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Finster 05-13-2012 08:47 PM

tossing arm
 
Anyone else have any problems having your tossing arm to be straight up without your toss going all haywire? I'm really focusing on trying to stretch out my tossing arm so its going straight up, also helping my hips to jut out into the court, but its messing with my timing and my toss. My natural tendency is to have my tossing arm to end at about 60 degrees instead of ending straight up. Thanks.

SystemicAnomaly 05-14-2012 12:20 AM

Common problem. With your 60 degree toss you are stopping your tossing arm, somewhat abruptly, shortly after your ball release. It's almost as if you are chucking the ball, or heaving the ball, up into the air. It should be more like you are lifting the ball or placing it into the air rather than throwing into the air.

Start the upward motion of the toss with the tossing hand close to your front thigh. Lift the arm up at an even, moderate pace. The speed of the tossing arm should be just fast enough to get the toss height that you desire. Release the ball just as your arm goes past parallel (to the ground). You can use your chin level or some other appropriate reference for your release. Just open your fingers to release the ball. Let your hand/fingers follow the released ball until your arm is vertical.

You should not be lifting your arm in the direction of the intended target area. You could lift your arm parallel (or nearly parallel) to the baseline as many elite servers do. If this is too extreme for you, try lifting it at some intermediate angle wrt to baseline -- perhaps 30 degrees to 45 degrees.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lIF-UaRUd6k

Execute a lot of practice tosses (w/o swinging at it). Toss so that the released ball follows a slight arc that you can catch in your outstretched hand (vertical arm). This would represent a good toss (particularly for a 2nd serve). Toss and catch in this manner until you develop a consistent toss.

You might try the Federer "ice cream cone" toss. His lifts his hand so that it is more on the side of the ball rather than underneath it. This technique should help to prevent you from flipping your wrist (or bending your elbow) as you lift/release the ball. The lifting action should should be from the shoulder (w/o bending other parts of the arm).


jxs653 05-14-2012 10:43 AM

SystemicAnomaly, that's a great video (and comment). Thanks..

retlod 05-14-2012 10:55 AM

Hmmm. After watching that I realize just how bad at tennis I am. :)

I would love to see some slow-mo video of myself playing.

sportsfan1 05-14-2012 12:25 PM

I read that the tossing arm wrist should be laid back/bent towards the index knuckle at the end of the toss. Is this supposed to it help with toss consistency?

As an example, here's Djok: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UwdwQ29Qae0&t=20s

charliefedererer 05-14-2012 01:21 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by sportsfan1 (Post 6533554)
I read that the tossing arm wrist should be laid back/bent towards the index knuckle at the end of the toss. Is this supposed to it help with toss consistency?

As an example, here's Djok: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UwdwQ29Qae0&t=20s

Djokovic does not use the ice cream toss release SA posts above, with Fed being his example.

Instead he releases it with the palm under his hand like Nadal and probably the majority of tennis players.
However using this type of toss, you can see the obvious anguish experienced by Nadal :wink:




Biomechanics is the study of how our muscles and joints work.

Biomechanics would tell us that it is difficult to maintain the hand and forearm with the palm pointing up (supinated) as we bring the ball up for a toss.

In fact, I think everybody can appreciate bringing the ball up in the "ice cream toss" position feels less stressful, with the foream and wrist more relaxed. And the video of Brent Abel at the end of this post makes the great point that the feeling of stress raising the tossing arm causes many to fail to get the steep shoulder angle needed for the serve.


The uncomfortable feeling in raising our arm high with the hand supinated has to do with the way the musculature, bones and joints of our arms, wrists and hand are put together.


The following picture shows the most comfortable position of our hands to work which is known as the "position of function". (It is preceded by pictures of our hands/forearms in "supination" and "neutral" positions, with a picture of "supination" following.



The "position of function" is how we hold the steering wheel and how we position our hands to do fine work that requires close cooperation using both hands so that the thumb and index fingers of both hands are close to one another [which is probably why our arms/forerarms/hands evolved to work this way].

Bringing the ball up in a "neutral" position is actually the most comfortable practical way of raising up a ball to toss it. (Elevating the ball in the "position of function" is not practical since the hand in that orientation would not allow the ball to be released upward.)


So why don't more use the "ice cream toss"?

Undoubtedly habit, as most never thought of releasing the ball from the side of their hands, as they had always released the ball from the palm of their hands when throwing it forward. So it is my guess as to why most grip the ball the same way to toss it upward.

Clearly some have really good consistent tosses without using the "ice cream toss".

But for those having difficulty with their toss, trying the "ice cream toss" may be in order.
Tennis Serve Toss - How to Hold the Ball http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M8kyn...eature=related

bhupaes 05-14-2012 01:46 PM

All instructive and great points, SA and charliefederer. One thing I've noticed is that a slight rocking motion where the tossing hand loads up a little at the bottom of its path helps greatly with accuracy. Sure, one can also begin the toss with a completely "unloaded" arm, but I have found it to lack control. Not sure if this is just idiosyncratic, or is a general principle... could you comment on it? Thanks.

charliefedererer 05-14-2012 02:02 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by bhupaes (Post 6533768)
All instructive and great points, SA and charliefederer. One thing I've noticed is that a slight rocking motion where the tossing hand loads up a little at the bottom of its path helps greatly with accuracy. Sure, one can also begin the toss with a completely "unloaded" arm, but I have found it to lack control. Not sure if this is just idiosyncratic, or is a general principle... could you comment on it? Thanks.

