How to develop an accurate ball toss?

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by HuusHould, Feb 13, 2017.

  1. HuusHould

    HuusHould Semi-Pro

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    I have been having issues with my ball toss. A few years ago I decided to try to model my serve on aspects of Sam Groth’s, in a bid to get more leg drive and hip drive along with more shoulder rotation. I thought maybe his toss had been worked around the power producing aspects of his serve and therefore may be a necessary evil, so initially I tried to copy his tossing technique. I have a very flat first serve with a 12.30 ball toss and a heavily spun (kicker) second serve with an 11.30 ball toss. My first serve on a good day is my biggest strength, my second serve is quite vulnerable (to say the least) against high level opponents. Since I changed my technique I have been more prone to double faults due to errant ball tosses.


    I read on a previous thread here about “tossing yips” that you should keep your elbow (extension) and wrist (flexion) out of the action as when you perform the actions mentioned you tend to get rotation at those joints, at least the potential for it comes into play. Someone also mentioned that most people they’ve seen who start their action with the ball below hip height (like Groth) tend to have erratic tosses. This makes sense to me as a longer more deliberate pendulum of a tossing action is likely to be more accurate in my opinion.

    Does anyone have any words of wisdom on optimal technique for an accurate ball toss and/or drills that can improve your ball toss accuracy.

    There are good slow mo's of the Groth ball toss @ 1:22, 1:55, 2:31 (can people explain why this technique is prone to inconsistency as it seems to be).

     
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  2. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Legend

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    Groth has a very low ball toss. If you toss low you have much less time between release and impact. Low toss timing probably differs considerably from your earlier toss timing. ? Roscoe Tanner also had a very low toss. He said in his autobiography that the short time between his release and impact along with his very heavy pace threw off the returners. I believe that a low toss forces a quick start and fast motion as there can be no waiting for the toss to drop.

    Before copying any tossing technique you should confirm that you have the same serving technique with high speed video.
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2017
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  3. SinjinCooper

    SinjinCooper Hall of Fame

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    Please do not model anything on Sam Groth, especially ball toss.

    Find somebody who does it decently -- straight arm, eye-level release, etc. -- copy that, and practice it for a few hours in your back yard. You'll be good to go for life.
     
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  4. Gyswandir

    Gyswandir Semi-Pro

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    I faced this issue too and am happy to say I've improved a lot after modifying my toss. I did this via multiple videos, each giving me one point that I copied. However, recently there was someone on TT, who posted a video, which included all the tips I gathered. Unfortunately, I don't remember the thread.

    What I can say is the following are key:
    - straight arm
    - hold only with your thumb and index (cone grip)
    - J toss
    - release the ball, not throw
    - release at slightly above eye level (degree depends on what serve, where later goes for kick)

    If you search here a bit, I think you can find the video I referred to. I remember that the guy was a bit monotonous in his delivery, but he was comprehensive and had progressions.
     
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  5. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Low tosses do cut down the margin for error, so you're on the right track.
    That, and 50,000 practice tosses and serves, should get you about where you want to be right now.
     
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  6. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Some player's look up before they toss, so they know the toss target.
    Other's look up as they toss, using feel and dexterity.
    How you hold the ball makes a big difference.
    How you consistently start your prep position.
    How you delineate between various serves and their various toss locations.
     
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  7. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Of course if you do something 50000 times you will become better. I am tired of that kind of advice.

    Let me tell you a great tip which has revolutionized my toss. There was a post by someone here about how Federer pronates on the toss - he starts with his palm horizontal, but it is vertical when he is releasing. Take that to the extreme and even put a light underspin the the ball. It will prevent it from going too far away from where you want. As you become used to it, you can eliminate that back spin if you want.
     
