Top athletes demonstrate their mechanics

Sat, Jun 18

This story appears in the June 27, 2011 issue of ESPN The Magazine. Click each athlete's name for an exclusive video, and see photos from Carlos Serrao's shoots for The Mag here.

BEST JUMP SHOT: Stephen Curry, Guard, Golden State Warriors

"What makes my shot stand out is my balance -- and my quick release. The feet are the foundation of a good jumper; if you're not square and balanced, your shot's not going to be the way you practiced. In the NBA, the size and speed are different from in college, so I had to work on consistency in my shot, and that was just a matter of repetition. I try for perfect elbow alignment, to keep the ball over my head where I can see the rim, and make sure I follow through completely. So far, in my two years in the league, that's paid off."

BEST KICK SERVE: Sam Stosurs, WTA Tennis Player
"Girls find it hard to return the kick serve because it gets topspin, and most players are looking for a slice. I've been using it since I was 12, and the speed helps me pull opponents out of position. The key is, I turn my torso a little bit more to the left and toss the ball behind me. My racket motion is low to high and left to right. I've seen pictures and footage of my backswing high over my head. Honestly, I don't know how I've gotten it to that position even once in my life. It just sort of happens."

BEST SWING: Carlos Gonzalez, Leftfielder, Colorado Rockies
"The most important parts of my swing are my extension and my ability to stay through the strike zone every time. I stay back and let the pitch get deep and try to use the whole field. A couple of years ago, I reinvented my swing. I changed my grip -- I used to hold the bat in the palm of my top hand, and I now grab it with my fingers. Second, I introduced a leg kick to my swing, which I never had before, and that really helped me with my timing and my power. Thankfully, you see the results."

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