What defines a kick serve?

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by InspectorRacquet, Dec 3, 2011.

  1. InspectorRacquet

    InspectorRacquet Semi-Pro

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    I just finished reading another thread where the argument was whether or not a person hits a kick serve as they say they do, or whether they just hit a first serve with spin and no kick whatsoever.

    Now that got me thinking: What defines an actual kick serve? From reading around this forum, the general consensus states that a kick serve is a serve that jumps to shoulder height or higher (of the average height receiver) to be a "true" kick serve.

    I don't have a kick serve myself, so as I'm practicing to get one, I'd like to know how high the ball should bounce before I toot my horn and say "I have a kick serve".
     
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  2. Larrysümmers

    Larrysümmers Hall of Fame

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    i dont believe ht has much to do with it compared to the movement. to me a kicker is just a serve that should have an above average bounce compared to flat and slice, and it should bounce up and to the right for rightys.

    a really good kicker will clear someones shoulders, but i dont think that the ball has to be shoulder ht to be concidered a kicker
     
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  3. Tennis_Monk

    Tennis_Monk Hall of Fame

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    Kick is basically the ball jumping up. So if the ball has any sort of topspin component, it can be considered kick.
     
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  4. Bacterio

    Bacterio Rookie

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    I've always defined kick as height. Therefore, I am completely incapable of hitting a kick serve.

    I can hit some really good topspin serves that have a lot of spin on them and go at the receiver, but that's all I call them, spin serves.

    My spin serves probably go chest height on a 5'9 guy. which is pretty much anyone's ideal strike zone. I've seen a lot of good servers with serves that will take off to the sides after hitting the ground, but I don't call those kick serves either. For me height = kick.
     
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  5. Funbun

    Funbun Professional

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    If you can visibly see the ball having a topspin trajectory, that's a kick serve. You can tell by observing the Magnus effect.

    Kick serves don't necessarily need height. They do need, however, topspin, which can be easily assessed by observing the velocity of the ball before and after it bounces.
     
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  6. wrxinsc

    wrxinsc Professional

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    Yeah a kick serve is one hit with enough topspin to give you a better chance for the serve to clear the net and land in the service box. otherwise you are talking about degrees of kick, or american twist serves (with side spin too) and such.
     
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  7. Xizel

    Xizel Professional

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    I'm with this. Topspin and trajectory.
     
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  8. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    A kick serve is a serve hit with enough topspin, and height over the net, that the topspin brings the ball down at a step trajectory which causes the ball to bounce up higher than, say, a flat or slice serve.

    A common misconception is that topspin causes the kick. Super heavy topspin can cause the ball to jump upon landing. And inside out sidespin can cause the ball to jump to the right (for a righty), which is know as an American Twist serve. But, strictly speaking, the kick is the high bounce created by the downward trajectory which is created by topspin.
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2011
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  9. Frank Silbermann

    Frank Silbermann Professional

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    I disagree with all of the above. To me, a kick serve means that the receiver gets the feeling that the serve seems to speed up or suddenly change direction upon bouncing. (That's what the word "kick" connotes -- a sudden forceful change.)
     
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  10. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Hall of Fame

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    "bounce up and to the right for rightys."

    I agree with the above definition especially "bounce up and to the right for rightys".

    This TW post has some very interesting "kick" serve characteristics for high level kick serves..

    http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=378141
     
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  11. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    Up is kick. Up and to the right is twist.
     
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  12. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Hall of Fame

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    Wikipedia definition & video identification of serves

    This Wikipedia reference agrees with your definition.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serve_(tennis)

    Because I have seen many inconsistencies in definitions and usage of tennis terms I will stick with 'bounce up & to the right for righties' for the kick serve. (Also, for me Topspin is bounce up and I equate American Twist to Kick.) There seems to be a 'Tower of Babble' aspect in the usage of many tennis terms with many confident proponents for each usage. I am confident that my usage would not see any consensus among serious tennis players.

    My Definition, Video. If you place a video camera behind the server and view along the ball's trajectory you can see the way the racket strings move across the ball and, with luck, how the ball bounces.

    http://vimeo.com/27528701
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2011
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  13. Ryoma

    Ryoma Rookie

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  14. Frank Silbermann

    Frank Silbermann Professional

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    And if it doesn't seem to accelerate or change direction on the bounce, then in what sense is it like a kick?
     
