The tennis kick serve is one of the most important shots to have in your tennis serve arsenal. A player with a good kick serve in tennis can dominate the second serve and win more free points in a match.
In a tennis game, the higher your first and second serve accuracy is will correlate to the percentage of your chances in winning the match.
The first serve is characterized by its speed and power while the second serve is characterized by its slower speed (compared to the first serve) and accuracy. Great tennis players learn to employ the kick serve as their main type of serve on the second serve. The tennis kick serve is employed by players depending on the games circumstances. However, a kick serve is commonly used in professional tennis. Below are some of the strategies and tactics on how to execute the tennis kick serve.
Kick Serve Basics
Before you try to master your kick serve in a tennis match, it is necessary for you to know the basic fundamentals of the tennis serve. You have to know where to stand in the court, proper foot position or orientation, proper body and arms orientation towards the net and ball toss height.
Your position in the court when you serve should be just behind the baseline and near the center line. When you are already standing in the right place in the court, you should position your feet in such a way that one foot is slightly behind the other. If you are right handed, your right foot should be the one behind the left foot. The distance between them should only be a couple of inches apart but it can also depend on how comfortable you are. You have to make sure that you are positioned sideways to the net. If you are right handed, your left side should be the one facing the net.
What does a tennis kick serve do that makes it very popular for tennis players especially at the professional level? The kick serve should bounce high and “kick” up to the returner if executed correctly. This serve is frequently placed to the returner’s backhand in order for the kick serve to bounce away from the opponent.
The Serve Grip
Generally, the continental grip is always associated with the kick serve. The eastern backhand grip is also an acceptable variation for this serve.
Add power on your Tennis Kick Serve
The power on the tennis kick serve comes from utilizing the kinetic chain in a way that allows for the optimal body position heading up towards contact. The kick serve should be hit like a normal serve, the only difference being the type of spin imparted on the ball which is a product of the correct technique.
Since the goal of the kick serve in tennis is to increase the topspin, it is necessary to orientate the body in a way that permit’s a player to achieve the “heavy ball.” There are specific body mechanics involved in the kick serve that contribute to the amount of spin that a player can generate.
At the pro level, we see players hit kick serves with relative ease. This is largely due to the fact that the pros have flawless tennis serve technique, which allows them to produce the heavy topspin needed for the proper kick serve.
For players at the club level, it is important to develop the kick serve with a strong foundation. The kick serve is a serve that requires optimal usage of the body such as the legs, hips, torso, shoulders, wrist and racket. All of these elements must work together in a fluid manner and each of the larger muscles contribute a great deal of power and spin on the kick serve.
Body Orientation for the Tennis Kick Serve
A kick serve in tennis that is properly hit gives the advantage to the server. This is because, once the ball lands into the opponent’s court, the ball kicks up and then moves forward and goes to the left side of the receiver. This will force the receiver to play a high backhand which is a difficult shot for most tennis players.
The proper way to execute the kick serve in tennis is to bend the knees and jump up using the legs. You should keep a slight bend in your hitting arm elbow (the elbow of the hand with the racket) as you swing.
It can be helpful to visualize making a brushing effect using the racket face on the ball with a direction from left to right and across.
The tennis kick serve requires optimal usage of all the available larger muscle groups. This serve requires a strong shoulder turn to assist with the loading phase.
By turning the shoulders, more power is being loaded into the core in order to be released into the serve, producing a massive amount of racket speed at contact.
Shoulder Alignment for the Kick Serve
Watch Sampras in slow motion and notice how Sampras’s tossing arm is fully extended, this along with the torque created by the shoulder turn contributes a large amount of power and topspin for the kick serve.
The toss height for the kick serve can vary depending on the player’s own preference and height. Generally, the kick serve is hit when the ball is descending downwards allowing for a natural topspin brushing motion to occur. The key is to brush the back of the ball, and this visualization should help a player hit a heavier tennis kick serve.
One question in the tennis topspin serve is how high should the ball toss be to generate the perfect topspin? The answer is the higher the better as long as the height is comfortable for you. Your body should be at full reach when you reach the contact point. The higher the contact (contact between the ball and the racket head) the higher is the impact.
In a tennis kick serve, the ball toss matters a lot. To execute the perfect ball toss, you have to avoid flicking it out of the hand. You can simply toss the ball by releasing it from your open fingers after you have fully extended.
Swing Path up to Contact
The kick serve is different from that of the flat and slice serve in the type of spin imparted on the tennis ball.
A common mistake among club players trying to execute the kick serve is hitting the serve downwards or hitting the ball with the strings leading first. This causes one of two things: a flat serve or a waiter’s tray serve.
The kick serve is a serve that requires acceleration combined with the proper angle of attack. It will require good technique, form and posture in order for the serve to become a formidable shot.
The follow through for the kick serve should happen naturally on it’s own accord if a smooth and technically sound serve motion took place prior to contact.
Tennis Kick Serve Placement
Placement is an essential part of the kick serve. Once the body mechanics of the tennis kick serve are ingrained, it is important to be able to place the serve accordingly. Hitting a kick serve with precise placement will require excellent technique and practice. A kick serve should generally be hit to the opponent’s backhand. A serve directed to the opponent’s forehand is a big mistake, as it is often a strength and it will be frequently punished.
Does the type of racket matter?
It might sound like a silly question because if your serving skill is really poor, no matter how good or expensive your racket is, it won’t make you the best tennis server in the world. However, if you analyze it deeply, yes it is true; the type of racket does make a difference. The reason for this is the fact that if you hit the ball near the tip of the racket the ball moves faster than when it hits in the other part of the racket. Therefore, if you hit the ball with the tip of the racket your serve should have more speed than when you hit the ball with the center part of the racket.
This scenario urges the tennis racket manufacturers to develop rackets with elongated spots extending up to the tip of the racket. However, you always have to remember that skills and proper technique in executing the kick serve are more important than the type of racket you use.
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