Ideal toss height?

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by New Daddy, Oct 20, 2007.

  1. New Daddy

    New Daddy Rookie

    Joined:
    May 14, 2007
    Messages:
    281
    I've been experimenting a lot with my tosses, and at least to me, I find it easiest to serve when my toss goes only slightly higher than the contact point with my racket.
    In other words, I try to aim my tosses so that the zenith of their trajectory is only a few inches higher than the contact point with my racket.

    I have tried higher tosses, but I think it's more difficult to coordinate the contact with my racket when the ball is travelling faster down. So, I try to toss the ball only to a height from which the ball would not have gained much acceleration when it meets my racket.

    In that regard, is there such thing as the ideal toss height or is it or individual?

    I've noticed that pros send their tosses really high. What's the benefit in that, because I think I can still manage the full winding of the body while the ball stays up in the air for considerably shorter amount of time (but then again, pros may wind up far more, requiring far more time before the ball comes down to the contact point)?
     
    #1
  2. WildVolley

    WildVolley Legend

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2007
    Messages:
    5,793
    I think it is mostly a timing issue. Some people feel rushed, or don't hit the body position they prefer before they swing. In that case, it makes sense to toss the ball higher.

    The two downsides of a higher toss are that it becomes much more difficult to toss accurately the higher you throw and the ball becomes much more susceptible to being blown around from the wind.

    I think that Goran Ivanisevic had a great example of a low toss service. Usually, he probably had somewhere around a 1/2 foot of drop from the peak before he'd hit the ball. As a modern example, Ljubicic has clearly modeled his serve on Goran's and uses the same rapid motion, pinpoint stance with a low toss.
     
    #2
  3. paulfreda

    paulfreda Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2004
    Messages:
    1,612
    Location:
    Bangkok, Thailand
    Some great servers like Roscoe Tanner tossed very very low. His motion was something like a shortstop's throw to first base; bent arm throw with the ball seeming to come out of his chest or shoulder.
    Other great servers like Sampras and Graff had very high tosses and hit with an extended straight arm.

    So it is really a matter of choice and technique.
    There is no one way/ right way to do it.
    Find out what works for you by experimenting.

    One advantage of the high toss is you can hit up more on the ball as it is falling back down to you. And you have more time to make tiny timing adjustments. And a high contact point should yield a better angle in to the court for more consistency.

    Vic Braden is well known for advocating hitting the ball at the toss peak. This is where the ball is moving the slowest [it stops to reverse direction] and thus is the easiest to time consistently.
     
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2007
    #3
  4. crazy8tiger

    crazy8tiger Rookie

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2007
    Messages:
    353
    Location:
    Inland Empire, California
    I feel this a little too. I usually like hitting it quick and not as high, that's where I get the best consistency and hit it most effectively. But for seconds serves, I'll usually throw a bit higher instead of how I would for my first serve.
     
    #4
  5. Rickson

    Rickson G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2004
    Messages:
    12,740
    Location:
    USA
    Some say that the ball hit in the stationary position like Goran's is the perfect toss. I prefer to toss a little higher and let the ball drop a few inches. Some players prefer a huge drop like Ivan Lendl. I'd say a good toss is where the ball either doesn't drop at all or where it just drops a bit, but the Lendl 6 foot drop is not for the average server.
     
    #5
  6. stormholloway

    stormholloway Legend

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2005
    Messages:
    6,832
    Location:
    New York City
    Your toss better be good if you're planning on hitting it at the peak. It's easy to toss below your ideal contact point if you do this.
     
    #6
  7. Rickson

    Rickson G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2004
    Messages:
    12,740
    Location:
    USA
    I'd say Goran's toss was pretty damn good and being 6'4 didn't hurt him either. Nowadays, Roddick and Lopez seem to be the only ones who don't let the ball drop and I'd say they're right up there with the best servers of today.
     
    #7
  8. stormholloway

    stormholloway Legend

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2005
    Messages:
    6,832
    Location:
    New York City
    Yeah but they're pros. If a recreational player wants to adopt this, he/she better make sure that toss is consistent. My toss is awful.
     
    #8
  9. WildVolley

    WildVolley Legend

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2007
    Messages:
    5,793
    Goran had a very quick motion, but most times the ball was on the way down, I'd say about 6" of drop when he made contact. Andy Roddick usually has more drop than Goran. I'd say closer to a foot of drop on contact.

    I think Roscoe Tanner is the only server that seemed to hit the ball at the precise peak, or even as it was rising!

    As a juggler, I can assure you that lower tosses are easier to aim precisely than high tosses. Goran's toss was much more likely exactly where he wanted it than Lendl's toss. The advantage of the higher toss is that it allows you more time to move through your motion.

    Those are the tradeoffs, but you if you don't feel rushed or you're waiting at some point during your serve, it would pay to experiment with a lower toss and quicker timing.
     
    #9
  10. Rickson

    Rickson G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2004
    Messages:
    12,740
    Location:
    USA
    6 inches? You've got to be kidding! Goran doesn't let the ball drop an inch.

