Crafty old dudes! Anyone successfully transition from the go-to kicker to the aggressive slice?

#1
I used to rely on an aggressive kick serve to overwhelm my opponents with a serve-and-volley based game. But my lower back and calves just don’t like to fall in line with an explosive upward-and-outward motion anymore. As a result, I’ve had to reinvent my game as a defensive counterpuncher without any offense from my serve.

I’m finding an aggressive slice (almost all side spin) seems easier on the body and more reliably accessible for my mid 40s body than the more over-the-top kicker. But I don’t have many reps on this shot, so I need some hours on the practice court to feel like I can use it with full swing speed as a second serve in pressure situations.

Anyone out there who has successfully transitioned to the aggressive sidewinder as the go-to bread-and-butter serve?
 

IowaGuy

Hall of Fame
#3
I still use my kicker (my best serve), but have been working on a topslice to work into my service mix more (reduce overuse of kicker muscles) and use as an occasional 2nd serve to keep opponents off-guard.

It is, of course, Nadal's go-to bread and butter serve! (maybe with more top than the serve you're describing)

However, if all you have is a slice/topslice, opponents can potentially tee-off on their deuce side FH!
 
#4
I still use my kicker (my best serve), but have been working on a topslice to work into my service mix more (reduce overuse of kicker muscles) and use as an occasional 2nd serve to keep opponents off-guard.

It is, of course, Nadal's go-to bread and butter serve! (maybe with more top than the serve you're describing)

However, if all you have is a slice/topslice, opponents can potentially tee-off on their deuce side FH!
Can slice into body as well, another Nadal go-to.
 
#7
I used to rely on an aggressive kick serve to overwhelm my opponents with a serve-and-volley based game. But my lower back and calves just don’t like to fall in line with an explosive upward-and-outward motion anymore. As a result, I’ve had to reinvent my game as a defensive counterpuncher without any offense from my serve.

I’m finding an aggressive slice (almost all side spin) seems easier on the body and more reliably accessible for my mid 40s body than the more over-the-top kicker. But I don’t have many reps on this shot, so I need some hours on the practice court to feel like I can use it with full swing speed as a second serve in pressure situations.

Anyone out there who has successfully transitioned to the aggressive sidewinder as the go-to bread-and-butter serve?
I think the slice serve can be a great tool. I used to have a good slice and good kicker as a junior. On the deuce side, if you can hit it wide then it makes your into the body "jam" slice more effective b/c the returner will be less likely to cheat and try to run around their BH to hit a FH.

If your lower back is hurting from the kick serve, try strengthening your abs, so that your back arches less when you hit the kicker. Ideally there should be almost no back arch.

From what I have seen, many of the older players use more top-slice and/or slice and less kick serves. Probably b/c it is harder on the body.
 
#8
From what I have seen, many of the older players use more top-slice and/or slice and less kick serves. Probably b/c it is harder on the body.
I think that a good number of them never had a topspin or kick serve, and those who have actually made the transition did it because their declining rhs made their traditional second into a meatball. They realize they are better off keeping the ball low.

Nothing on Earth easier to tee up than a not good enough kick serve, which is why it's a dilemma teaching it to most women and less capable men, they are actually better off hitting a frying pan second serve that has the ole crappy park player skid spin.

J
 
#9
I think that a good number of them never had a topspin or kick serve, and those who have actually made the transition did it because their declining rhs made their traditional second into a meatball. They realize they are better off keeping the ball low.

Nothing on Earth easier to tee up than a not good enough kick serve, which is why it's a dilemma teaching it to most women and less capable men, they are actually better off hitting a frying pan second serve that has the ole crappy park player skid spin.

J
Yes. This.

When I try to rev up the racquethead speed beyond the meatball zone, either my body rebels and I tweak a calf muscle or hammy, or my serve misses the box too often because my body is straining.

It’s sad to part with my explosive kick serve because it used to be my bread and butter and come naturally for me. But I need to face my new normal.

When I play against 5.0 guys these days, I have more success focusing on keeping my serve bounce low instead of fighting myself trying to rip it.
 