Part of a recent post by me:

"Tip #2: Don't "arm" your ball toss!

Huh?!!!

We've all been told not to "arm" our groundstrokes and serves.

Instead, the hitting arm motion should be preceded by a big body motion (coiling), to generate the initial energy in hitting the ball, with the arm swing following the reversal of the big body motion (coiling to uncoiling).

So too on the toss, a big body motion to initiate momemtum followed by a reverse of the big body movement, helps get the arm going up. But in the case of the toss, the motion is not coiling, but instead first leaning into the court, then leaning back, to helps get the arm going up!


Go back to that video of all the pros serve tosses. Note that all first lean into the court, then lean back.

Federer's lean in and lean back is more exagerated than most, but as usual, Fed is not wasting motion here:



When leaning in (pics 1,2 above), the tossing arm is going to going to be very low.



When leaning back, the tossing arm is going to start to rise as the shoulders and hips go from a downward slant (pic 1 above) to no slant of the shoulders/hips (pic 2) to an upward slant (pic 3).

This reversal of the shoulders/hip from a downward to upward slant provides the momentum to get your tossing arm moving upward.

The result is that you don't have to work hard on your toss if you let your big body movement help supply the energy.

[To those who have already noticed this "lean in" is actually "forming a bow shape" forwards, with the 'lean back" going all the way past vertical to forming the "bow shape in the opposite direction in the trophy pose - see tip #4 below - only to reverse again through the hitting motion.]


Watching the video helps to emphasize the "lean in" and "lean back", and how the toss is intrinsically interwoven with getting into the trophy position:
Roger Federer - Serve in Slow Motion http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D4PfHpKbJSI



Tip #3: The tempo of how fast you lean back, from your initial lean in, determines how fast to elevate your tossing arm.


Every orchestra needs a conductor, and every conductor has a baton to set the tempo of the music.

Your tossing arm is should be going up at a constant speed, and your tossing arm acts as the baton to set the tempo to your serve.
Tennis Serve Tossing Motion Tempo http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CeZp9...feature=relmfu

How fast your tossing arm movement should move comes from how fast you lean back (pic 1 to pic 2 above) in the initiation of the toss.

[Lean back too fast, and your tossing arm will move up too fast, and the ball will go too high.
Lean back too slow and your tossing arm will move up too slow, and ball will not be tossed high enough.
Lean back "just right" and your tossing arm will move up at "just the right" speed to get your toss to the right height.]"

- http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showt...36#post6424836

bhupaes 05-14-2012 02:11 PM

^^^ Thanks! Makes a lot of sense, and I can relate to it first hand!

LeeD 05-14-2012 02:44 PM

More important than technique is the ability to toss the ball exactly where you want it...even if your arm can only raise to 45 degree angles above your head.
Accuracy is paramount.
I haven't chased a serve toss or caught a ball in over 35 years, and my arm doesn't ever point straight up, due to injuries to the shoulders.
Picture where you want the ball. Flat, top/slice, top, kick. Place it there.

Finster 05-14-2012 08:41 PM

Does having a vertical tossing arm automatically put you into the ideal trophy bow-shaped pose? One thing that is also hard to do is to be in that pose, up onto your toes which, if you're not used to it, will throw you off balance. Look at all pics of the pros -- they are on their toes, their arms straight up in the air, their bodies in this "cocked" bowed shape. Is this a pose that is doable for us mere mortals? The more I try to get up onto my toes like that, the more I feel I'm going to topple over.

netguy 05-14-2012 11:09 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Finster (Post 6534638)
Does having a vertical tossing arm automatically put you into the ideal trophy bow-shaped pose? One thing that is also hard to do is to be in that pose, up onto your toes which, if you're not used to it, will throw you off balance. Look at all pics of the pros -- they are on their toes, their arms straight up in the air, their bodies in this "cocked" bowed shape. Is this a pose that is doable for us mere mortals? The more I try to get up onto my toes like that, the more I feel I'm going to topple over.

Pointing your knees in the same direction of your toes or a bit wider could help you to keep a better balance.
Also, becoming aware of how the weight of your body changes from the front foot to the back one and then to the front one again before getting into the air helps with keeping the balance under control.

SystemicAnomaly 05-14-2012 11:29 PM

^^ You are actually on the balls of your feet -- not your toes.


Mere mortals can achieve this pose/position. I'm am currently 60 years old and can actually hold this position for quite a while (easily 20 seconds or longer). My balance is still decent but not really exceptional by any measure. I am primarily a lefty server but I can also hold a righty trophy pose just as long. I can do this balancing act in either a platform or a pinpoint stance. My left shoulder, left hip flexor and both knees are bad and my level has dropped quite a bit since my mid 50s (down to ~4.0). But I am still able to achieve the position without any trouble at all.

