Tennisopolis : Tennis Social Network

How to Hit a Kicker...

and why it is the Best Serve at the Recreational Level

The serve is the most important shot in tennis.  But it’s also the shot that recreational players struggle with the most.  So who should you model yourself after to turn your serve into a consistent and reliable weapon?


The answer: Patrick Rafter

Pat’s serve won him the US Open in 1997 & 1998. But he didn’t overpower his opponents with pace. Instead, he used a kick serve to torment his opponents, and today he’s going to teach you how to hit it.


You can sign up to see this 4-part free training series here:


Rafter's Video Series on the kick serve

 [update 5/3/2013 free videos are no longer available]

This series is totally free, but if you ever end up buying something from FYB, I might get a commission.

Here’s the thing about a kick serve: the spin makes you more consistent.  It improves your accuracy, and the bounce is really difficult for the returner to adjust to (even at the professional level!).


But most recreational players don’t have the slightest clue about how to really hit a kick serve.


Here’s a snapshot of what Pat’s going to teach you:


- The several ways he swings across the ball to create spin and variation

- A simple technique you can use to get a consistent toss

- How to disguise your serve


But Pat’s not going to stop there.  He’s also going to show you the attacking style of game he was most known for: the serve and volley.


So if you want more than just a great kick serve, if you want to become an all-court player or a better doubles player, then you’ll really enjoy this segment.


Here’s the link again:


Rafter's Video Series on the kick serve [update 5/3/2013 free videos are no longer available]



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Comment by Tim Prapong on April 18, 2013 at 6:34pm

Interesting to see he is using a topspin slice (12:30-5)  for his first, and a medium angled kick (10-2). I have found those are better against better returners than the standard (8-1 o'clock) kick. He is hitting the 10-2 kick with a forward toss and a deep back arch. He goes nearly 180 degrees racquet arc on his kicker and maybe 120 degrees racquet arc for the topspin slice.
His toss motion is oriented to the front facing the opponent, not to the side, along the baseline. He may have shoulder problems due to the forward teardropping of swingpath, which impinge the shoulder, having to reach forward and high at 1:30. But at least he is not tossing at 12:30 overhead and straining his lower back, as did Edberg or Sampras.
To avoid all chance of injury, it is better to hit a kicker at 2:00-2:30 with a closed stance, backhand grip and toss at that location. Then there is no stress to the lower back in twisting or excessive forward shoulder reach. See Raonic's kick serve as a newer example.
I have hit kick serves on ocassion with a similar motion to Rafter's forward kick stance. The value is that you get forward momentum into the kick and you are able to move forward to the net right away. But the problem is that you may stress the shoulder over time. I think Pancho Gonzales had a nice motion that still had the forward toss prep that allowed him the same emphasis on disguise, but his windup was deeper (racquet brought across and back to a lower 7 o'clock and not stopped at a abbreviated high 7 o'clock as in Rafter.)

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