Having a weak second serve is a big
problem at the recreational level and maybe you find yourself having a pretty
good first serve, usually flat like this and then on the
second serve basically you do a slower version of this serve and just gently
tap the ball into the box. Or maybe you do a little better than the tap in and
you have a slice serve as your second serve and it’s something like this. The
tap in second serve will work to some degree. At the lower recreational levels
returners will actually get confused by the slow pace of the ball and they might
give you some return mistakes but as you reach the higher recreational levels the
4.0 the 4.5 these type of serves tend to be hit very aggressively by the
returner. The problem with having a slice serve as a second serve is that the ball
will have a lower trajectory. So even on a slice serve you will not be able to
hit the ball with full speed and you will have to be careful as you execute
the second serve as a slice. So this is not a good option for the higher
recreational level. You might be able to get away with a slice serve as a second
serve up to the 4.5 level. But a lot of the 5.0 players will be able to
hit slice second serves very aggressively and put you on a lot of
pressure because you will not be able to serve with a lot of speed. So the
solution for you to play a high level recreational tennis is to learn a kick
serve and basically your kick serve has many advantages over the tap and over
the slice as a second serve. And if we look at the biomechanics of the kick
serve we are going to be positioned sideways with our torso when we make
contact and the toss is usually going to be either a 12 o’clock or slightly over
towards 11 o’clock for right-handed players. As a result of that and when we
make contact the racket will be positioned slightly pointing towards the
left and now as we hit down the racket will go up over the ball this way.
Because we’re going to be positioned sideways at contact and have our tip of
the racket pointing towards the left. Now as our hand goes down the tip of the
racket will go up over the ball and making the ball spin
this way. Now this obviously is gonna be great when the ball finally lands on
the other side of the court. The ball will be more lively and have more
action, but there’s another reason why a. kick serve executed in this fashion is a
big advantage as a second serve. A flat serve and a slice serve will have the
tip of the racket just slightly pointing towards the side when the racket makes
contact and what that means is as the player is finishing there will be more
of a downward trajectory on these two types of serves and the ball will
usually clear the net and about this level. And what that means is, it is not
such a good thing as a second serve because we are going to make more
mistakes if we hit the ball with a lower trajectory. And if you don’t possess a
kick serve and are using the flat or the slice serve as your second serve you
know the fact that the ball is clearing the net lower to be true and maybe this
is even happening at a subconscious level. You know that if you hit the ball
too hard as your second serve there’s a big chance of double faulting and
exactly that is the reason why you are slowing down your slice and your flat
serve if it’s used as a second serve. Now on the kick because we have the racket
positioned further towards the side, now we’re not going to immediately go
down on the ball this way the racket will travel up across the ball this way
and that will keep the ball higher. It will not be as low of a trajectory and
therefore once the ball crosses the net it’s gonna clear the net a lot higher
than any other serve. And this is fantastic when it comes to second serves
because now not only do we have net clearance and are safe from missing
Internet but also the ball will have a tendency to go shorter into the box and
we’re also safe from missing long. What about massive kick? Is it
something that you should learn? Well absolutely not because there’s no such
thing as massive kick at the recreational level. Yes there are some
professional players such as Dominick Thiem and John Isner who can make the
ball bounce extremely high but this is something that’s very rare even at the
professional level. And most of the time what you’re seeing at the high level is
trajectory and not kick. So basically if I’m standing on the left and I’m serving
to the ad side I’m gonna have a rightward trajectory regardless of what
kind of serve I choose. So now if I choose to hit a kick serve even at a
slower pace you can see that my ball is going to kick way to the right after it
bounces and this is regardless of how much kick I put on the ball. Now if I do
this in conjunction with kick obviously the ball it’s gonna shoot off way to the
right. The true test in finding out how much kick you have on your serve is
trying to execute a kick serve from the deuce side and having the ball a curve
to the right if you’re right-handed. And this is not something you should ever
concern yourself with because the primary objective of a second serve that’s
struck with kick is control and not power. Yes the big advantage of having a
kick in addition to having a higher trajectory and the ball landing in a
safer spot is that you can hit the ball with more racket head speed but this
doesn’t mean that the serve is necessarily going to have more power.
Anytime we’re putting a spin on the ball we’re in fact slowing the ball down and
exactly for that reason because we are slowing the ball down by putting spin on
it we are then able to hit this second serve with a lot more racket speed as
opposed to a for example a tap flat second serve that we have to hit very
gently in order not to over hit it. And a well struck kick serve doesn’t even have
to be that fast 60 miles an hour is sufficient for the recreational level
and you even see some professional players especially on the WTA Tour that
serve between 60-70 miles an hour and even the men will sometimes only serve
between 70 and 90 miles an hour and the speed is sufficient for you to have a
good second serve. If I hit a flat or a slice serve with that slow 60 mile an
hour speed then this speed would probably not be sufficient but since I’m
hitting the ball with spin even though the ball is moving slowly it is rotating
enough and making a lively bounce that the returner will most likely not go for
the winner return and if they do they’re gonna make a lot of mistakes. So serve
like this a medium-paced second serve
struck at probably somewhere between 60 to 80 miles an hour is a serve fast
enough even at the professional level of the game. So in order for you to have a better
second serve you must learn the kick and there’s no quick fix when it comes to
learning the kick serve you must treat this as a long-term plan and do not
have short term goals because this will only lead to frustration. Give yourself
six months to a year to properly learn the kick serve because then once you
have this serve automated and you do have the muscle memory you will eventually be
able to use it in a match. And the only way you’re going to improve your kick
serve and have it match ready is by repetition and without this repetition
your kick serve will not be an automatic shot and you will not have the courage
to use it in a match and now you’re going to be stuck in this cycle where
you’re not practicing the kick serve enough and then having to always go back
to your slice and your tap on the second serve. So the only way for you to have a
consistent kick serve that you are using in matches is by repetition. Grab a
basket of balls two to three times a week and maybe you can get up to hitting
2,000 serves a month but if you multiply that over course of a year these are a
lot of serves and this is how you build muscle memory. If you’re interested in
learning all the fundamentals to the kick serve I have another video that’s
more detailed and step-by-step titled how to hit a kick serve I’m gonna put a
link in the description below. If you have any questions about this video feel
free to comment and don’t forget to hit that like button and subscribe if you
haven’t already. I’ll see you next time.

