The big flat serves or "spin" serves are harder on my shoulder. The elbow joint is the sign of a major acceleration upward of the lower arm (I am karate chopping the "sky" lol)

    As for pronation: When I finish, my service motion cross my body and either swings between my legs at my left leg or just to the left of my left leg (like any other serve). I do not have the racquet face flying away from my body to the right. I know what you mean by that but that's not what mine does.

    That's a lot of pronation. I would call what I do "standard" pronation but no more. What you are describing sounds like a more extreme pronation.
     
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  14. TennsDog

    TennsDog Hall of Fame

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    The difference in types of serves lies not in the racket face angle at contact, but rather the direction of the racket face's motion at contact. If you look at a good server's contact point for three serves, flat, kick, and slice, you will not be able to tell which is which. The angle of the racket face for each should be pretty much virtical and flat forward (or at least facing into the service box). The spin comes from the rotational movement of the racket head. Flat shots have the racket face rotating directly into the path of the ball. A slice serves makes contact at the back and continues to sweep around the side towards 3 O'clock. A topspin serve again makes contact at the middle of the back and then continues on an upward path toward 12 O'clock.
     
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  15. Thunderace

    Thunderace Rookie

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    Thanks TennsDog and especially Supernatural_Serve (your name says it all lol) for this very detailed description, very good stuff.

    Among pros what players do you think have good twist/kick serves? Who can I especially watch to learn some secrets? Roddick, Rafter, Sampras? Pete used to have that kind of identical tossing motion Supernatural Serve was talking about I think...
     
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  16. TennsDog

    TennsDog Hall of Fame

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    Roddick currently has what I think is the best kick serve (few pros really use the twist serve on any regular basis). This is one reason Roddick is not broken very easily (at least when he's playing well), his second serve has massive kick and is very tough to attack at all. Sampras also had one hell of a kick serve, which had amazing amounts of pace and spin.
     
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  17. Thunderace

    Thunderace Rookie

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    What? Few pros are using twist serves on a regular basis? This sounds surprising.
    I wonder if it's an effective serve to learn if people never (or rarely) use it and if it's worth the effort.
    So what are we talking about here? :)
     
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  18. TennsDog

    TennsDog Hall of Fame

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    Yes, it is an effective serve and it is worth learning if you're an accomplished server (your efforts would be better spent elsewhere if you are not a good server). Some reasons more pros don't use it may be because it is a tougher serve to control, so it's a lower percentage play, it is difficult to hit with much pace and most pros can take control of a shot at shoulder level without enough pace on it, and you really can't hit a very effective twist serve without giving it away to some degree. The other serves (flat, kick, slice) can all be hit well with the same toss. The twist serve requires a toss at least a little further behind your head. At the pro level, this could be the difference between an ace and return ace.

    I will say I have seen it used sometimes on TV, but not very often.
     
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  19. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    Well, plenty of Pros hit twist serves, the reason noone recognizes them as such is that they are hit so hard (even as second serves) that the forward speed overwhelmes the spin motion and there isn't much "kick" or "twist" to the trajectory in reality.
     
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  20. TennsDog

    TennsDog Hall of Fame

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    Well it isn't the spin that dictates a twist serve. If it doesn't kick and twist, then it wasn't a twist serve.
     
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  21. noah

    noah Guest

    Twist Serve

    A twist serve should end with your arm coming down on your right side and not crossing your body
     
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  22. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    Well, of course they kick and twist. The question is how much to be obvious on a 36 inch screen that is showing > 100 feet of real estate.
     
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  23. TennsDog

    TennsDog Hall of Fame

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    Not true. The first part of the follow-through should have your racket pronated out to a degree as to be to your right and pointing down, but the momentum of the arm and shoulder should bring the racket at least in front of your body anyway.
     
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  24. travlerajm

    travlerajm Hall of Fame

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    Guys, listen to TennsDog. He knows what he's talking about. I agree with all of his posts on this subject.

    I'd like to add that the main difference between a kick serve that kicks to the right (twist) and a kick serve that kicks to the left (topspin slice) is the magnitude of topspin component of the spin. The more vertical racquet head speed you have, the more the ball will grip the ground, making it more likely to kick to the right (twist). Most people overestimate the amount of topspin they are hitting on their serves - they think they are hitting 7 to 1, when in reality they are contacting the ball more like 8 to 2. A serve struck across the back of the ball in the 8 to 2 direction will kick to the left (topspin slice), while a serve struck in the 7 to 1 direction will usually grab the ground better and kick to the right (twist). In other words, there is very little difference between these two service motions other than the toss location and how far you arch back to hit it.

    True kick serve artists like Edberg, Becker, Rafter, and Sampras could use the same toss to make the ball kick either left or right. So even if the returner can read where it's going to bounce, he still doesn't know which direction it's going to bounce.
     