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  15. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    You're not distinguishing a kick from a twist. The kick is the high bounce caused by the more downward trajectory of an arching, heavy topspin serve. An American Twist is a variety of kick serve where a righty tosses the ball to the left of his head and swings inside out to cause the ball to jump to the right when it bounces.
     
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  16. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    As I've mentioned in previous threads, the term, kick serve, is rather ambiguous. Its use by the tennis community is not consistent throughout. It is often used to refer to any heavy topspin serve. Some people will use the term, kick serve, and the term,twist serve, to mean the same thing. Many of us prefer to classify the twist serve as a specific type of kick serve. We can consider 2 primary types of kick serves -- the twist kick serve & the topspin kick serve.

    Operation Doubles: How to Hit Spin Serves
    Wikipedia: Types of Serve


    Some will even add a third type of kick serve -- the topspin-slice kick. This one will still have a strong topspin component but it will also have more (vertical-axis) side than the topspin kick serve. As a result, it will break (bend) quite a bit to the left or right prior to the bounce. The ball will bounce up but may or may not kick off in the opposite direction (compared to the pre-bounce flight direction). If it does bounce appreciably in the opposite direction, then we would consider this a twist serve. This would seem to indicate the the twist serve is a special case of the topspin-slice serve. (The late Kathy Krajco of Operation Doubles defined it this way).

    Operation Doubles: Spin-doctoring Your Serve
    .
     
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  17. Larrysümmers

    Larrysümmers Hall of Fame

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    so a twist serve would be hit up from the 8to2oclock on the ball?
     
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  18. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    A strong topspin component resulting in an arching trajectory should yield better net clearance and should cause the ball to kick upward. Normally, in order to achieve this trajectory and resulting high bounce, the topspin to (linear) speed ratio should be high.

    For instance, if a topspin serve is hit at 80 mph with 3000-4000 rpm, it will probably kick upward. The topspin to speed ratio is high. However, if the 3000+ rpm topspin serve is hit at 130 mph it will undoubtedly have a flatter trajectory and will likely not kick up appreciably. In order to get a faster serve to kick, you would need to significantly increase the RPMs. This is difficult for most of us to accomplish -- not at all easy to generate sufficient racket head speed to produce a high spin and a high linear speed at the same time.

    Another way to get the ball to kick upward is launch the serve at a higher angle -- something of a lob (or semi-lob) serve. The topspin for this type of serve will probably not need to be as great as it would be for the elite level kick serve. Its all about trajectory and the angle at which the ball hit the ground.


    I's agree with this except for the last (parenthetical) remark.

    Vertical-axis spins (side spin) do not cause the ball to bounce to the left or the right. This type of spin will result in a Magnus effect and is responsible for causing the ball to curve left or right as the ball flies thru the air (prior to the bounce). According to physicist, Rod Cross, this side spin has no effect on the bounce (refer to his book Technical Tennis).

    The twist serve employs a 3rd type of spin, spiral spin.

    This is a type of horizontal-axis spin the causes a ball to jump left or right at the bounce. The spiral spin axis is in the same direction as the flight of the ball and does not result in the Magnus effect -- it does not alter the flight of the ball prior to the bounce -- in fact, it tends to stabilize the flight. For this reason, rifle and gun barrels are constructed to impart spiral spin to a bullet. Badminton shuttles and (American) footballs also employ spiral spin.
     
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  19. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    That could describe a slice serve action. However, since you said that it would be hit up from 8 to 2, you would be on the right track. A right-hander must brush up the on the left side of the ball in order to impart the spiral spin component for a twist serve.
     
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  20. Magic of tennis

    Magic of tennis Semi-Pro

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    That was a good video.
    Doesn't racquet face brush up from 7 o'clock to 1 o'clock for normal top spin serve? where are the all serve experts?
    This video looks like racquet face brushing up between 7 and 8 o'clock to 2 and 3 o'clock
     
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  21. Frank Silbermann

    Frank Silbermann Professional

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    My point is that high bounce alone is not enough -- I can hit a sky-high defensive lob and it certainly will bounce high -- but in no way can it be said to "kick." To be a "kick serve" the ball must seem to _jump_.

