How to Hit a Kick or Slice Serve in Tennis
Learning to serve with spin is an important goal for any serious tennis player. It’s also something many players fail to achieve. A slice serve and a kick serve will take your game to a whole different level, allowing you to hit with more consistency, accuracy and pace.
Today, you’re going to learn how to get more spin on your serve. We’ll teach you how to hit a reliable kick serve. Then, we’ll cover each step for an effective slice serve.
- What is the Difference Between a Flat, Slice, and Kick Serve?
- The Correct Grip for a Kick Serve or Slice Serve (Start Here)
- The Keys to a Great Slice Serve
- The Keys to an Effective Kick Serve
- The Secret to Mastering the Kick Serve and Slice Serve
The reason many players don’t know how to hit a kick serve or slice serve is that serving with spin takes slightly different technique than a flat serve, along with lots of practice and patience.
However, the rewards on the tennis court are well worth it.
Let’s take a look at the best way to add these skills to your arsenal, but first, let’s really understand what we are trying to do.
Note: We recommend you go through all the videos on this page in order. If you master the slice serve first, it will make learning how to hit a kick serve much easier.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A FLAT, SLICE, AND KICK SERVE?
The primary difference between these three important tennis serves, is the spins.
As its name implies, a flat serve has very little spin. In other words, the ball is not really rotating in any direction, which makes the serve fast but with a small margin for error.
On a slice serve, the ball spins sideways and produces as sideway bounce. This very useful for pulling the opponent off the court.
Finally, on a kick serve, the ball spins forwards like on a topspin groundstroke. This provides the server with a very large margin for error with high net clearance, an ideal way to hit a second serve.
The following video will provide you with a simple way to understand how to hit each of the different serves.
THE CORRECT GRIP FOR A KICK SERVE OR SLICE SERVE
Of course, aiming at different parts of the ball will only work if your serving fundamentals and technique are correct. There is nothing more important to spin on the serve than using the continental grip.
Most players learn to serve using their forehand grip (Eastern or Semi Western) and making the change to a Continental grip is a step most players fail to take.
The problem is that once a player has the basic serve motion with a forehand grip, changing the grip will usually lead to a total loss of control. However, if you understand the process, the change is not that daunting.
The following video explanation by coach Edgar Giffenig will have you spinning the ball in no time.
THE KEYS TO A GREAT SLICE SERVE
If you haven’t read our full serve lesson, we recommend you do that. It will cover more in depth the proper technique and stance for a serve.
If you are already a good serve and have the continental grip down, you can start working on more slice.
HOW TO PRACTICE HITTING WITH MORE SPIN ON YOUR SLICE SERVE
As you start practicing with the new grip, the first thing to look for is spin. Do not worry about control.
If the ball is spinning, you are on the way to a great slice serve.
If you are still having problems spinning the ball, the following video will help.
SLICE SERVE TECHNIQUE IN SLOW-MOTION
The right technique is key to any serve. If you have bad form on your slice serve, it will be inconsistent and won’t spin as much as it should.
This video shows good slice serve technique in slow motion.
You can see how the racquet moves from left to right through contact to create spin the ball. Once you start controlling your slice serve, it is time to start working on a kick serve.
THE KEYS TO AN EFFECTIVE KICK SERVE
The following video will help you understand how the direction of the swing differs on these kick serve vs the slice serve.
On the slice serve you are basically hitting around the ball. On the kick serve you are hitting up, and behind the ball.
This video will help you progress from a slice serve to a kick serve.
HOW TO TOSS THE BALL ON A KICK SERVE
A very important aspect to consider when hitting different serves is where to toss the ball. There is an ideal spot for each serve.
- Always toss the ball in front of you.
- On a flat serve, or slice serve the ball should go in front of your right shoulder (for right-handed players). Some players will toss it more to the right for more slice
- On the kick serve, you will toss the ball more to the left, usually directly over your head but still in front slightly.
This video explains how you should toss the tennis ball on a kick serve.
CREATE RACQUET ACCELERATION ON THE KICK SERVE
Another very important aspect of an effective kick or slice serve is racquet acceleration.
You have to generate racquet head speed to take advantage of the spin. The faster you swing the better. As a matter of fact, swinging fast is the magic ingredient in every effective spin serve.
As strange and counterintuitive as it sounds, the faster you swing, the safer the serve. This is where using the wrist correctly will really help.
The following video tip is especially important to hit a kick serve.
KICK SERVE TECHNIQUE IN SLOW MOTION
Correct technique on the kick serve includes the right stance, toss, knee bend, power position, and wrist acceleration. It is a lot to think about.
An easy way to make sure you have the right technique on your kick serve, and to fix any problems, film yourself hitting the kick serve. Then, you can compare your technique to this video below.
THE SECRET TO MASTERING THE KICK SERVE AND SLICE SERVE
My final words to you are “practice and be patient.”
Learning to spin the serve takes time and the improvement may not show right away. You may feel like you are stuck, but if you hang in there, one day as if by magic, you will suddenly get it.
If you do feel stuck, come back to these videos and practice each drill from the beginning. Make sure you can correctly perform each exercise before moving onto the next. After enough practice you will know how to hit a great slice serve and kick serve.