Why do pros never use the twist serve?

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by Cross-court, Feb 1, 2010.

  1. Cross-court

    Cross-court Rookie

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2010
    Messages:
    322
    Why don't they use it? Is it hard for them to execute it as a second serve consistently? Or is it not safe as the kick?

    This is the one I'm talking about:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mM1P2ej4YtY&feature=related

    I heard once that they don't use it because "it get's too predictable and it is easy to return it". Well, I think that's pure nonsense because if that were true then the kick serve which just goes straight and up would be even worse of a choice than the twist which changes direction in the air and when it lands.

    Others have said that they hit them all the time, but I've never seen a serve just like the one Federer hit there been used "all the time" by anyone. I've seen many second serves that curve a lot in the air, or that bounce really high, but I've never seen one that changes that much direction wehn landing as that one.
     
    #1
  2. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2008
    Messages:
    37,141
    Location:
    East side of San Francisco Bay
    You haven't been paying attention. Most pros use a twist for wide second serves. Not all use it EVERY second serve, as the opponent would read it, wouldn't they?
     
    #2
  3. Cross-court

    Cross-court Rookie

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2010
    Messages:
    322
    I've seen this serve you mention, but that's just a topspin serve aimed wide, it doesn't behave like the one in the video.
     
    #3
  4. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2008
    Messages:
    37,141
    Location:
    East side of San Francisco Bay
    Do you realize that vid is a one off, special, once in a lifetime shot? As all highlights, the player cannot hit that shot every time.
    And even the next time, that ball gets returned no problem. Nothing really special about Feds twist there. He hit well inside the center line, but hit with good pace and bounce. He could hit that one better.
    Returner was asleep, discouraged, ready to lose that point before the serve. Passing the returner, it was barely wide of the center line.
    I can serve twists there, but not as high bouncing. Of course, I tend to play in 60 degree or colder weather, and slick courts.
     
    #4
  5. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2006
    Messages:
    15,092
    I think the reason is that the pros aren't necessarily hoping simply to get their opponent to miss the return by confusing them with spin. They often want to take the receiver off the court to set up the next shot, or serve hard to a weakness or avoid a strength. You can't do that as well with a twist serve. IMHO.
     
    #5
  6. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2008
    Messages:
    37,141
    Location:
    East side of San Francisco Bay
    HUH ?? ...:) iloveu...
    My lefty twist on duece court takes any returner about 4' past the doubles alley.
    My lefty twist on ad court takes you easily 3' past the center line.
    Couple that with my lefty topslice on duece that forces you 4' over to the ad side, and a lefty top/slice that you return from 5-6' past the doubles alley, I think it's a good alternative second serve to have.
    And talking singles sticks.
     
    #6
  7. Cross-court

    Cross-court Rookie

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2010
    Messages:
    322
    I think, a twist serve (if you can hit it) is much better than a regular kick which just goes straight and up.

    If one that goes straight and up gives you problems, how much more one that changes direction when it bounces?
     
    #7
  8. Carlito

    Carlito Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2005
    Messages:
    416
    You can't hit the twist as hard as a kick serve or even a slice. The funny bounce is just a gimmick and won't bother most good players. Even most 4.0 handle it easily. The reverse spin actually slows the ball down once it hits the ground and can cause the ball to just sit up. Also to really hit a good twist causes a lot of strain on the wrist and elbow.
     
    #8
  9. yemenmocha

    yemenmocha Professional

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2006
    Messages:
    1,230
    The one in the video... the ball probably hit an irregular spot on the court, near the line, a developing crack, small pebble, or something of that nature.
     
    #9
  10. Blake0

    Blake0 Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2009
    Messages:
    1,709
    Location:
    Texas
    twist serves are used a lot on the ad side for righties, vice versa for lefties. I don't see it being used as much on the duece side for righties. Maybe it's not as clear to see the twist on the duece side, like the video you showed..
     