    Check at the 5 minute mark.
    http://youtube.com/watch?v=QOpfIqK0IIo

    I will agree with you that Andy Roddick lets the ball drop more than Goran does because 2 inches added to a zero drop equals 2 inches of drop. A foot? Judge for yourself.

    http://youtube.com/watch?v=muKDqiVer0k
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2007
    #10
  11. theone

    theone Banned

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2007
    Messages:
    485
    I think it's all about timing, because you're always going to hit it at roughly the same height anyway (arm outstretched), so it's all a timing issue, do you throw it low and uncoil pretty quickly or do you throw it higher and give yourself more time.
     
    #11
  12. WildVolley

    WildVolley Legend

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2007
    Messages:
    5,793
    You're correct on the Goran serve on the Wimbledon tape. However, Goran wasn't perfect, and I have a lot of slow-motion videos of his serve (I'm not sure what match they were taken from) on my computer that show him usually hitting the ball as it was dropping. So, I'll change my claim to a range of between no-drop to about 6" of drop. In any case, it is pretty close to the Braden advice in terms of the ball not moving very fast at contact.

    I have about 100 videos of Roddick's serve on my drive, and the drop is noticeable on most, but especially his second serve. But perhaps I exaggerated the extent of the drop. It usually appears to be less than a foot.
     
    #12
  13. Rickson

    Rickson G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2004
    Messages:
    12,740
    Location:
    USA
    I can accept that. Maybe Roddick's is a 6" drop at most, but Goran's is surely less than that.
     
    #13
  14. WildVolley

    WildVolley Legend

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2007
    Messages:
    5,793
    Yes, it is about timing, but it's not only about timing. The higher you throw the ball, the more difficult it is to throw it accurately. Guys like Goran and Roddick have an easier time with their toss because they aren't throwing as high. Other things equal, that's an advantage.
     
    #14
  15. Legend of Borg

    Legend of Borg Legend

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2007
    Messages:
    7,960
    Location:
    Pazardjik, Bulgaria
    The toss usually varies with the player. The higher he/she is, the higher the toss and vice versa. We have an anomaly serve in one of the players in our league. She is barely 5 feet, yet she tosses it 3 times her height. No I am not exaggerating. The strange part is, she hits the ball in 85% percent of the time. How she can time the ball and hit it while its FALLING is beyond me.
     
    #15
  16. wihamilton

    wihamilton Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2007
    Messages:
    1,535
    Location:
    Washington, DC
    1 - 2 feet above your contact point works pretty well. I wouldn't recommend hitting the ball at the apex of your toss. Pretty much no contemporary pro (w/a good serve) does this.
     
    #16
  17. Lawn Tennis

    Lawn Tennis Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2009
    Messages:
    446
    When do you toss the ball?

    Is this really Will Hamilton from fyb? I think it is -- just that FYB wasn't big back then.

    My question: Do you toss then ball and then enter your wind up? Or do you toss the ball during the wind up? This has a lot to do with toss height.
     
    #17
  18. Andres

    Andres G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2005
    Messages:
    12,541
    Location:
    Mar del Plata, Argentina
    #18
  19. Lawn Tennis

    Lawn Tennis Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2009
    Messages:
    446
    #19
  20. boramiNYC

    boramiNYC Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2011
    Messages:
    2,361
    Almagro who's currently third in the most aces ranking this year hits very close to the apex. Montanes as well who has really decent serve for his size. If your technique allows quick winding up of the body I don't see much negative about hitting near apex. Most pros like to see the ball clearly with a little more time and don't want to be rushed and probably don't care about the advantage of hitting near apex, but some do and can develop the technique accordingly.
     
    #20
  21. CoachingMastery

    CoachingMastery Professional

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2008
    Messages:
    1,077
    Location:
    Utah
    quick note about lower tosses: While a low toss is more manageable in wind, it is seldom done by most higher skilled players.

    However, there is a point here that my experience has also shown: players with low tosses tend to lower their tosses even more in tight situations. Tense players decrease all elements of their strokes and mechanics under pressure, (if they are not trained well), and thus, they tend to shorten the toss lower and lower as they feel more pressure...making contact well below the full extension of their arm, or worse.

    Just a side note regarding lower tosses. I'm not arguing which is really better other than the fact most skilled players to pros have a toss that has an apex that is anywhere between 6 inches to 2 feet above the contact point. There are exceptions to this...but that's what they are exceptions.
     
    #21
  22. papa

    papa Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2004
    Messages:
    4,071
    Yeah, I agree with Dave. Lower toss (hate that term (toss) but everyone uses it) also makes servers rush the entire motion in most instances - some make it work but it certainly has its drawbacks. 6" above the extended racquet is good for most that stay glued to the court.
     
    #22
  23. frenzy

    frenzy New User

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2012
    Messages:
    67
    I believe there is no straight answer to your question because it is a personal thing. It depends on your entire service motion, so you need to search for a height that makes you feel comfortable when serving. It depends on your personal rhythm. Many practices and when you feel you had the correct toss, focus on what you did to throw that toss. Good luck!
     
    #23
  24. Lawn Tennis

    Lawn Tennis Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2009
    Messages:
    446
    very well-written. you've convinced me
     
    #24

Share This Page