Toss arm height after release ....

LeeD

Bionic Poster
OK, I know, I"m old, slow, and very bad at tennis.
But, I'm trying to rework my toss arm placement after release. Trying to do what the pros do, point the toss arm up straight at the trophy position. For the past 20 year's, I've been lifting my toss arm to about top of the head, release and stop, making for erratic tosses.
So, 3 days into a toss arm that points straight up, sorta looking conventional, I seem to be losing power on the first serves, become much more consistent, and becoming more consistent on the second serves without too much a loss of swing speed. 2nd serves are heavy topspin, very slow movers. First serves are mostly flats.
Do I just need more acclimation time to get my flat serves up to snuff? Consistent is good, but so is power. Of course, I'd like to have both. Something like 103 flat serves at 50% would be great for match play.
 

SinjinCooper

Hall of Fame
Hard to say much without video, because your report of your results runs counter to what would be expected.

Pros don't extend the off arm upward to increase consistency in the toss. Straight arm and consistent release point take care of that.

They extend the arm because getting proper rotation/loading of the upper body automatically puts the off shoulder in a skyward-pointing direction, so that's the natural direction for the arm to point after the toss if you're rotating. Also, having the off arm extended means it can be aggressively retracted during the upward motion of the racquet arm, which adds necessary pace to the upward thrust of the upper body rotation. Getting any kind of pace without good upper body rotation is virtually impossible.

If you're saying you're losing pace from this, it's not because of any obvious and easily explicable reason. Because just by virtue of explanation, extending the off arm fully -- if you weren't before -- would result in an increase in pace if all else were to remain the same. It's something specific to your new swing that's robbing you of pace.

My best guess is that you're still not getting any kind of shoulder tilt...



...but are now raising the tossing arm over your head, instead of out to the side as you were before. So now when you retract the arm, it's pulling in a direction different from the rotation of your body, slowing your rotation. For the overhead reach to add anything, you need a much more aggressive tilt to your shoulder girdle before launch than you had previously.

If you can't get that tilt, then holding the arm overhead will do more harm than good.

But if that's not it, video or bust.
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
Thanks, interesting....
I don't remember how my toss arm went when I was able to actually serve well, like 40 year's ago. Injury to rotator cuffs have limited my elbows from reaching my shoulder's, but that seems to have improved with age. I can now shave with one hand, and actually lift the toss arm straight at the sky.
I seem to have many many mishits on flat serves now, whereas before, I could at least hit it hard into the net or long by 6'. Now, the mishits seem to go IN a lot, without much speed, certainly not approaching 90.
One thing everyone who's seen me serve says..I have great shoulder tilt, hips forwards, archer's bow. I know that vid doesn't show it, but I DF'ed 7 times in the one set.
I guess 3 days of play is not much to go on. Planning to keep it up for maybe another couple weeks, then migrate back to the low toss arm to see what happens.
Thanks for the comments.
 

Limpinhitter

G.O.A.T.
OK, I know, I"m old, slow, and very bad at tennis.
But, I'm trying to rework my toss arm placement after release. Trying to do what the pros do, point the toss arm up straight at the trophy position. For the past 20 year's, I've been lifting my toss arm to about top of the head, release and stop, making for erratic tosses.
So, 3 days into a toss arm that points straight up, sorta looking conventional, I seem to be losing power on the first serves, become much more consistent, and becoming more consistent on the second serves without too much a loss of swing speed. 2nd serves are heavy topspin, very slow movers. First serves are mostly flats.
Do I just need more acclimation time to get my flat serves up to snuff? Consistent is good, but so is power. Of course, I'd like to have both. Something like 103 flat serves at 50% would be great for match play.
It would be easier to know that I was giving appropriate advice with a current video. But, looking at the picture below, you've got some good upper body turn, but, you could turn your back to the target even more. The true missing element is upper body tilt (turn and tilt). Ideally, your arm would be pointing straight up to the ball and your shoulders would be in line with your arm. From that position, you would rotate your upper body so that your left shoulder rotates up the the ball pulling the arm and racquet behind. It's the same kinetic chain that is used in the groundies. Check out the pic of Sampras below. That would be a target to strive for.



 
@LeeD - also, note that Sampras' racquet elbow is actually behind his head if you drew a plane through his body. Yours is in front of your head [but I don't know if you can rotate that far: how many broken bones have you had?].

Also, your left back foot has moved laterally past your front right foot which could cause you to uncoil too soon. Yours is only slight; mine used to be a lot worse until I switched to a platform stance.

Keep on truckin'!
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
That pic of me was 2014.
Now, I"m trying to get the toss hand straight up, to fully reach upwards, and doing that, it changes my feet movement at pinpoint, adds some archer's bow, and makes for higher tosses and higher impact point. So, don't look at the old image, imagine a toss where the toss hand actually reach's upwards.
So far, 4th day, better consistency, less flat serve power, equal but more consistent spin or second serves.
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
Thanks Limpin and S&V, I need to pull the left arm back to get a longer rotation into the swing.
 

Bender

G.O.A.T.
Thanks Limpin and S&V, I need to pull the left arm back to get a longer rotation into the swing.
That certainly helps. Keeping your elbow on your hitting side level or slightly higher than your shoulders would help too if you have a habit of dropping your arm a bit too much.

