Is serve a throwing motion?

Is serve a throwing motion?

  • Yes, Serve is definitely a throwing motion

    Votes: 10 18.5%
  • Yes, Serve has major elements of a throwing motion

    Votes: 27 50.0%
  • Yes, Serve has some elements of a throwing motion

    Votes: 13 24.1%
  • No, serve is not a throwing moton

    Votes: 2 3.7%
  • No, serve is definitely not a throwing motion

    Votes: 5 9.3%
  • Who cares? Happy Thanksgiving

    Votes: 4 7.4%

  • Total voters


Bionic Poster
The serve is a motion that is trying to throw the ra ketHEAD as fast as possible under lots of CONTROL.
Speed of hand, like throwing a ball, is only an offshoot.

Daniel Andrade

Hall of Fame
That depends on the definition of serves, throwing and motion.

IMO what I would say serve has some elements of throwing, but not in the general way you think of throwing


Hall of Fame
The guy only compared throwing forward and throwing up. Dude never thought about throwing up and slightly to the side. It makes the body alignment REALLY similar. But that would **** on his argument, so just devolve the whole throwing idea to strawman arguments and call it a day.

Might not be an exact copy (you have a third limb segment), but it's pretty darn close, and you can get your body to really sync up if you model a throwing motion (whether you throw the hand, wrist, elbow, racket head, or whatever works best for you).


In primary school I had a friend (who was a pitcher for the "national" baseball team for that age group) teach me how to throw so we could throw/catch on the playground during lunch, which then evolved into "let's see who'd be first to can throw a tennis ball over the school building".

Fast forward some years later, the serve was the only shot I had that showed semblance of proper technique, and I could hit some really nice big serves without too much effort.

and then age and rotator cuff injuries (largely unrelated to tennis) affected how hard I can serve, so nowadays I tend to go for a lot more slice. My second serves have always been a bit crappy so it's not such a bad thing.


It could be coincidence that everyone I know who plays tennis and was also a pitcher in baseball has a huge flat serve, but Occam’s razor would say that they all have huge serves because throwing a baseball and serving a tennis ball are well-nigh the same thing.


Bionic Poster
These are all throwing motions:










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I think about this topic, Nikola is missing the forest for the trees a bit.

The nuanced differences between the serve motion and a baseball throw is only about 10% of the picture. The biggest challenge in learning how to serve is having the proprioception and control of having your arm above your head and knowing where it is. People who grew up throwing anything with an overhand throw have a huge advantage because they already have that understanding of where their arm is.

Most people who grew up playing baseball take to serving without much difficulty because throwing is throwing.


Bionic Poster
I normally agree with most things that Mountain Ghost has had to say. Not this time. Both MG & Nikola insist that tennis serving is "nothing like a throwing motion". They appear to have a very limited definition of what constitutes a throwing motion

Tennis serving not only has elements of other throwing motions, it is very much, completely a throwing motion of its own. Even tho we do not release the racket, we are very much throwing the racket head at the ball in a serving motion. It is an overhand (overarm) throwing motion -- at a steep upward angle

A javelin throw has some similarities but is quite different from a baseball pitch. And it does not employ the forearm pronations and supination present in QB (American) football pass. It uses the elbow & shoulder somewhat differently, as well as other differences, from a QB pass. Yet we we would not argue that the javelin throwing or football passing or not throwing motions becuz they are noticeably different from a baseball pitching.

Further, there are other throwing motions that are even more different than these. Some of these over hand motions. Some are underhand motions (bowling & softball). Some are sidearm. Some are backhand motions.

Note that a frisbee can be thrown with a backhand motion or with a forehand / overhand motion. Some, like dart throwing do not pull the throwing arm behind the body. In fact, this type of throwing does not even turn the body in the same direction as most other overhand throwing motion. Track and field events employ throwing motions that are all quite different from each other -- hammer throw, discus throwing, javelin throw, shot put, etc

There are also ax / tomahawk throws. Knife throwing. We can also "throw" a punch in martial arts such as boxing. Bean bags, horseshoes and numerous other objects are thrown with various types of throwing motions.