    #10
  11. decades

    decades Guest

    that was a kick serve and pretty much every pro uses one often as a second serve. roger of course has one of the best.
     
    #11
  12. Zachol82

    Zachol82 Professional

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2007
    Messages:
    1,267
    Others have said that they hit them all the time, but you can't be comparing these "other" players to Federer now...

    As for that twist serve that Federer did, it's probably a once in a lifetime shot for him. I've never seen him done another twist, although he does have very nice kick serves in his arsenal.
     
    #12
  13. J011yroger

    J011yroger G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2007
    Messages:
    12,331
    Location:
    Long Island, NY
    The TV camera angle is partially to blame. Even world class first serves have a TON of spin and movement on them, the 2nd serves are insane.

    It is just very difficult to see from the angles most matches are shown from.

    Sometimes you can see it when they show the low 3/4 view like from the returner's shoulder, otherwise the serves look pretty straight.

    But ask anyone who has faced an elite world class serve, and it is absolutely no bargain. Any twist serve your local 4.0-4.5 player can throw at you absolutely pales in comparison to even the little guys serves on the tour.

    J
     
    #13
  14. Jonny S&V

    Jonny S&V Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2006
    Messages:
    4,892
    Location:
    Northern MO
    Agreed, especially after seeing Isner and Querrey practicing... :shock:
     
    #14
  15. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

    Joined:
    May 3, 2004
    Messages:
    24,466
    Location:
    FT. Lauderdale, Florida
    nearly every pro uses this serve.
     
    #15
  16. SlapShot

    SlapShot Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2006
    Messages:
    2,423
    Location:
    Minneapolis, MN
    Yep.

    Nadal's looks nasty when they show it at ground view. Just glad none of the lefties that I have to face have a serve that moves like that.

    As for the vid, as mentioned, that was a rare serve - I bet even Roger didn't expect it to do that.
     
    #16
  17. junbumkim

    junbumkim Professional

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2006
    Messages:
    1,122
    Kick serve or twist serve, the definition is a little vague.

    Anyway, it's hard to see on TV how much side spin (in addition to topspin) pro's 2nd serve have. Even the nasty one's does not really breaking away like a slice serve.

    I am sure Roger did want to put a lot of spin on the serve, but he probably didn't expect it to be that much.
     
    #17
  18. Slazenger07

    Slazenger07 Banned

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2009
    Messages:
    1,068
    Most pro's use some type of kick serve as their second serve. Ive personally seen Federer hit some nasty twist serves, so it is definitely used.
     
    #18
  19. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2006
    Messages:
    15,092
    I have had to hit twist serves from three different guys: TFM (a 4.0), another 4.0 teammate, and my teaching pro (who has the weakest twist serve of the three, go figure).

    None of those serves took me off the court more than a regular kicker would. I couldn't return them for a number of reasons, chief among them that I can't hit well on the rise, they are usually going to my backhand, and I the spin confuses me. If you want to yank me off the court and out of position, you'll want to slice to the deuce court (for a righty) and kick to the BH on the ad court. I will miss all day long.
     
    #19
  20. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2006
    Messages:
    11,174
    Location:
    Stuck in the Matrix somewhere in Santa Clara CA
    I've faced quite a twist serves that do have a very pronounced kick to the left (from my receiving perspective). After you've seen it a few times, it does become very predictable. Granted, the twist serves that I've faced are typically not quite as fast or a well-placed as the Federer twist show. But a the pro level, these guys have seen enough twist serves so that they are not fooled by them very often.
     
    #20
  21. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2006
    Messages:
    11,174
    Location:
    Stuck in the Matrix somewhere in Santa Clara CA
    Kick serve is a general class of serves that have a heavy topspin component that causes the to kick upward. The twist serve is one type kick serve that kicks off to the side. It is not (vertical-axis) side spin that causes the bounce deviation -- spiral spin is responsible for this. The side spin causes the serve to break to the right (as seen by the receiver) during flight but has no effect on the bounce. On the other hand, spiral spin does not result in any Magnus effect and thus, does not create any deviation during the flight. However, the ground interaction of the spiral spin causes the ball to bounce off to the side.
     
