Written by Ian Westermann
Serve Technique — 26 January 2015
Ultimate Kick Serve Drill

Many players try for years to develop a good kick serve with no luck at all. If that sounds familiar don’t be frustrated, it’s a tough swing to get a feel for!

That’s exactly what today’s drill is designed to do: help you get a feel for the kick serve. I’ve seen it do wonders for the serves of countless students.

Best of all you don’t even need to be on a tennis court to give it a try! Your living room or driveway are just fine.

So give this drill a try today and let me know what you think in the comments below. Thanks so much for watching!

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  1. Hi Ian

    really enjoy your lessons, are you going to do any more kick serve lessons, have been trying for years to get a good one, mine sits up too much and guys smack it, would love some help.

    Thanks Ron

  2. Nice tip. Useful for me in developing a kick serve.

  3. I liked the video,it makes sense . I've had some of my students use this video to get the idea of going up with their racquet.keep up the good work.

  4. Will try your suggestion on Friday. I have a flat serve, but it is the best part of my game.
    Thanks for all your videos – I watch them faithfully.

  5. Very clear tips please keep it coming

  6. Ian when did you start playing right handed ??? Good example

  7. Thanks for the excellent tip. I can't wait for KS technique videos.

  8. Very nice little video. One point, clearly, simply, and effectively made.


  9. Excellent introduction for newbie kick servers! Thanks, Ian. Have a great day!!

  10. Another great video, thanks Ian.

  11. Was an A player. Had a stroke, r side. Told to start over left handed.

  12. Hi Ian, thank you for posting all these lessons online for free. I have been following them for a while and really learn a lot from your tips and suggestions. I am 38 and I play tennis since I was 8. I am a 4.0 level player. I am from Rio, Brazil and I have shared your videos with other tennis players here (did you know you were becoming popular Brazil??). At this point, I would like to focus on developing a serve technique that would give me confidence to have a clearly distinct first and second serves and also that I could consciously vary between flat, slice, and spin serves effectively aiming to wide, body, ant T. I just feel that my first and second serves are too similar with some slice motion. What would you recommend me? Thank you very much!

  13. Please distinguish the difference in swing between the Slice and Kick serves. They seem to be very similar.

  14. i love all your other videos, but i just really don't know about this one !

    i've been learning the kick (self taught, no money) for a while unsuccesfully and doing it like this will ruin anybody. because, you have to be side on when you hit it, not front on as you are in the video. it's a common mistake which you might encourage here and makes it impossible to ever have a real kick serve. wish i knew that before though!

  15. Omg…what a simple but effective drill I can practice in the house. Can actually feel the upward motion and spin of the ball and control the speed. Thank you!

  16. You mentioned in your latest video on "not carving" that you filmed a pro serving flat, slice and kick. I would find it very helpful to watch a comparison of his body kick and slice serves. Especially when viewed from behind. It would help greatly to see what subtle serve changes do to the flight and bounce of the ball.

    Keep up the good work.

  17. Explanations how to execute and perform a shot are very good. I like it.
    Thanks and we enthusiast can benefit your lessons to improve our games.

  18. hello Ian,

    I apologize in advance for my question is non related to the topic you introduced in this video,
    I was wondering, perhaps you have some suggestions or specific drills to improve the weakest part of my tennis game, which is the overhead volley / smash … It is really frustrating for me to create a good pattern in a rally, then approach the net to close the point, and not being able to manage the incoming lob ..

    thanks for helping!

  19. What is most remarkable is the comment about serve being an upward motion. Most people don't realize that. I suggest you emphasize that every chance you have when talking about serves. (On a side note: I made my six year old son try to hit something hanging high…and all serve 'form' came so natural…amazing)

  20. will try to adapt to your suggestions….thanks Ian.

  21. Hi Ian…

    Just commented on your hitting "late" lesson. Saw this link also on Facebook and it's working…just so you know.

    I've also seen this before and it's a great reminder and effective tip.




  22. Ian, With the ultimate KICK serve you don't mention the proper grip to use.

  23. Its also good idea to bend your back in order to achieve better rushing of the ball and toss ball a little higher then usual!

  24. I have never attempted a kick serve, but will practice your drill and see how it goes.
    Thanks for introducing something new to me.

  25. I'm eagerly waiting for the next lesson so that I can finally do a kick serve

  26. I often hit the ball with the bottom of the frame on the topspin drill for kick serve. Am I doing something wrong?

  27. What a difficult serve this is for me. But being able to have that ball bounce so high and so far before bouncing again puts me(theoretically) in a great position to play almost any return
    regards johnm.

  28. This is a really cool video! I hope you keep adding more! But could you please make videos for volleys that are for free? It would be really cool if we did not have to pay!