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#10
I used to rely on an aggressive kick serve to overwhelm my opponents with a serve-and-volley based game. But my lower back and calves just don’t like to fall in line with an explosive upward-and-outward motion anymore. As a result, I’ve had to reinvent my game as a defensive counterpuncher without any offense from my serve.

I’m finding an aggressive slice (almost all side spin) seems easier on the body and more reliably accessible for my mid 40s body than the more over-the-top kicker. But I don’t have many reps on this shot, so I need some hours on the practice court to feel like I can use it with full swing speed as a second serve in pressure situations.

Anyone out there who has successfully transitioned to the aggressive sidewinder as the go-to bread-and-butter serve?
i do find the "sidewinder" easier, as it's more likely to let me keep my body upright
the issue with the kicker, is that there's a tendency to toss really far over the left shoulder (as a righty)... either by mistake, or because i'm trying to get more "kick" (left to right bounce)
i found it's possible to hit a kick comfortably if i'm making contact overhead (ie. not extremely over left shoulder)

side note, i forced my self to learn a slice serve (heavy slice serve, and a hard slice serve), when the kicker was getting eaten up by:
a) tall folks with a good 2hbh (sometimes better to slice heavy/low)
b) anyone that runs around (or cheats to one side)) their bh early
c) lefties
 
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#11
i do find the "sidewinder" easier, as it's more likely to let me keep my body upright
the issue with the kicker, is that there's a tendency to toss really far over the left shoulder (as a righty)... either by mistake, or because i'm trying to get more "kick" (left to right bounce)
i found it's possible to hit a kick comfortably if i'm making contact overhead (ie. not extremely over left shoulder)
Protip: Tossing further into the court has a similar effect to tossing to the left with less body strain.

J
 
#12
As a returner of men's serves in mixed I have my preferences. From the majority of 4.0 men I want to return your kicker. It is much easier for me 90% of the time. I do not want to return your well-executed slice ... that is much more difficult.

In 8.0 mixed, played against a dude who is playing 4.0, but was bumped down from 4.5 last year. He missed nearly 100% of his first serves. His second serve was nearly impossible for me to return.

He hit it side-arm, nearly underhanded with a bizarre motion, and it came in very low, pretty fast and skidded sometimes to the left, sometimes to the right. It was devastating, haven't netted that many returns in one match in forever ... Even my strong 4.0 male partner was mumbling to himself as he shanked one return after another ... in the 2nd set I finally got my return dialed in a little.

By all means, develop a nasty slice serve ... your opponents will hate you.
 
#13
As a returner of men's serves in mixed I have my preferences. From the majority of 4.0 men I want to return your kicker. It is much easier for me 90% of the time. I do not want to return your well-executed slice ... that is much more difficult.

In 8.0 mixed, played against a dude who is playing 4.0, but was bumped down from 4.5 last year. He missed nearly 100% of his first serves. His second serve was nearly impossible for me to return.

He hit it side-arm, nearly underhanded with a bizarre motion, and it came in very low, pretty fast and skidded sometimes to the left, sometimes to the right. It was devastating, haven't netted that many returns in one match in forever ... Even my strong 4.0 male partner was mumbling to himself as he shanked one return after another ... in the 2nd set I finally got my return dialed in a little.

By all means, develop a nasty slice serve ... your opponents will hate you.
*Mild chauvinism alert*

Boggles my mind how women almost universally stand in the wrong spot to return men's serves.

And no matter how many times they get aced, they go right back to the same spot.

J
 
#14
*Mild chauvinism alert*

Boggles my mind how women almost universally stand in the wrong spot to return men's serves.

And no matter how many times they get aced, they go right back to the same spot.

J
IMO girls are much more coachable... but sometimes can be taken too far... (ie. lesson1: coach said i should stand here for (flat) ros...not realizing that lesson2: stand here for slice, lesson3: stand here for kick, lesson4: learn to read/anticipate the serve and adjust accordingly; etc...)
 
#15
*Mild chauvinism alert*

Boggles my mind how women almost universally stand in the wrong spot to return men's serves.

And no matter how many times they get aced, they go right back to the same spot.

J
LOL .... I think the same thing on ladies' courts. Why are you standing inside the baseline on my serve over and over again? I can and will tag you.

