question about ball toss for kick serve

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by treblings, May 2, 2013.

  1. treblings

    treblings Hall of Fame

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    here´s the situation and i´m asking for everybody´s opinion.

    i have an 18 year old female with a very good serve for an amateur.
    she plays league matches, local tournaments, trains twice a week.
    we measured her flat first serve at about 100mph and she has a very efficient slice serve. she´s a lefty btw
    she has had problems with consistency of her ball toss and she sometimes mixes some topspin in with the slice serve.
    at least some of the time, i suspect that comes as a byproduct of the ball toss not being where she wants it.
    i would like her to develop a kick serve, and i´m thinking of trying to work on that without her having to change her toss too much.
    my reasons for that. i´m happy that she found some consistency with her normal ball toss and don´t want to complicate things.
    also i think it would add disguise to her serve, if you can´t read the kick because of the ball toss.
    i´d like to hear your thoughts.

    btw, she doesn´t want me to put a video of her serve action here in this forum, and i respect that of course
     
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  2. USArmyTennis

    USArmyTennis New User

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    I personally can hit a kick or twist from the 12 o'clock without a problem. I think you should teach her how to kick by tossing the ball back towards the 11 though. The proper form needs to be taught for her to understand the motion of swinging with the shoulder up across the ball to create the spin. After she understands the motion required to hit a heavy topspin serve you can work on recreating that motion from a similar ball toss to her first serve. You really don't have to change her ball toss to make a good kick if you aren't set on the disguise part of it. I teach people to release the toss slightly later with the same motion to allow the ball to travel further behind the body.
     
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  3. Lukhas

    Lukhas Legend

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    #3
  4. treblings

    treblings Hall of Fame

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    thanks, your points are well taken.
    my idea is to work with her over the next weeks and see what works for her
    and report that in this thread.
     
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  5. treblings

    treblings Hall of Fame

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    i agree with Mauro that the ball toss should be inside the court and not behind you. you just don´t get enough pace on your kick serve if you throw the ball behind you.
    i just wonder how much you need to throw the ball behind your head to produce a good kick serve
     
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  6. toly

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    Lefty Sam Stosur kick serve

    [​IMG]
     
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  7. treblings

    treblings Hall of Fame

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    thanks toly...great photo series:)
    i have to look into some Stosur videos
     
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  8. mightyrick

    mightyrick Hall of Fame

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    Yeah, you're onto something here. This is where I like what Rafter says about the toss and making an "unpredictable" serve.

    I myself have toss-consistency problems on the second serve sometimes. Especially if it's late in a match and I'm tired. But even if my toss is off a little bit... the serve can still be pretty effective. Instead of a more kicking serve with pace, it turns into a top-slice with less pace but breaks to the side.

    I've gotten to the point now that on the second serve... as long as my motion and racquet head speed are decent... good things are going to happen. The toss doesn't matter as much as long as it is somewhere in the vicinity of 11 o'clock to 1 o'clock.
     
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  9. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    Have you seen the new Patrick Rafter serve video series with Will Hamilton (FYB)? Pat recommends a kick serve for both 1st and 2nd serves. He hits the first serve faster than the 2nd (which has more spin), so the former does not kick as much as the 2nd. You can adopt a similar toss if you adopt this strategy.

    OTOH, a lefty will probably also want a wicked slice serve on the ad side (it might be a bit too risky on the deuce side for some lefties). A twist/kick serve on the deuce side for a lefty can be quite a weapon. Check out the Serve Doctor with this lefty:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ds6CZ4qCXD4

    I would not be overly concerned if the 2nd serve toss is somewhat different fomr the first. In general, everyone expects the 1st serve to be different than the first most of the time. Even great servers like Pete Sampras has talked about using 2 different tosses. But then the difference between his 2 tosses is probably subtler than the average player. Federer appears to use a wider arc on his toss and intercepts it at different places for different types of serve.

    I would say that it is more much important to disguise the placement of a serve rather than the type of serve. Keep this in mind when considering toss options.
     
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  10. treblings

    treblings Hall of Fame

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    same here. if my toss differs, i react to it by changing the spin/slice that i put on the ball, usually works quite well.
     
