At a loss with your serve toss? I’ve been teaching people of all skill levels and ages how to serve for a few years now and the number 1 reason for a bad serve is a poor toss. Players go to great lengths to not catch a bad toss at the expense of a missed serve or even an injury. There are so many incorrect variations to the toss I’ve started to name them. There is the wrist flick, the throw, the throw back…my least favorite the elbow bend! I once had a guy chase his toss so far that he fell flat on his face trying to hit it. (i had to work very hard not to laugh).
You have heard coaches say that the best toss placement is just to the right of your left shoe. If I were to draw a semi circle clock in front of your serve stance, placing the ball so it would land at 2pm would be an ideal toss. When so much depends on a proper start, why not focus on making sure its correct. The toss is the 1 time you will get to place the ball exactly where you want to hit it in tennis. Let us use this opportunity, not waste it!
First let us admit that tossing the ball in the correct spot repeatedly is no easy feat. Young players have the advantage of having more years to practice and hone this skill. Being persistent about a good toss will dramatically improve your serve.
Second, the ball must be held with just your fingers. Your palm should never touch the ball when tossing. Think of a toss like placing an ornament on a Christmas tree. Think of how gently your hand puts that glass object on that just out of reach part of the tree.
Third, elbow and wrist stay straight and out in front of you. DO NOT BEND YOUR ELBOW at any time during the toss or release. Yes there will be a miniscule wrist bend.
Fourth, following the ball with your eyes release it when your hand is just about to pass your face. Somewhere around eye level. A graceful release of the ball with the placement at 2 pm. It often helps to rock forward when releasing the ball.
Fifth, if your toss did not go at 2 pm CATCH IT. Do not hit a bad toss. Be disciplined for a week or two with catching a bad toss and see what a difference it makes in your accuracy and serve.
Let us recap: Hold the ball with just your fingers, keeping elbow and wrist straight, keep your eyes on the ball and release when your hand passes your hip.
Do you see me smiling? Get out there and practice your toss!