Tips to have a consistent toss?

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by TheCanadian, Feb 17, 2012.

  1. TheCanadian

    TheCanadian Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2011
    Messages:
    479
    The ball tends to roll of my fingers and I can't control my toss. Besides keeping the ball on your fingertips, a straight arm and a straight wrist, and the palm moving up in a horizontal position, like an elevator, after releasing the ball...any other tips for control and stability?
     
    #1
  2. r2473

    r2473 Legend

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2006
    Messages:
    7,019
    The "tips" you list seem like exactly what you should be doing.

    The only thing I'd add is make sure you aren't short-arming the toss. Fully extend your arm. This not only helps your consistency, but gives you the "chest stretch" (like a baseball pitcher) you need for a powerful service motion.
     
    #2
  3. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2008
    Messages:
    10,409
    are you palm up or palm sideways.
    Many find holding palm sideways like a glass can help.
     
    #3
  4. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

    Joined:
    May 3, 2004
    Messages:
    24,465
    Location:
    FT. Lauderdale, Florida
    practice your toss,
    practice your toss,
    practice your toss.

    Good luck!
     
    #4
  5. TheCanadian

    TheCanadian Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2011
    Messages:
    479
    Palm up. Standard among pros, no?
     
    #5
  6. Jack Romeo

    Jack Romeo Professional

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2004
    Messages:
    992
    in terms of just the toss itself, a lower toss is usually more consistent. however, it might also require a quicker or more well-timed motion of the body and hitting arm. otherwise, you may have the tendency to pull down on the stroke and not get it over the net a lot of times.

    ideally, your service motion should be one that maximizes your ability to coil and unleash as much power into the shot while still maintaining control. for some people, they require a slow start and a rapid finish. others start quickly and end quickly (roddick, with his abbreviated motion). whatever your preference, you should be tossing the ball at a height and to a spot where your natural service motion will work for you.

    i have found, through many years of tinkering with my own service motion, that a medium-high toss at around 1 o'clock is best for my own service motion.

    i used to have a really beautiful motion, which i copied from michael stich and i would shadow swing it many times. then, i figured where to toss the ball in order to take advantage of this motion. when i was on, it worked wonders. but when i was off with the toss, the whole thing suffered.

    later on, i found that i was most consistent with a toss that was medium-high at 1 o'clock. i had to modify the service motion to hit the ball. i now use a little more abbreviated motion, though not as jerky or twitchy as roddick's.

    of course, there are still days when i double fault more often. but i am more consistent now. i also average about 2 aces a set now - and that's in doubles, where i am only serving half the time.
     
    #6
  7. DeShaun

    DeShaun Banned

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2010
    Messages:
    2,837
    Your body will "toss the ball" for you. Just focus on your ideal contact zone. . .and force yourself to put the ball there, over and over.

    Tossing mechanics are not complicated. They are not a pull stroke, they are a push stroke.
    The less you are thinking about this "highly delicate bodily movement:)"--as though, like flipping a coin off of your thumbnail, it were something terribly difficult that required much study to master--the better off you will be. Just put the ball in your preferred strike zone, where you will see it the best while maintaining your most perfect, lower-body balance. Keep it simple. This works.

    Personally, my most reliable service motion, including the toss, is not my best-looking motion. . .but it is my most reliable.
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2012
    #7
  8. TheIrrefutableOne

    TheIrrefutableOne New User

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2011
    Messages:
    92
    fully extend your arm, and just let go of the ball, the ball only needs to go 6"- 10"

    YOU DO NOT NEED TO TOSS THE BALL
     
    #8
  9. TheCanadian

    TheCanadian Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2011
    Messages:
    479
    The arm should also move forward into the court and not back during the toss.
     
    #9
  10. sabala

    sabala Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2008
    Messages:
    410
    Location:
    Santa Monica
    Gotta just go out & practice just the toss.

    Maybe stop your motion in trophy pose and see if you can get the ball to land in a consistent spot. When my toss goes off I'll do like 10 practice tosses then hit 1 full serve & repeat...10 tosses/1 full serve.

    Check out this video on serve toss drill....

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=rnG4txyeBaM
     
    #10
  11. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2006
    Messages:
    11,055
    Location:
    Stuck in the Matrix somewhere in Santa Clara CA
    ^ For serve toss practice, I freeze in the trophy position and try to catch the ball (without moving my extended arm to do so). This seems to be a good toss for most of my 2nd serves. If I drop the toss that I caught, it lands fairly close to the same target area shown in the video. Of course this catch might depend on where your tossing hand actually ends up on your full extension.