In mixed against a strong male serve (and it has surprised me as to how few men actually have strong serves) it may take me some re-positioning to figure out where to be ... how far back, how far wide. And if all else fails and I cannot figure out how to return your hard serve, I will stand nearly at service line, pressuring (insulting?) the dude and try it as a half-volley. #deathwish.

In general in mixed, where would you encourage your partner to stand against a decent server? (average-above-average kick that hits outer 1/3 of service box)
 
#16
IMO girls are much more coachable... but sometimes can be taken too far... (ie. lesson1: coach said i should stand here for (flat) ros...not realizing that lesson2: stand here for slice, lesson3: stand here for kick, lesson4: learn to read/anticipate the serve and adjust accordingly; etc...)
I usually adjust with my partner depending on who we are playing but rarely do I see opponents adjust.

J
 
#17
I used to rely on an aggressive kick serve to overwhelm my opponents with a serve-and-volley based game. But my lower back and calves just don’t like to fall in line with an explosive upward-and-outward motion anymore. As a result, I’ve had to reinvent my game as a defensive counterpuncher without any offense from my serve.

I’m finding an aggressive slice (almost all side spin) seems easier on the body and more reliably accessible for my mid 40s body than the more over-the-top kicker. But I don’t have many reps on this shot, so I need some hours on the practice court to feel like I can use it with full swing speed as a second serve in pressure situations.

Anyone out there who has successfully transitioned to the aggressive sidewinder as the go-to bread-and-butter serve?
You're a 5.0 player, right?
When I play against 5.0 guys these days
Sorry, should have read a bit further down.
 
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#18
LOL .... I think the same thing on ladies' courts. Why are you standing inside the baseline on my serve over and over again? I can and will tag you.

In mixed against a strong male serve (and it has surprised me as to how few men actually have strong serves) it may take me some re-positioning to figure out where to be ... how far back, how far wide. And if all else fails and I cannot figure out how to return your hard serve, I will stand nearly at service line, pressuring (insulting?) the dude and try it as a half-volley. #deathwish.

In general in mixed, where would you encourage your partner to stand against a decent server? (average-above-average kick that hits outer 1/3 of service box)
Dang, that wide serve is tough.

Move over.

Oh, I touched that one.

Move over.

If I move over he will ace me up the T.

He IS acing you out wide. Let's give him the chance to not ace you up the T.

J
 
#19
In general in mixed, where would you encourage your partner to stand against a decent server? (average-above-average kick that hits outer 1/3 of service box)
Usually the starting position I encourage is outside foot in line with the singles sideline and closer to the baseline than the inside foot, so you face the server, maybe one to four feet behind the baseline with the outside foot.

This is for 9.0/10.0, probably closer for the rest.

J
 
#20
I usually adjust with my partner depending on who we are playing but rarely do I see opponents adjust.

J
+1
protip: always adjust your return position.. always give the server something to think about...
but yeah, if you've just gotten beat wide... 2-3x in a row, do not let them beat you out wide again.... even if it means standing with 1 hoof outside the doubles alley. i've run into plenty of folks that ONLY have an out wide serve (eg. deuce side, heavy slice)... but because they can only slice the ball, even their T serve is often curving far back into me, that i can still cover it, despite being 1 ft outside the dubs alley.

also alot of folks don't notice serve position changes... ie. if server is on the doubles line serving... you need to match that angle... so many people will not.
 
#21
+1
protip: always adjust your return position.. always give the server something to think about...
but yeah, if you've just gotten beat wide... 2-3x in a row, do not let them beat you out wide again.... even if it means standing with 1 hoof outside the doubles alley. i've run into plenty of folks that ONLY have an out wide serve (eg. deuce side, heavy slice)... but because they can only slice the ball, even their T serve is often curving far back into me, that i can still cover it, despite being 1 ft outside the dubs alley.

also alot of folks don't notice serve position changes... ie. if server is on the doubles line serving... you need to match that angle... so many people will not.
And even good servers rarely have all their serves working well on the same day.

J
 
#23
As a returner of men's serves in mixed I have my preferences. From the majority of 4.0 men I want to return your kicker. It is much easier for me 90% of the time. I do not want to return your well-executed slice ... that is much more difficult.