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  25. JohnMatrix

    JohnMatrix New User

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    Tennsdog thinks hes pro but hes not. Don't listen to everything he says....rofl hes trying to make rules now? There are no rules. If you want to follow through between your legs then do it. And yeah, the twist serve is so useless vs pros that players like AGASSI used it......Go ahead and tell me im wrong, I saw him do it in person 100 times.....Unless you plan on going pro don't decide what and what not to learn. (then again if youre going pro you should pretty much learn everything) You have your whole life to play and teach yourself.
     
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  26. TennsDog

    TennsDog Hall of Fame

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    Again, thanks for the personal attacks. No, I don't think I'm a pro, nor do I ever want to be. I do, however, think I have knowledge and experience that can help a lot of people here. I'm not sure about your remark about "rules," so I can't comment on that. If pros use it, ok, that's fine. I'll admit I don't know as much specifically about the pro game as I do the game in general. I don't know why everyone is so obsessed with comparing to the pros anyway. Twist serves are quite effective when used properly on sub-pro levels regardless of what pros do with them. I never said the twist wasn't worth learning. I said it is very effective and IS worth learning. I don't know why you're being so antagonistic here. It simply isn't necessary.
     
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  27. newnuse

    newnuse Professional

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    A good twist serve is devastating. It's not seen very often and people just have problems adjusting to it. I play with a buddy that has a very good twist serve. It's almost impossible to return with any consitency. I haven't seen a single person handle his serve.

    I've also played against a lefty with a average twist serve. Being a lefty it kicked to my FH. Despite it kicking to my FH, I still had trouble with it. You just don't see many twist serves so people don't handle it well.

    My twist serve is average at best and people have trouble returning it. I've played matches where I only used my twist serve on the add court. Some guys just can't it.

    Of course, the best twist serve I've seen is Edberg. Edberg was different from other pros in that he used it almost exclusively. Normally they mix their serves so that their opponent doesn't get used to it, but Edberg's twist serve was so good, he used it almost exclusively as I recall.

    Andre Agassi has a terrifc twist serve to the add court. It doesn't kick as high as most, like Edberg's.... but Andre's really moves to the right. It drives his opponent way off the court.

    I think it's still very effective on the rec or pro level and definitely worth learning if you can. Depending on your technique, it could be bad for the back though. Some people arch their backs and really snap the body into it. My twist is mostly arm and knee action..... it's much easier on the back but not as effective.
     
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  28. JCo872

    JCo872 Professional

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    A good kick/twist serve requires big time pronation. Pretty much directly out to the side. Check out how Federer prontates out to the side here:
    http://www.hi-techtennis.com/serve/kicker_example.php

    Jeff
     
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  29. JCo872

    JCo872 Professional

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    A good kick/twist serve requires big time pronation. Pretty much directly out to the side. Check out how Federer prontates out to the side here. He almost "catches" the ball in his strings, and then torques and pronates his hand, wrist, and forearm out to the side.
    http://www.hi-techtennis.com/serve/kicker_example.php

    Jeff
     
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  30. Supernatural_Serve

    Supernatural_Serve Professional

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    Not necessarily. The service motion should generate high acceleration upward and with full extension as its primary objective. The arm will naturally "pronate". However, hyper-pronation isn't a good idea for people who haven't fully developed their arms, do all the right things to avoid elbow problems, etc.

    Federer's a world class athlete with a lot of help taking care of his arm.

    One can strive for more and more pronation, but its a process that one should evolve naturally into based on one's ability.

    An excellent 3.0-4.5 level kick serve can be achieved without tons of pronation.

    Focus on acceleration upward and full extension first.
     
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  31. FuriousYellow

    FuriousYellow Professional

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    Plus it's very hard to see the twist action on it from the viewing angle we see on TV. The time you can really see it is when they hit one down the line on the deuce side.

    In addition to Roddick, I think Ljubicic has an excellent twist serve as well.
     
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  32. shindemac

    shindemac Hall of Fame

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    Yea, I wish I could have recorded my kick serve the other day. It was the best day of serving I had so far this summer. Most of my serves were kicking up and hitting the fence 3 feet high in one bounce. I'm only a 3.5, so I know others my level can get a decent kick serve. Only thing is that it took me a long time to achieve it. It'll prob take me another summer before I can own this serve, and get my consistency up to 95%. I think when I do that, I'll be able to place it where I want too. Too bad the rest of my game is starting to lag behind and even decline.
     
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  33. JCo872

    JCo872 Professional

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    I would never teach the twist serve to anyone who didn't already have a great serve motion to begin with. So I agree with you there. And yes acceleration upward is so important along with full extension. Totally agree. It's just that to get the ball to jump up and out to the side, you have pronate out to the right or the ball with definitely not kick out to the side. It will just be topspin. Your points are well taken though. Accelerate upward, full extension, and experiment with pronation if you want to get more kick. Good stuff.
     
