How To Toss The Ball In Tennis

As I was writing this post my son (9 years old at the time) approached my computer and asked why I had a photo of Federer tossing the tennis ball on my computer. I told him I was writing a blog post on how to toss the tennis ball in tennis. He stated "That's simple." For a 9 year old a may be simple but for many tennis players the toss can be a nightmare to deal with. For some reason they either over think it or just can't seem to fathom that simplicity is truly the beauty of anything in life. In this blog post I share with you the keys to a good and consistent tennis toss.

The Grip
Like anything in tennis, you want to make sure to have a nice relaxed grip when holding the tennis ball. Pretend you are holding a baby bird in your hand. If you hold it too tight, you will injure it. If you hold it too loosely, it will fly away. The same concept holds true for the toss. Notice the first picture below that most pressure comes from the thumb, ring finger and middle finger. the pinkie and pointer fingers act like guides on the toss, they cradle the ball.

The Start

Notice how Federer in the photo below begins releasing the racquet and begins the toss from this inside of his left thigh. After watching thousands of hours of video, this seems to be the most natural starting point for most tosses. Federer begins every one of his serves from this point. Experiment with your toss, see where your starting point is. Think inside the left thigh (for righties) and then let the toss fly!

The Release

For the majority of tennis players the release of the toss occurs right around eye level to the top of the head. There really isn't much difference in the release point. Of the thousands of students I have worked with, I never told them to release the toss at eye level, I share with them that most professionals release the toss in that general area. When I study their tosses, sure enough the ball is released in that area. Notice in the photo below how the ball has clearly left Federer's hand and how it lines up around eye level. This photo is also interesting because notice how Federer isn't even looking at the ball. He is releasing it and will immediately look up at it before striking it into the court.

The Placement

I like to toss the ball in the same spot every time. I pick a spot and toss to it, that's the goal at least:) There are some differences in the first serve toss placement versus the second serve toss placement. Knowing these differences and how to execute each toss is essential to having a consistent, well placed and powerful serve.

The First Serve Toss

For the most part the first serve toss is usually a foot into the court and off of the right shoulder (for right handed players). There really should be know deviation in this. By getting the ball into the court, you are insuring you stay behind the ball and can explode up and through the ball. Watch video of Roger Federer's 1st Serve in slow motion and you will see the ball tossed into the court and contact being made off of his right shoulder. One important point, by keeping the ball aligned with the right shoulder, a player generates optimal power. It's an efficiency that occurs naturally with more repetitions.

The Second Serve Toss

Since you want to impart more topspin, the toss on the second serve is still out into the court but contact is made directly over your head. By placing the ball directly over your head, the swing path is more low to high, imparting topspin on the tennis ball. One of the biggest mistakes on the second serve is not getting the ball into the court enough. If this happens, a player can begin to lose power, start mishitting balls and overall lose confidence in the serve. Keep the ball into the court and hit up and across on the ball.

Please keep in mind to not overthink when tossing the ball. Keep things simple. Pick a spot and hit your shot. Don't overcomplicate things, less is more with anything in tennis or life:)

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