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  11. treblings

    treblings Hall of Fame

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    i´ve seen and liked the Rafter videos. they probably made me start this thread.
    i´ve also seen the serve doctor video. i find it interesting that he recommends changing the grip rather then the toss to achieve more kick
     
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  12. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    ^ I am also a lefty and can drive a lot of players crazy with my assortment of lefty spins. I will sometimes shift my grip more towards the Eastern BH. I find that I can more easily produce different results with such a grip change.
     
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  13. treblings

    treblings Hall of Fame

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    i am a lefty myself.
    my player has the kind of wicked slice that you talked about in your previous post. i can see her changing between slices and spins from the ad side to confuse opponents.
    from the deuce side i would like her to develop more of a pure kick that drives her opponents out of the court.
    i also like your comment about disguising placement
     
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  14. mightyrick

    mightyrick Hall of Fame

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    This is one of the more quote-worthy things I've read in awhile.
     
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  15. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Low toss, visualizing where you want the contact point to be, so the toss goes there.
    Twists/kicks don't need to be tossed behind your head, but atop is just fine, with an up and out swingpath.
    High net clearance is key, to get the higher bounce.
    Change not only the toss location, but also the grip. All serves with conti, but more hammer for kick serves seems to work for me.
     
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  16. Relinquis

    Relinquis Hall of Fame

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    Vince Spadea suggest a 12 o'clock toss for all serves. just adjust your body and racquet face according to what serve you want.

    http://youtu.be/cUSpsyNXEXE?t=11m21s

    easier said than done, but is probably where you want to end up.
     
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  17. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Not sure Vince's suggestions are applicable to lower level WTA tennis.
    Stosur is the only woman really hitting twist/kick serves. Every opponent knows she's hitting twist/kicks. Don't matter where she toss's the ball, whatsover.
     
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  18. Relinquis

    Relinquis Hall of Fame

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    key is variety... that's why Vince was good. He could do more than one thing. Stosur just hits a few different kinds of spin. the OP's student already has a flat serve. spin would be a big change-up.

    treblings, what do you think of this kicker video? it's a bollettieri student and instructor. is this what you are trying to achieve?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ds6CZ4qCXD4
     
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  19. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Her twists are very raw, and will probably get better with more practice.
    Not only wide, but short and long. And while most do kick, a third twist, at least 20% just go slice on her.
    Like mine on a bad twist serve day.
    Remember, the twist is used either to come to net on the first serve, or as a SAFE second serve that NEEDS to be close to 95% IN IN IN.
     
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  20. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Oh, sorry, the part about needing to swing really fast to hit a short target..... no not true at all. While a slower swing can often bite the ball better and keep depth consistently deep in the service box, it's the PLACEMENT of the ball over the net that ultimately determines it's short depth in the opponent's service box. Place that ball 2" above the netcord, it will go short. Place that ball 3' above the netcord with the same swing, it goes deeper, of course.
    While short wide placement is OK, a better serve is deep wide placement, allowing the twist effect to bounce overhead, and also 3' to the side.
    A short placed twist serve is like a short placed groundstroke. While it can surprise an opponent once, it's easily solved and pummelled.
     
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  21. treblings

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    i´ve known this video for a long time and like it a lot.
    maybe i should show it to my student.it is actually pretty similar to how my student serves in regard to rhythm and ball toss. she could easily see herself in that video.
    minus the consistency and leg drive of Doughertys player:)
    i´d like to come to a point with my student, where i can call out the kind of serve she hits after the ball toss.
    and there are some coaches who say, with the kick serve you have to throw the ball behind your back and maybe behind the base line as well. and you have to bend your back a lot.
    and that is certainly one way to teach the kick serve.
    i´m just not sure it is the easiest way to teach it. keeping in mind my player trains twice weekly and not daily
     
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  22. treblings

    treblings Hall of Fame

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    if the returner can´t read the serve it could work more than once i guess.
    i agree that you don´t have to swing really fast for a short serve. my experience is that players who are asked to hit a short serve usually slow down the swing to achieve this. serve may be short that way but with less spin.
     
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  23. anubis

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    I try to toss the ball the same way regardless of whether its a 1st or 2nd serve. In fact, everything that I do is the same with a 1st or 2nd serve: toss, service motion and racquet head speed. The only difference is the type of spin I apply to the ball. If its a first serve, then its either flat or slice. If its a 2nd serve, then I put top spin on it.

    The ball toss for me is always in the same spot, in front of me. If I let it drop and hit the ground, it would land in the court. I was always taught yeaaars ago (we're talking 20 years ago actually) that if the ball lands on your head, you did a bad toss... so that's just the way I do things. perhaps things have changed since I was a junior...