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  34. FuriousYellow

    FuriousYellow Professional

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    Another great analogy/visual Jeff. I have noticed recently on the serves where I'm able to get a lot of action on the ball, it does feel like I'm catching it momentarily and throwing it off my racquet. If I brush off it quickly it doesn't do much.

    Do you have any other analogies for controlling the placement of topspin serves? I can control my flat and slice serves, but I can't seem to place my kick serves anywhere but in the middle of the service box.
     
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  35. JCo872

    JCo872 Professional

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    Awesome! You had the same experience as me.

    I remember when I first got the twist serve. I had been trying to accelerate too quickly into the ball and ended up just brushing it, like you said. Once I held back and almost grabbed the ball and then torqued it out, it was unbelievable.

    Here is Safin doing the same thing:
    http://www.hi-techtennis.com/serve/videos/safin_example.php

    I know that Safin is another world class athlete like Federer, but my point is just to reconfirm what FuriousYellow pointed out. There is a certain way to come into the ball and then pronate to get big time action. Most people swing very fast, but don't get the "bite" into the ball that produces big speed and spin. Most people just brush or spin over the ball, without getting that bite between strings and ball.

    I'm not saying you can jump on the court and start serving like Fed or Safin. But I am saying that you should experiment with how you come into and leave the ball and not just on pure acceleration. A good analogy Doug King uses is the gears on bike. If you pedal not in gear, the chain will just spin. If you first get in gear (get good connection between the teeth in the chain and the gear) and THEN pedal, that's when the bike will really go. In my opinion on the serve most people accelerate TOO SOON and end up not getting good connection between ball and strings first. This is true on groundstrokes and volleys as well.

    Do this as an exercise. Look at the Safin video and go frame by frame to contact and stop. I think you can see that there isn't much acceleration into the ball contact. If he just stopped there, the ball wouldn't go anywhere. But boy there is a lot of action from contact on.

    Just my 2 cents.
     
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  36. Supernatural_Serve

    Supernatural_Serve Professional

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    I don't know if this helps, but my best wide kick serves to ad include me visualizing the ball going wide and short into the doubles alley, yet when I let it rip and trust the spin, it kicks wide near the service side line short in the box with a lot of side kick.

    Feels like I'm conciously hitting off the court, but spin keeps in it.

    Maybe put a target out in the doubles alley, and practice at hitting it but your spin doesn't let you, it pulls it in.

    Now, with a little work you can place your kick serve wide to ad with consistency.
     
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  37. FuriousYellow

    FuriousYellow Professional

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    Interesting. I'll give that a try. Thanks!
     
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  38. mahouFuji

    mahouFuji Rookie

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    right on!! im trying to twist but its so slow..... 50mph........ but i like kick better its kinda cooler and bounces higher
     
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  39. BiGGieStuFF

    BiGGieStuFF Hall of Fame

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    I can handle the serves that kick high but what do you guys do on lefty serves that have major sidespin? I was made the fool last night by a buddy of mine with his lefty sidespin serve. Is it better to try and take those type of serves early? or hang back a little and let the spin take effect and judge your return from there.
     
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  40. Supernatural_Serve

    Supernatural_Serve Professional

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    I try to take step in and take those things as soon as reasonably possible before the spin takes over unless they are hit really hard.

    When they aren't hit too fast, you have the time to neutralize the spin, the ball still has pace taking them early, and you get better contact with the ball that isn't crossing your racquets path (hasn't much time to curve) and you aren't pulled out of position with a big recovery to deal with.

    I use the rule of thumb that I would prefer to take all serves early (if I get a chance when the pace isn't extreme).
     
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  41. Zets147

    Zets147 Banned

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    Hmmm My second serve is a kick serve that bounces to the returner (righty)'s forehand.

    When serving from ad court, It usually lands near the T and moves like a slice serve with a higher trajectory and bounces to the server's LEFT, or Returner's RIGHT.
    Same thing with the deuce side (lands near service line).

    What seems to be the problem? I am aiming towards the returner's bh side, but the serve curves around and goes to the fh instead.

    I am brushing 7 to 1 and finishing out towards the target, but it is not going to the bh at all. I need help please.

    I have an idea that it is caused by too much slice, but any other suggestions?
     
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  42. travlerajm

    travlerajm Hall of Fame

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    Even though it seems like you are hitting 7 to 1, you are probably hitting more like 8 to 2. Try to arch your back more to hit 6 to 12 or even 5 to 11. You'll end up hitting a true 7 to 1, which will make your serve twist. Also, part of the problem is probably just a deficiency in racquet head speed. The more racquet head speed you have, the easier it is to twist.
     
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