Add the Toss

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Step 3The third step of the serve progressions is to develop a consistent toss. In step #2 of the serve fundamentals section of the website we talked about several things all good players do when they toss the tennis ball. They hold the ball in their fingers (NOT in their palm). They keep their tossing arm relatively straight as their raise it. They release the tennis ball at about the top of their head by simply opening up their hand (this is the best way to get no spin on the ball). Finally, their tossing arm continues to rise after they’ve released the tennis ball.

Two other keys are that good players put the ball in a specific location above their heads and they toss it the same height each time.

We’re going to put aside the stuff we talked about in the previous videos for the moment. Your serve mechanics – how you swing the tennis racket – doesn’t matter much if you can’t put the toss in the same place every single time.

At 1:20 in the video we begin the lesson. I’m standing in the party stance. The tennis racket is point straight into the court and the handle right next to my front foot.

What I’m going to try and do is toss the ball so that it lands on my strings every single time. One of the keys to this drill is to make sure you leave your tossing arm extended above your head until the tennis ball bounces on your strings. This will help you learn to continue to raise your tossing arm after you release the ball.

You also need to be able to toss the ball the same height each time. At about 2:45 in the video I am standing next to the fence in the same position from earlier in the video. You’ll notice the fence has a windscreen on it. Now I’m going to practice the exact same drill, except I’m going to try and toss the ball to the top of the windscreen each time.

The combination of these two drills will teach me to control the location and height of my toss. Set a goal of approximately 7-8 out of 10 tosses bouncing on the strings.

  • Anonymous

    I (11 years old) play with people who has 2~5 years of experience in tennis and who are abount 2~4 years older than me. They have a lot of topspin that forces me 3~6 feet behind the baseline. I only played for 1 year and have a tennis match with an advanced player in a week. I’m not sure if this is a smart question ,but how can i create a huge amount of topspin (like Nadal) on my semi-western forehand causing my opponents to fall far behind the baseline?

  • prince of tennis

    since your using semi western your not gonna get that huge amount of topspin you want and i’m pretty sure nadal uses extreme western and thats what causes his balls to have a huge amount of topspin but it also doesn’t flatten the balls and drive through it as much

  • Ejab1

    These lessons are by far the best i’ve found. Thank you so much. I started playing at a later age and am now 59. I believe in studying the technical part of the game to become a better player. By following and applying these lessons I should be able to improve dramatically in the next few years. Win 65 and overs!

  • http://twitter.com/aleangelico Alex Angelico

    Dear Will, this is excellent, I really like your progressions and I think you are a great teacher.
    BTW, the sharing option (the like button at the end of the post) doesn’t seems to work, the circle just spins but nothing happens. I shared your post directly at my facebook wall.

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  • mak

    awsome videos will though i really think u should make sme more videos on improving ones fitness :/

  • mak

    awsome videos will though i really think u should make sme more videos on improving ones fitness :/

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1543935489 Tom Trevor

    Yes! But!!  The “but” is that when one serves for real, one has to bend one’s knees at the same time, while moving one’s other arm. For me that is where the problem comes from. I can’t coordinate all that. How do I keep my toss consistent while doing all the other stuff at the same time?  

  • Gerard

     Try this: toss the ball before bending the knees. The idea is when you shift your weight to the back leg, naturally drop both the ball arm and the racquet arm, then toss the ball by raising ball arm whilst raising the racquet arm to the side/back so that both arms raise at the same time, all the while with straight legs and keeping the weight on the back leg. After the toss, you can then bend the knees and get into the trophy position. I had the exact same problem with tossing and bending the knees at the same time and I got really inconsistent tosses. Separating the tossing/racquet raising motion from the knee bend/get-into-trophy-pose motion helped me a lot with consistent tosses. This will definitely require you to toss a feet or two higher than contact point so that you have enough time to get into trophy pose.