Serve Training for Advanced Players
If you’ve ever watched or played baseball, you’re probably familiar with the chess match that occurs between the pitcher and the batter. If you’re not familiar with it, this is what it is. The pitcher has an arsenal of pitches he can throw; fastball, curve ball, slider, and change-up are the most common in a pitchers repertoire. Alongside their available pitches, pitchers can decide the location of where they want the ball to go through the strike zone. Inside, outside, high and low are all indicates of where the ball ended up. The goal of the pitcher is to throw a pitch that the batter can’t hit so he gets the batter out; while the goal of the batter is to figure out which pitch the pitcher is going to throw so they can get a hit. Whatever the outcome, determines the winner. Most advanced tennis players treat the pitcher and batter chess match as the same relationship between a server and a returner, and you should too. Let’s talk a bit about serve training for advanced players.
The Kick Serve
Just as a pitcher has multiple pitches, a tennis player has multiple types of serves. The final, and most complicated, serve training for advanced players is the kick serve. Some players try for years to develop a kick serve, only to struggle and never master the technique. The kick serve uses topspin to loop high over the net and then dip down into the court. Upon hitting the ground, the ball bounces back up around shoulder height, making it a difficult return for the opposing player. It’s no surprise that it’s the second serve of choice for most advanced players.
To hit the kick serve, you’ll approach it similarly to your other serves but with two big changes. The first change is the toss. For your flat and slice serve, your toss is in front of you, however for the kick serve, you’ll want your toss over your head. This will naturally cause your back to arch as you go into the swing phase. The swing is the most difficult motion to grasp. As you swing, you want to brush up the back of the ball so that you end up applying topspin to the ball. Ideally, you will hit the ball from the 7 o’clock to 1 o’clock position. If done correctly, the ball will make its familiar looping motion, land in the box, and “kick” up high. The technique is difficult to learn, but once you do, you’ll be a killer on the court.
Watch this video tutorial to take a perfect kick serve.
Becoming a Great Server
In order to be a great server, you have to keep your opponent guessing which serve you’re going to hit next. All top players can hit a flat, slice and kick serve without any difficulty. The difference between good servers and great servers is the variety that they incorporate into their serve. Just like a pitcher on the mound, a great server will always have their opponent guessing where their next serve is going to land. They’ll hit their slice serve out wide on one point, followed by a flat serve up the tee on the next. Just when their opponent has the timing down on a hard first serve, they throw in a change-up, and hit a kick serve on their first serve. By keeping your opponent off balance on the return, serving becomes easier and induces more return errors from your opponents.
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