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Skills & Drills: The Kick Serve

Feb 13, 2013


The Pro:  Tennis Center at College Park Pro Kevin Borzenski

The Skill:  How to hit a kick serve

The Basics:

1)  Instead of the ball spinning sideways (i.e. slice serve) or not spinning without a definite direction (i.e. flat serve), the ball spins forward for a kick serve.  For other tennis strokes, this spinning action is referred to as top-spin.

2)  For a slice or flat serve, you want to aim your toss at a clock position of 2:00.  For a kick serve, toss the ball around 11:00.

3)  Your arm motion for the kick serve involves use of your elbow and brushing the back of the ball as you swing through.

4)  It is nearly impossible to hit the kick serve using anything close to an Eastern (forehand) grip.  A traditional Continental (backhand) grip is preferred.

5)  Typically, hitting the kick serve involves more knee-bend and racquet speed.  Remember –  hitting with more spin also increases net clearance and margin of error.  Common thinking is the faster you swing for the kick serve  the higher probability of the serve landing in the box.  Most pros and advanced players use their kick serve for a change up on a first serve but they almost exclusively for a second serve.

The Drill:

At the beginning, when trying the kick serve, avoid performing the entire service motion.  Start with your racquet already back and focus squarely on your toss and the elbow motion of brushing the ball.  At this point, you should not be concerned with hitting the ball over the net or in the box.  Your focus should be purely on knowing how it feels to brush the back of the ball so the ball spins forward.  At some tennis courts, there may be a visual marker at your side that you can focus on as you try out the brushing motion (e.g. side of fence, banner or hanging light).  This can help initially when learning this serve.  As you become comfortable with the spin, then add your full motion.  The final goal is to have a reliable second serve and a serve that can give your opponents trouble returning, especially for opponents with two-handed backhands.  For players with two-handed backhands, a kick serve will typically bounce out of their strike zone.

Do you employ a different drill to work on your kick serve?  Or do you have a tennis skill question for one of our pros to answer?  Click on ‘Leave a Comment’ above this post and serve up your thoughts and questions!

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