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The topspin serve is easier to produce than the other kick serve, the twist, but it's also easier to return. The legs have already driven upward, the knees have straightened, and the feet have lifted off the ground. At this link in the kinetic chain, the legs have driven upward, the body bow has begun to straighten, and the shoulder has begun to rotate upward.Notice the 90-degree angle between the forearm and the racquet. Blair DiSesa Henley is a USPTA Certified (P1) tennis professional with over 10 years of teaching experience. The forearm-racket angle will vary a lot as seen from different camera views (see comment & demo at end). The forearm-racket angle can be viewed as having two separate components, as seen in a side view and a behind view. This component of the forearm-racket angle, resulting in a near vertical racket at impact as seen from the side, is necessary to keep the serve in.
Keep in mind that these angles change very rapidly after the arm extends - angular rotation rate is on the order of 1° per millisecond as a first estimate. This component of the forearm-racket angle is necessary to develop racket head speed when the arm is axially rotated by ISR. Examples of view looking along the ball's trajectory from behind to show this 2nd component of the forearm-racket angle. I have been trying to understand these verbal instructions without getting a very clear idea of what they mean. I believe that the forearm-racket angles as viewed on high speed videos at impact will have a strong correlation with each type of serve.
Kick serve - larger forearm-racket angle component as seen from behind, as for the examples above. View the videos to see the complex racket head motion around impact for the Stosur kick serve and compare it to the slice serve.
Also, remember that the other component of the forearm-racket angle, seen in side views, is not very visible from behind. Another interesting point, well shown in the bottom pictures, is that the hand moves forward at more of an angle on the TS serve, at least for these two particular serves. Yes, and racket is pointed more vertical on flat serve, less for slice, even less for topspin, and the least, most horizontal, for twist serves. The question is just - what is the effect of the forearm-racket angle, as seen at impact, on the serve? The headache is that there are two components of the angle to consider, sort of independently. The useful thing would be that these angles are very easy to observe in high speed videos of your own serve, as in the pictures. If you serve and your racket appears vertical from the side view but so does your arm, no forearm-racket angle, that would stand out as different from high level serves.
If you try to hit a kick serve with the idea of hitting up on the ball but you are impacting near the racket's highest point - as for the slice picture discussed in #3 - at this point I think that the kick will not work well. For now, when you know that you are looking at a high level flat, slice or kick serve just look at the forearm-racket angle at impact and see what your think - put the forearm-racket angle in your spotlight.


When watching a Vimeo video online you can do stop-action single-frame forward and backwards using the arrow keys. Of course, practical application, rather than talking pure theory for theory's sake, is the best road to follow. Your points are well made in that if you visualize the contact point and racket path, the racket to arm angle will likely take care of itself. I don't know either based on viewing high speed videos mostly in the 200-300 fps range.
I think that the Stosur serve is a kick serve and the other is a kick because it shows the characteristic high bounce to the right. 240 fps is excellent for the strokes but to see the ball-string contact it takes higher frame rates. It is unknown, but the ball remains on the strings for the duration of 8 frames, so it should be about 2000fps.
The ball’s speed and direction are mostly defined by internal shoulder rotation (ISR - arm pronation), which absolutely has nothing to do with “swinging towards the side-fence” or whatever. Next pictures of Nadal slice serve confirm that the wrist ulnar deviation and ISR are much more important than arm rotation in vertical plane, because of its slowness.
It looks like a slice because the impact is at the highest point (see face in crowd behind the racket edge) that the racket reaches and the racket seems to be traveling to the side (away from the camera).
This view might be along the travel direction of the hand as shown in the Frank Salazar videos from above and your composite pictures. That is the most arm distortion that I've ever seen, even more than in the Red Bull Tim Lincecum baseball pitch. The amount and timing of both forearm pronation & ISR probably can be seen in that Monfils video. On the otherhand, if you view from behind the server along the ball's path, you will see how the racket is tilted very clearly as most of the frames shown in this thread illustrate.
1) viewing from the side the racket appears nearly vertical and the forearm-racket angle is shown.
2) viewing from behind the forearm-racket has a distinct angle for the kick serve that differs from the forearm-angle for the slice and flat serves. 1) Viewing from the side, if you take a high speed video of yourself from the side and see the forearm in line with the racket you are not doing the serve like the high level servers.
2) Viewing from behind, if you are working on a kick serve and when the racket impacts the ball, the forearm-racket angle is too straight - the ball is impacted near the peak of how high the racket reaches in the motion - you are not going to get an effective kick serve. 3) Viewing from behind, if you want to hit a slice or flat serve and you impact with your forearm-racket too bent you will not be doing what the high level servers are doing. I have formed this view based on viewing high speed videos when the type of the serve was given.
Examine the issue for yourself by looking at the forearm-racket angle at impact from behind for the kick serve.
These angles change very rapidly around impact so you need high speed video to see the ball on the strings. A good knee bend prepares your legs to make their essential contribution.Use your usual wind-up.


The legs begin the kinetic chain that culminates in the racquet-head speed that delivers spin and power to the ball.Elbow up, racquet down.
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Viewed from the side, the racket at impact is roughly vertical, give or take a few degrees. Most likely (unless you are Rafter ) you will be visualizing a contact point slightly on the inside lower half of the ball, with the racquet face moving up and a little across the ball (say 7 to 1). I would definitely say that high speed videos show that for the typical serve the ball is contacted in the half of the racket face that is farther away from the handle.
The forearm-racket angle is not shown but the racket is tilted with its top toward the camera (Nadal leftie serve). From what I have seen in videos the kick serve, especially, has a very distinct forearm -racket angle signature as seen in high speed videos. To maximize spin, use the grip closest to the Eastern backhand (moving from Continental) that still allows you to make clean contact with the ball. The wrist must be the last link in the kinetic chain in order to create the racquet head speed this serve requires. Adding a high-bouncing spin serve to your repertoire allows you to keep your opponents guessing, preventing them from settling into a comfortable routine on the other side of the net.
This will force you to hit at a lower height than a flat serve, and have an angle between the forearm and the racquet. Is that "clicking" sound heard on a kick serve the strings brushing against the ball?
So, from reliability standpoint of the topspin forehand we should aim at the racquet’s center plus 3 strings. Moving your grip toward the Eastern backhand gives you stronger spin, toward Continental easier contact. Dropping the racquet as low as possible maximizes its energy potential as you prepare to whip it upward. By avoiding a predictable pattern with your spin and placement, you make each serve more effective.
If you've ever been on the receiving end of a good kick serve, you know they can be tough to return.
Given the time between frames and the contact time, usually high speed video at 240 fps with catch one frame of the ball during contact. This thread is mostly not about that angle seem from the side view but the one seen from behind.



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