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Learn the Real Kick Serve Swing Path

November 4, 2019

I’m sure you’ve sat on a chair or on a
bench and tried to improve your kick sir by doing various drills and you’re
probably wondering why your kick serve is not getting any better?
The problem with most kick serve exercises is that they don’t accurately
mimic the swing path on a kick serve. So whether you’re sitting on a bench
whether you’re kneeling down or you have your racket like this and you just swinging
to the side. This is actually not what takes place on a kick serve. The swing
path on a kick serve is actually very similar to a slice serve and a flat
serve up to the point of contact. So what happens is on a kick serve the racket
will drop and now it doesn’t come from one side to the other. It actually will
drop and then come back this way because the acceleration of the racket head will
have the tip of the racket point back towards the fence and then actually the
racket will go towards the ball and then because of the sideways position of
the torso the racket will then go towards the right. And high-level players are not aware of
the actual swing path. The acceleration of the racket is way too fast for us to
be conscious of what actually is taking place. So it makes sense to us that we
drop the racket down and then simply go to the side like this but what happens
in reality with this type of kick serve is that yes you will get kick on the
serve but the contact with the ball will be extremely thin and it’s almost
impossible to get any power with this type of kick serve. In order to strike
this kick serve powerfully you must not do these exercises anymore because
they’re not gonna help you develop the correct swing path. What you must do
instead is not think of how the racket is approaching the ball and then most
likely if you have enough acceleration once you drop the racket it will whip
back like this and you will have a forward approach to the ball and then
the racket will go towards the side. And what separates the kick serve from the
other serves is two fundamental pieces of the kick serve action. Number one
there’s not going to be any torso rotation so we’re going to have to stay
sideways and now if we accelerate the racket properly it will come out this
way and because we’re holding the sideways position of the torso we’re
then going to have a contact with the tip of the racket slightly pointing
towards the side and then on most players the racket will intuitively go
towards the right. It is highly unlikely that if you’re staying sideways that the
racket will try to go forward this will feel very counterintuitive because your
body is in the way and naturally most players if they really can feel this
sideways position of the torso at contact. On most players the racket will
go towards the side by itself. In addition to staying sideways you also
must position your toss to at least 12 o’clock or even 11 o’clock for
right-handed players. If you do that don’t think of anything else. Do actually
not concern yourself with the swing path because you’re gonna start doing things
that do not accurately mimic your actual swing path on a kick serve. So all you
have to do is make sure you toss is correct and then hold the sideways
position of the torso and you will be able to generate kick on your serve. And if you’re having trouble with
staying sideways on the kicker I’m going to show you some exercises where you can
practice staying sideways. The number one exercise is actually not using your body
at all putting yourself in a sideways position in this case you will have to
throw the ball a little bit more behind to simply throw the ball behind and then
spin the serve like this. Now after you do that for a while
you can start going forward so now you would push the ball into the court a
little bit with your toss and you will start leaning forward but maintain the
sideways position the entire time. It looks something like this. Now this is
going to feel a little bit awkward but if you can maintain the sideways position
you’re almost guaranteed to have kick. And then finally once you’ve done this
for a while you try to do a kick serve where you’re going forward and at the
very end of the motion where the racket is starting to come down you can open up
your body and split up and be ready for the next shot. The two main reasons why I
do not want you to do these common kick serve exercises. Number one, they do not
accurately mimic the kick serve swing path and also when you’re doing these
kick serve exercises you are making an isolated movement of the arm and that
is not what takes place on an actual kick serve it’s a very complex shot that
involves multiple actions of the body. So what happens usually is that if you try
to learn the kick serve too early you will find it absolutely impossible to do
so. What you must do instead is learn all the fundamental elements of the serve in
general and then just stick to the flat serve once you have all the fundamental
pieces down and you know how to hit flat serves and all you have to do is make a
couple of small adjustments. You have to adjust your toss, stay sideways you will
be able to kick the serve much easier.


  • Reply Jawad Ali November 1, 2019 at 10:22 am

    Always appreciate your insights and wisdom. Two questions. I like to let the toss drop a little lower on the kick serve for a slightly lower contact point. Is this a useful concept or a distraction? For my flat serve, the torso rotates open (towards the back fence) during the toss and windup. Do I need to reduce that? Just about everything else I do in tennis is based on torso rotation. It almost sounds like I would be spending energy to put the brakes on the rotation for the kick serve.

  • Reply Yucel Guldali November 1, 2019 at 10:26 am

    Hmm. It still looks like you’re rotating your torso into the shot.
    I wish you’d mentioned/recommended the cartwheeling motion. That’s pretty much the only way to maintain a side ways position during the whole(almost) motion.

  • Reply Sibanand Misra November 1, 2019 at 10:37 am

    Makes so much sense.. Thanks for the insight.

  • Reply 3Slippers November 1, 2019 at 10:46 am

    Another piece in the thousand video youtube tennis technique puzzle, torso angle at contact, thanks.

  • Reply ECOINOVAÇÃO November 1, 2019 at 11:05 am


  • Reply Dmitry Private November 1, 2019 at 11:30 am

    Hi Nikola. Your video makes a lot of sense. The sideways racquet motion creates a kick but no power. Your description of kick serve matches exactly what I always saw in Roger Federer serve (and other elite tennis players). So, you are spot on!