In 8.0 mixed, played against a dude who is playing 4.0, but was bumped down from 4.5 last year. He missed nearly 100% of his first serves. His second serve was nearly impossible for me to return.

He hit it side-arm, nearly underhanded with a bizarre motion, and it came in very low, pretty fast and skidded sometimes to the left, sometimes to the right. It was devastating, haven't netted that many returns in one match in forever ... Even my strong 4.0 male partner was mumbling to himself as he shanked one return after another ... in the 2nd set I finally got my return dialed in a little.

By all means, develop a nasty slice serve ... your opponents will hate you.
You must be special. Maybe its because I hit more twist serves than kick serves, but when I played 8.0 mixed i got a ton of free points as the chicks could never figure out the bounce and would miss entirely or hit very late.

Some guys struggle. Having moved its fun seeing these guys struggle returning that twist serve. Half are clueless but a couple seem to handle it if I get complacent

Dont understand the Ops plight as he is in better shape than I am and should be able to hit a decent kicker without pain. Maybe because of being out of shape I have found a less stressful way to hit it?

Salzy has a vid that shows how to make it effortless and not stress the legs
 
#24
Oh where is my slice? I've lost my slice serve from not using it much over the last 5-7 years. I haven't been playing very often and when I do it has been mostly doubles. b/c the serve is rusty, I usually use a topspin-slice or kick serve b/c there is more margin for error and I'll hit less double faults even if my toss is not accurate. Need to probably get my toss more accurate first.

Want to be able to hit all the serves with essentially one toss for disguise. One can dream big.
 
#25
Oh where is my slice? I've lost my slice serve from not using it much over the last 5-7 years. I haven't been playing very often and when I do it has been mostly doubles. b/c the serve is rusty, I usually use a topspin-slice or kick serve b/c there is more margin for error and I'll hit less double faults even if my toss is not accurate. Need to probably get my toss more accurate first.

Want to be able to hit all the serves with essentially one toss for disguise. One can dream big.
Don't feel bad, I play every day and hit practice serves by the cart, and sometimes mine just decides to be a jerk.

J
 
#27
Oh where is my slice? I've lost my slice serve from not using it much over the last 5-7 years. I haven't been playing very often and when I do it has been mostly doubles. b/c the serve is rusty, I usually use a topspin-slice or kick serve b/c there is more margin for error and I'll hit less double faults even if my toss is not accurate. Need to probably get my toss more accurate first.

Want to be able to hit all the serves with essentially one toss for disguise. One can dream big.
Same here. Just dont hit it that much and when I do in doubles its often in the duece court which gives them a wide angle return that I always seem to be late in covering.

But yeah I need to work on the slice for second serves.
 
#28
As a returner of men's serves in mixed I have my preferences. From the majority of 4.0 men I want to return your kicker. It is much easier for me 90% of the time. I do not want to return your well-executed slice ... that is much more difficult.

In 8.0 mixed, played against a dude who is playing 4.0, but was bumped down from 4.5 last year. He missed nearly 100% of his first serves. His second serve was nearly impossible for me to return.

He hit it side-arm, nearly underhanded with a bizarre motion, and it came in very low, pretty fast and skidded sometimes to the left, sometimes to the right. It was devastating, haven't netted that many returns in one match in forever ... Even my strong 4.0 male partner was mumbling to himself as he shanked one return after another ... in the 2nd set I finally got my return dialed in a little.

By all means, develop a nasty slice serve ... your opponents will hate you.
My slow twist serve is extremely effective in mixed, and seems to do the job just fine up to 4.5 level ladies. In 8.0 mixed, I hit it even higher and slower than usual (but with more spin and exaggerated back arch) and the 3.5 gals seem to get hypnotized by the unfamiliar spin and whiff half the time. This is one reason why I’m becoming more of a mixed specialist - the same serve that hypnotizes the ladies gets pummeled by a 5.0 guy.
 
#29
Dang, that wide serve is tough.

Move over.

Oh, I touched that one.

Move over.

If I move over he will ace me up the T.

He IS acing you out wide. Let's give him the chance to not ace you up the T.

J
I think that’s why I prefer 8.0 over 9.0.

When you tell a 3.5 gal to move over, she will trust you and only needs to be told once.