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  8. xFullCourtTenniSx

    xFullCourtTenniSx Hall of Fame

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    What are the issues you have? Different toss techniques fix different problems for different people. People with overactive wrists and elbows tend to do well with the ice cream cone/egg toss technique. People who do a good job of keeping the arm straight but have issues with the release tend to do better with the palm up method. There are other mental cues and tips that work to cure specific problems. There is no one-technique-fits-all for the toss.
     
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  9. S&V-not_dead_yet

    S&V-not_dead_yet Legend

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    - Use your arm like a platform that raises the ball up and gently releases it, rather than a flipping motion which is more joint-oriented. Platforms have only one degree of freedom. The fingers/wrist/elbow/shoulder have a lot more. The closer you can make the motion to a platform, the more reliable your toss will be.

    - Don't toss too high. IMO, Berdych's toss is extremely high [but hey, it works for him]. The higher you toss, the more force it requires which means more variability and the faster the ball will be travelling when you make contact.

    - Don't toss too low. Having an extremely low toss can also lead to problems. I have never liked the low toss [Groth, Tanner, Bob Bryan] but that's just personal preference.

    - Find where your ideal toss apex is and put up some kind of physical marker so you can see where your subsequent tosses are relative to your ideal. Your grouping should be getting smaller and smaller with practice.
     
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  10. S&V-not_dead_yet

    S&V-not_dead_yet Legend

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    As to your signature, the problem would be that the new company would be named Yonson and people would think it's some Norwegian fish oil purveyor.
     
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  11. Pete Player

    Pete Player Hall of Fame

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    I've never heard of tossing yips before, but now that I read about it, my greatest fear is to develop one...

    I used to hit serves on the rise as I was a kid. That said, it takes reps like hell, so, if you're an adult trying to accomplish a reliable toss, don't go after that. After my 25 years diaspora from tennis I haven't really ever tried to do that. Hence, it's really only a matter of rythm, and how fast you toss the ball up in the air. Low toss makes the serving a race and chase after the ball. The toss needs to be calm, if low, in order to be able to hit it on time and you have to really step on the throttle, when the ball is in the air. Tossing high enough to hit it on the landing will make it more tranquil happening and you don't need to rush thru your motions. Serving on the rise however is usable skill though, cause if you mix in one lower toss every now and then, it's really hard to predict for your opponent.

    Rafa by the way tosses the ball with bent arm, like lifting the ball howering up in the air. I've learned out, that when you make the toss as you sway backwards and bend your knees with arm straight, like Fede, the toss is more easily controlled and positioning the toss more easy. Many, who tries to toss with stiffer legs and by hand only seems to have unreliable tosses.
     
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  12. S&V-not_dead_yet

    S&V-not_dead_yet Legend

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    If you want to develop your fear of the yips, talk to @Cindysphinx as I think she went through a round of them. If not, then forget I mentioned it. :)
     
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  13. Chadillac

    Chadillac Guest

    If you have problems with your toss, your either a flipper, cupper or start motion too soon and tilt.

    Focus on your serving arm, not your tossing, it will all go away. If you want practice, toss the ball and catch it (same hand) without being off balance.
     
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  14. Bender

    Bender G.O.A.T.

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    I went through them for a while. Mostly caused by my muscle memory trying to throw the toss right above and slightly behind my head instead of in front and into the court.

    Once the toss became more 'forward', the chronic double faulting disappeared.
     
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  15. FiReFTW

    FiReFTW Hall of Fame

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    My toss improved alot when I changed my mindset about it and started imagining not tossing the ball, but placing the ball in a certain spot in the air.
     
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  16. kramer woodie

    kramer woodie Professional

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    As I shift my weight to the back foot, during the racquet drop and my tossing hand drop onto the slightly inside of my front leg (hand rests on leg).
    I then as I push forward from the back leg the back leg drives my front tossing arm up. You could say I use the kinetic chain to activate the toss not the arm muscle. (It's much like the jump on the serve to activate the racquet arm vertical faster.) Whether I use an ice cone grip or palm up is immaterial as both work. The arm moves from the shoulder much like the description above post aka platform toss. Serving to students I usually hold 2-3 balls in my hand
    and use an ice creme cone toss, works just find and was how many of us played in the 1960's. Hold 2 balls, serve, if serve goes in discard second ball.