    Otherwise, you're just using the word "kick" as some sort of a name (like "Edgar" or "Wilber") and not as a _description_.
     
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  22. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    I don't agree with that characterization. If you put enough spin on the ball to bring it down sharply within the confines of the service box, the ball will bounce sharply up. The amount of spin needed to do that may add some degree of jump to the bounce, depending on how much spin you use. But, there are some on TT who seem to think that you have to tear the cover off of the ball in order to put enough spin on the ball to create a kick serve. And, that's just not true. A moderate swing with a moderate amount of spin can result in a very effective kick serve that bounces 6 feet high, or higher, depending on how much arch you put on the ball.
     
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  23. sportsfan1

    sportsfan1 Hall of Fame

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    Great video, was searching for one with a view from behind the server! Also, how much pace should topspin and kick serves have to be considered good? Should they bounce only once in the service box before they hit the back fence like flat serves?
     
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  24. GuyClinch

    GuyClinch Hall of Fame

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    This is a semantics argument. FWIW I think people use "kick' to refer to twist serves (as the finish is a touch different on a kick vs. an american twist). You rarely hear kickers announced as twists on TV.

    You can hit a topspin serve that doesn't bounce to the right with a mix of topspin and slice. And IMHO this is the easiest serve to hit if you are learning to hit a spin serve. (and once you get it it actually feels easier then a flat serve)..

    When you come more up the inside of the ball you get the kicking effect. Obviously if you aren't putting alot of energy into the ball it still won't kick enough to be noticeable..
     
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  25. asked_answered

    asked_answered Rookie

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    So, is this guy hitting a twist serve?
     
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  26. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    Yes! That last serve was pretty scary, too, even if he was serving from the doubles ally!
     
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  27. asked_answered

    asked_answered Rookie

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    Cool. That's the second serve I'm developing, although mine bounces in the opposite direction because I'm a lefty.
     
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  28. wings56

    wings56 Professional

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    agreed. semantics issue. modern tennis players would tell you that a kick serve is one that for a righty bounces up and to the right, topspin would bounce in the same direction as the path traveled and a slice would tail out to the left.
     
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  29. Magnetite

    Magnetite Professional

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    It's just a serve that has a higher bounce than it normally would if hit flat.

    I judge it on a case by case basis. Many players have a first serve that kicks up slightly, and they have a slower second serve that kicks up higher. I'd generally call their second serve their 'kick serve'.

    Some 12 year olds have a kick serve, but it's not going to bounce up to a grown man's head. Regardless, it's still a kick serve.
     
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  30. thug the bunny

    thug the bunny Professional

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    ^^^That. 10serves
     
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  31. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Lefty kicks away from a righties backhand can play either way. At levels of 4.5 and above, it can often be a real loser, as everyone has faced the lefty duece court wide twist serves.
    For below, you're introducing a new shot for him, so you can win the majority.
    Either way, you also need a wide slice off a similar toss and stance, to vary the placement and spin/ball height.
    Work on your lefty twist, but don't abandon your wide slice and flat.
     
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  32. asked_answered

    asked_answered Rookie

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    Thank you, Lee. I'm using the twist as my go-to second serve because I rarely miss with it (and, yes, because it causes a lot of serve return errors or weak replies at my 3.5 level, especially when I serve into the body). I am using my flat and slice serves for first serves, though, and I'm now trying to get comfortable serving wide, instead of into the body or down the T.
     
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  33. Frank Silbermann

    Frank Silbermann Professional

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    You can hit a serve high and soft with a moderate amount of topspin, and it will bounce up high but it won't "kick." You may not have to tear the cover off the ball, It has to be enough topspin to bounce _sharply_ up.
     
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  34. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    Yes, it will, albeit, a weak kick. The spin does not make the ball bounce up at all. It makes it curve down. It may make it jump forward if you "tear the cover off the ball," but, that's not necessary to be a kick serve.
     
