If you guys throw a tennis ball...

Mongolmike

Hall of Fame
Pretty sure I can hit the back fence on the fly. Doubt I can throw over, but I be getting old (63) and the arm isn't as limber as she used to be.
 

Chas Tennis

G.O.A.T.
Pat Dougherty video Throwing and Serving. The throw is directed up.

I studied the frames of ball release and also of the serve swing. Considering the camera frame rates are slow the throw and serve are very close regarding the motion of internal shoulder rotation (ISR).
 

GuyClinch

Legend
Sad to say - I couldn't get it over the fence last time I tried it. I like to imagine that ball is too light - compared to a racquet. But never had the best arm..
 

tonylg

Legend
I used to throw a cricket ball close to 100m. Could very easily throw a basketball well over the length of the court. A football over 50m. Held javelin records.

Haven't tried to throw a tennis ball in over 30 years. My rotator cuff feels sore just thinking about the idea.
 

Chas Tennis

G.O.A.T.
It is well known that to get maximum range a projectile should be fired on a trajectory at 45 degrees above the horizontal.

But usually the figure of merit for throwing a tennis ball far is clearing the opposite fence. That might have a different angle than about 45 degrees. ?

So I thought that it might be useful to the OP and the readers to supply a link to the best available information that I've found on throwing a tennis ball for learning to serve.

Dougherty mentions that 'the ball almost bounced over the fence' and that was a good indicator for the girl's throw.
 
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Raul_SJ

G.O.A.T.
Pat Dougherty video Throwing and Serving. The throw is directed up.
For this drill, it is best to throw the tennis ball standing stationary, just as on a normal serve.
Just as Pat does it with the student.

Some posters here posted their throws and they took a running step or two like a QB. To prove that they could throw over the fence. It is not the same.
 

PrinceMoron

Legend
Put a ball in each of a pair of long socks and tie them together near the top.
Hold it by the top. Then throw it
You need a really smooth acceleration or it goes nowhere or you hit yourself on the back of the head.
Can’t remember where I picked that up from but well worth a try.
 

SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
Launch angle?

For max distance, launch angle would be close to 45°. However, to more closely simulate a tennis serve, the launch angle should be much steeper than this. Perhaps 60° to 75°.
 

ZanderGoga

Semi-Pro
Just want to say that while this is a pretty common beginner tennis question, it’s also a really bad idea.

A good server or good thrower with solid throwing mechanics can throw anything that isn’t aerodynamically awkward over the opposite fence without thinking about it. It’s not a difficult task.

But one of the main things it highlights for people without those mechanics is how much effort they need to put into muscling the ball just to get it across the court. This can be a disaster. The ball is so light that those with compromised mechanics feel confident trying too hard, and when you’re trying too hard with muscles that aren’t designed for any job but stabilization, you run a high risk of injury.

When you’re learning to throw, stick with heavier balls like a baseball that let you feel the muscles working and give you the immediate feedback needed to learn and avoid injury. It’s not worth the health of your rotator cuff to try to feel macho.

If you’re confident you can serve and throw well...well, first of all, from what I’ve seen, most of you are wrong, and you’ll still be putting your shoulder health at risk. You’re not 5.0, and you never played in college, and it’s fine to play pretend online, but don’t hurt yourself proving you can accomplish a task any reasonably talented ten year old can duplicate. But if you can REALLY throw well and serve well, then by all means, let ‘er rip. A good motion is perfectly safe. But small imperfections danger it up in a hurry.
 

SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
A good server or good thrower with solid throwing mechanics can throw anything that isn’t aerodynamically awkward over the opposite fence without thinking about it. It’s not a difficult task.
Try doing it when you're pushing 70. Don't think I could have done it even 10 years ago... and now both shoulders are in worse shape (left hip issue doesn't help either)
 

Chas Tennis

G.O.A.T.
Post showing frames that indicate how similar a throw is to a serve when done with Pat Dougherty's instructions.
But I believe that throwing a ball in the way taught by Pat Dougherty does copy motions in the tennis serve including ISR.
To do single frame on Youtube use the "." & "," keys.