    Now as weight shifts towards front foot and the back foot moves forward into a pin point trophy stance with deep knee bend (both knees) I then
    push violently up with legs again using kinetic chain to drive body and racquet arm up and forward. There is absolutely no hitch or jerky body
    movement. The entire movement is smooth relaxed and fluid.

    Try to be entirely relaxed, only holding racquet loosely (just tight enough grip to not have racquet slip from hand) finding a rhythm that is fluid!!!
    Serving a tennis ball is one of the greatest joys in life as you Must be fluid, not muscling the serve because muscles in the upper body slow down racquet head speed.

    Aloha
     
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  17. Todd Hicks

    Todd Hicks Rookie

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    I try to toss the ball several feet above my head. As for Groth, he's lowly ranked and backs away from the ball to hit some of his shots. You should lean into the ball instead.
     
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  18. xFullCourtTenniSx

    xFullCourtTenniSx Hall of Fame

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    Mergers don't necessarily merge names like celebrity couples. They either make a new name or use the larger (or perhaps more popular) company's name.
     
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  19. movdqa

    movdqa G.O.A.T.

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    When I was a teenager, I'd practice the ball toss in the living room, either sitting down or on one knee. You can do it with a TV show in the background. If you have cathedral ceilings, all the better.
     
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  20. HuusHould

    HuusHould Semi-Pro

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    Funny you should ask that about my toss timing regarding height of the toss, I actually started out my career as a very low tosser (almost Ivanesevic like), but I felt I needed to raise my toss in order to give myself more margin for error. I found my contact point was often too low, so I raised my toss. The whole venture to model my serve on Groth's came about for 2 reasons; I wanted a higher contact point through more leg drive and hip thrust and I wanted more power. You are right Groth has a low toss, but he has a fairly high contact point wouldn't you say? I take your point on the effects of the toss height on the rhythm of the swing, I think (but I'm not sure) I am suited to a relatively low toss, I just need to get it in the right spot. And my serve still looks very different to Groth's no need for high speed video. :) His racquet never goes behind his elbow in the take back, I can't kick the traditional "chop the toes off" take back, also I don't bow the hip as much and release the bow way too early.

    I agree with you on Groth's toss and possibly some of his other shots. In his defence he did take a set off the Fed at Wimby and he has served at 263km/h, I don't accept the faulty speed gun argument ;)

    Glad to hear you have had success curing your tossing problem :) I find your idea of holding the ball with only with the thumb and index finger interesting, I think I read that somewhere else as well. I've always held the ball with all my fingers. I agree with releasing the ball, not throwing. Also a high release (head height) I think is a good idea as you mention- I was watching Wayno Elderton from Canada's seminar on the 3 serving styles and he said the toss release should be slightly different for the classical, the abbreviated and I think the third generic technique is called the lagging technique utilised by many of the WTA players. Straight arm is probably a good idea for me, but I think it's open to conjecture.

    I agree, the low toss means if it's off a few degrees, it will end up closer to the mark. However of course it has less margin as far as being too low goes, i.e. if you are only tossing slightly higher than you want to contact the ball and you err lower than intended you contact point could be too low. But I am in favour of the low toss like you are.

    Very interesting about looking up as or before you toss. I think I look up as I toss (I'm not tech savvy enough to transfer a video from my phone to here, and don't mind anonymity anyway). I was taught to look up as I toss and am very much a feel player as you mentioned is normal for this technique. The prep position is another good one, as since I've started Grothing I don't feel like I've placed my feet the same way twice at address! As far as delineating between the different serves goes I'd be interested on you elaborating on this as I feel having such polar opposite 1st (flat) and second (kicker that sits up) serves has been a contributing factor to my tossing woes. Cheers.
     