    #21
  22. LightningZI

    LightningZI Rookie

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2009
    Messages:
    119
    I don't think anyone has brought it up yet but the reason that this serve is different and was special is because it's not the regular righty kick. It's a kick serve hit by a righty with lefty spin. American Twist Serve is what it's called I'm pretty sure.

    Only reason it shocked everyone is because the serve requires greater drop down and much more shoulder. Pat Rafter used this serve quite a bit since Pat Rafter was a guy who used Kick Serves for 1st and 2nd serves.

    LeeD I'm sorry but your sort of wrong. Hitting Twist serves wouldn't be very predictable, Angles can change, spin, for that reason we also hit flat serves for 95% of first serves.
     
    #22
  23. athiker

    athiker Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2009
    Messages:
    1,656
    I'm a little vague on the exact difference between kick/twist but it seems like Federer pulls a pretty extreme one out of his bag occasionally late in sets or tiebreaks as a change-up. Against Murray in the AO he hit some pretty severe ones I thought. He didn't ace Murray I don't think like the one in the video, but they were pretty effective.

    Anyone else recall this? I'm a little fuzzy this morning on when he uses it. It seems like I've seen him use it to finish off the last point in a game, just like in the video...especially if he is up 40-love or 40-15.
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2010
    #23
  24. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2008
    Messages:
    37,141
    Location:
    East side of San Francisco Bay
    Oh, I didn't know we were limiting our playing levels when we were talking about kick/American twist serves.
    Even at 5.0 levels, Div11 like, the twist out wide is used to move the returner out of his normal comfort zone.
    As said, lots of players above 4.0 can handle that, so we don't use the same serve every time, like we don't hit the ball exactly the same spot everytime, unless it's winning us the point.
    A Twist/Kick doesn't WIN the point against what I consider equal competition. It DOES throw in variety for cause of confusion and to make the returner think more than he did, so too many options sometimes ilicits weak returns or maybe even errors.
    NOT having the American twist, you can play decent tennis, you just don't have one more useful weapon.
    As an aside, most females don't use the twist serves. Some do, like Henin and the William's, but they choose to select and limit it to special occasions.
     
    #24
  25. xFullCourtTenniSx

    xFullCourtTenniSx Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2009
    Messages:
    1,960
    You're a flippin' ******, and like LeeD said, you're not very attentive either.

    Most pros hit purely kick serves for second serves. I don't know if Safin even owns a slice second serve.

    And twist serves ARE kick serves. Do your homework! Just because it's not a friggin' ace doesn't mean it's not a twist serve. On TV, it's very difficult to see the chance in direction of the serve, but it's there. Roddick uses it, Federer uses it, Blake uses it, Melzer has a sick one, Murray uses it, Karlovic uses it, Agassi uses it, Courier uses it, and pretty much do 80+% of pros.
     
    #25
  26. Djokovicfan4life

    Djokovicfan4life Legend

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2008
    Messages:
    5,484
    Location:
    Stillwater, OK
    Haha, a little harsh, don't ya think? It was just a question, and believe me, there are much stupider ones posted every day on this board.

    As for pro twist serves, just watch Marin Cilic for evidence of a killer one. Predictable, maybe, but who cares when it bounces over your opponents head every time?
     
    #26
  27. LightningZI

    LightningZI Rookie

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2009
    Messages:
    119
    Practically what I just said in my post when you said that we don't hit the ball in the same spot.. Unless of course it works, Then it obviously stops working soon after.

    There's a difference between having a weapon and using it. Having it and not using it is technically the same as not having it unless there's specific cases, While having it and using it is much different. Not many use the American Twist, For obvious reasons as you should know.
     