Throw frame at ball release with double exposure of forearm motion. Note the upper arm between the shoulder joint and elbow, for this upward throw, even has a similar angle to the serve picture below.


Tennis serve at impact with double exposure of forearm & racket motion. I believe that the arm is straighter at the later time as in high level serves.


There is an incidental double exposure of the arm that shows ISR moving the forearm & ball for the throw and moving the forearm and racket for the serve. The use of ISR - the most difficult sub-motion of the tennis serve - is very similar for both motions. Looks like a good simulation for the server especially as Dougherty teaches throwing the ball upward. Of course, to get speed from ISR the hand for the throw and the racket head for the serve must be located at a distance from the rotation axes of ISR and those angles show in both of the above pictures. Imagine the rotation axes of the upper arm bone.

This same student after two years of development at 5 hours a week.

But I disagree with the demo of the top spin serve given at 3:45, "When we are talking about top spin and kicks we gotta make sure that the racket head is making contact with the level of the grip not way up here". The racket shaft tilts up from the grip to contact for a kick serve in the ATP serve high speed videos that I have seen. ??
Click on up arrow in above quoted post for details. Look at the upper arm, it spins like a top from internal shoulder rotation for the throw and the serve, even the upper arm angles are similar in both the throw and serve for these frames.



Unfortunately, the upward angle of the trajectory is not shown in the behind camera view.
 
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S&V-not_dead_yet

Talk Tennis Guru
Just want to say that while this is a pretty common beginner tennis question, it’s also a really bad idea.

A good server or good thrower with solid throwing mechanics can throw anything that isn’t aerodynamically awkward over the opposite fence without thinking about it. It’s not a difficult task.

But one of the main things it highlights for people without those mechanics is how much effort they need to put into muscling the ball just to get it across the court. This can be a disaster. The ball is so light that those with compromised mechanics feel confident trying too hard, and when you’re trying too hard with muscles that aren’t designed for any job but stabilization, you run a high risk of injury.

When you’re learning to throw, stick with heavier balls like a baseball that let you feel the muscles working and give you the immediate feedback needed to learn and avoid injury. It’s not worth the health of your rotator cuff to try to feel macho.

If you’re confident you can serve and throw well...well, first of all, from what I’ve seen, most of you are wrong, and you’ll still be putting your shoulder health at risk. You’re not 5.0, and you never played in college, and it’s fine to play pretend online, but don’t hurt yourself proving you can accomplish a task any reasonably talented ten year old can duplicate. But if you can REALLY throw well and serve well, then by all means, let ‘er rip. A good motion is perfectly safe. But small imperfections danger it up in a hurry.
By the same token, I'm not big on speed guns because it changes one's focus from sound mechanics and placement to raw speed. Well, that and I doubt I could crack 100mph but that's because the gun wasn't calibrated correctly. :D
 

Chas Tennis

G.O.A.T.
Your are right that drag and wind speed are important. The tennis ball is light and drag and wind speed are probably significant factors.

If there were no wind, I don't know if the tennis ball trajectory should be elevated more or less than 45 degrees to get maximum range due to drag. ? I'd go with about 45 degrees for a tennis ball for maximum range with what I know now. ?

For the tennis ball, do you know if the elevation angle would be more or less than 45 degrees for maximum range(no fence) given the drag(no wind speed) ?

Rod Cross has calculated tennis ball trajectories under some circumstances.

Consider projectiles, baseballs, tennis balls and balloons and the effects of air.
 
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jmnk

Hall of Fame
Your are right that drag and wind speed are important. The tennis ball is light and drag and wind speed are probably significant factors.

If there were no wind, I don't know if the tennis ball trajectory should be elevated more or less than 45 degrees to get maximum range due to drag. ? I'd go with about 45 degrees for a tennis ball for maximum range with what I know now. ?

For the tennis ball, do you know if the elevation angle would be more or less than 45 degrees for maximum range(no fence) given the drag(no wind speed) ?

