Holding Two Balls While Serving

Who still holds 2 balls when serving? This is the way most people including pros used to do it back in the 60's. I still hold 2 balls in my left hand when serving. It feels weird to me to put the other ball in my pocket. Anyone else still do it that way?
I haven't seen much of this either. Do you continue to hold the ball throughout the point or do you slip it into your pocket once the serve goes in?
I wasn't alive back in the 60s. So I don't do this. I actually don't like to keep any in my pocket either cause it disrupts my rhythm. I like to keep it on the ground a few feet behind the baseline in a neat little pile.
Intersting how it is a ritual for some of you to do so. I can't throw the toss right if I have 2 balls in one hand so I just use a pocket.
Here's a picture of Rod Laver doing it. Sorry, I don't know how to post it. I think it was that way because tennis shorts didn't have pockets or if they did they were so tight a ball wouldn't fit. Anyway, throwing the first ball up isn't a problem. Its also not much of a problem to use your hand to bring the racquet back, for instance on a backhand (one-handed of course). For me, holding both balls sped up the service game. It also is distracting to keep reaching in and out of your pocket all of the time to get the ball, not to mention running around with a ball bounding around on your leg.

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I have done it a few times when just hitting around with a buddy, but never in an actual game. My forehand was ok but since I normally use a 2hbh, my backhand didn't have the same consistency.
I don't have problems serving with 2 or even 3 balls in my hand, but for some reason it really screws up my groundstrokes - so I only do it when practicing serves.

I heard a story about Bill Tilden, who used to start a game holding 5 balls. He'd hit 4 first-serve aces, and then spike the 5th ball.
I haven't been playing all that long eventhough I'm an old guy and I don't do the hold-both-balls thing but I still see it among several of the other "over the hill gang" guys I play with. Evidently it once was very common. But the most interesting ball-holding technique I've ever seen is a lady who puts one ball in her tennis top while serving with the other--it's worth a few distraction points!:)
I heard a story about Bill Tilden, who used to start a game holding 5 balls. He'd hit 4 first-serve aces, and then spike the 5th ball.

Just goes to show those guys were gigantic fish in a miniscule pond...

Myself, lots of us used to do that (hold two balls when serving the first serve), later (in the 80's) we mostly gave that up.
i watch watching some senior ITF tourney at my club and a guy was holding 3 balls in his hand, tossed one to serve, held other 2 during the point -

i thought it was odd

makes sense now that i read this thread that it was popular back in the day (since it's seniors)
I don't do it anymore, but back about 16-18 years ago I used to hold both balls in the left hand - and I typically served and volleyed. If the serve went in, I would throw the ball behind me toward the fence as I approached forward toward the net. Now that I think about it, I don't remember anyone ever having a problem with it, but I bet someone today would clearly see this as a distraction or a let. I'm going to ask my brother and parents if they recall anyone ever having concern about that method because I specifically remember doing it all the time. Obviously, if the 1st serve didn't go in then I wouldn't have gotten rid of the second ball in my hand.

Oh yeah, I used to use a 2HB and that's why I'd get rid of the 2nd ball.

BTW, my Mom still hold two balls and keeps one in her hand throughout the entire point. It's an old habit for her I guess, and she probably thinks she looks cool!
I still do it out of habit. It feels weird tossing up the ball on the second serve with only one ball in my hand. Playing a point with a ball in my left hand means I got my first serve in...which is good, right?:p
I wasn't alive back in the 60s. So I don't do this. I actually don't like to keep any in my pocket either cause it disrupts my rhythm. I like to keep it on the ground a few feet behind the baseline in a neat little pile.
hmm dont think this is a good idea, might trip if u have to run back for a lob or something
I played tennis in the 70's and then took 25 yrs off. Just started back last year and noticed I was the only one holding two balls. I would also toss the extra behind me when first serve was in, becuase I like to use both hands on racquet while up close to net. It took me about 2 or 3 weeks to get used to the pocket method, now that feels natural to me.
I do hold the second ball sometimes, but most of my pants have pockets now.

The "Court of Appeals" in Tennis magazine had a complaint about an opponent throwing the second ball behind him after serving, and the columnist said the writer could claim a let if it bothered him. If you drop the ball later during a point you are winning, the other player could also claim a let.

Another reason not to do it is because if anything you are carrying should touch the net at any time, you lose the point. So, if you drop the ball while charging the net, and the ball hits the net, you lose the point.
I guess none of those old timers used a two-handed backhand.
I started out with a two-hander (was a converted baseball player...throw right, bat left) and kept the second ball in my pocket but I didn't wear regulation tennis shorts back then. Tennis shorts weren't designed with decent sized pockets back then and were too tight.

Switched to a one-hander, started wearing tennis shorts and had to learn how to hold the second ball. Thank gawd for baggies and skater shorts...but I still palm the second ball.


Hall of Fame
I don't think that was a good habit, it's a good thing nobody does it anymore

Absolutely hilarious. A totally ridiculous statement.

I hold 2-3 balls in my hands when I play. Most of the time, I pick up 3 balls in my hand and play a 4th ball off the ground to start a rally during practice. I use the balls as I need to and replenish as they run down. I almost ALWAYS have at least 1 or 2 balls in my hand during play.

I always hold 2 balls when I serve. And if my first serve goes in, I play with the 2nd ball still in my hand. I've never had any problem with it at all. I play at around a 4.5 level, and I've been playing this way for over 25 years without any problems.
I've tried in during practice and it seems a little weird for me. I will just put it behind me in a pile with the other balls and just use one of them at a time.
I don't recommand serving with two balls in the hand during in a match or in practice. The ball could slip out during play or practice (some players do dump it on the court, don't recommend that either, the player could trip over it), some carry it in their hand while they are in play, in either case, the spare ball could slip out and get under a player's foot or their partner's foot during the heat of an exchange and cause them an injury.

So I consider it valuable only to hold two balls in the tossing hand as a training tool just to get used to holding the ball on the fingers for the serve. But when it comes to practicing your serve or serving in a match, you use only one ball to toss with not two.. Because two or three ball in the hand tossing is a dangerous way to serve, for during the serve the ball could slip out and roll under the front foot as the toe lifts up to serve and come back down on a stray loose ball and cause a nasty foot injury or if it rolls towards your partner cause them to trip over it and injure themselves.

If club players and veterans are practicing serving with two balls in the hand throwing one up while holding onto the other, then they should discontinue this practice and go back to the proper correct modern day serve, tossing only with one ball in the hand and keep the other ball safe in their pocket so they don't waste time fumbling about and not increase the risk of injury.
or leave a stray loose ball on the court for someone to trip over..
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