    Not true. You must release the ball before full extension. Otherwise the ball will end up behind you. The ball is released when your hand is in front of your face (approx). The arm then continues upward to full extension (the tossing hand follow the ball upward, more or less). My ball toss is at least 2 feet higher than my outstretched (upward-stretched) hand.


    Many elite servers lift the arm parallel to the baseline in order to promote a greater body coil. Many of us toss at an angle to the baseline (perhaps 45 degrees or so) rather than tossing in the direction of the intended serve path.
    .
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2012
    #11
  12. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2006
    Messages:
    11,055
    Location:
    Stuck in the Matrix somewhere in Santa Clara CA
    The palm sideways is a very good alternative to the standard palm up technique. The "ice cream cone" toss is a variation of the palm sideways. You can use these variations as your normal toss or you can use them as an interim toss technique as a means to eliminate a problematic wrist (or elbow) flip.
     
    #12
  13. Zachol82

    Zachol82 Professional

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2007
    Messages:
    1,267
    Relax your entire arm. If there is one thing that is consistent about my game, that would be my toss. My servers are nothing extraordinary but is very accurate and I will probably double fault either once or twice throughout an entire 2-3 set match.

    The key here, as I mentioned before is to relax your tossing arm:
    - Your hand should be relaxed enough so that if you point your palm downward, that ball should just drop out from your grip.
    - With your palm facing upward, the ball should be resting on your fingers, NOT in the center of your palm.
    - When you finally make the toss, toss from your shoulder. Focus on that shoulder, not the wrist and not the elbow.
    - Instead of thinking about keeping your entire arm straight, you should be thinking of reaching upward in order to touch something that is way above you.

    Hope this helps!
     
    #13
  14. stormholloway

    stormholloway Legend

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2005
    Messages:
    6,832
    Location:
    New York City
    Best tip: forget about the toss.

    What I've found is that it is pre-anxiety of the motion that creates excessive focus on the toss. It sounds counter-intuitive but it's the truth. You will not think about your toss if you can count on your ability to swing the racquet face in the correct position.

    Forget about the toss.
     
    #14
  15. TheIrrefutableOne

    TheIrrefutableOne New User

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2011
    Messages:
    92
     
    #15
  16. fuzz nation

    fuzz nation Legend

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2006
    Messages:
    8,630
    Different tosses work better for different players for sure. One issue that can complicate things for so many servers isn't how they toss the ball, but when they toss it. Aside from putting the ball up into that proper spot in the air for a consistent delivery, it's also vital to be good and ready to take that un-rushed swing up through the ball when the toss happens.

    If hitting an actual serve feels any more rushed than taking a simple practice motion (without hitting a ball), it can be helpful to experiment with delaying the toss while letting the windup progress more fully before the swing. Even the pros get a little rushed with their serve here and there, but this is the one shot that's never "on the clock". That idea of getting more "loaded up" before tossing the ball can unlock a lot of potential in a serve.

    I have to start my toss with a bent elbow that's actually set against my side and the ball sitting in my hand down where my fingers meet the top of my palm. Instead of swinging a straight arm upward and flipping the toss into the air, my toss is more of a linear lift that feels sort of like I'm placing the ball up on a very high shelf. I sort of lift it straight toward the spot in the air where I need it for the right swing path. As I lift the ball, my elbow straightens out with not much of any wrist action. I get good consistent location this way.
     
    #16
  17. subz

    subz Rookie

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2009
    Messages:
    366
    I have a problem that I rush into my tossing motion. The first thing one of the coach told me when he saw my action was to SLOW my tossing motion. Remember that serve is one stroke where you have a lot of time. So think where you want to serve, what kind of serve you want to hit (flat, slice, kick) and toss the ball in a steady motion. That worked for me, it might help you as well. Also, I used to toss way higher than needed. A lower the toss is easier.

    Another reason for my erratic toss was my balance was off when I started to serve. Best way is to make sure your feet are in the right position when you start to serve. A good way to achieve this is start with your regular stance and then jumping a couple of time, your body automatically places your feet in the best place.

    EDIT: Didn't read fuzz nation post, but he has said what I want to convey
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2012
    #17
  18. subz

    subz Rookie

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2009
    Messages:
    366
    Sounds good. I will try this one out next time. There are so many good imagination techniques for serving like:
    try to hit over a mountain,
    hitting a nail in the wall - to understand the wrist motion of serve,
    think of yourself being in a cylinder,
    for follow through, the racquet arm should come down so that it looks like you are checking time from a watch
     
    #18
  19. Photoshop

    Photoshop Professional

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2007
    Messages:
    892
    Location:
    Florida
    THIS.

    Best advice is to just not think about it at all.

    I have struggled with inconsistent toss for a long time. I'd say it's 90% mental and 10% mechanical. One simple drill improved my ball toss tremendously.