Rod Cross has calculated tennis ball trajectories under some circumstances.

Consider projectiles, baseballs, tennis balls and balloons and the effects of air.
https://letmegooglethat.com/?q=projectiles+with+air+resistance
 

Chas Tennis

G.O.A.T.
Rod Cross Calculations for Tennis Ball. Rod Cross has worked with tennis ball trajectories. I'd expect the light weight and fuzz to complicate things. There are no standards providing the launch angle or guides for the throwing drill. If anyone is interested in throwing high for learning the serve start here.

Experimental Approach for Throwing. Suggest doing experiments throwing to see how close to the fence the ball would get and finding angle for maximum range. Place a video camera some distance away and video from the side. Video from the thrower to the fence or maximum range. Research your serving and throwing techniques. Know the throwing technique for angle up. Once understood, use video feed back to check it out. Incorrect techniques might be stressful for many shoulders. ? Understand the Ellenbecker warning about the angle of the upper arm to the shoulder and what it looks like for tennis players and throwers. I have posted details on Ellenbecker's recommendation.

Probably 6-8 years ago, I threw some tennis balls from my deck into the woods for range. The deck was on a hill. After decades of not throwing and having never understood throwing earlier, my shoulder felt loose and awkward, so I decided that all out throwing for range was not for me.

Racket Throw. For throwing the racket, I would not suggest that it should be thrown like the serve with ISR. Some years ago we had a poster that threw a racket using ISR. Because of the ISR, he had control problems with timing when to release the racket. There is a post.

Here is a video of his experiment throwing a racket with ISR. To single frame on Vimeo hold down the SHIFT KEY and use the ARROW KEYS.
If I were to throw a tennis racket, I would choose to throw it end-over-end like a tomahawk. That would feel most natural, but would have no ISR. Throwing a racket might be a good progression (?) and it is widely recommended. But a tomahawk-like throw does not simulate any sub-motion of the serve that I have seen or heard of. Very few progressions that I have looked at in high speed videos simulate sub-motions of strokes. I don't have any standard to compare progressions to in videos. ?
 
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onehandbh

Legend
When doing actual throwing tests for distance I usually tell people to aim for a 45 degree launch angle even though the actual ideal launch angle is little bit less. The reason being it is easier for them to visualize this and they usually won’t be able to precisely lower it a few degrees easily to maximize the distance by a small amount.
 

onehandbh

Legend
I tried this tennis ball throw test a few years ago. I can stand at the back fence ~20 feet behind my baseline and throw it over the opposite back fence. The fence was about 15-20 feet high.

Like another poster mentioned, I also think it is not a good test bc a tennis ball is too light to be throwing that hard. Make sure you are warmed up before attempting this.
 
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Thanks for the replies to my original question.

Looks like I got some work to do. I grew up playing soccer, not baseball. Good for footwork, bad for serving. Also my shoulder is a bit stuck, even if doing mobility stuff almost every day really helps.

I'll also look into doing this with an heavier ball.
 

Digital Atheist

Professional
How hard is this really?
No running start, no step through, no serious effort. Back fence is nearly 30 feet (9.5 metres with a retractable tape measure).


Difficult to see with the lighting, but I added two videos with different exposures to make it easier, and on at least a couple of those it should be obvious (the first one hit the base of the hedge which is somewhat audible).
 
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Digital Atheist

Professional
You know, some people find different things hard. For example, I wouldn't have a problem picking where to put the camera to light the "scene" correctly :X3:
With the phone used to make that video ... yeah, I suspect you would (since that would have been at the other end of the court with the sun behind me, and throwing from that position means I can kiss pretty much every ball goodbye and I wasn't prepared to make that sacrifice). But I get the point and wasn't trying to be patronising; when I posted I hadn't seen your last response and was more addressing the scepticism around claims in the affirmative, as if this is some kind of impossible task.

Edit: That doesn't mean everyone can do it, and anecdotally I'd say it's about a 50/50 split among males, but that is just my experience.
 