For some reason I don’t understand, many 4.0 gals seem to think they know something you don’t and prefer to continue getting aced.
 
#30
*Mild chauvinism alert*

Boggles my mind how women almost universally stand in the wrong spot to return men's serves.

And no matter how many times they get aced, they go right back to the same spot.

J

I do recall a match in men's doubles where I was serving aces/winners up the T to deuce court over and over to this one guy. No matter how many times I did it, he kept lining up in the doubles alley. It's clearly not an isolated "ladies" problem.

Some folks just don't understand angles. They return like they serve by standing in the same spot over and over again as if its impossible to set up elsewhere.

To be a better returner you must know your opponents pace, spin, where he's lining up from. You then bisect his angles, step right or left depending on his spin tendency, then move up or back based on his pace. Every serve.
 
#31
I do recall a match in men's doubles where I was serving aces/winners up the T to deuce court over and over to this one guy. No matter how many times I did it, he kept lining up in the doubles alley. It's clearly not an isolated "ladies" problem.

Some folks just don't understand angles. They return like they serve by standing in the same spot over and over again as if its impossible to set up elsewhere.

To be a better returner you must know your opponents pace, spin, where he's lining up from. You then bisect his angles, step right or left depending on his spin tendency, then move up or back based on his pace. Every serve.
Very true.

J
 
#32
I think that a good number of them never had a topspin or kick serve, and those who have actually made the transition did it because their declining rhs made their traditional second into a meatball. They realize they are better off keeping the ball low.

Nothing on Earth easier to tee up than a not good enough kick serve, which is why it's a dilemma teaching it to most women and less capable men, they are actually better off hitting a frying pan second serve that has the ole crappy park player skid spin.

J
You agree with oserver?!?

The other day i was serving open stance. It felt good
 
#34
If you want to cheat a little on slice square up more so more front on. Toss touch right. That will promote carving around the ball.
This is opposite to kick where you want back to the net and ball more left.
 
#35
Nothing on Earth easier to tee up than a not good enough kick serve, which is why it's a dilemma teaching it to most women and less capable men, they are actually better off hitting a frying pan second serve that has the ole crappy park player skid spin.
J

Isn't one level's good kick serve another level's meatball serve?
 
#37
Can a ttw brother get a definition of all these serves ... twist, kicker, topspin, topspin slice, slice .... holy cr@p. I'm impressed with all of you that know the difference, much less be able to hit all of them.

I really only have two serves ... 1) in ... 2) out. :p

So doing a bit of a search ... for a right hander a kicker bounces off to the right, and a topspin bounces up inline with the serve. Based on that definition my good kickers are kickers, and my bad ones are topspin. :eek:

@Shroud ... I thought "twist" was just the old name for kicker?
 
#38
Can a ttw brother get a definition of all these serves ... twist, kicker, topspin, topspin slice, slice .... holy cr@p. I'm impressed with all of you that know the difference, much less be able to hit all of them.

I really only have two serves ... 1) in ... 2) out. :p

So doing a bit of a search ... for a right hander a kicker bounces off to the right, and a topspin bounces up inline with the serve. Based on that definition my good kickers are kickers, and my bad ones are topspin. :eek:

@Shroud ... I thought "twist" was just the old name for kicker?
Topspin and twist are sub categories of kick serves, power slice = Fed/Sampras, Banana slice Llodra/McEnroe, kick slice Roddick.

J
 
#41
Topspin and twist are sub categories of kick serves, power slice = Fed/Sampras, Banana slice Llodra/McEnroe, kick slice Roddick.

J
Save me some Googling brother J.

So ...
twist = kicker bounce to right?
topspin = kicker bounce straight?

power slice = from the top and not around?

kick slice ... wtf is that? :p
 
#44
Save me some Googling brother J.

So ...
twist = kicker bounce to right?
topspin = kicker bounce straight?

power slice = from the top and not around?

kick slice ... wtf is that? :p
Kick slice has higher net clearance, curves to the left in the air then kicks up high off the bounce.

You can hit it shorter in the box than a traditional slice but it doesn't keep going left after the bounce.

J
 
#46


Looking at the back of the ball from the back fence.