    #27
  28. xFullCourtTenniSx

    xFullCourtTenniSx Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2009
    Messages:
    1,960
    You're an idiot. Any player who regularly sees kick serves has no more trouble anticipating how it will bounce than a flat serve.

    And only noobs use flat serves on 95% on first serves. Once you start playing real tennis, it's replaced by hard topspin serves.

    And you don't even know what a kick serve is, what a twist serve is, and what an American twist serve is! You shouldn't be talking! A kick serve is a serve that bounces high. Originally it only referred to the twist serve (originally known as the American twist serve), but then there was an issue on calling whether it was a true twist or a topspin serve (since topspin serves do sometimes have that kind of action), so they labeled every high-bouncing serve under the category of a kick serve. A twist serve is a topspin serve with extra sidespin (not necessarily the normal kind, but more of a spiral type of sidespin) that makes it curve in the air the bounce the other way. It curves in the same direction as a slice serve, but changes direction in the opposite way (which is actually only a few degrees).

    There are some rumors of the existence of a righty twist serve hit with the opposite spin (lefty twist serve spin). Such would be called a reverse kick serve or a reverse twist serve (obviously you couldn't think that far). There IS a reverse slice serve and was used in the Hopman Cup by Dimitry Tursunov for kicks and giggles. People NEVER use reverse serves in a serious match because it isn't practiced and lacks effectiveness throughout the length of a match.
     
    #28
  29. LightningZI

    LightningZI Rookie

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2009
    Messages:
    119
    I think you contradicted yourself here Lee, You say it's a special once in a lifetime shot, But he could have hit that one better? How would you hit a "Special, Once in a Lifetime Shot" Better? I agree the returner wasn't the most attentive person. I haven't ever seen an old person brag but here you do it quite a bit. I understand your an amazing football star who failed to get to the NFL, an amazing Dirtbiker who failed to go pro... But at 60ish I don't think the best way to spend your life is bragging and staying on the Talk tennis forums more than a few hours of your life...:|
     
    #29
  30. LightningZI

    LightningZI Rookie

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2009
    Messages:
    119
    Calm down a bit then I'll post a reply :)
     
    #30
  31. xFullCourtTenniSx

    xFullCourtTenniSx Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2009
    Messages:
    1,960
    There's stupid and there's blind ignorance. This falls under the latter category. And the fact that there's even a misconception of what an American twist serve is?! Jesus! How dumb can people be?!

    And I'll go look it up. Federer and Roddick also own very high kickers and are known for their abilities to hit 7 foot kickers. Though compared to others with the same ability, they are VERY short. Karlovic and Cilic are giants compared to Federer and Roddick.
     
    #31
  32. pabletion

    pabletion Professional

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2007
    Messages:
    967
    Location:
    Court No. 1 (or No. 5, when not available)
    Yup, I had a hit last year with a Futures contender from the US (he didnt even enter the qualies). The serve was like nothing I have ever seen before. His kick serves were sick, and he just took a little look to see where I was standing and picked a corner; I tried stepping back, tried moving forward to take it on the rise........................ it would take a very long time to get used to a serve like that, it was, well, special.
     
    #32
  33. mucat

    mucat Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2004
    Messages:
    2,072
    Location:
    king size donut bed
    Pro men hit the twist serve all the time. It is just the camera angle makes it difficult to see the twist. There are certain tell tale signs, if the opponent got jammed on the BH side by a 2nd serve, it is probably a twist.
     
    #33
  34. Djokovicfan4life

    Djokovicfan4life Legend

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2008
    Messages:
    5,484
    Location:
    Stillwater, OK
    Cilic's really is insane. At 6'6 with a huge knee bend and back arch he gets some absolutely monstrous kick on his serve.
     
    #34
  35. Nellie

    Nellie Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2004
    Messages:
    3,773
    to the OP - plenty of of pros hit an American twist serve. Djokovich, for example, hits really good ones.

