THE SERVICE TOSS
The most important part of any tennis serve is the toss. The service is
the only shot in tennis where the player is in control of the ball. The toss
must be accurate if the serve is to be accurate.
On the service start position both arms should be out in front of the
body with the ball resting in the tossing hand. The racquet will be resting
on the lower fingers of the tossing hand. This resting position of the
racquet will allow your muscles to relax instead of pinning the ball against
The toss arm should be at a 45 degree angle or less to the baseline. If
your using the continental grip (and you should be), your toss will be
slightly over the left shoulder if your right handed. This means your toss
arm angle will be almost parallel to the baseline before it begins its
As you begin the service, you will let the tossing hand drop down and it
should swing back with the racquet arm. This will create a good shoulder
rotation if both arms are moving in the same direction.
When holding the ball for the toss, the fingers should cradle the ball
without the ball resting in the palm of the hand. Do not squeeze the ball
but rather let the ball rest on the fingers to reduce muscular tension. The
palm of the hand should be facing more to the side than up toward the
sky. This will help eliminate most of any wrist movement on the ball toss.
The arm motion should be smooth and the arm should be straight not
bent at the elbow. Do not bend or use the elbow to aid in the toss, this will
only cause a ball throw instead of a ball â€œliftâ€�. The stiff arm and
stiff wrist motion keeps your ball toss more consistent.
If you consistently put the ball toss in the right place your serve will be
consistent also. Next tip I will talk about how changes in the toss will affect
the placement of the serve.
Doug Hofer, USPTA January 3, 2004
Service start position