In tennis, the best servers all have great power, placement and variety. Since the serve is arguably the most important shot in tennis, it is imperative that any player who wishes to play the game at a competitive level be able to master the tennis twist serve
The tennis twist serve originates from the type of spin used on the tennis serve. Once the serve bounces in the opposite service box, the spin causes the ball to take a “twisting effect” hence the name “tennis twist serve.”
This requires learning to properly place the ball, followed by putting power into the shot, and, finally, putting spin on the ball. There are various types of spin that can be used.
The Different Spins for the Tennis Twist Serve
The main ones are topspin and underspin. All spin serves have either one or the other. The third kind of spin is side spin and this is applied along with either topspin or underspin. In actuality, there is no such thing as a serve that has only pure underspin.
All slice serves also have sidespin. There are, however, topspin serves that have only a small degree of sidespin, and these are usually what are referred to as the kick serve.
The tennis twist serve is a variation of the kick serve that combines topspin with a more significant amount of sidespin. Applying any specific type spin onto a serve may be one of the more complicated things that some players need to learn. But the rewards for learning to do so are great.
Using The Tennis Twist Serve At the Pro Level
There are players who have a natural tendency to slice their serves, while others find it a lot easier to put topspin on theirs. Even at the professional level, there are players who know how to hit one kind of serve but are not as good at hitting the other.
This is more evident on the women’s tour. Venus Williams and Lindsay Davenport are two of the strongest servers in the history of women’s tennis, having great speed and accuracy with their flat serves. When hitting second serves or spin serves, they both prefer to hit slice serves. It’s not that they cannot or do not know how to hit topspin serves but they are just not as proficient doing so.
On the other hand, Australia’s Samantha Stosur serves almost exclusively with topspin. She can produce a very heavy and high kicking serve but her lack of variety probably cost herat the 2009 French Open where she lost in the final to the cunning Francesca Schiavone.
One of the reasons why Serena Williams is widely considered to be the best server ever in women’s tennis is her ability to hit all kinds of serves with almost equal aptitude.
Tennis Twist Serve for the Serve and Volley Game
The tennis twist serve used to be a commonly used shot for serve and volley players especially on fast hard courts. This is because the ball doesn’t travel as fast through the air so the server had more time to rush forward and get closer to the net.
When the ball bounces, it kicks up high and to the left side, which is the backhand side for a right handed receiver. This was usually the weaker side or the side less adept at handling high balls. It then became that much tougher for the receiver to hit a quality return that could put the server in trouble. As the game evolved, more players started returning with greater aggression.
Today’s players are also bigger and stronger so they have fewer problems handling high bouncing serves. Hard courts are also a little slower than before making it even more difficult for the net rusher to put the baseliner under pressure.
Tennis Twist Serve: Advantages
Nevertheless, the tennis twist serve is a shot that any player should desire to learn, if only to add variety. The basic principles of hitting the serve remain applicable for the twist serve as they are all the same for any kind of serve. The following is a review of these principles. At the beginning, you have to have the proper stance.
This is followed by the backswing when you toss the ball up to the right place, take your racket back while turning and tilting your shoulders, coil your torso, bend your knees and look straight up to the ball.
Tennis Twist Serve: Backswing
After this backswing, you get ready to hit by taking the racket behind the back, bending the elbow and cocking the wrist. The legs push down off the ground and help launch you up to the ball. The head remains fixed on the ball. The forward swing then commences. The body uncoils from the legs and hips to the torso and shoulders.
The elbow quickly extends and leads the forearm and wrist which at first remains cocked but then snaps mightily as it extends and makes contact with the ball. The forearm continues to pronate fully and the arm extends out forward into the direction of the ball before coming around to finish the follow through.
Meanwhile, during this whole time, the body has continued to uncoil until you are now facing forward again. The leading foot comes to land (this is the left foot for right handed players) followed by the other. Then finally, you recover by a split step and get immediately into the proper ready stance for the next shot.
Tennis Twist Serve: The Basics & The Grip
To learn the tennis twist serve, you must pay attention to certain details. There are some fine adjustments that enable one to hit this kind of serve. Every shot in tennis starts with a proper grip. Most players prefer to hit this serve using the eastern backhand grip.
Even players who would otherwise use a continental grip for their flat and sliced serves frequently switch to this grip. But it is still possible to hit it with a continental grip if your arm is loose and flexible.
Tennis Twist Serve: Toss
The next and most important thing you must know is where to toss the ball. On a flat serve, you toss the ball forward and a little to the right if you are right handed. A slice serve is hit off a toss that is similar but slightly further to the right, though it is possible to hit both serves off the same toss.
The kick and twist serves usually cannot be hit off a toss in front of the body. Rather, the toss should be above the head. If you do not hit the ball and let it bounce, you will see that it will do so behind you and to your left if you are right handed.
Because you are tossing to a different location, your body and your stroke will adjust accordingly. On all kinds of serves, you have to look at the ball directly and keep your head up. Since you are tossing above your head on a tennis twist serve, you will need to arch your back in addition to coiling your trunk. This facilitates your ability to look up and hit up onto the ball.
You then proceed to hit the ball. The toss has made it possible for you to brush up the back of the ball and across it from left to right. For less sidespin, you brush up more over the ball. For a true tennis twist serve, you brush more exaggeratedly across the back of the ball from left to right. Imagine that the ball is the face of a clock.
You will be brushing it from 8 o’clock to 2 o’clock, whereas for less sidespin, you brush more from 7 to 1. This all happens very quickly. Remember that at this point in the service motion, the racket head is moving at maximum speed.
Tennis Twist Serve: Follow through
The tennis twist serve also has a different follow through as a result of the toss and the wrist action at contact. The racket continues and finishes with the head pointing downward as the wrist completes its pronation. But the arm does not come around the body anymore. It stays on the same side, whereas on the flat and slice serve, the finish is on the opposite side of the hitting arm.
The tennis twist serve is quite useful as a second serve and also as a first serve to keep the returner guessing. If you keep hitting only a slice second serve, you will be too predictable. You can’t use a soft flat serve because many returners at the club level have the ability to aggressively return these serves. They do not have to deal with any disconcerting spin and unfamiliar bounces. The kick and twist serves can be used to throw them off. Anyone who owns a complete set of serveshas an advantage against any opponent.
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