Abbreviated toss on serve

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by Zachol82, Sep 1, 2013.

  1. Zachol82

    Zachol82 Professional

    Dec 8, 2007
    Tossing high is generally what we've all been taught or learned. I personally also toss the ball fairly high on my serves because it's habit for me now.

    I was hitting just earlier today and a pretty difficult time dealing with my opponent's serves. It wasn't because his serves were fast or anything but his service motion was fast and that really caught me off guard the first set.

    A lot of replies in Tennis are replies to anticipations. Meaning that if you just leave it up to your reactions to react at the very last second, your shot quality and consistency will be fairly poor. There is such a thing in Tennis, as we all know, called preparation and that requires anticipation and guessing.

    What really caught me off guard about my opponent's serves is that his toss was quite low, meaning that he made contact with the ball very soon after the ball leaves his hand...I don't think his ball ever reached its apex. Even though his serves were only "okay" in terms of pace, he did manage to ace me a few times just because I couldn't anticipate and prepare for a service return.

    If I had to guess, I'd say his 1st serves were only around 80mph. I have dealt with serves around the 110mph+ when I was college and even though the pace was fast, my opponents all had a pretty good wind-up and that always helped me anticipate and react to those fast serves.

    The more I think about it, the more I see how a short toss and a quick service motion can really help you out. A shorter ball toss would also mean that it's less affected by outdoor conditions as well as being less affected by toss irregularities. It's just a simple, more straightforward motion and the advantage of that just means more consistency, due to less "body" being involved in the execution of the stroke. Long, loopy toss with a long, complicated windup has more room for errors in my book.

    Don't get me wrong. I don't mean a service motion that's "rushed" or anything like that at all. There's a difference between short, abbreviated motion and just simply rushing your strokes.
  2. WildVolley

    WildVolley Legend

    Jun 22, 2007
    At the professional level, Goran Ivanisevic had a pretty good serve, and even today players like Almagro and Tipsarevic are doing well with a low toss.

    I'm a fan of the low toss, but even my serve has a little bit of ball drop before contact (probably at least a 1/2 foot). I don't really see any reason to teach a high toss, though obviously some people either prefer or are used to that sort of timing.
  3. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

    Feb 25, 2006
    Stuck in the Matrix somewhere in Santa Clara CA
    Each server has their own rhythm. As a returner, you must sync up to the server's rhythm. A good way to do this is to take a step forward (with either foot) on their ball toss and then initiate a split step on their upward swing to contact. (If the serve gets to you very quickly, a short backswing is a good idea). For a server with a quick motion/short toss, you will take a quick, short/medium step followed immediately by the split-step.

    For a server with a longer motion/high toss, your step/split step sequence will be a bit slower. You might take a slower (perhaps longer) step with a little bit of a lag before you initiate the split step. Essentially, you are matching the server's rhythm with your own step/split step rhythm. For a great example of this step/split step sequence, take a look at Andy Murray, perhaps the best returners on the tour today (and one of the best of all time).

    With regards to your own toss height, it is a matter of personal preference. Use what works best with your own rhythm and mechanics. Pete Sampras had a fairly high toss. Probably not quite as high as the tosses of Graf or Sharapova, but still pretty high. Braden and other analyst have claimed that it is easier to get greater topspin on the ball with a higher toss.

    Federer's toss is somewhat lower than the Sampras toss. Roscoe Tanner, who had a very big serve back in the day, employed a very low toss. It was said that he hit the ball on its way up (before it peaked).

Share This Page