    Having said that, implementing this type of kick serve for a rec player is very difficult (at least for me). But what I take from your video is I need to work on a better flat serve and then, once the motion of the flat is good, improve the kick.

    Thank you!

  • Reply Intuitive Tennis November 1, 2019 at 11:48 am

    Learn the real serve fundamentals here:

  • Reply Kabir Shah November 1, 2019 at 11:49 am

    Have you considered creating a patreon page where people can send you videos for feedback?

  • Reply N. Erkam Yildirim November 1, 2019 at 12:42 pm

    have you switched to pure aero Nicki? 😀

  • Reply jimmyjammERz559 November 1, 2019 at 12:53 pm

    Thanks for the lesson coach!!!

  • Reply Milton A Skeyer November 1, 2019 at 12:54 pm

    Many thanks to Intuitive Tennis for always giving us the best advice for all things tennis.

  • Reply kick serve November 1, 2019 at 1:49 pm

    What a great video. I think your YouTube alias 'Intuitive Tennis' is perfect. This video really illuminates a subtle but critical element of racquet-head motion and some practical guidance tips on how to incorporate this motion into the overall service motion. Also, your blue tennis court is really nice.

  • Reply KW Tennis Nation November 1, 2019 at 1:57 pm

    I'll be honest, I've never seen anyone sitting in a chair practicing serves…except maybe a youtuber that grew up playing golf that is now and "expert tennis coach". Let's be honest, rec tennis is dominated by ladies tennis. USTA numbers are more than 2-1 female to male. I've not seen any ladies hitting kick serves, not even 4.5 league players. It amazes me that you mention "kick serve" in a video and it gets 2x the number of hits. Why is that? It's really not that hard to learn but it is definitely over hyped. A slice topspin serve can be just as effective. Most rec players don't have the racquet head speed to really get the benefits of a kick serve.

  • Reply Mauricio Castro November 1, 2019 at 2:13 pm

    One more accomplishment from the Super Debunkator in the crusade against the tennis click zombie warriors! Listen to him tennis lovers of the world!

  • Reply TRUMPT BY GRAVITY November 1, 2019 at 2:20 pm

    This lesson puts so many other experts to shame.

  • Reply Seoul Man November 1, 2019 at 2:49 pm

    Excellent advice!

  • Reply Beyond Im November 1, 2019 at 3:27 pm

    I absolutely agreed with you here. Many online coaches are teaching the wrong ideas to players, maybe they are trying to prolong the lessons for whatever reasons, or simply trying to get the player to feel the brush on the ball, in that case that's probably ok to total beginners, another or is probably they can't play a powerful kick serve themselves. When I first learned the kick serves I tried what they told me but after about 4 or 5 tries I knew that's not right. It's ok to get the ball in but with such paceless kick serves, any standard recreational players could just read it and step forward to hit it on the rise, and that is a slow rise as well. I have now learned by myself that is exactly like you said. The racquet must go forward on contact then let the slice or kick path happens. That would create a much faster speed for the ball to travel but the spin would keep it in place. It is actaully a very satisfying experience when you first got it right, no slow down of the swing and let it pronate all the way. It gives me a very confident second serve and a lot of fun to play with angles that I couldn't have hit before.

  • Reply Dennis Mathew November 1, 2019 at 6:17 pm

    Finally it all makes sense…Thank You!!!

  • Reply Andrew Coates November 1, 2019 at 7:55 pm

    Excellent Nik

  • Reply Golden Calf November 1, 2019 at 9:37 pm

    Interesting, I'll definitely have to give this a go. What about the grip? Should I stick with continental or use a eastern backhand grip?

  • Reply Donald McDonald November 2, 2019 at 5:19 am

    Thank you. Some things you cannot break down. As one sports biomechanic said, “You can’t learn fast from slow.”

  • Reply DeceitfulDestiny November 2, 2019 at 6:07 am

    Tried this advice tonight. Still going to take a little getting used to, but already getting way more power on my kick serve and it finally seems simpler!

  • Reply Natachi Nnate November 2, 2019 at 11:46 am

    Awesome Nick! I can’t wait to intentionally do this serve!

  • Reply Don Ho November 3, 2019 at 1:39 am

    Great video, Nick! ???

  • Reply dottorcarlone November 3, 2019 at 2:29 am

    I’m a former player and coach and I totally agree with you. 99 percent of the videos teach wrong drills. It’s impossible to generate power with a swing path that goes left to right cause the contact point it’s so thin as you said. You’re on point, two things…stay sideways and the ball toss. Another thing that might help accelerating the racket it’s let the racket head drop more from the trophy pose pointing completely the ground to then quickly snap up.

  • Reply Sean lee November 3, 2019 at 3:44 am

    In high school I learned kick serve by serving in front of a fence and getting as much topspin to go past it.

  • Reply R Zimmerman November 3, 2019 at 7:44 pm

    This is your best video

  • Reply maxpowers3732 November 4, 2019 at 1:21 am

    I've done all the drills you mentioned not to do and staying sideways definitely helped the most. How far in front should you toss the ball?

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