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Dennis Veasley

24 thoughts on “Improve Your Second Serve | Tennis Serve Lesson”

  1. Two questions.
    Since most recreational players will not have a good kick serve, what is the best second serve to have while you are still learning to kick?
    Am I incorrect in thinking that the kick and the slice are closer to each other than most coaches make them out to be? Both balls spin on the 7-8 o'clock to 1-2 o'clock diagonal, but the science of imparting this spin is completely different.

  2. Ok . Here is a give away for all Niki's fans and followers. He has a a great tip that helps you guys get up and running with second serve in no time. That tip is hidden in his video series 'The role of wrist' and to be specific 'The role of wrist in serve'. Go there, watch it carefully and you will be amazed how it transforms your second serve. Mine has and will be yours. Good luck !

  3. Great! Just what I needed. Working on the kick serve for 2 years now. slowly getting there. In matches I tend to fall back to some tap/slice serve when I am in fatigue, but percentage-wise I am doing good. Also sometimes I try to hit it as a 1st serve – can confuse opponent – and I try to also stick to the technique even when producing lots of double faults… you need to take these misses. Focus on your technique first, results come later! and enjoy!

  4. Very love your explanation, I will practise as your advice on court to improve my 2nd serve.
    Thanks you very much.

  5. Nick is right. The kick serve requires a lot of practice and patience to master. For me the toss location and the back bend are musts to get adequate spin on the ball.

  6. I have watched some video of Raonic and he seems to have a lot of form on his serve in that his wrist is not flipping around going back the take back is just turning the shoulders. His motion into the ball looks like his hitting arm just extends up, then the forearm rotates, and then finally the wrist releases. Doesn't seem to be any forward motion for the first or second serve. It seems to me the less wrist motion the heavier the kick serve will be.

  7. i wonder if you could give some examples with pros eg. is kick serve used as much on deuce court as ad? do wta players use kick serve as often as atp? thanks Nik 🙂

  8. Time, patience and the right fundamentals repeated countless times will get you a kick serve for life.
    Learn the fundamentals here:

  9. Good video and nice court there,Nick .I also like that you mention so often Dominic Thiem,he has the best form for all the shots and he`s a great example to watch and learn.All the best and waiting for new great stuff !

  10. I can't stress enough how I agree with time and patience.
    In my opinion the kick serve is the hardest shot to truly master, and takes alot of time to do so.
    Ive recently started working on a really good kick serve because im making too many double faults in matches, and It took me a few weeks to really master the form and technique and swing and everything in order to produce alot of spin and have alot of kick, the ball bounces high and extremely right, even from the deuce down the T.
    So im at a stage where the base foundation of my kick is good, I can get lots of kick and spin, but the serve is not yet consistent enough or repeatable enough to be effectively used in matches and be consistent. Either a bit wayward toss, or bad contact, or slightly too much brush or too direct etc… things like that happen from time to time so that I misshit it slightly and it just goes a bit wide or long or something.
    It will take alot of time to really master it and make it consistent, specialy during matches where ur more tight.
    Last time I was serving only kick serves, full racquet speed as fast as possible tons of kick no slowdown, and counting, and I managed to hit 38 out of 50 in the box.

    Which I guess is not horrible, considering the short amount of time working on the kick and the fact that im really swinging out as you should, but as a whole picture its not nearly enough, that would net me many double faults and not really be a reliable 2nd serve.
    What do you think a good number would be ? 47 out of 50?

  11. So important to have a real second serve! Good opponents love weak second serves, which they can either hit winners on, or just chip to a corner and charge in. And this messes with you, because your first serve is under pressure and it breaks down too. I'm so glad I learnt the kick serve. My double fault rates have gone down to almost zero and I don't concede as many break points as I used to. Also I can mess with the opponents by hitting kicks on the first serve when they're expecting my usual first serve. And even hit two first serves when my opponent expects a kick on the second.

  12. I love the editing, you've been getting a lot better. I have also been working on my second serve recently, so this was super helpful. I've been doing the drill that you stand in the corner of the court and try to make the kick serve in from really far away. I think it's been kicking more so thanks Nik!!

  13. Concise and and clear intro to the kick serve, not promising that "super kick" (after some mechanical drills/progressions). Forget the "Kick" ("out") and get a reliable functional top spin 2nd serve, guys as Nik recommends and explains here. Thanks!

  14. So, my second serve doesn't have a lot of kick, but I'm pretty sure that's it's heavy on topspin. If I hit it to the backhand side, I find that most one handers find it hard to return because you need to hit the ball fairly assertively to counteract the spin. So I get a lot of bloopy returns on that side and being a doubles player, it's an easy point for my net partner. I actually don't mind missing my first serve because I have confidence in my second and enjoy the thrill of hitting a well placed topspin. Finally, you're right about practice. I've been working on my second serve for about 3 seasons; endured the frustrations; given up on it countless times. But in the end, I persevered and as I said, it's not perfect, but it works for me and gives me confidence when I need it.

  15. Great video on importance of Kick serve! I also liked that you were honest in the end about the time needed to develop a kick serve. It sets up the right mindset to put the grind into it and practice it!

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