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  21. HuusHould

    HuusHould Semi-Pro

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    Interesting point, I have always been taught to try to toss with no spin. I was watching Brento Abel's 7 tips on tossing like Federer video today and he pointed out that his palm doesn't start pointing up. Does he pronate or supinate? I have noticed a number of the pros do in fact have tosses that spin a reasonable amount.

    My issue is mainly tossing behind my head, but also tossing too low occasionally. So you hold it like an ice-cream cone and toss it like an egg? (I'd be interested to try this technique) I have alway been a very wristy player, so maybe i have an overactive wrist in my toss as you refer to. I also have issues with flicking a bit at release, my hitting partner said I should keep my palm up the whole time to prevent this!? But this clearly isn't what the Fed does.

    The platform is a great analogy/visual, I will give this a go. Good point about the speed the ball will be travelling at contact for a higher toss. Do you mark with a ball or something similar in the fence how high your ideal apex is?

    Yes, I think a higher toss is a calmer rhythm. Good idea to throw in a low toss every now and then to surprise your opponent as a high tosser, it never hurts to have additional skills in your skill set! So you use the kinetic chain to initiate your toss? This sounds similar to kramer woodie.
     
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  22. SinjinCooper

    SinjinCooper Hall of Fame

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    Yes, he hits hard. So do lots of other guys. Model one of them, instead. Unless you're 6'5", 225, and already serving 140, there's not much to be gained. Better to find a replicable model that allows for silly things like consistency and control. Groth himself would be a far better player if he ditched his motion and modeled, say, Feliciano Lopez.

    If the goal is just to go all out and try to win fast serve contests or something, go for Roddick instead. I wouldn't recommend his motion to most people, either, but at least it's consistent and replicable. And if he were 6'5", 225, it would be faster than Groth's, as well.
     
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  23. HuusHould

    HuusHould Semi-Pro

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    I have a feeling I might be all three! lol, can you elaborate on exactly what constitutes a flipper, cupper or a start the motion too soon and tilt? I will try maintaining my balance as I toss the ball and catch it in the same hand. (I think balance is key) Obviously when you say I should be focusing on my serving arm I should initiate my action as I do this?


    I actually think my problem is the opposite of yours. With my closed Groth stance, I get in trouble when I hit tosses that are too low and too far forward. Because I get caught on the ground hitting round a very closed front leg. I am suffering from chronic double faulting though!!

    Yes, the mindset is everything. I go up there sometimes expecting to throw in a double. I'll give this one a shot :)

    Interesting about using the kinetic chain to start the action. This would minimise the possibility for things to go wrong with the arm action i would think as it wouldn't need to be as fast. My hitting partner actually suggested holding two balls as an intervention for my yips! Rod Laver (Jack Kramer) etc new what they were doing!! I think you're right both the ice-cream cone and palm up gripping methods can work, the main thing is the platform motion. Relaxation I agree is key, but the tossing yips make me tense!
     
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  24. nytennisaddict

    nytennisaddict Legend

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    I'll share the things that helped me (similar to what alot of folks already discussed):

