Ryoma is an all-rounder, otherwise known as an all-court player, meaning he has aspects of every tennis style; he can use techniques from different tennis styles with many special shots and abilities, depending on his current needs. One of Ryoma's greatest talents is his ability to learn new techniques after only seeing them performed a few times. His dominant hand is his left hand, but he is ambidextrous, able to use his right hand when he needs to. He also has an amazing amount of stamina and does not sweat as much as the other players.
His tennis sense is extraordinary, as he is able to hit tricky shots such as drop shots and volleys without losing his cool, while having amazing control; Ryoma was able to aim for a cord ball when using a smash and was shown to return cord balls with cord balls in the manga. Along with fellow Seigaku regular Kikumaru Eiji, Ryoma is known to have an exceptional talent for seeing moving objects. Ryoma has always been noted to keep his cool in tense situations, as noted by Rikkai vice-captain Sanada Genichiro and Higa Chuu member Tanishi Kei. He is skilled at analyzing an opponent's techniques and can usually find a way to counter them, while being able to copy them at times for himself, as shown in many of his matches.
However, while Ryoma's tennis sense is amazing, this only applies to Singles. Due to never really playing or learning Doubles, Ryoma's debut Doubles match with Momoshiro was shown to have a significant amount of holes, which the Gyokurin pair, who individually are vastly inferior to both Ryoma and Momo, took advantage of and quickly took the lead against them. His amazing tennis senses worked against him in Doubles due to his ability to cover the field better than an average player, which made him overlap with his partner's side of the court. Even by the time Nationals rolled around, Ryoma stated that he was still unable to play Doubles. However, by the time the New Prince of Tennis series rolled by, he was able to play Doubles and secure a win (with Ken in the OVA and with Oliver Philips in the match against Tube Republic), although this could be due to a difference in skill between Ryoma and his opponents rather than his Doubles sense improving.
During the crucial points in a match, he seems to be able to increase his speed and the velocity of his shots, making others mistake him as playing at a higher pace and tension as usual, but in reality, that is his best tension. This, along with his one-footed split step, is noted to be the ability of the top pros as well as being natural for people. However, these were actually ingrained into him by his father when he was a kid through special training.
Twist Serve (ツイストサーブ)
A serve Ryoma typically performs with his right hand, though it needs to be hit with the opponent's dominant hand. The twist serve is Ryoma's most notable shot.
In the English dubbed version of Prince of Tennis, the twist serve is referred to as the kick serve, which is similar to the twist serve, but is considered to be less powerful and easier to perform than the twist serve.
Ryoma uses Kirihara Akaya's Knuckle Serve when he activates Muga no Kyōchi while playing against Sanada in the Kantō regionals. Ryoma grips the ball with his knuckles before tossing the ball in the air and hitting it, creating an unusual spin.
A high-speed flat serve directly copied from Matsudaira Chikao during Ryoma's and Matsudaira's match at the U-17 camp, the stance of the serve is irregular due to the nondominant foot being stretched far back with the dominant foot firmly planted on the ground with its knee bent.
Twist Smash (ツイストスマッシュ, tsuisuto sumasshu)
The Twist Serve in the form of a smash, the ball changes direction after it hits the ground exactly like a twist serve would.
COOL Drive (COOLドライブ, COOL doraibu)
A powerful smash with a huge spin that makes the ball roll instead of bouncing up.
Originally his teammate Momoshiro Takeshi's specialty, Ryoma uses a Dunk Smash to counter one of Sanada's lobs while using Muga no Kyōchi.
A high-level two-part smash that knocks away the opponent's racket with the first hit, and scores with the second smash, Ryoma was able to use this against Atobe, the one who invented it himself, when outside of Muga no Kyōchi.
A fake smash where Ryoma jumps and appears to smash, but suddenly, while he is still in the air, he makes a 360 turn and hits a drop shot.
Drive B (ドライブB, doraibu B)
A topspin drive volley with two consecutive bounce arcs, the shape of which form the eponymous 'B'. Ryoma usually slides up near the net and then jumps to perform the Drive B.
This is Ryoma's first original shot (as opposed to moves he copies from other players), and is first used in his match against Fuji Yūta.
Drive A (ドライブA, doraibu A)
A topspin drive volley hit towards the face at point blank range.
Drive C (ドライブC, doraibu C)
A shot similar to the COOL drive with only half the spin.
Drive D (ドライブD, doraibu D)
A drive that follows up a returned Drive B, it has half the spin of the Drive B, but the speed of the return is enough to get the ball past most players.
Samurai Drive (サムライドライブ, Samurai Doraibu)
A (backhand) technique where Ryoma hits a powerful return toward the rope that is between the net and the pole. Because of the tremendous force, the rope slices the ball in half, resulting in both pieces going in different directions.
Snake (Buggy Whip Shot)
A forehand or backhand shot that has an offset topspin that causes it to curve to the corners of the court, making the opponent run around and lose stamina, Ryoma first finds out about this technique from an article on a pro.
One-Footed Split Step (片足スプリットステップ, kata ashi supuritto suteppu)
Normally, a split step is a small hop. With this hop, the player’s feet must land at the same time when the opponent makes contact with the ball, which will make one’s response time half a step faster and allows one’s feet to react to the ball faster as a result.
Nitōryū (二刀流|lit. Two Sword Style)
A technique inherited from his father, Nanjiro, this is a high-level form of ambidexterity. During a match, Ryoma can switch his racket from one hand to the other, making it easier for him to return a ball that is outside of his dominant hand’s range.
Super Rising (超ライジング)
One of the common shots used by most characters, Super Rising is a half volley where the returner hits the ball they are returning just as it is bouncing up in order to give the opponent less time to react.