Note that Roger has not yet achieved the archer's bow in the image above. (If you take a look at the 4-image sequence in CF's post above, you will see the Roger pushes his hip forward for the bow slightly later). With your weight on the balls of your feet, your heels are off the ground and your are knees bent. Your center of mass (located in your gut slightly below your belly button) should be directly over your platform (or pinpoint stance) between your feet. This should enable you to balance in the trophy position indefinitely.

If you still have problems with this, try holding the pose in front of a mirror. Once you master that, try it w/o the mirror. The ultimate test is to try to hold the position for several seconds with your eyes closed. Hope this helps.
.

netguy 05-15-2012 07:14 AM

^^^

Roger doesn't push his hip forward. He pushes the balls of his back foot against the ground (where more than 50% of his weight is resting at that moment) and as a result his hips move forward. However, the more important thing to put attention to on the photo is that Roger's knees are not at the same high level at that moment which is key for achiving balance and power.

jk816 05-15-2012 08:08 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Finster (Post 6534638)
Does having a vertical tossing arm automatically put you into the ideal trophy bow-shaped pose? One thing that is also hard to do is to be in that pose, up onto your toes which, if you're not used to it, will throw you off balance. Look at all pics of the pros -- they are on their toes, their arms straight up in the air, their bodies in this "cocked" bowed shape. Is this a pose that is doable for us mere mortals? The more I try to get up onto my toes like that, the more I feel I'm going to topple over.

One thing to remember in looking at still photos is that it is a mere few milliseconds in time. The trophy stage is still pretty fluid, unless your toss is so high you need to wait for it (which can cause a hitch and impair the easy flow of kinetic energy into the motion). You shouldn’t be in that pose long enough to have to hold it there.

Another thing to note in the photos you are seeing is the shift in the center of mass/gravity in the body, which starts on the front foot, shifts rearward and comes back to the front all in the same motion, in time with any leaning that is done. The rising to the toes is often proportional to (and compensates for) the degree of knee flexion to maintain balance, but also aids in release of kinetic energy.

I’ve found that taking the arm to vertical after release of the toss serves two purposes: one, it creates and maintains the shoulder tilt that allows for the forceful reversal in the shoulder over shoulder “tumble” that is part of a mechanically correct serve. If your shoulders are level, then the upper part of your racquet arm will need to elevate above the plane of the shoulders, which can lead to injury with force and repetition.

Second it helps create and maintain your stored kinetic energy for release. Raising your arm to vertical with your weight back will tend to force your hip forward to maintain balance, creating the “archer’s bow “ It also helps keep the trunk rotation and your hitting arm back a bit longer for a more forceful release. Dropping your tossing arm too soon invariably costs you your rotational energy, and many pros will tell you to leave it up as long as possible.

boramiNYC 05-15-2012 08:52 AM

For the tossing arm to be straight more than arm should help as well. Control of the shoulder girdle, oblique and ab muslces, and pelvis orientation all contribute to the arm to be able to be straight in trophy position. Without all these coordinations just trying to straighten arm will cause inconsistency and loss of control and even injuries.

If you wanna imitate pros, instead looking at their arms and legs look at their trunk orientation and movements first.

SystemicAnomaly 05-15-2012 09:57 PM

Note that the archer's bow is evident for some servers at the trophy phase while others do exhibit the bow until the racquet head drop (after the trophy position).


Quote:

Originally Posted by netguy (Post 6535535)
Roger doesn't push his hip forward. He pushes the balls of his back foot against the ground (where more than 50% of his weight is resting at that moment) and as a result his hips move forward. However, the more important thing to put attention to on the photo is that Roger's knees are not at the same high level at that moment which is key for achiving balance and power.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HW4-7uhUjdI

I'm not sure that I buy the premise that Roger has more than 50% of his weight on his back foot at the trophy phase of his serve. The bottom line is that his hips do move forward as the racquet head drops from the trophy position. Roger's "bow" is mild -- his is not really the best example of an archer's bow. The bow is usually much more evident with players that utilize a narrower platform, like Roddick, and players who employ a pinpoint stance. Sampras had a bit more of a bow that Federer but probably not as much as Roddick or Ivanisevic and other pinpointers.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=npxP6Jej9iE



http://www.revolutionarytennis.com/step12_2.html

SystemicAnomaly 05-15-2012 10:05 PM

Here is another pinpointer with a very obvious archer's bow:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kMBSgJq_O8c&t=10s


netguy 05-16-2012 10:13 AM

^^^^
I was clearly refering to Roger's plataform stance. Now you are talking about pinpointer stance which uses a total different approach in terms of weight distribution. (apples to oranges kind of comparison) Because the weight distribution is different, the arche's bow is also different (more pronounced in the pinpointer stance) in order to keep the balance.

LeeD 05-16-2012 11:33 AM

It's pretty obvious that any player can get more angular archer's bow using a pinpoint stance than he can easily get with a platform stance. Something called human biomechanics.
Does that suggest which stance you should try?


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