    * ice cream cone grip - i've tried: flat palm, finger tips, reverse grip, etc... but this seems to be the best for me - the main point is that i want to eliminate spin from the toss (ie. save "finger rolling" for basketball). if my ball spins, it's usually being directed by my fingers (which requires fine motor skill development, which takes a longer time to develop IMO)
    * rest hand on top of lead thigh (or slightly inside) - connection with my upper leg, will lead to letting my hips "accelerate" my tossing arm, stay connected with the rest of my body movement, and give me a starting frame of ref
    * start with weight on lead leg - i have a "3 beat" rhythm... 1) rock back 2) back foot steps forward to pinpoint to load the legs 3) push up with legs
    * 3 bounces - key here is to have a routine... i bounce with my weight on the lead leg
    * during the "step forward" phase, my allow my hips to initiate/assist/trigger movement of my tossing arm - it's subtle, but mainly i want my tossing arm connected to the rest of my body, i don't want disjoint/independent movements
    * start my eyes looking at where i want to toss the ball - i used to follow the ball from tossing hand up, but IMO this is a bad habit, and introduces extraneous head movement which could have subtle impact on how the rest of the body moves... (ie. in pool, pitching, bowling, basketball, etc... any sport where you throw the ball - you look at the target of where you want the ball to go... (even in race car driving, you don't look at where your car is going, you look at where you want it to go)
    * J toss - my tossing arm travels parallel to the baseline... this allows me to turn/load/coil my shoulders naturally - the body movement during the step up gives the toss momentum to get the ball moving forward into the court... i struggled a long time here experimenting with tossing with an arm a) toward the net (90 degree to baseline), b) arm toward the side net post (45 degree to baseline)... but neither a) nor b) allowed me to coil naturally... or i would toss, then coil after (vs. together), or skip the coil completely - i still don't coil enough, but the with the J toss, i feel there's no hitches in the tossing motion
    * release around chin to eye level - while this is technically "correct" tip, if you're looking at where you want the ball to go, you're not looking at where you want to release the ball... (ie. so i never see the release point)
    * extend tossing arm straight up - feel the pull in my lead lat muscle... similar to groundies, the follow through is critical to consistency.. i think of it as "accelerating through the release point"... this helped me develop a consistent toss using gross body movements... when i don't extend through the release point (or stop shortly after), i start introducing jerks in my motion, or extraneous movement (ie. like bending at the elbow to assist the toss, or using my shoulder muscle to control the toss speed)... which makes it harder to get a consistent motion
    * toss high enough - to allow the ball to drop a few inches into my contact zone... i used to hit "on the rise" because it reduced variability of a bad toss (ie. similar to why you might return a kicker on the rise... closer to the bounce you can make contact, you reduce the distance of the "kick").. problem with tossing "on the rise"... under pressure/tight, i tend to toss lower, giving me less time to load, which meant less rhs, which meant less rhs to put into spin/pace, which ultimately led to an inconsistent effective serve.... the difference is milliseconds, or maybe a second at most, but helped my rhythm and timing.... definitely don't want to toss too high... because a) any variations in toss, will be amplified the higher you toss b) waiting too long in the "loaded" phase gave me hitches, and my entire motion felt disconnected when i had to wait for the ball... (ie. need to balance longer as well) maybe it has to do with (not) taking advantage of the rubber band effect, but i'll leave that to the kinesiologists :p

    other:
    * practicing the toss, and catching with tossing hand - i think this is a great isolation drill, getting you to keep your arm straight, developing a consistent release point, etc... , but once you do get a consistent toss (without the coil, hip load, leg load), you should eliminate this drill because you'll never be able to catch the ball with the toss arm when you start incorporating the rest of your body

    my serve is obviously far from sampras or fed like, but it's certainly come a long way from what it was...

    my $0.02
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2017
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  25. HuusHould

    HuusHould Semi-Pro

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    I had a Rod Laver old school action from back when you weren't allowed to jump into court (next to no leg drive, not many segments in operation, very accurate). I could put it on the edge of the lines fairly consistently on the first ball (depending on who I was playing they might call it in or out ;)), but was always a bit vulnerable on the second ball. When I came up against a guy who had recently been in the top 400 or so in the world in doubles he was hitting my first serve for winners. I just wanted more power. Point taken Roddick is a much more similar body type to mine!
     
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  26. HuusHould

    HuusHould Semi-Pro

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    Great feedback guys, bed time in my neck of the woods, will read the rest tomorrow. Cheers.
     
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  27. Aretium

    Aretium Hall of Fame

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    For me, 3 things.