    Grab 2-3 balls and start serving. Hit 2-3 serves almost instantly without any pause inbetween. Repeat 100 times (or until you feel comfortable with the toss). This way you won't think/worry about the toss.

    *full credit goes to uvijek argen*
     
    #19
  20. Mike Hodge

    Mike Hodge Rookie

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2010
    Messages:
    127
    Consistent toss

    Slow down the speed of your tossing arm. Doing so helps control the toss, which allows you to get the good prep/load. This has been a huge revelation for me.
     
    #20
  21. Nellie

    Nellie Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2004
    Messages:
    3,773
    I find that most players will struggle if they are trying to toss like pro because pros are tossing up and forward into the court. Thus, I prefer the above-mentioned sno-cone technique (I was taught it is like holding a soda can) so the ball does not roll off your finger tips.

    Another problem I see is people bending their knees down while moving their arms up to toss the ball. This motion is way too complex with too many moving parts, leading to bad results. Instead, think of the serve motion in parts: (1) toss up, (2) bend the knees down while twisting back, then (3) swing up and out.
     
    #21
  22. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2006
    Messages:
    11,055
    Location:
    Stuck in the Matrix somewhere in Santa Clara CA
    Not very articulate are we?
     
    #22
  23. Thepowerofchoice

    Thepowerofchoice Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2007
    Messages:
    760
    #23
  24. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2006
    Messages:
    11,055
    Location:
    Stuck in the Matrix somewhere in Santa Clara CA
    Excellent advice.


    The timing of the knee bend can be dependent on the height of the toss. Players who prefer to hit the toss at its peak, will often start the knee bend as the tossing arm rises & prior to the ball release. Many elite servers will start the knee bend as the ball is being release (or a split second after ball release).

    Still others servers wait a bit longer. The do not bend the knees until the tossing arm is at/near full extension. These players tend to need a fairly high toss. I would suggest either option A or B and not this last variation.
     
    #24
  25. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2006
    Messages:
    11,055
    Location:
    Stuck in the Matrix somewhere in Santa Clara CA
    Tossing parallel to the baseline works for a lot of pros but might not be for everyone. It does promote an excellent coiling action but might be too extreme for some. I do not suggest lifting the tossing arm toward the target area. Many servers will lift the arm at some intermediate angle between this and baseline parallel toss. In this case, the server can still continue to coil somewhat after the ball release.
     
    #25
  26. syke

    syke Professional

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2012
    Messages:
    1,356
    On the Ad court, my front foot is pretty much parallel to the baseline, same goes my toss.

    On the Deuce court, my front foot is pointing towards the net post, same with my toss.

    Anything wrong with that?
     
    #26
  27. Baltazar

    Baltazar New User

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2012
    Messages:
    5
    Health is Wealth:

    we should eat fresh and healthy food and vegetables,
    which makes us healthy and also doing exercise....
     
    #27
  28. Bagumbawalla

    Bagumbawalla Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2006
    Messages:
    2,467
    Try practicing with something larger and heavier than a tennis ball- a cantelope or a basketball. Stand next to a wall, so you have a sense of the vertical space, and toss the object to your pre-marked height- over and over and over. Then, hopefully, some of the feel will transferover tothe tennis ball situation.
     
    #28
  29. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2010
    Messages:
    9,277
    Funny I just wrote a post about this in the former pro section. When I used to play with a 1hb, like virtually all others of the time, I served with 2 balls in my hand. The 2nd ball was held with my pinky and ring finger and the 1st ball was held in my first 3 fingers in an icecream cone shape. Having only those 3 fingers to release the ball, my toss was more accurate and more consistent that way than with 5 fingers releasing the ball.

    So, perhaps it may help you to tuck your pinky and ring finger into your palm and toss from your first 3 fingers with your thumb up.
     
    #29
  30. charliefedererer

    charliefedererer Legend

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2009
    Messages:
    5,639
    I like the "parallel to the baseline toss that the pros use" to help with coiling: "Watch how Federer, Murray, Hass, Hewitt, Davydenko, Safin, Tsonga all make the same move when tossing the ball. Keys to a good toss: Upper body turn during the backswing, follow through after releasing the ball."
    - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lIF-UaRUd6k&feature=related

    Notice how Sampras has already started coiling as the ball is going up, so that very soon after ball release he is fully coiled:
    [​IMG]

    Tossing/coiling is then one continuous unrushed motion - not a toss, then a rush to coil.