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Chas Tennis

G.O.A.T.
How hard is this really?
No running start, no step through, no serious effort. Back fence is nearly 30 feet (9.5 metres with a retractable tape measure).


Difficult to see with the lighting, but I added two videos with different exposures to make it easier, and on at least a couple of those it should be obvious (the first one hit the base of the hedge which is somewhat audible).
also @Slowtwitcher

This post applies to high level throwing and serving techniques with Internal Shoulder Rotation (ISR).

The purpose of throwing the ball up is to learn and practice the biomechanics of an effective throw with ISR. This assumes that the player has the high level throwing technique. This means feedback should be used to check the throw. Since Sany is the only standard I know of for throwing high and Dougherty has used her as a serve model, compare your throw to Sany's frame-by-frame.

To single frame on Youtube use the period & comma keys. Always select the YT video with the alt key + left mouse click, otherwise the video starts playing.

Compare your times of throw ball release. To Sany's times at 0:42, 1:20, 1:24 . Compare times of serve impacts at 2:30, 2:34, 2:46, 2:52.


The throw gets hand/ball speed from ISR rotation by having an angle at the elbow. See the elbow angle in Sany's throw? There is a double exposure in these videos, the elbow is straighter in the later exposure. The elbow is rapidly straightening. If the elbow were straight, the hand would not pick up any speed from ISR.


The serve gets racket head speed from ISR with mostly the angle between the forearm and racket shaft. Can you see that forearm-to-racket shaft angle? If the forearm-to-racket shaft angle were straight, the racket head would not pick up any speed from ISR. The angle is changing rapidly, getting larger. (There is also some elbow flexion angle. See videos. )

Notice that Sany has the same shoulder tilt and upper arm angle for her throw and serve. Excellent simulation. The upper arm to shoulder joint angle also complies with Ellenbecker's safety recommendation as do most high level ATP serves. Observe these angles in your throws and serves.

Between the high level throw and serve, the ISR appears to be very similar and that is at the heart of this learning technique. You want to first train the feel and timing of the ISR for the correct throwing technique. The knowledge of how to do this could be from a well qualified instructor or you should be able to check your techniques with high speed video feedback. Once you see these angles, then you always see them.

Throwing a ball for distance or over the fence is not the objective, a proper throwing technique using ISR is the first objective.

@OP & Digital Atheist - Try using the two videos above for comparisons. Look for all differences, especially the angles described above in the Sany pictures. Please ask questions on what is not clear as you compare videos.
 
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Bobs tennis

Semi-Pro
Try doing it when you're pushing 70. Don't think I could have done it even 10 years ago... and now both shoulders are in worse shape (left hip issue doesn't help either)
Kids try doing it at 76. I can just reach service line and my serve isn't that bad. A group of use tried this when I brought up the challenge and they aren't my age. I particularly wanted one friend that was a high school quarterback try it and after a few tries it went over fence. I have been looking on line at all vids on throwing and it isnt helping. I'm not giving up!
 

Bobs tennis

Semi-Pro
Tried it today. There is a pond 10 metres behind the fence of our courts.
Long story short, you owe me a tennis ball.
that is funny but you will have to talk to my friend the quarterback because i was so sure he couldnt do it that i gave him a good ball and when thrown over fence it went in woods- gone
 

Digital Atheist

Professional
The purpose of throwing the ball up is to learn and practice the biomechanics of an effective throw with ISR. This assumes that the player has the high level throwing technique.
Which is why several have pointed out throwing over the back fence might not be the best drill especially if the throwing mechanics are questionable, since it can promote throwing for length and then the form disintegrates. Some of the throwing drills I've seen online recommend landing the ball in the opposing service box, which will change the launch angle. Just as throwing a racquet over a fence from close range can more closely simulate a real serve and is considered by many to be a good drill (I think @SystemicAnomaly liked to use this). But that doesn't mean working on the overall throwing mechanics and using the back fence as a gauge can't have some benefits.
 
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