Despite this wide variety of very different throwing mechanics, they are all considered to be a throwing motions -- and not just actions that contain elements of a throwing motion. So it is, with tennis serving. More than just containing elements of a throwing motion -- it is very much a throwing motion in its own right
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Bionic Poster
So it's like a throwing motion but without throwing the racquet, interesting.
Almost like throwing a punch

In teaching the serve, I will have students some actual racquet throwing with a (racquet) release. I will usually take them outside of the court on the grass with a half-dozen old rackets for throwing. We do a variety of different types of throws to simulate an upward tomahawk throw and then simulate various types of tennis serves
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fuzz nation

Didn't do the poll, but I'd say that the serve shares a lot of components with an upward throwing motion, not a forward throwing motion like a baseball pitcher. I'll watch the YouTube video up top later on and then weigh in some more.
heres a video from leylah's coach showing how they develop the serve


the girl demonstrating looks familiar...

im sure internet tennis has many students w similar pedigree


Hall of Fame
Richard Williams trained his daughters by teaching them how to throw an American Football.

The results speak for themselves.

Their service motions and serves were better than the rest of the WTA.

But Nikola teaches 3.0 Ana and 4.5 Shamir, so Nikola is not nobody. He knows his stuff??

fuzz nation

I can't agree with the assertion that a tennis serve and a throw are completely different. The video makes a good point in terms of how the shoulder leads the arm with a throwing action more than with a service motion. But even if the two actions are different, they have enough in common that tapping into a throwing action can be very useful tool for building a serve.

I've found a lot of success doing lesson work with kids and adults where I've had them use their service motion to throw a ball (in a high arc, not horizontal) instead of swing a racquet. This can be really helpful with somebody who uses their legs too much to help with lifting the ball to toss it - legs go straight, weight is already transferred forward, and there's nothing left to drive the racquet aside from the arm and shoulder. Throwing a ball upward using a service motion can be great for coaxing a developing server to save some extra leg drive to power the racquet.

The video makes some decent points, but that guy lost me at a couple of points where he's almost mocking a throwing motion. He takes a running start up to around the service line to throw a racquet - servers can't take a running start. And when he tries to use a service motion to throw a ball upward, he completely stops as though he's trying to do the throw with an invisible rope tied to his throwing arm. His throw would be fine if he'd simply follow through the same as with a normal serve. And then with one of those throws, he loses his balance (because he stops) as though he's trying to make it look impossible. Not sure if he knows how to throw a ball?...

The biggest connection between the two actions - serving and throwing - seems to be the fundamental drive that powers both. Leg drive, core rotation, and also some of that vertical "cartwheeling" are combined to effectively drive both moves. Using a throw - an upward throw - can be helpful with activating more of those elements or getting them better in sync.


Assuming that "throwing" would refer to something like pitching a baseball, then I’m thinking people that are saying serving and throwing are alike either aren’t paying close attention or just don’t know how to pitch a baseball. Yes, both involve almost the same muscle groups, so baseball players do have a big natural advantage in development and coordination when it comes to serving. However, the motions have large and significant differences. I would say the differences are just as big as the similarities.

The Differences
1) From the beginning, the pitcher loads with a hand pump, rocker step, pivot, and leg kick. The server by the toss, rock back, and back foot forward if using pinpoint. This puts each in completely different positions with different muscle groups ready to do much of the work.
2) Studies suggest about 50% of pitching velocity comes from the stride. There is nothing comparable in the serve.
3) Much of the velocity in a serve comes from the RHS created by the racquet rotating around the wrist. Their is no equivalent in throwing.
4) Most of the motion in a pitch is done in the horizontal plane; hip drive, hip, trunk, and shoulder rotation (though many pitchers do drop the back shoulder similar to but in a much smaller degree than the serve). Much of the tennis motion is done in the vertical plane, even if positioned there by bending the back.
5) Much of the loading in a pitch comes from the arm dropping and circling behind the back. In tennis, the equivalent is the racquet drop, to which there is obviously no correlation with a baseball.
6) The pitcher actively goes from ESR to ISR actively as the arm circles behind the body. The server pauses between the two, even if only for an instant for those with a "continuous" motion.
7) Generally, the pitcher's elbow stays level with a line drawn from the lead shoulder to the back shoulder during the whole ISR phase. With most top level servers, the elbow will go from slightly below this line to a little above this line during ISR.
8) Most pitchers keep the palm facing away from the body while the arm is behind the back, thus minimizing forearm pronation. Servers keep the palm turned in to lead with the outside racquet edge and maximize forearm pronation.