    1. Holding the ball with fingertips IMO is a myth or rather it doesn't work for me. I hold it in the palm and wrap the fingers around but the wrist is like an ice cream cone position.
    2. Leading with the elbow. Arm is straight at all times
    3. Starting from the inside leg, I picked this up from Pete. I always start from touching the inside leg, so the reference point is the same.

    [​IMG]

    So 1st picture is around where I start. I actually touch the leg with my arm. I think Fed does it too.
     
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  28. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Yup I don't think any pro does that
     
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  29. nytennisaddict

    nytennisaddict Legend

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    i'm sure some pro somewhere uses the finger tips :)

    ivo IMO has the most unconventional tossing grip (reverse grip, palm facing down):
     
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  30. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    He seems to be starting with the ball down! Not the way I would hold an ice cream cone for sure.
     
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  31. Pete Player

    Pete Player Hall of Fame

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    If you look at Fede's pre shot routine, by the way, he never stops after the last tap grabbing the ball, but starts the toss directly from there.

    I adapted that after The AO finale, and the next game I was really consistent on the serve right from the toss.

    I've too have heard advice to toss a no spinn ball, but I never heard the explanation why.

    Basically, if you kan spinn it on the toss already to your desired direction, the hit should increase the spin - I think.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
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  32. xFullCourtTenniSx

    xFullCourtTenniSx Hall of Fame

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    Well, consider, how would you toss an egg or hold an ice cream cone, versus a perfectly round ball. You hold it by the sides right? From that position, it's harder to flick the wrist (not saying it won't happen, but it's not as dramatic and you can work it out). The palm up technique gives plenty of room to flick your wrist. But if you don't, it's easier to release with, since you can simply have it rest on the finger tips and let it go.

    Other things you can do is slow down the serve rhythm. Start with lots of casual warm up serves, and slowly build up speed while maintaining technique, but keep that relaxed feeling.

    Also, extend the tossing arm past the release point, don't just stop the arm. Let it continue up.

    Sometimes, I ignore the toss itself and think of smoothly getting into my trophy pose and let the toss take care of itself. Usually works. (Also, I feel like I toss better when I'm looking at the service box when I toss, so I might do better when I don't focus on the toss.) Alternatively, you can use the older method of tossing into the hit, rather than tossing then hitting the toss. Basically you toss into the path of the swing. It's relatively high tempo.

     
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  33. nytennisaddict

    nytennisaddict Legend

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    +1 on the advice...

    one note on my own development,... when i first heard "toss into the swing" i developed a quicker "hit on the rise" type serve like dolgo:
     
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  34. Pete Player

    Pete Player Hall of Fame

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    If you have routed the racket in the old school way as myself learned in the 80's, starting down and then up to trophy position, you'll be in hurry to get there in time, if hit on the rise is the desired manner.

    However, if you look most ATP-players now, they pull the racket straight or fairly straight up to the smash/serve position, which will cut the time significantly from start to mid-way the serve motion.
     
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  35. xFullCourtTenniSx

    xFullCourtTenniSx Hall of Fame

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    Definitely not a bad thing. Especially if you end up with Dolgopolov's serve... But my god, that shoulder flexibility.

    Anyways, a lot of people will tell you to hit a toss on the rise, and if you can do a proper load and unload under that quick tempo, it's great. Problem is, most people like a slower rhythm. We can't all be Goran Ivanisevic.
     
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  36. Chadillac

    Chadillac Guest

    Flipper is flipping your wrist instead of putting pressure under the ball (think of a beach ball on a fountain).

    Cupping is when your hand is squeezing the ball (imagine having a bird in your hand and trying to make it fly away, you dont squeeze it)

    Starting the motion is for people with a deep back knee bend or lean back, if you toss during that it will go behind your head.
     
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  37. S&V-not_dead_yet

    S&V-not_dead_yet Legend

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  38. HuusHould

    HuusHould Semi-Pro

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    He's improved off the ground since he served the world record, but still heavily reliant on his first serve. If he could improve his tossing consistency he'd have an even better serve.