  29. Thanks Ian-Great Tip!

  30. I read that a topspin serve is not ideal for doubles play as it allows the returner to have more time to hit a return that will probably be hit down on the court making it harder for their opponents to be offensive. I understand that it is a high percentage serve tho. Can u weigh in what the other advantages having this serve is? Thanks.

  31. I've been able to perform the spin-up-on-the-ball routine for years — and NEVER developed a kick-serve. What I produce is a crappy topspin serve. It has lots of spin & frequently fails to clear the net. Serves that do clear the net land short in the service box & bounce waist-high — right into my opponent's wheelhouse. There's no right-to-left action after the bounce (I'm right-handed). Any comments?



  33. Nice idea, Ian. The second of the 3 F's in MTM is FEEL…

  34. Excellent Video Tips for Kick Serve. Thanks a lot !!

  35. Very useful exercise for kick serve. Thanks a lot

  36. excellent!

  37. I appreciate that you are trying to help beginning players develop their tennis game and they will find this drill useful. You might have oversold this drill a little with the title ultimate kick serve drill. I was expecting to see one of your friends that used to play on tour go through some progressions and serving drills utilizing the kick serve. perhaps in a future video you will go into more detail and create a composite for the ultimate kick serve.

  38. I have been receiving your messages from essential tennis …….it has been really useful for me and it has improved my playing …..i am little bit confused in my forehand …..
    I am using my wrist action while playing forehand ….I would like to know whether what I am doing is correct or wrong?….Please suggest the best you can .

  39. Great videos. Helpful. I kind of like your style

    • What would it take to get a full "like" instead of "kind of like"?? :-)

  40. Excellent muscle memory drill. I think I've been attempting the kick with my racquet too vertical which results in spraying it around a little too much. I toss a kicker directly over my head, but is there a way to disguise it or hit it from the same position as my slice?

  41. I will try your suggestion later today. Also want to work on service motion. Right now I start as you recommend, but then I make a large circular motion (probably taught to me in late 60's). This may slow my serve down.

    BTW, I signed up for the $37 course and never received anything from you. Please check your records to see if my purchase went through.


    • Really sorry for the delay getting you into the court, Carol. You'll be receiving an e-mail from my support team shortly!

  42. interesting aproach

  43. Have not tried this drill, although I have had the visualization demonstration when learning this serve. Seems like a great way to get the feel for the upward motion.The kick started to work for me when I developed rotator cuff problems. Any idea on how to avoid that? You might incorporate a discussion for the avoidance of, what likely was bad mechanics. Is rotator cuff issue a common problem for this serve?

  44. That is a great drill. My top spin and kick serves aren't bad, but they will now be better

  45. Helpful tip

  46. Follow up topic ought to be how to return a kicker.

  47. Ian

    Awesome drill! You've explained how to gradually learn how to apply a topspin serve. Can you answer this simple question? When tennis pros do a second serve, what kind of spin are they putting? They never miss second serves. Are they always using topspin for 2nd serves?

  48. Nice intro Ian. Looking forward to the other vids that you'll be posting.

  49. Great your idea to have the sense of an up driving the ball. But I tought that should be better to go from 7 to 1 in a clock face manner. Instead of 6 to 12. Can you say something about it.? please.

    • You're correct…..at contact most players are actually more like 8 to 2. As I said in the video, more details to come. This is just a feel drill :-)

  50. Awesome hints, thanks Ian!

  51. Great serve drill. I'll try this in the court today. Thanks Ian!

  52. Excellent intro to Kick serve- love to see the rest

  53. Ian:
    Good video…do you have plans to show pronation and the racket coming up as if one was going to hit the ball with the side of the racket?
    Ron Sheeley

  54. Good drill for getting the feel of the kick. Would like to see a drill correcting the racket drop into the proper slot position. Also, an explanation or drill that breaks down throwing the edge of the racket during the serve into the pronated brush we were just looking at.

  55. Excellent drill. I understand the goal. However I noticed you were releasing the racket hand through the ball. In this drill would keeping the wrist firm and extending upward with the elbow and shoulder followed by wrist/hand release be included at some point. Thanks Ian all your material is illuminating and relevant. Pat

  56. Good lesson that's how I learnt how to kick.

  57. This is excellent but the best kick serve advice came from a pro who insisted that I line up as usual at the service line and then pointed up at the tennis court light that was slightly to the right of my left shoulder (I'm right handed) and instructed that I hit the ball over the fence at that light. When I did as instructed something magic happened, the serve didn't fly over the fence at the light but hit deep on the outside of the service box and kicked up and away the opposite direction than I had ever seen a serve move before. Never had a problem hitting a kick server after that.