Other than that, yea, they're the same. ;)
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Bionic Poster
Assuming that "throwing" would refer to something like pitching a baseball, then I’m thinking people that are saying serving and throwing are alike either aren’t paying close attention or just don’t know how to pitch a baseball...
You've brought up a lot of great points but I do not believe that the highlighted statement above is true at all. Most here, who say that pitching and serving are both throwing motions, are well aware that there are both similarities & differences. I know that I certainly am.

I will often tell people that tennis serving (or a racket throwing) is very similar to an upward pitching motion. Not the same, but very similar in a number of ways. And as I illustrated with images (and later with text) there are a number of other throwing motions that have some important differences from baseball pitching.

I brought up the subject of pitcher stride a couple of times in the previous threads. The corresponding action for a tennis serve is upward leg drive. For a baseball pitch, the throwing motion is in a forward, and slightly downward (given the height of the pitcher's mound) direction. But a tennis (racket) throwing motion is primarily in a steep, upward direction -- like 60° to 75° for most of the upward swing / throw.

So it makes a lot of sense that both the leg drive and the uncoiling of the (upper) torso occur in an upward direction. But, for baseball pitching, the stride (leg drive) and torso rotation is primarily in the forward direction.

Note that these actions of leg drive & uncoiling of the torso, in both cases, facilitates ESR (external shoulder rotation). They both serve the same function even tho they are in a different direction
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Ok so question then, if someone has a great throwing motion but then has a bad service motion despite tons of practice, what would be the reason (generally speaking)?


Ok so question then, if someone has a great throwing motion but then has a bad service motion despite tons of practice, what would be the reason (generally speaking)?
Do you have such a person at sight? Need to look at him personally. Anything may be wrong, like using FH grip, for example.

Generally speaking, if a person used to have great throwing skills and then put in tons of correct practice, he would develop very good serve.
The release on a flat serve is almost identical to the release necessary to spiral a football.
Yes, but you're an outfielder throwing home rather than a pitcher on a mound.
I think this is exactly correct, and people assuming "throwing = pitching" is causing much of the confusion. The serve is a throw, almost identically. It's just that the hand is not thrown towards the target. If you're aiming into the service box, you don't throw your hand at the service box. Once you have that insight, though, the serve is pretty much exactly a throw.

Baseball pitching isn't the greatest comparison because of how much you can get from the stride forward, but releasing a football is almost identical to serving. The internal shoulder rotation and pronation through the release cause the hand to turn from in to out as the ball is released, causing the spiral. An improper release causes a wobbler. That's why throwing a football is such good serving practice - it's very punishing of a bad release.
Ok so question then, if someone has a great throwing motion but then has a bad service motion despite tons of practice, what would be the reason (generally speaking)?
Trying to "throw" the racket towards their target. In order to harness throwing mechanics on the serve, you have to throw your racket up, rather than straight, and off to the right, rather than straight at your target (for a righty).


Bionic Poster
Ok so question then, if someone has a great throwing motion but then has a bad service motion despite tons of practice, what would be the reason (generally speaking)?
Try throwing rackets rather than balls. Head out to the park with some old (or broken) rackets if you have any and start chucking them -- emulating a tennis serve.

A tennis racket represents a significantly longer lever arm for throwing than a ball does. The racket has a much higher Moment of Inertia (swingweight) than a ball. The longer lever & higher MOI will have some effect on the shoulder, upper arm, forearm, wrist and the overall throwing motion.

Many ppl can easily adjust to these difference & and might hardly even notice it. OTOH, this is not true for everyone. My Lefty serve (motion) is more versatile and more powerful than my Righty serve. However, when it comes to throwing balls, I am substantially more natural (less awkward) with my right handed ball throwing then my left. However, when it comes to racket throwing, I throw equally well with either arm -- so there is a difference (between ball throwing and racquet throwing) that might be affecting you.

First, throw the racket on edge -- as if you were throwing an ax or a tomahawk. Throw the first few at a 45° launch angle -- for distance. Next, thrown the racket upward at a steeper large angle of 60° to 75°. Now we are throwing more for height than for distance to more closely emulate a tennis service throwing motion. Still, on edge. These steeper throws should help you to achieve a deeper racket drop prior to the upward throw

After a few more of these, perform some tosses with a rotation of the hand (& racket face) -- as if you were going to high five the ball -- just prior to the racket toss release. This hand rotation will employ forearm pronation and internal shoulder rotation (ISR) that are important for a good serve (throwing) motion

After a dozen of these rotated (pronated) high-five throws try some modified throws that will simulate spin serves -- slice serves and attachment slices. Again, start the upward swing with the racket "on edge" but then rotate the hand enough to simulate a brushing motion across the ball