    Good idea, I want to make it second nature!

    All makes sense. I have heard the tossing arm parallel to the baseline somewhere else as well. I've always been a bit light on in the coil department and can relate to what you're saying about coiling after the toss or not coiling at all on occasion. I've also heard this eliminates error in the forward back plane of the toss. Extending the tossing arm straight up I like also, Brenty Abel says it should be all done at the one speed. He has seven key tips for copying Roger's ball toss in his videos on youtube, (not sure which of the seven it is)

     
    #38
  39. HuusHould

    HuusHould Semi-Pro

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    Yes, as Pete Player mentioned the Fed does touch his leg and then goes straight into the action. I agree, the fingertips doesn't feel natural. What do you mean by leading with the elbow?

    Ivo's tossing action is bizarre, can't knock his serve though, so it must be pretty good. It does help being 6'11"!

    The egg/icecream cone grip is working for me already, I drilled today and after a few double faults, I started to crack the first serve because the toss was reasonably consistently in the right position :) Palm up feels unnatural for me. I find the slow rhythm is important, it results in more consistent tosses. I think as you say the toss can be over thought, best just to let the subconscious sort it out and hit the ball! I'll experiment with tossing into the serve as opposed to vice versa.
     
    #39
  40. HuusHould

    HuusHould Semi-Pro

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    I've tried to adopt the Groth take back which is right over the abbreviated end of the continuum. But I've ended up slightly over to the classical end of the continuum, similar to say an Andy Murray. The concept of leading with the elbow in the take back is difficult for me to master. It's like Kyrgios's forehand, the take back is very counterintuitive imo.

    I think I'm a flipper and a cupper. I think the beach ball in the water fountain is a good analogy. I still don't have enough leg drive to suffer from the third issue.
     
    #40
  41. HuusHould

    HuusHould Semi-Pro

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    I spoke to Cindy Lauper and she said "If you do a bad toss I will catch it, time after time….":)
     
    #41
  42. kramer woodie

    kramer woodie Professional

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    I learn to serve back in 1962, so I learned under the rule of one foot in constant contact with the court surface, not allowed to jump. So, this
    led to using a pinpoint type serve to increase leg drive and landing inside baseline with my right foot. Using momentum I was able to go high on
    my toes of both feet after bring rear foot forward into a deep knee bend (knees bending towards right fence at about a forward 30-35 degree
    angle) really pushing up with the back leg, my body would lean over the baseline caused by the left hip moving forward. If there was no ball to
    hit, I would have probably fallen flat on my face. However, as I push down on the court with the rear leg, the deep trophy position I was in caused
    my body to lean far past the baseline as I finished the serve. At the time I was 6 foot 4 inches and my contact point with the ball was about 9 feet
    to 9-6 inches above the court.

    I was asked by an X-Pro to help teach his students because of serving ability. The X-Pro saw old still photos of my serve and commented one
    about the forward and up diagonal push and two that my racquet hand palm finished parallel facing the right fence. I still use basically the same
    motion today. However, I can use a jump motion landing on the left foot, but it is too tiring at age of 71.

    Now the toss motion can be parallel with the baseline or more to the front. If parallel, the ball travels up and also out in front in an upside down
    letter J. The ball comes back toward your body so that as the hips and shoulders uncoil the ball is directly out in front or over your right ear. Now
    I prefer directly out in front over my head as I can use the same toss for more than one serve, not giving away whether I am hitting flat, topspin
    slice or kick. Now, a quick note, if you want to hit American Twist, you don't really need to arch your back. Just a deep knee bend which causes
    your back to angle to the left side of the court, but allows it to remain relatively straight. Then keeping the left shoulder facing the net hammer
    up and pronate. Don't allow the shoulders to rotate towards the net.

