The Engimatic Ball Toss

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by Kobble, Apr 2, 2004.

  1. Kobble

    Kobble Hall of Fame

    Feb 19, 2004
    I have posted before about how my toss is the greatest limiting factor of my serve. I was frustrated recently because my tossing arm feels a little tense, and I decided to record it and check it out. Also, I have always struggled with the ball being to far to the left at impact when my toss is at its worst. I was thinking that I was curling around the ball with my fingers, and that was what the cause of the ball floating to the left, because I typically keep my elbow relaxed and it felt comfortably straight. When I reviewed the tape frame by frame I saw my elbow bending right before the release, and it was causing me to direct the ball left. I would immediately straighten it after the release so it would appear correct when viewed at normal speed. It made me interested to view some of my footage of pros and check out what they do with their toss. The results are a little interesting.
    (No! This is not to indicate sexual preference. :lol: )

    Agassi- Straight
    Sampras- Straight
    Ivanisevic- Bent
    Rafter- Straight
    Gambill- Straight
    Delgado- Bent
    Todd Martin- Straight
    Jeff Tatrango- Straight
    David Ferrer- Slight bend
    A. Delic- Straight
    Krajicek- Straight
    Ancic- Straight
    Kuerten- Straight
    Enqvist- Straight
    Humphries- Slight bend
    Safin- Straight
    Kucera- Slight bend
    Muster- Straight
    Corretja- Slight bend
    Magnus Larsson- Straight

    The only big server who is the exception is Goran. The people with the bend in their elbows are overwhelmingly in the average tour serve category. It could be proof that they haven't dedicated themselves to a great serve, or it may be proof that a straighter elbow at release places the ball in a more advantages position. For me it is easier to toss the ball higher and into the court with the straight elbow, and we all know that is key for a powerful serve. The bigger servers seem to release the ball above the shoulder line, which is something I rarely do.

    I know it would be flawed based on how much a player jumps off the ground, but has anyone come up with a formula for players to use concerning how high and far into the court they should toss the ball? Something that takes into consideration height, wingspan, racquet length etc. I know, the higher and farther the better, but we all have limitations. I am pretty sure you could come up with a minimum distance/height you should toss the ball. All you would need to do is assume the player does not leave the ground, but manages to straighten their body to its maximum length. That would eliminate the jumping variable. I look forward to all the serious and comical feedback.
  2. Anonymous

    Anonymous Professional

    Jan 21, 2004
    From what i've seen, Safin has a very parabolic toss
  3. fastdunn

    fastdunn Legend

    Feb 19, 2004
    Taylor Dent starts out tossing with a slightly bent arm
    and then straightens up when releasing, IMO.

    I used have seemingly-incurable problem in tossing.
    I have been fixated with researching what the right toss
    should be but realized the problem I'm having is a mental
    one rather than physical.

    Look world class professional players like Seles, Capriati,
    Dimetieva and Kucera's serves failing like your local club 3.0 players.
    A lot of them are due to tossing and at least half of the problem
    is mental.
    You develope this habit of tossing badly (or fear of tossing, ha ha ha.)
    If it is not a mechanical hitch, it takes a while to heal it
    unless you fix it right away.

    So don't get into this bad habit. I check my balance(when tossing),
    release point and releasing hand. I also now have wider
    margin for judging if it's a good toss or not.
    I keep adding a bit to my confidence in serving and
    slowly healing from this bad bad mental disease........
  4. brijoel

    brijoel Rookie

    Mar 9, 2004
    on a side note, a general rule of thumb, which ive heard numerous times, is to lay your racquet handle on the service line about 6 inches left of your left foot when you are in your ready position, head facing toward the net. your toss essentially should fall directly down onto the face of the racquet. obviously this is not a cut and dry situation. for instance, im 6'4" and lean in quite a bit further than someone who is 5'9". so remember this is usually to force people to lean into the court who have benn standing straight up and down or allowing the toss to come back toward the fence a bit. this setup however, will give you good position for your toss and allow you to disguise flat or kick without changing the toss too extremely.

    another rule of thumb, is to reach your racquet up as far as you can and take good notice. your ball toss should be no more than about 6 inches above the tip of your racquet at its highest point in your toss. this will also help you to prevent any variation of position of the ball in the air. (a la, to the left or right too far).

    keeping your arm straight is certainly helpful in terms of reducing any mis-haps during a toss. personally, ive found the best way is to place the ball directly in the palm of your hand without wrapping your fingers around it at first (once comfortable, do what ya want though). start your tossing arm in your normal position and when you begin to raise it keep your hand level with the ground and your arm straight throughout the raising motion using only your shoulder to move your arm straight up and down. obviously, just move the starting postion of you arm/hand either left or right accordingly depending on the serve you are setting up for.

    once you get a feel for the motion you can ofcourse relax it a bit, but i can almost assure you those tips above will help you tame your toss.
  5. Kobble

    Kobble Hall of Fame

    Feb 19, 2004
    Oh my problem is definitely flawed technique! I know my toss is bad when the ball is low and left of the ideal spot. It happens when I bend the elbow and cut off the extension. I just have not grooved the proper toss, and I am paying a penalty for it now.

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