    I don't know if it's the best way of doing things, but its very consistent and It allows me to think about other things, instead of worrying about where I'm going to toss the ball next.
     
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  24. Raul_SJ

    Raul_SJ Professional

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    There is something to be said for having the same toss (or essentially the same toss) for first and second serves.

    As pointed out in the FYB video lesson, Rafter believes his opponents put themselves at a disadvantage by telegraphing their kick serve with the arching of the back and extreme toss behind the head. Rafter, knowing that the kick was coming, would then come in and take it on the rise and try to attack the kicker.

    Rafter strongly believes in disguising the type of serve -- not only the location, so he hits flat, slice and kick with essentially the same toss.

    Something for club players to consider.
     
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  25. toly

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    Rafter’s FYB videos clearly demonstrate that he exploits different tosses for different serves.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: May 3, 2013
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  26. Power Player

    Power Player G.O.A.T.

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    Toly's posts remind me of guys posting stills of mishits to try and prove that people hit the ball with the racquet completely closed.

    If he took time to actually watch the video he would have heard that rafter said his toss is not always exactly the same and he doesn't even worry about it.

    Instead he spends his time analyzing still shots, which is a complete waste of time.

    Raul, you are correct in that Rafter does not vary his toss much on purpose. He does factor in human error, which some people here don't seem think much about.
     
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  27. mightyrick

    mightyrick Hall of Fame

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    Actually those photos don't clearly demonstrate that.

    The thing that receiving players key off of is "toss motion"... way more than ball location at contact. If you can toss into a slightly different location but have your toss motion always look exactly the same... this is the important thing.

    So I'm not saying your conclusion is wrong. I'm only saying that I don't think the data you are using to support that conclusion is correct.

    The real indicator would be to look at Rafter's toss motion on both serves and see if we can see a noticeable difference with the naked eye.
     
    #27
  28. toly

    toly Hall of Fame

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    What can you say about these pictures?

    [​IMG]
     
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  29. Power Player

    Power Player G.O.A.T.

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    I can say that once again you have missed the point.
     
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  30. arche3

    arche3 Banned

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    Two pics looks almost identical at the release of the ball. I don't really see how an opponent can see the ball curve 6 inches more left on a second serve toss of Rafter. They look almost identical.
     
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  31. Power Player

    Power Player G.O.A.T.

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    Yes, exactly.

    Subtlety is something that comes with experience and requires little thought at that point.

    This forum is loaded with the inexperienced trying to figure that out.
     
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  32. arche3

    arche3 Banned

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    if you take the squiggles out of tolys side by side pics it can almost be the same pictures.
     
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  33. mightyrick

    mightyrick Hall of Fame

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    I agree. Based on the two motions I can't see how anybody is going to tell a difference. The motion is almost exactly the same.
     
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  34. arche3

    arche3 Banned

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    Its actually an example of rafters epicness that they both look the same. Opponent has no idea what is coming.
     
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  35. toly

    toly Hall of Fame

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    If you still do not see the difference between these two tosses, then I cannot help.:shock:

    [​IMG]
     
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  36. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    I know it's hard to argue with video, but......
    If I remember correctly, only Edberg used the high toss shown in these vids.
    Cash and Rafter played using much lower tosses, so the ball dropped maybe one foot off it's zenith before impact.
    These vids are 20 years after Rafter's prime, and I suspect his motion is VERY changed from his motion when he was 23 years old.
     
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  37. Power Player

    Power Player G.O.A.T.

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    How many times do you need to showcase that you don't get it?

    :shock:
     
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  38. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    As I said previously, many pros (such as Sampras) have indicated that they use more than one toss - particularly for 1st vs 2nd serves. It is no great secret that most players will use a different serve for their 2nd than for their first.

    Now, if we are talking about club players, it is even less important to disguise the type of serve. I'll repeat what I stated earlier, "it is more much important to disguise the placement of a serve rather than the type of serve. Keep this in mind when considering toss options."
     
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  39. mightyrick

    mightyrick Hall of Fame

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    Of course we can see the difference when we are sitting at our computers, drinking our favorite beverage, sitting back in a chair. We could see the difference if it was even 2 inches... or 1 inch different.

    The point is that on the tennis court, at the distance to the other side, his motion is virtually identical.