    Regarding the concept of hammering. Let's call the Continental Grip a hammer grip. Most of us have used a hammer at some point in our life.
    Consider this, using a hammering motion, the edge of the racquet is leading. The racquet is directly behind the right shoulder. In fact you could
    grab the racquet head with your left hand under your right armpit. Get the picture? Now as you hammer up at a nail high on a wall (as high as you
    can reach) the problem is the ball toss is on your left side, thus uncoil the hips and shoulders and pronate (forearm rotation) to bring the strings to bear.

    The problem I see the most often is the racquet take back ends up with the racquet head behind the left shoulder or mid-back with the strings
    facing up towards the sky. If your doing this your pushing too much air resistance and the centrifugal force will move the racquet head out and
    away from you body making it hard to pronate as your forearm is forced to resist being supined. Therefore, try to keep the racquet head as
    close as possible behind you right shoulder, depending on you flexibility. Also, lead the hammer high on a wall motion leading with the racquet
    edge.

    Once, the pieces of the entire serve are put together and you have a relaxed fluid rhythm, the ball toss becomes almost automatic as you
    will find where the ball needs to be in order to hit it.

    I could go into more minute detail as the serve has always been my favorite stroke, especially since I played serve and volley on fast hardcourt.
    Why go into long baseline rallies when the point could be won in 2-3 shots. You know, serve, approach volley, and volley put away, point over.
    Next, rinse repeat. Thus old time serve and volley players make good doubles players because their schooled in get to the net pronto.

    Good luck developing a consistent toss. However, concentrate on the service motion progression. The toss will take care of itself.

    Aloha
     
    #42
  43. Pete Player

    Pete Player Hall of Fame

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    My thought exactly, why surrender to a long ralley and loose a point anyway.

    The stats say, points are won within an average of about <2 - 3 strokes also in the majors on hard courts.
     
    #43
  44. powerrangers

    powerrangers Rookie

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    What really worked for me personally was to rest the ball on my fingers not the tips and think of lifting the ball like a platform with most of the palm facing up. This helped me prevent any unecessary movement in my arm.
     
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    #44
  45. Aretium

    Aretium Hall of Fame

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    Its a mental cue to stop people bending their arm too much. So the arm is straight for the most part.
     
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    #45
  46. Nostradamus

    Nostradamus Talk Tennis Guru

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    is there a good teaching video from world class teachers ??
     
    #46
  47. Gyswandir

    Gyswandir Semi-Pro

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    Ok, I will try posting some of the videos I found useful
    for the grip
    overall
    For the fingertips and height

    Somewhere (maybe tennisplayer.net?), there was something also about the difference in toss for 1st/2nd serve and slice vs. Flat including the release at eye level or slightly above.
     
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    #47
  48. Pete Player

    Pete Player Hall of Fame

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    There it was again on the T-T-T-clip, not much spin on the toss, but no explanation, why...
     
    #48
  49. xFullCourtTenniSx

    xFullCourtTenniSx Hall of Fame

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    It's a symptom of bad tosses, and can be used as a simple goal to improve the toss without focusing on the various causes (which can clutter the person's mind), since to create a spinless toss, you'd have to fix most of those problems.
     
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    #49
  50. nytennisaddict

    nytennisaddict Legend

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    if it's spinning, it's probably rolling off your finger(s)... so now you have a very fine motor skill (finger movement) contributing to the ball toss.
    this is a very hard way to get a consistent toss (possible, but hard).
    ideally you want to use the minimum amount of muscles to move the ball (hips, and shoulder)... and eliminate the other muscles (biceps, wrist/forearm, hand/fingers)...
    the simpler the motion, the less can go wrong under pressure.

    similar concept applies to martial arts... under duress (ie. someone punching you in the face).. all the intricate movements (ie. grab, joint manipulations, etc...) go to hell, and you end up resorting to doing gross motor movements (grab to grapple, jab, cross, roundhouse, etc...)...
     
    #50

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