Kick Serve - How To Hit
The kick serve is one of the most difficult shots in tennis to master. It requires a great deal of precision and physicality.
Due to various factors, most players have difficulty hitting this type of serve. Weak practice, an incorrect swing course, an inappropriate toss, and using the incorrect finish or follow-through are all examples of these.
A wide-bouncing kick serve won’t be possible until all these issues have been addressed.
Some players can get topspin on the ball. However, that is at the cost of their serve’s precision and consistency. As a result, they frequently end up hitting the ball straight into the net or missing wide.
This article will walk through the five steps to developing an outstanding kick serve.
First, the right kick serve grip and posture will be explained, followed by instructions on exactly where to toss the ball to create the proper swing course.
Lastly, advice on how to finish a kick serve with big topspin, like the best tennis players, will be given.
What Is Kick Serve?
The kick serve is probably the most useful and sought-after of all the serves for players to master. It is, however, one of the most difficult serves to master.
The kick serve has become the standard second serve for most matches. It’s reliable, gives players a lot of control, and can be used to detect a returner’s vulnerabilities with extreme precision.
Due to the high topspin added to the ball, the kick serve takes its name from how the ball bounces or kicks up off the court.
Advantages of Kick Serve
Consistency: The kick serve will become an extremely accurate and effective serve for players at all levels with time and practice.
The kick serve is struck high above the net with considerable topspin, causing the ball to slip down into the service box, which leads to consistency.
Consequently, the kick serve has a lower margin of error, making it a prominent second serve alternative.
Control: The hard topspin added to the ball during a kick serve provides players with higher control, similar to consistency.
As a result, the player will position the ball precisely inside the service box and target the opponent’s vulnerabilities.
For instance, if a player knows their opponent has a bad backhand, they might pressure them by serving to that side all the time.
High bounce: The kick serve, as its name suggests, springs off the ground and bounces hard. This is due to the strong topspin added to the ball during the serving motion, enabling you to reach way above the net as the ball dives back down into the service box and kicks up after the bounce.
Players will frequently get the ball to jump far out of their opponent’s strike zone, making it a perfect serve that can be difficult to return.
Disadvantages of Kick Serve
Slower pace: when too much topspin is added to the tennis ball, the kick serve is by definition a slower serve, giving the opponent more time to respond than other serve styles.
Of course, this is where the benefit of power and positioning comes into play, which should be considered while serving.
Topspin: If insufficient topspin is added to the tennis ball, it would definitely rest at waist height for certain players, giving them a fast return and easily putting you on the defense.
As a consequence, players must dedicate themselves to the kick serve and hit the ball with determination.
When to use the Kick Serve
Kick serves are pretty much exclusively used as a second serve at the top level. The first is flat and heavy, aiming for an ace or a simple setup for a second shot winner.
Although it is a decent first serve and scores a lot of points, it is not necessarily the best shot. The kick serve is intended to be a reliable second serve. Instead of hitting a flat ball, the serve has a lot of spin on it, allowing for more net clearance. The ball spins back towards the court and then kicks off the ground, causing trouble for the player.
Some kick serves kick straight forward, while others spin in one direction or the other. There are no particular rules to learn a perfect kick serve, as most people do what they feel most natural.
Now let’s look at useful steps through which you can rock at your kick serves.
Steps to Master the Kick Serve
The steps to perfect your kick serve are:
- Kick serve grip
- Technique of visualization
1. Kick Serve Grip
First and foremost, the proper grip must be used. Most players hold their racket incorrectly, either gripping it too tightly or squeezing their fingers together.
Without the proper grip, developing strong technique and hitting a superb kick serve is difficult. Therefore, it is recommended to use a continental grip, for which the index finger is stretched apart, and the heel is removed from the grip.
Once comfortable with a regular continental grip, it’s useful to shift the grip to the backhand side, which is known as the powerful continental grip.
Since the racket face will naturally open up, it’s more possible to get up and over the ball to hit a good kick serve. Therefore, creating big topspin on the tennis serve from the beginning of the motion is easier.