    You do realize there is such a thing as "serve disguise", correct? In these cases, a player may have a slightly different contact point, but the motion leading up to contact is so similar that the receiver doesn't have time to adjust. BOOM. The serve is already on them.

    The two serves shown are a kick serve and a top/slice serve. They are almost exactly the same serve. With that motion, it would take a superhuman to be able to tell which one was coming.
     
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  40. Raul_SJ

    Raul_SJ Professional

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    That is also a valid strategy.

    I think Rafter is going for both disguise and placement by hitting flat and spin with the same toss . The tradeoff is that he won't get as much spin with a less extreme toss, but the returner is not sure what is coming.

    Will also mentions that he has very carefully tailored this lessons specifically for club players to consider incorporating into their game.

    With regard to the alternate strategy of disguising placement and not disguising the spin.

    If the server is hitting a kick serve from the Ad court, and the receiver KNOWS that the kick is coming, what percentage of those kick serves will be going towards the backhand corner?

    80%? How much of a factor is the disguise in placement in this scenario?
     
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  41. toly

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    I’m talking about toss differences for different types of serves only. I didn’t say anything about disguise. IMO each type of serve needs specific toss. For example, it is absolutely impossible to hit slice and topspin serves with the same toss.
    BTW, one asked Davydenko how he was able to return Roddick’s serves so successfully. The answer was, “Roddick’s toss tells me everything about any type of his serve.”
     
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  42. mightyrick

    mightyrick Hall of Fame

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    Ok. Honestly, I don't know what you're talking about anymore or what the point is. Sorry.

    We can just move on.
     
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  43. Raul_SJ

    Raul_SJ Professional

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    Not true.

    Did you see the video, with the sound on?

    Check it out at 03:13

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=jSD62Mqu57M#t=193s

    Rafter talking about his first serve : "I'll use the SAME ball toss and try to hit either a kicker or slice off of it..."

    Of course, Rafter is not going to get AS MUCH topspin or slice by using the same toss for topspin and slice. But Rafter is trading off spin for disguise on the first serve-- the returner doesn't know what is coming.

    It could be flat, slice or kick on Rafter's first serve. All with the same toss.

    Very effective first serve.
     
    #43
  44. toly

    toly Hall of Fame

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    Picture below disagree with Rafter’s talking. There are big differences among Rafter explanations and his actions.

    [​IMG]

    In case of first serve the contact point is above tree, but in case of second serve it is between trees. The distance between these points is more 12”. The tosses are unquestionably dissimilar and any receiver can see it.
     
    #44
  45. arche3

    arche3 Banned

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    people are not robots. impossile for toss to be exact. you can't see the difference from across the otherside. especially when there are hundreds of different ball arcs in a match. its not just two.
     
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  46. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    I believe that gaze control studies appear to indicate that novice/amateur serve returners tend to follow the toss and a variety of other cues more than elite/pro players. This has been seen with both tennis and volleyball. During the execution phase of the serve, elite players focus on less -- that is, they are more selective about the cues they watch. They primarily watch the upward swing of the racket and arm. I provided a couple of links in the following post:

    http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=332205

    "... During the ritual phase, experts focus on the shoulder/trunk areas whereas novices concentrate their search around the head of the server. During the execution phase, experts concentrate on the racquet whereas novices use more cues..."
     
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  47. toly

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    Stosur hits two different serves with different tosses.

    [​IMG]
     
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  48. treblings

    treblings Hall of Fame

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    how can you tell the difference from those two pics?
     
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  49. arche3

    arche3 Banned

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    They look near identical. Toly please stop. Lol. :D

    All she did was hit the left ball later. By one ball of the toly squiggle ball monster. Toss looks the same.
     
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  50. toly

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    First let’s analyze the serve toss theoretically.

    What should Stosur do to hit pure topspin and pure slice (sidespin) serves?

    I believe that in case of pure topspin the racquet’s long axis has to be horizontal at contact, then Stosur could brush the ball vertically. There will be pure topspin and no ball’s sidespin.

    In case of pure slice serve the racquet’s long axis should be vertical at contact, then she can brush horizontally.

    Pictures below illustrate this idea.

    [​IMG]

    So, to hit practical slice serve Stosur tosses the ball behind her head. In case of twist serve she tosses above her head. In case of slice serve she should toss the ball to the right.
     
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