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  35. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    I used to practice regularly with a guy who had the SLOWEST swing speed of anyone on his twist serves, yet he'd bounce it well over my head, deep to my backhand (me lefty), and follow it up with one of the best volleys in SanFrancisco high school levels.
    He won the AAA finals over PeanutLouie, who was no slouch herself. 7/6, 6/0. Pea won the CanadianOpen, a women's PRO event, the following year.
    OK, I suck, but he also went to become #2 at CanadaCollege, a pretty good SoCal school, so it wasn't only me that his serve bothered.
    Moderate spin with perfect placement can be very effective.
     
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  36. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    ^ Cañada College is actually in NorCal (SF peninsula). At one time, they were one of the strongest CC teams in the state (under Paul Welles, IIRC).
     
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  37. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    Are you contradicting yourself here or merely disagreeing with how "people" use the terms? You parenthetical remark indicated that there is a diff between a kick serve and an American Twist even tho' "people" use the terms synonymously.

    You can dismiss it as a semantics argument, but there are clearly 2 camps on this issue. I've heard it used both ways. Once camp insists that terms, kick serve and twist serve are synonymous. The other camp says that a kick serve refers to any serve with with topspin that has a higher than normal bounce. This camp views the twist serve as one type of kick serve. There is no general consensus or standard on the term, kick serve.

    As I had indicated back in post #16, the term, kick serve, is a very general term and rather ambiguous (as indicated by quite a few sources).


    Many, but not all, topspin serves have a high bounce. How do you make a distinction between a low-bouncing topspin serve and a high-bouncing topspin serve if you don't have a class of topspin kick serves?

    Note that even tho' slice serves "tail out to the left", they do not necessarily continue to break to the left. The (vertical axis) side spin has no effect on the bounce itself. I don't believe that the ball has much, if any, residual side spin after the bounce. Therefore it would possess Magnus forces that would cause it to break further to the left -- after the bounce it follows a path that had been dictated by its pre-bounce direction. So we can say that a slice serve would also tend to "bounce in the same direction as the path traveled".

    However, a slice serve can sometimes posses enough CCW (anti-clockwsie) spiral spin to cause the ball to bounce a bit more to the left than normal. Note the the spiral spin on a twist serve is CW (clockwise) causing it to bounce to the right (from the perspective of a right-handed server).

    Note that the bounce on a topspin kick serve or a topspin-slice kick serve may appear to straighten out or just kick straight up (not left or right). In this case, the spiral spin component is not sufficient enough to cause a noticeable deviation to the right or the left.
     
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  38. sportsfan1

    sportsfan1 Hall of Fame

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    Man, that's an awesome serve. Noticed one thing though, the follow through stops suddenly..
     
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  39. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    If you think that is unusual, check out Fabrice Santoro's twist serve finish (quite a few players finished like this back in the day):

     
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  40. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Hall of Fame

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    Cw & Ccw?

    These replies point out the uncertain usage of terms.

    One point (and excuse me if you have already defined CW & CCW earlier) but for clarification the terms CW & CCW always need to be defined from a single viewpoint as if looking at a clock face. If the server is looking up at the ball - looking up at an angle of 60-70 degrees above horizontal - the use of the terms CW & CCW might cause some misinterpretations.
     
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  41. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    ^ Sorry for the confusion. In post #18 I introduced the concept of spiral spin and indicated that it is a spin about the horizontal axis that is in the direction of the ball's flight. This would essentially be a Z-axis spin. In the post above I had indicated that the directions were from the perspective of the server. Basically, I am talking about the spin directions as seen from the back of the departing ball.

    There are 2 spin flavors for each of the 3 primary axes. For the X-axis, we have topspin and underspin. For the Y-axis (vertical axis), we have a left side spin and a right side spin (as seen from the back of the ball). For the Z-axis, we have CW spiral spin and CCW (counter clockwise) spiral spin. Hope that clears it up for all.
     
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  42. martini1

    martini1 Hall of Fame

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    I agree the high lob - high bounce is not really a kick. Think of it as a heavy top spin ground stroke. What are the signatures?

    - it is not a lob, but something with a forward drive.
    - the ball dips down before bouncing. A sign of heavy top spin.
    - the ball will jump up at bounce, with an arch like projectile, and may go slightly left or right depending on the angle the ball was brushed. The bounce is very different from a ball with almost no spin (flat). The opposite would be a under spin bounce.
     
