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MisterP 07-01-2013 07:44 AM

Higher Ball Toss
Just wondering if convention for ball tosses is changing. Everything I read tells me that a relatively low ball toss is ideal. My pro is always telling me to toss lower. But watching Wimbledon this last week, it seems like the men are tossing the ball fairly high. Berdych, Djokovic, Del Potro, Youzhny, Janowicz, etc, all toss the ball pretty high. Maybe it is optical since they are taller guys. But it looks like they are tossing the ball maybe twice their height. Now I understand that a higher toss is more difficult to hit because the ball is moving faster, but I'm wondering if there is a pay off there as well if you do make good contact.

lightthestorm 07-01-2013 07:47 AM

Just find a perfect medium. Don't toss the ball low that you are kind of bending your elbow when you make contact with the ball. Don't toss is too high that you have to wait for the ball.

Find the spot where you can do the serve in one smooth motion and finish with a straight elbow when making contact.

Topspin Shot 07-01-2013 07:51 AM

I second that.

Lukhas 07-01-2013 07:55 AM

And Roddick, Ivanisevic, Almagro or Dolgopolov toss less high, but hit the ball close to the apex, their arms fully stretched towards the ball. Although Roddick takes the ball slightly dropping.
Say, as you may notice, a lower toss height indicates a faster serving rhythm. Those players have a quick motion, while someone like Berdych almost does a "pause", waiting for the ball to come down. And seriously, his toss is exaggerated. He may be one of the lone tall guys who doesn't have a really good serve.

Just go with what's most comfortable for you, where your arm is fully stretched at impact.

sureshs 07-01-2013 07:57 AM

If you are a shortie, I think it is better to toss higher to get more depth and bounce by striking it higher

Lukhas 07-01-2013 08:40 AM

Or to have a quicker rhythm so you can get the ball higher. I'm not tall (5'9"/1.75m), but with an high *** toss, I'm spreading the balls and sometimes even miss it since I'm more comfortable with a quicker rhythm. And my toss, which isn't anywhere near awesome but workable becomes even more erratic and can lend anywhere. So since my serve is already sh1t, I'm not going to throw another variable either.

LeeD 07-01-2013 08:43 AM

Nice to have both.
Higher toss so you can really wind up and swing as fast as you can.
Lower toss so the ball get's to the opponent quicker, varied with the high toss.
Sun, wind, low toss.
Ideal conditions, high toss seems to give some servers more power.
Take the best of both worlds.

MisterP 07-01-2013 08:45 AM

I understand the concept of finding the happy medium, or going with what is comfortable. But really, that's not my question.

My question is what is the trade-off between a high toss and a low toss.

My hypothesis is this: a low toss requires that you have an efficient service motion, and therefore it's probably more consistent, but maybe not as powerful for most(Roddick is a notable exception). Whereas a high toss has a higher level of difficulty because of the faster moving ball, but results in a more aggressive first serve (and/or more errors).


LeeD 07-01-2013 08:48 AM

Tanner, Ivanisevic, and Rusedski had aggressive serves, low tosses.

WildVolley 07-01-2013 08:55 AM


Originally Posted by LeeD (Post 7552753)
Tanner, Ivanisevic, and Rusedski had aggressive serves, low tosses.

Yes, and Roddick's toss was relatively low too.

I'd also argue that Del Potro and Berdych aren't really that good at serving for their heights. People tend to forget that Del Potro is 6'6" tall and Berdych is 6'5" tall.

A higher toss allows a more relaxed windup and timing at the cost of less toss accuracy and more susceptibility to the wind. A lower toss is easily more accurate and wind resistant at the cost of a much faster windup.

I discourage the high toss when teaching. I don't see any reason for tossing the ball 4' or more above your contact point. In my opinion, the long pause in the trophy is an unnecessary affectation. However, people can get good at timing it. But why?

LeeD 07-01-2013 08:57 AM

Can we cite any examples of low tosses and bad serves?
ElenaDementieva was a high tosser.

MisterP 07-01-2013 08:59 AM


Originally Posted by WildVolley (Post 7552781)
But why?

That is kinda my question. :-|

boramiNYC 07-01-2013 10:02 AM

people have different tendencies in how they use ssc. quick stretch vs slower stretch. I think it's just part of technique and habit and also how it feels right to use ssc. taller players tend to take their time in their stretching in ssc but there are exceptions.

newpball 07-01-2013 10:22 AM


Originally Posted by sureshs (Post 7552569)
If you are a shortie, I think it is better to toss higher to get more depth and bounce by striking it higher

Tossing high or low has nothing to do with the height of impact.

Tossing high simply means that the ball is tossed way above its striking point and is struck when it is on it's way down.

In theory when you toss high you can apply somewhat more spin because the ball has more momentum, but that is the theory, it works for table tennis but not really for tennis.

ProgressoR 07-01-2013 11:02 AM

I prefer a higher ball toss because it is a trigger for me to stretch more, keep my tossing arm up high, push my left hip and encourages me to reach up to strike.
All these triggers result in a much cleaner strike and more consistent serve, for me.
These things compensate (for me) the slightly more difficult timing and ensuring your toss is more consistent.

LeeD 07-01-2013 11:02 AM

Don't worry about what Suresh says. He does know his stuff, but like JoeDali, is often trolling for more attention, rather than trying to answer the question.

LeeD 07-01-2013 11:04 AM

If you have both, you often catch your opponent napping or setting up too early, both resulting in weak or ineffective serve returns.

mntlblok 07-01-2013 11:10 AM

The book sez that the higher toss and, therefore, faster dropping ball yields more topspin on the serve. Hard for me to believe that that little bit of extra speed of the dropping ball would yield significantly more topspin, but it certainly seems to in my experience. If I decide that it would be a good time to get as high a bounce as possible on my next serve, I'll try going to the trouble of tossing it higher. Maybe it just gives me more time to get my "windup" in there. But, I'm usually pretty good at getting my windup done, anyway.

The added speed of the dropping ball with a higher toss as far as "timing it" goes is pretty much irrelevant, in my opinion. Most lobs are much higher than high serve tosses, and I don't have much trouble timing any but the highest of lobs, and the lobs are moving more "horizontally", too.

It's harder for me to toss it accurately if I toss it higher. If a high toss *is* a bit less accurate, though, it also often leaves plenty of time to "adjust" and find a way to get under it and/or figure out how to adjust the swing a bit (if it's not so bad that it should be caught).

LeeD 07-01-2013 11:16 AM

Lots of huge servers have high tosses. So, it must be workable.
For amateurs though, especially on windy and sunlight in your eyes days, a lower toss can be more effective.

MisterP 07-01-2013 11:26 AM

I heard Djokovic say once that he liked a little higher toss because it gave him time to get his legs involved more, which he believes is the most important part of the serve. Or something to that effect.

Either way, I like the idea of mixing it up to keep my opponent off balance. I am sure my coach will disagree though, since I am still building my serve (along with all my strokes). He wants consistency above all else, which makes sense.

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