    I just think that the pros (male and female) like to keep the speed up as much as possible, and slice/kick serve works better for that. I also believe that some pros are worried about shoulder issues so they don't do the toss to the backhand side - the slice kick is much smoother on the rotator cuff.
     
    #35
  36. jazzyfunkybluesy

    jazzyfunkybluesy Banned

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2009
    Messages:
    1,707
    Sometimes they hit the twist on the first serve to really keep people guessing.
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2010
    #36
  37. xFullCourtTenniSx

    xFullCourtTenniSx Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2009
    Messages:
    1,960
    Can't find any good clips. :( But I'll keep looking. And yeah, a 6'6" player with that kind of knee bend should have something pretty sick. I saw one point where Djokovic clearly did return it from above his head, but he was a few feet behind the baseline. I saw some other people return it, and they stepped in to prevent such a scenario.

    No. It's the camera angle. If you watch it from a better angle, you'll see the twist.

    As for how monstrous the pro kickers are, I think it's more about the speed off the bounce in addition to the height more than anything else. Few rec players are used to high level kickers that seem to really explode off the bounce. Top players are used to it, but they'll still get jammed because of the placement. Even though when you play against them, the change in direction looks massive, it's really not all that much in terms of degrees, which is why it's very unnoticeable with a bad camera angle that we are normally fed.
     
    #37
  38. Djokovicfan4life

    Djokovicfan4life Legend

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2008
    Messages:
    5,484
    Location:
    Stillwater, OK
    I couldn't find a good vid of Marin either. The funny thing is, his first serve percentage was one of the worst at the Australian Open if I'm not mistaken. You'd think it'd be a model of consistency with the amount of spin he gets with that service motion.
     
    #38
  39. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2008
    Messages:
    37,141
    Location:
    East side of San Francisco Bay
    I think Celic goes for placement and spin to the extreme, causing a little inconsistency because he's GOING FOR IT. Sure, he doesn't always hit flat fast movers, but even a really hard spun serve is hard to hit if you're going 100% for placement and spin.
    And at 6'4", if his percentage was up, he'd beat everyone. Fortunately for us, most tall guys serve great only so often, and mediocre quite often. Otherwise, 6' tall players would never stand a chance.
     
    #39
  40. xFullCourtTenniSx

    xFullCourtTenniSx Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2009
    Messages:
    1,960
    Actually, the reason the shorter players have a chance is because of superior movement and a more well rounded game (better groundstrokes).

    However, the recent crop of giants seemed to have overcome that, but have issues with their serves... Go figure. Haha.
     
    #40
  41. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2008
    Messages:
    37,141
    Location:
    East side of San Francisco Bay
    Don't forget the tall player's short expected life expectancy. Oh, they'll live as long as 6' players, just their tennis career at the top is much shorter.
    Doesn't apply to basketball, for some reason.
     
    #41
  42. xFullCourtTenniSx

    xFullCourtTenniSx Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2009
    Messages:
    1,960
    Probably also due to the movement factor.

    In basketball, even if you're slow, you're still going to be a good center if you're freakishly tall. Hell, they don't even expect their tall centers to be quick, just cover the inside and get the ball for the team.

    For those that are tall and have freakishly good movement (most of basketball and Kobe Bryant especially), African blood seems to hold some special athletic properties that seem to prolong their athletic careers. As such, we should expect Federer to play top 5 level tennis until at least he's 35, and top 10 level tennis until he's 40, and top 20 level tennis until he's 55. If he applied himself in doubles, his career would never end until he dies of most likely natural causes in his sleep (since God gave him everything else anyways).
     
    #42
  43. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2006
    Messages:
    11,174
    Location:
    Stuck in the Matrix somewhere in Santa Clara CA
    Let's be civil, people. There is no call for this type of response.

    Note that kick serve and twist serve are not synonymous terms. The twist is one type of kick serve (as I previously stated).
     
    #43

Share This Page