At some point, you should add some leg drive to these racket throws. Bend both knees for your salute & trophy phase. As the racket head passes thru the trophy phase and starts to drop, the legs (knees) should be straightening -- so that you are performing a leg drive during the racket drop. The legs should be fully extended by the time you are ready to the awkward swing phase. If the leg drive is fast enough, you might even leave the ground as you move from the drop to the upward swing

EDIT: @PKorda, I noticed that there were some dictated typos in my text above. I just corrected a couple that I found so hopefully it reads better and makes a little bit more sense. Let me know if you have any questions
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Bionic Poster

I believe that someone here also suggested throwing an American football. This is a somewhat different throwing action than throwing or pitching a baseball and maybe of some value for develop a tennis serve. It is also great for warming up the pecs (chest), shoulder, upper arm, forearm, core muscles and other muscle groups required for tennis serving. An official NFL football will weigh slightly more than a 12 oz tennis racket but it still has a lower MOI.

A football passing / throwing lotion will incorporate some rotations of the hand. These rotations are accomplished with supination and pronation of the forearm and some rotations of the shoulder (ESR & ISR). Initially, when the arm and ball are pulled back, the forearm is pronated so that the hand is turned. The ball will not be pointing in the direction of your intended throw at this point. The ball will initially be pointing to the side or even slightly backward (in the opposite direction of the subsequent throw).

The throwing elbow is bent at 90° and pulled back enuff to create a stretch in the pectoral muscle on that side. As the forward throwing motion commences and the torso starts to uncoil, that pec stretch is maintained for a while. The hand is turned during the forward throwing lotion (due largely to forearm supination) so that the ball is now pointing in the direction of your desired throw. As the ball is released it rolls off the fingertips and the hand / forearm is pronated. There can also be some ISR (of the shoulder) as this action is implemented. If you see your elbow rotating on the follow-thru, this is evidence of ISR (since pronation itself does not rotate the elbow).

Start with some easy, moderate distance throws at a shallow angle. Progress to some longer passes with a launch angle of 45°. And then perform some steep upward football throws with a steep launch angle of 60° or more. Note that these steeper throws should result in more shoulder tilt and somewhat greater ESR. That should help with your tennis serve throwing motion

Notice the orientation of the right hand (palm down) and the ball (pointing backward) in the image below:

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I believe that someone here also suggested throwing an American football. This is a slightly different throwing action than throwing or pitching a baseball and maybe of some use for develop a tennis serve.

I think highlighting the mechanical and technique differences between throwing a football and throwing a baseball support the notion that throwing is throwing.

Throwing a football and throwing a baseball have significant differences, yet most people who are good at throwing one ball find it relatively easy to learn to throw the other — especially relative to someone who does not have extensive experience with an overhand throw.

Consequently, it’s no surprise that many of the best NFL QB were also great baseball pitchers.



I believe that someone here also suggested throwing an American football. This is a somewhat different throwing action than throwing or pitching a baseball and maybe of some value for develop a tennis serve. It is also great for warming up the pecs (chest), shoulder, upper arm, forearm, core muscles and other muscle groups required for tennis serving.
Yes, I built massive serves in both of my sons along with several others using the football as one of the core training elements.


Bionic Poster
Great insight
Not really. There are many different types of throwing motions as we have already established in this thread. There are some diffs between all of them. Just because MG has identified a difference between tennis serving and ONE type of ball-throwing motion does not establish that the tennis serve is not a throwing motion. That was a surprising post from @Mountain Ghost since most of his other posts do provide valued content & display "great insight".

Note that baseball pitching and outfield throws exhibit differences. Even with baseball pitching, itself, reveals a number of different throwing styles. Some are overarm (overhead) throwers, some are sidearm thrower while others are know as sub-mariners (nearly underarm).
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Hall of Fame
Should serve be a throwing motion? I think the answer is a definite yes for high level, "effortless" serve. The idea is to develop a feeling of letting go off the object in your hand (ball, racket) instead of "handing/arming" it off. Leg, core, shoulder etc get engaged automatically if the mind intends to release the object in your hand in a very rapid and violent fashion as opposed to in a very controlled and deliberate style. It's true for all ground shots too - just the style of throwing is different - over the head vs around the shoulder, across the shoulder - but all of them need to have the foundation of 'throwing' stuff around.