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  43. GuyClinch

    GuyClinch Hall of Fame

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    Neither. If I remember right the american twist was hit (in the past) with an away from the body finish. But the spin the player was trying to put on the ball is the same as a kick serve. I think its explained on tennis one I think.. (I don't subscribe to it anymore).

    It's just an old style - its doesn't really change the stroke up and through the contact point.. Nowadays like the stylistic ending the old name has faded away too. Most tennis players don't know what you are talking about if you call a tennis serve an american twist.

    So what I am saying is nowadays its semantics. People want their 'kicker' to have topspin and then bounce the 'wrong way.' Some people call that an american twist - others would just call it a 'real' kicker. Or a 'proper" kick serve.

    Santoro is close to how people hit kick serves in the old days (when they were called american twists).

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wncHgoppzCw

    Notice how he doesn't bring the racket across his body at the end.

    Roger does..albeit slowly..
     
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  44. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    ^ Guess you missed it. I already posted the Santoro twist kick on page 2.

    I actually hear a lot more people wanting their kick serve to kick high(er), as it would for even a topspin kick serve, rather than "bouncing the wrong way".
     
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  45. thug the bunny

    thug the bunny Professional

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    SA, how would you hit a spiral spin ball and still impart forward momentum to the ball? Ideally, the racket would not go across the back of the ball, but down around the side of the ball?
     
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  46. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    Obviously, if we hit the leftmost side of the ball, it would not go forward. If you were to brush up on the back-most part of the ball it would have no (appreciable) spiral spin. For a twist/kick serve, a right-hander probably brushes just a bit to the left side of the ball. The proper brushing action will produce a good deal of topspin, some (vertical-axis) side spin and a fair measure of spiral spin.

    Because of the way are bodies are constructed and the way we impart spins to a ball with a racket, we will pretty much will always impart a tiny bit of spiral spin whenever we attempt to put side spin on the ball. Likewise, whenever we attempt to impart spiral spin, we will also induce side spin. With a twist serve, we attempt to significantly increase the amount of spiral that we impart to the ball.

    You have probably seen a few underspin groundstrokes that also have quite a bit of side spin and a generous amount of spiral spin. This ball will curve (left or right) during its pre-bounce flight and then dramatically (viciously) bounce off to the side (often quite a bit more than expected). To impart such a combination of spins, we would carve an offset "smile" across the lower part of the ball. If we were to brush across the under-most part of the ball, the ball would not go forward. Hopefully, this will give you a clearer idea on how we would impart spiral spin on a twist serve while also producing topspin and side spin.

    I recently came across an interesting discussion of spins on a ping pong ball. The author refers to spiral spin as corkscrew spin.

    http://www.tabletenniscoaching.com/node/17
    .
     
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  47. papa

    papa Hall of Fame

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    Always think SA's analysis is right on but others have brought up several key points also.

    One thing on kick/twist serves that leads many astray is that you have to have height on the serve to produce a high kick. Many think you just need spin which is not true - unless the ball has considerable height you will never get good kick regardless of the spin (vector analysis 101). I've seen players struggle with the kick/twist for years and they NEVER realize the one simple fact - YOU NEED HEIGHT TO GET A HIGH KICKER.
     
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  48. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    I don't understand what is so hard to understand.

    To me, it is simple. A "kick" serve has topspin, which makes the ball kick up.

    A "twist" serve has topspin and sidespin.

    If a serve has topspin -- which is evident by watching the ball or observing the bounce compared to height -- it is a kick serve.

    Kick serves can be divided into two classes: Good ones and not-so-good ones. A kick serve does not have to be spectacular to be considered a kick serve, any more than a slice BH has to stay one inch off the court to be considered a slice BH.

    The class of a particular kick serve depends on level. My ladies league 4.0 kick serve is most definitely a kick serve. If I were to hit that serve against a 5.0 guy, it would be best classified as "kick serve crapola."
     
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  49. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Sometimes, the most simple concepts can be debated for years, constantly twisted and convoluted until....it's explained with eloquence.
     
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  50. Totai

    Totai Professional

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2010
    Messages:
    1,397
    Wow, I was way off. I though a kick serve was when you kicked the ball into the service box with your foot instead of hitting it with your racquet
     
    #50

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