Zero Shiki Drop (零式ドロップショット)
In the reserve match against Hiyoshi Wakashi, Ryoma shows the ability to use Tezuka's famed drop shot, which is a heavy backspin drop shot that drops after passing 1 foot of the net, then after it lands on the ground, rolls back to the net instead of bouncing. However, due to Ryoma's stance (his racket 30 cm off from his normal stance), it was too obvious and Inui stated that it will not work the second time.
In order to put up a fight against Sanada, Ryoma uses Fuji Yuuta's Twist Spin Shot to prevent Sanada from predicting his tennis by switching styles often through Muga no Kyōchi (or Samurai's Eye in the anime). He puts an enormous spin on the ball to greatly propel the ball upwards upon bouncing.
While using Muga no Kyōchi, Ryoma is able to use Renji Yanagi's Kamitachi, a high-speed slice shot.
Since Ibu Shinji once used Spot against him, Ryoma is able to use Spot on Sanada while using Muga no Kyōchi. For a while, Ryoma alternates between topspines and slices to cause Sanada's arm to grow increasingly numb until his arm freezes up and he loses his grip on his racket for a second.
Fū Rin Ka Zan
Thanks to Muga no Kyōchi, Ryoma is able to mimick the sword-drawing technique in order to use an incredibly fast swing to hit the ball.
Thanks to Muga no Kyōchi, Ryoma is able to mimick Sanada's Fire (Ka). He uses this as a smash in an attempt to break through Atobe's play during the National Quarterfinals.
While using Muga no Kyōchi against Sanada, Ryoma is able to copy Kawamura's Two-Handed Hadoukyū. By gripping his racket with two hands instead of one, Ryoma lessens the strain on his wrist, and hits a powerful shot to score a point off Sanada's serve.
Originally Yoshirō Akazawa's technique, Ryoma is able to mimick it while using Muga no Kyōchi against Sanada. By hitting the ball with the top of his racket, Ryoma creates vibrations that makes the ball appear as if it has multiplied to those who has an extraordinary vision.
The method Nanjirou uses in putting a specific spin on each ball that he hits, causing the ball to automatically return to him. Ryoma uses an incomplete version to break out of Atobe's World of Ice technique.
Muga no Kyōchi (無我の境地, Muga no Kyōchi, trans. State of Self Actualization) A state in which the user naturally intakes all techniques he sees and can perfectly copy them. Ryoma enters this for the first time in an unofficial match against Kirihara Akaya, and controls it for the first time in his match against Sanada Genichirō (both occurrences take place in the manga).
- The Samurai's Eye (侍の目, Samurai no Me) is the anime equivalent of Muga no Kyōchi. It gives Ryoma a very dynamic play style because he is able to switch between many other player's techniques.
Muga no Kyōchi has three doors:
He unlocked this when Muga no Kyōchi is useless against Rikkai Dai's Captain Yukimura Seiichi in the National Finals. Ryoma can use Hyaku Ren Jitoku no Kiwami to focus all his energy into different parts of his body, increasing the capabilities of that body part. This technique allows for return shots to be doubled in both power and spin.
He unlocked this right after he unlocked Hyaku Ren Jitoku no Kiwami during his match against Rikkai Dai's Captain Yukimura Seiichi in the National Finals. With Saiki Kanpatsu no Kiwami, Ryoma is capable of predicting the number of shots he needs to win a point.
This is the ultimate door and final door of Muga no Kyōchi. In this state, Ryoma's hair and eyes begin to shine very brightly along with most of his hair spiking upwards. Ryoma then uses Ten'i Muhō No Kiwami to hit the ball at a speed that cannot be seen, unless one reviews it on a video monitor.
Anime Only Techniques
Twist Serve Tornado (ツイストサーブトルネード) "A Day on Suvival Mountain OVA only"
The Twist Serve curves to the face in an abnormal way. In the OVA, Ryoma tried to use the twist serve in a slanted court, which resulted in the bounce of the serve being too weak and making it easy to return.
After Ryoma is pushed into activating Samurai's Eye (similar to Muga no Kyōch), Ryoma demonstrates that he is able to use Shinjou Reiji's Deep Impulse. Ryoma mimicks Shinjou's stance while he does it and is able to hit a powerful shot as a return.
Cyclone Smash (サイクロンスマッシュ, saikuron sumasshu)
An extraordinarily powerful smash done by jumping high into the air, and twisting, then untwisting, the body back onto the ball.
Stuttered Step (スタッタードステップ)
Ryoma rapidly approaches the net but staggers his stride when he reaches the service line, allowing him to stop quickly and return volleys with more control.
Dragon Cyclone Smash (Animated Movie Only)
A move where Ryoma returns the ball at a high speed, creating a cyclone around him, which he then uses as a diversion as he hits his return.
Bio-Magnetism (Animated Movie Only)
This shot accumulates a large amount of air in his ball before he hits it and the air is released from the ball. The force of the air is powerful enough to knock his opponents off their feet.
Speed - 4: He is able to create speed from his spring like body. His national level speed is a point of pride that he uses to battle on equal footing with others.
Power - 3: In proportion to his physique and stature, he has power. His issue is to grow his body to keep up with his techniques.
Stamina - 4: It's amazing how long he is able to hold out despite his increased breathing. With his ability to keep composed in a drawn out full set, it's hard to believe he's only a 1st year
Mental - 5: Facing both disadvantage and adveristy as if they were nothing, he has a tenacious mental will. I only want him to be able to resist getting provoked better.
Technique - 5: He is able to handle professional level techniques. One of his weapons is his ability to mimic an opponent's techniques just from seeing them.
Kurobe Memo: In spite of having so many things already to this degree of perfection, I have an ominous feeling that there is still plenty of room for growth. I would really like him to continue his physical growth without destroying the great balance he already has.