    Many (including pros) have learned to toss without using the "ice cream toss" method.
    Tennis Serve Toss - How to Hold the Ball for the Ice Cream Toss http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M8kynEzufNE&feature=related

    But if you are tossing parallel to the baseline, it is much easier to toss using the ice cream toss.
    With the "regular" finger tip toss, you have to keep supinating/externally rotating the shoulder to keep your palm faced up. By the time of ball release (which has to be above shoulder level for a fixed arm J toss) you can really feel that external shoulder rotation.

    On the other hand, the ice cream toss is an easy straight up motion with the arm, with none of that contortion to keep the palm up.
    Fed show how it is done here:
    [​IMG]


    In this video Brent Abel stresses the toss has really two more functions other than getting the ball into an optimal hitting position: it should help get you into a great trophy position, and as your tossing arm continues all the way up straight overhead, it helps balance you as you get your hip out in a bow shape.
    Tennis Serve Tossing Motion Tempo http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CeZp90h-Ar8&feature=relmfu
    The tossing arm really serves as the "conductor's baton" setting the tempo or rhythm of the serve, continuing up after the ball release at the same speed as before ball release until it is straight overhead.


    But the rhythm or tempo of the serve is really set in motion even before the arm movement by the big lean into the court (pic 1), then lean back (pic 2), as seen below:
    [​IMG]


    The tossing arm is started up not from contracting any arm muscles, but simply maintaining the arm out in front and reversing the downward shoulder angle (pic 1 below) by leaning back which makes the shoulders level and elevates the arm (pic 2)
    [​IMG]
    Thus it is a large body movement - leaning back from the initial forward lean that really starts the tempo of the serve, but then having to use the arm muscles to maintain that constant tempo from pic 2 to 3 to 4.
    (or maybe better seen in a video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vcjZ5r_YHV0 .)
     
    #30
  31. TheCanadian

    TheCanadian Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2011
    Messages:
    479
    I don't see from the pictures either Sampras or Federer using the ice cream toss. It looks like they both use the standard toss.
     
    #31
  32. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2010
    Messages:
    9,277
    The icecream cone toss is the standard toss. Basically, it just means tossing with the thumb up.
     
    #32
  33. TennisCJC

    TennisCJC Legend

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2010
    Messages:
    5,361
    Fed does use the ice cream toss - his hand is sideways and not palm up. You can go to Youtube and search Fed serve to get loads of video or FuzzyYellowBalls.com pro strokes library to see Fed's serve. He also releases the ball before the top of his head not at full extension and many say "fully extend the arm and just release the ball a few inches" which isn't true.

    Fed also keeps his weight back until after the ball is released which is contradictory to what a lot of people teach. Weight is centered on back foot until after the ball is released. This promotes good balance and reduces movement during the tossing action which assist with a consistent toss. Too much hip or leg or other movement causes balance issues and toss to stray.

    Look at this for example of ice cream cone release, toss release around head high, and weight on back foot until after ball is released: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OIjfJrfIWnI

    I find the ice cream cone tech is better than palm up. Less arkward and promotes a still forearm.

    Another tip: put the focus of your mind and eyes up on where you want to place the toss as you start your motion. Kind of a zen thing but place your focus on the contact area and place the ball into the contact area. It is much easier if you focus first.
     
    #33
  34. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2006
    Messages:
    11,055
    Location:
    Stuck in the Matrix somewhere in Santa Clara CA
    If it works for you, then it is fine. Do you serve equally well on both sides?


    [​IMG]

    It certainly looks like Roger's hand is primarily on the side of the ball rather than underneath it as he releases. That it pretty much an ice cream cone release. In looking at the Sampras sequence above, his tossing hand starts underneath the ball but at his release the hand orientation is almost like Federer's.

    This would seem to indicate that Pete is rotating his arm on the toss. Note that the ice cream toss can also be executed with very little arm rotation -- by starting the hand on the side of the ball (as Roger does) rather than underneath it (as Pete does).
    .
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2012
    #34
  35. charliefedererer

    charliefedererer Legend

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2009
    Messages:
    5,639
    ,
    Systemic Anomaly answers your question above. Federer has the classic ice cream toss which you can see on this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vcjZ5r_YHV0
    Sampras does not, which you can see in the toss sequence pictures above, or in this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-jj2gfWeCvg


    The bigger message is to get a nice tempo into your toss, and try to use the tossing motion as part of getting smoothly in a balanced, but aggressive, trophy position you can explode out of.


    I just think it is not likely mere chance that so many of the best servers bring their arm up parallel to the baseline, and that it really does facilitate being able to start to coil as the arm is being raised.
    And that it is "easier" to bring the hand up already in the "ice cream cone" holding position while tossing parallel to the baseline, rather than have to continually supinate/externally rotate the shoulder to keep the hand moving up with the "palm up" toss.
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2012
    #35

Share This Page