    • Haha, awesome! Good teaching pros always have lots of tricks like that up their sleeve. What he did was exactly what I'm trying to do here: provide a way to feel what an upward swing is like!

    • David, nice post. I was out hitting serves today and remembered the comment. I was working on the kick serve and saw the light post and tried to hit over it and generated a lot of topspin and racquet speed. Definitely makes you hit up on the ball. I even worked on location by hitting "inside the light post" for wide serve (deuce side) and "outside the light post" for down the T.

  58. Excellent video. I have that motion down, but I hit it too high. I get a nice serve, but without a huge increase in spin. Any hints on how to slow down my timing and still get racquet head speed. I generally find that I have to aim somewhere different with my initial swing. For example, to get a good flat serve, I had to aim 2 to 4 feet behind the ball. That forced me to really turn my body into the ball

    • If you accelerate upwards towards the ball but the ball flies much too high/far then your racquet face is too open at contact! Be sure that you have a continental grip, or even try turning your grip further than continental so that your big knuckle on your index finger is on bevel #1.

  59. Thanks, Ian! I've been working for several months on my kick serve and, for me, it seems that there's an element of faith involved: faith that the ball will clear the net and bounce in the service box. It's such a different feel than the flat serve with which I'm comfortable. On the flat I'm confident because of the drive of the racquet's path that's applied in the direction of where I want the ball to fly. I guess it feels like I'm more in control of the ball's flight. In the kick, that drive doesn't apply so I don't feel the same sense of control. I know that ultimately I'm in control on either serve and the kick has been working okay for me. I look forward to any more instruction from you on this. Would you consider helping us get that bounce out to the right that Federer gets? Thanks!

    • The high bounce to the right is tough, Dan. It takes not only the right path with the racquet but a LOT of racquet head speed, which means that basically all of your technique has to be pretty darn solid. Definitely not impossible, but something most players don't ever achieve.

  60. Ian many thanks for your video but I have to say, and maybe the two are not exclusive of each other, that the approach you took in your 'Power, Spin and Accuracy Secret' lesson really is in my experience a great way to accelerate the learning process. If by any chance you do have any other coaching instruction which comes at it from a similar perspective then I for one would be most appreciative and interested. Thanks for your kind generosity.

  61. Congratulations, Ian, on doing that all right handed. I'm interested to know why you chose to position your body at that angle to the court. It seems odd.
    By the way I think you'll find the ball goes forward because you're pushing on it against your hand.

    • Thanks for noticing my ambi-skills! haha

      I just simply find that 45 degrees to the baseline makes it most comfortable to reach up with a flat racquet while you have a continental grip. Facing straight forward will probably still feel fine, turned to the side will definitely be awkward. Honestly it doesn't make much difference to me as long as what the racquet is doing is correct!

  62. Hi Ian. Thanks for the video. How does pronation and the timing of pronation fit into this?. That has been my biggest problem or lack of technique knowledge with regard to the kick serve….Thanks…Raj

    • Great question, Raj. I'll be covering that in detail in future videos!

      • Hi Ian
        Thanks. We had a rare 'Spring' day in Rhode Island today and I tried some kick serves, brushing the ball at the back. I cleared the net by yards, the ball landed in and rose high. The problem was that no matter what I tried it did not have pace. Anyone who could handle a high ball could have put their return away easily. Waiting for the secret pace and topspin…Raj

  63. What a great drill – and you deserve the web instruction equivalent of an Oscar for doing this right handed!

  64. Ian, how far back should you arch your back on the kick serve?

    • To get a huge kicker there's no doubt that getting an aggressive tilt/arch is necessary, Bob. However, to create more topspin than your average player not much is needed at all, it's more about the direction of the swing and where the toss is placed. I'll be talking more about that in future videos!

  65. If you were to use a youth colored ball you would be able to see the spin of the ball on camera.

    Enjoy your videos BTW.
    Dan Rock
    Dallas, TX

  66. I will definitely try this drill to learn a kick serve. I hope rolling the ball on my palm will help to actually repeat this motion during the serve. Cannot wait to see how this vertical motion can be reproduced in a real serve. Thanks.

  67. Ian – nice simple drill to begin awareness to the "brushing" action on a Kicker. I look forward to you expanding on the "directional orientation" of both the body and the arm and how that differs from the racquets'. Keep up the good work!


  68. Great Video Ian. I have been struggling to get the feel of swinging up and across (kick) as opposed to swinging through the ball for the flat serve. Can't wait to see other videos about kick serve technique.

    • You're welcome, Camille. Thanks for watching!

  69. very good and very simple. always a struggle teaching kicker! once they get it…..but getting it is the thing.

    • You're absolutely right, Peter, the biggest challenge is simply helping students FEEL what a kick serve is like. It's completely different than the way most players swing.