Most players have difficulty with their kick serve when they are not in the proper stance. For instance, some athletes have a pinpoint stance and their back foot raised. As a result, they are unable to turn their shoulders to make their bodies face forward fully.
It will be more likely to hit a slice serve without a good shoulder turn. Consequently, a platform stance is recommended for a kick serve.
It should encourage the player to have a great shoulder and hip turn on the first pass. It will also assist in achieving a proper trophy spot with ease and a calm wrist.
3. Kick serve toss
On the kick serve, many players struggle with their toss because they put the ball too far in front of or towards their superior shoulder; this happens.
They’re also bending too far left or even leaning forward as they make contact. As a result, they are unable to hit a strong kick serve since they are smashing the ball into the net.
To correct this widespread error, throw the ball over the non-dominant shoulder. For a huge spin on the kick serve, as a right-handed player, the toss can be further to the left.
However, when the toss heads to the left, the ball will have to be hit harder. However, as a left-handed player, the ball should be thrown further to the right. The toss should feel like it’s arching above the head and contacting the ball across the opposite shoulder.
By going up and over the ball, the player will establish a circular motion on the swing path. The body will feel more stable after completion.
This can seem odd given the ball’s current height. However, to clear the net, the ball must be hit higher over the net.
As a result, the player can produce as much topspin as you want. Don’t toss the ball too far in front. Instead, switch the toss a little further behind and hit upwards on the ball.
If having trouble putting enough kick on the serve, consider working on how the serve is finished. Many tennis coaches overlook this aspect of the serve, but it is crucial for the serve’s success.
Instead of taking the racket all the way in, it’s advised to finish on the same side of the body. For left-handed players, the serve will end on the left side of the body, and vice versa for right-handed people.
The hitting arm should be bending at the end of the swing, with the racket strings should be facing the body. Furthermore, to ensure good spacing, finish with the hand away from your body.
Many players now finish with their arms straight, which creates a lot of tension. To prevent shoulder pain and stiffness, remember to keep the arm relaxed during the motion.
Former pro tennis players Boris Becker, Stefan Edberg, and Pete Sampras all got major topspin on their tennis serves by finishing on the same side of their bodies. If any mild discomfort in the shoulder occurs when doing this technique, it should be stopped immediately.
5. Technique of visualization
The final step in perfecting the kick serve is to visualize the aims when serving. Don’t just visualize where to hit the ball in the box. Instead, visualize an arc that the ball would follow when it is over the net.
See the ball rise high over the net with a lot of clearance before diving downwards and bouncing. Concentrating on keeping the shot path a little high above the net will significantly decrease the mistakes in the net.
Ultimate Tips to Improve Your Kick Serve
Brush the side of the tennis ball from low to high to produce the requisite topspin for the kick serve. This brushing motion allows the racket strings to contact the tennis ball’s outermost tip, causing the ball to spin and then kick up off the ground as it reaches the court.
Speed of the Racket Head
Racket head speed is another important aspect of the kick serve. Believe it or not, when pros hit a kick serve, their racket travels at a similar or higher speed than when they hit a flat serve or a slice serve. This is because topspin needs racket head speed.
Using a wrist snap when stretching the arm to contact the tennis ball is one of the best ways to improve the racket head speed.
As suggested in the previous tip, it’s essential to let the grip and wrist relax to enable the wrist to move freely. As a result, the player can produce more topspin.
Throw the ball behind the Head
For right-handed players, for example, the toss should be on the left as well as behind the body.
So, when the racket comes in contact with the ball, it produces a left-to-right spin that will push the ball away from the opponent.
Bend the knees and move the hip forward.
Bend the knees and move the pelvis forward as the toss goes up. This would help stand in balance upright by distributing the weight equally and forcing the player to aim for the ball rather than leaning on the back.
In conclusion, the kick serve can be a difficult shot to master. Nevertheless, by practicing these systematic progressions daily, a professional kick serve can be achieved.
It would be impossible to create a strong base to hit incredible kick serves if one part of the serve chain breaks. That is why it is suggested to practise tennis regularly. Happy practicing!