Keeping your tossing arm straight right up to and including the trophy position helps. I have a bad habit of not keeping my left arm (as a righty) straight at trophy either, and my serves get better when I consciously straighten it out at the trophy pose.
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
Well, convention says to lift the toss arm straight up, as high as possible, after ball release.
But, WHAT does that actually do? Some say pendular momentum, but momentum is made with a lower toss arm dropping quickly also.
If you watch any throwing sport, the off arm doesn't do anything. Pitcher's just hold the glove out sorta out in front. QB's the same, there is no swing from the off hand. Javelin throwers will drop the off hand, but it was extended out forwards as the toss motion starts..
If you try to throw a ball as far and as hard as you can, you don't drop the off hand to create throwing speed or distance. That was my question, what ACTUALLY, does raising the toss hand straight up actually do for your serve....besides a more accurate toss location.
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
Easy for you to say, but rather hard for you to describe.
What does the off hand do? Don't tell me to watch sports, I played football for my high school, and could throw a softball farther than anyone in junior high (183', 7th grade). I watched tons of javelin thrower's, something I wanted to do for high school.
What does the off hand do that helps the throwing motion, my question to you.
 
Well, convention says to lift the toss arm straight up, as high as possible, after ball release.
But, WHAT does that actually do? Some say pendular momentum, but momentum is made with a lower toss arm dropping quickly also.
If you watch any throwing sport, the off arm doesn't do anything. Pitcher's just hold the glove out sorta out in front. QB's the same, there is no swing from the off hand. Javelin throwers will drop the off hand, but it was extended out forwards as the toss motion starts..
If you try to throw a ball as far and as hard as you can, you don't drop the off hand to create throwing speed or distance. That was my question, what ACTUALLY, does raising the toss hand straight up actually do for your serve....besides a more accurate toss location.
Curiosity had some very interesting posts about the off arm and what it does for both the forehand and serve.

For the forehand -- The arm, near straight out from the body, is swung back rapidly and then pulled in suddenly at the right time. The swinging arm speed builds up momentum and when it is pulled in closer to the body it speeds up the upper body turn of the forehand. Maybe that motion adds 5?-10%? to racket head speed. ?

Serve - The same thing happens with the serve but the near straight arm is rapidly brought down and then pulled in. When pulled in it speeds up the forward bend ('Somersault') I believe.

Demo - Take care if you have back, core or shoulder limitations, etc. -To demo this get a very light weight like a can of soup. Hold it out just as you see the off arm for a high level forehand. Swing it back rapidly - but no stress - and pull it toward the body suddenly. You can feel the upper body get a rotation boost from this action.

Next, get some clear high speed videos of high level forehands and serves. Look at the forehand and serve motions of the near straight off arm for hard shots. You will see the near straight arm and rapid motion in most strong forehands and serves. Notice the off arm speed relative to the speed the hitting arm and racket.

This takes advantage of the principle of conservation of angular momentum. When the off arm is pulled in the angular momentum of the arm + body stays the same and that requires the upper body rotation rate to increase when the arm is pulled in. Maybe it adds 5-10% to racket head speed. ? This is the same principle that the ice skater uses to speed up the spin. But the ice skater uses two outstretched arms and an outstretched leg- a lot more angular momentum.

This off arm motion is part of high level stroke techniques. I had not noticed it until Curiosity's posts about a year or two ago. But now I see it everywhere.
 
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LeeD

Bionic Poster
Thanks for the analysis, I should have remembered it, dropping the off hand and bending or tucking the elbow. I concentrated too much on the ab crunch to drive the shoulder forward, and forgot about the momentum to be had from the fast dropping arm.
Of course, both pitcher's and QB's drop the off arm to wheel rotate their throwing motions.
 
C

Chadillac

Guest
I seem to be losing power on the first serves, become much more consistent, and becoming more consistent on the second serves without too much a loss of swing speed. 2nd serves are heavy topspin, very slow movers. First serves are mostly flats.
If your kick is better than your flat now, its probably because the ball is more over head with an extended tossing arm. Move it a bit in front and see if its better. Moving the ball foreward and back is very hard for your opponent to see, where as side to side is easy read.

I think the high tossing arm creates momentum, you try to pull it down (like a wwe headlock), propelling your serving arm. Like a catapult or rocking motion.

The problem most people have is higher translates to lower and drop their tossing arm below the belt line. You have been playing along time and saw the older guys almost pat their bellys after the serve, that was to prevent a massive drop angle into the net.

Look at your shoulder angles with a higher toss. With the toss arm higher, the serving arm is lower, could also be why your kicker is better and flat isnt.
 
D

Deleted member 23235

Guest
OK, I know, I"m old, slow, and very bad at tennis.
But, I'm trying to rework my toss arm placement after release. Trying to do what the pros do, point the toss arm up straight at the trophy position. For the past 20 year's, I've been lifting my toss arm to about top of the head, release and stop, making for erratic tosses.
So, 3 days into a toss arm that points straight up, sorta looking conventional, I seem to be losing power on the first serves, become much more consistent, and becoming more consistent on the second serves without too much a loss of swing speed. 2nd serves are heavy topspin, very slow movers. First serves are mostly flats.
Do I just need more acclimation time to get my flat serves up to snuff? Consistent is good, but so is power. Of course, I'd like to have both. Something like 103 flat serves at 50% would be great for match play.
i think of the toss in much the same way i think of the fh...
during a fh, we're always taught to follow through the contact... (obviously pushers stop at or shortly after contact)
similarly we should follow through the release point on the toss,... which to me feels much easier to do consistently (ie. try shooting a basketball without following through... try throwing a pitch without following through... try throwing a football without following throught,... etc...

2 cues i look for?
* stretch in my left lat
* chin touches shoulder
 
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