Red = Topspin

Blue = Kick/twist

Purple = Kick slice

Gray = Topspin/slice

Black = Flat

J
I think it is way too hard to try to hit different points on the ball at different trajectories. I can hit a flat/slice, topspin/kick and slice without thinking about contact point or swing path. I only concentrate on ball toss location. Topspin/kick: above head. Flat/slice: into the court, to the right. Slice/extreme sidespin: farther to the right and lower. The only time I feel body strain is when I chase a toss too far behind me or too far to the right.

Returners know my topspin/kick is coming but have trouble reading between the flat and slice. My ball toss to the right on the deuce side can go either down the middle or wide.

The best way to minimize body strain while serving is to have a very effective serve that doesn't require you to hit a lot of serves. Variety is key to keep them guessing. If you can hit all the serves with the same toss that's great but my old shoulder can't take the wear and tear of learning that.
 
#47


Looking at the back of the ball from the back fence.

Red = Topspin

Blue = Kick/twist

Purple = Kick slice

Gray = Topspin/slice

Black = Flat

J
thing that makes it confusing, to me (if i were a beginner), is the contact relative to my head... ie. kick/twist is above or left of my head.
do you hit the kick/slice often? i find that i hit it by accident (often looks like i hit a rock or crack - but i didn't), but then i'm scratching my head when i try to replicate it

where would you put (if at all)
* "hard slice" (to me denoted by pronation through contact) vs.
* "curve around slice" (to me denoted by hiting at ~3pm (way to the right of my head)... ie. often has heavy slice, but much less pace... (pronation typically happening well after contact)
 
#48
thing that makes it confusing, to me (if i were a beginner), is the contact relative to my head... ie. kick/twist is above or left of my head.
do you hit the kick/slice often? i find that i hit it by accident (often looks like i hit a rock or crack - but i didn't), but then i'm scratching my head when i try to replicate it

where would you put (if at all)
* "hard slice" (to me denoted by pronation through contact) vs.
* "curve around slice" (to me denoted by hiting at ~3pm (way to the right of my head)... ie. often has heavy slice, but much less pace... (pronation typically happening well after contact)
I do hit the kick-slice often.

I don't understand what you mean by where would I put.

A swing with pronation will have more rhs than one without and thusly has the potential for more spin. Spin isn't a function of pronation vs no pronation, it's how finely you cut the ball.

Try your pronation swing but just graze the ball.

You can even hold a ball in your off hand and hit it with your fingers instead of the racquet.

J
 
#49
Can a ttw brother get a definition of all these serves ... twist, kicker, topspin, topspin slice, slice .... holy cr@p. I'm impressed with all of you that know the difference, much less be able to hit all of them.

I really only have two serves ... 1) in ... 2) out. :p

So doing a bit of a search ... for a right hander a kicker bounces off to the right, and a topspin bounces up inline with the serve. Based on that definition my good kickers are kickers, and my bad ones are topspin. :eek:

@Shroud ... I thought "twist" was just the old name for kicker?
Imho kicker bounces high and could be called a topspin serve. Twist is the same but it bounces to a righties bh. Curves to the servers left in the air but bounces to the right.
 
#50
I do hit the kick-slice often.

I don't understand what you mean by where would I put.

A swing with pronation will have more rhs than one without and thusly has the potential for more spin. Spin isn't a function of pronation vs no pronation, it's how finely you cut the ball.

Try your pronation swing but just graze the ball.

You can even hold a ball in your off hand and hit it with your fingers instead of the racquet.

J
i mean, would you draw aanother line for each of those types of serves..
i find a "pronated" hard slice serve, is hit at ~1p position, and is hit more flush with the ball
where as the "racquet curves around slice serve" is hit at ~3p position, and is hit more like a glancing shot
i understand the difference between the 2, but was wondering how would you categorize those 2 types of serves (they are different IMO), in your diagram.

to me, these are different (from a rec standpoint... perhaps at the 5.0+ level, there is no distinction, because the "curve around slice" would never be used since it's a sitter)
* topslice (higher clearance, dives down more)
* hard slice (more pace, with more side spin to help control, and give slightly more net clearance)
* curve around slice (more of a "beginner" serve... gets lots of sidespin, and movement, but tends to be slowish and sits up

thoughts?
 
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