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The Perfect Toss

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  • don_budge
    replied
    Originally posted by johncraig View Post
    Thanks for your questions. Please note this video is a part of the program "Building A Serve Foundation". Thus, it is a fundamental guide and doesn't elaborate on individual styles that evolve as a player develops. It is a starting point. That being said, for most players building their serves, I recommend the tossing arm extend at 45 degrees from the baseline, which approximates the same angle from the shoulders. Where the player goes from there with the toss angle is a subject of advanced technique and style, which is addressed in the series (release date July1st).

    Many players struggle with body movement that influences placement and control. The idea to keep still isolates the tossing shoulder as the controlling element in raising the arm with the right speed and control. This is a fundamental concept. The reality is some movement will always exist, but the attempt to keep still can only help improve the consistency and control of ball placement.

    Please let let me know if you have additional questions. Thank you!
    Originally posted by johncraig View Post
    Hi Don, I would love to hear your answer on the toss question...thanks, John
    johncraig...I watched your video lesson on tennisplayer.net with great interest and I would like to thank you for participating with us and engaging in discussion. I duplicated your message to me as a quote because I sort of wanted everyone to know that you have personally asked me about my feelings about the question that pvchen directed at you. This was a very nice gesture on your part and we all appreciate it.

    Without getting into a discussion of where we agree or disagree let me outline a bit of my interpretation of the serve and the toss. I have written some to pvchen regarding his service motion so this might even help him to tie things together even further. pvchen posted his service motion on the forum and several of the coaches here participated in giving him some good advice regards how to go forwards and improve his motion. The last look we had was very encouraging.

    Looking at your video you are a perfect example to work with. I tell the student that first we must have a perfect setup position. Once we have a perfect setup position it is possible to execute a perfect backswing. If we set ourselves up to go forwards with a perfect backswing then it is guaranteed that we can make a perfect forwards motion...if we toss the ball in the same perfect spot on a consistent basis.

    I emphasize that serving is a process of aiming...much like a golf swing. The first thing that I do with a student is set them up in a position where they are aiming at a specific target. I start with the corner near the sideline in the deuce court. First I have the student line up by creating a line at the ends of their toes that goes to the target. Next I have them set their racquet about six inches in front of them pointing the racquet tip directly at the target. This line that is six inches in front of the line of their feet extends all the way to the target and all the way back to the wall behind them...or the fence. All of my instruction now is related to this line and focused on aiming at the target.

    This line that is in front of the students feet becomes the backswing line. I am going to limit my explanation regarding this line to the toss. In your set up position you have positioned the ball precisely above this line. When you bounce the ball in your preserve ritual you bounce the ball on that line. The point where you bounce that ball becomes the target for your ball toss (if you were to let the ball bounce). So the goal of the student is to toss that ball straight above the target to a point above that line where their forward service motion will meet the ball with the racquet face. In other words...the target for the toss is a point above that line as high as they can reach with their racquet. With me so far?

    With both hands dropping together the ball toss hand comes straight to the front thigh and then as the hands GO OUT TOGETHER the hand reaches and passes through the point that it was at in the set up position. At this time the shoulders have rotated and are approximately on line with the feet and therefore aiming at the target. The racquet is at the top of the backswing and the racquet head is also still on this backswing line...never allowing the racquet to get behind the body until it falls behind.

    The toss should land inside the court about a foot in front of the baseline. I also teach my students to step towards the target with the motion initially...naturally on the line towards the target. I try to emphasize this line to direct as much energy towards the target...it is all a process of aiming. The motion is an moving aiming process.

    I describe the motion as a track for a rollercoaster...thus the use of the line. Initially the track is in front of the student where the backswing descends and then rises in the upwards backswing...all the while staying "on track". Once the backswing reaches the top of the track, the racquet head (the rollercoaster car) falls freefall speed behind the student and goes into "the loop" of the rollercoaster where it comes out of the loop with terrific speed...just like a rollercoaster. The track returns to the line where the racquet meets the ball aimed at the target. The step towards the target emphasizes this aiming process further and I eventually have the student continue motoring to the net for a volley. I believe that the service motions of the past were superior to the modern players as the motions were designed to go forwards...to the net!

    Thanks again John and I can really appreciate your stress on fundamentals. The three rules of tennis coaching being...fundamentals, fundamentals, fundamentals. Looking forwards to your further contributions. One of the stand out points that you made in your video was the raising of the back heel. Very interesting.





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  • gzhpcu
    replied
    I agree John. Your approach helps to get focused, calm and relaxed. Focus on a relaxed toss and let the rest just happen, works for me.

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  • johncraig
    replied
    Originally posted by pvchen View Post
    Thank you for attempting to address the toss in detail! This is a part of my serve that has plagued me and I have never been able to fix it.

    Can we go more in depth on some topics:

    1) The video says the arm should be at a 45 degree angle from the baseline. Should this arm angle be with respect to the alignment of the feet? Should the arm go straight forward in alignment with the feet (I think this is more like Djokovic), or should it go more to the side (like Fed)? (I think this is what Stotty is calling the rotary toss vs. the straight ahead toss?

    2) The video stresses that the body be still while tossing the ball up. But it looks like the shoulders turn during the tossing motion, particularly for "to the side" tossers like Fed or Agassi. Maybe less so for "straight ahead" tossers like Djokovic, who seems to turn his shoulders more after he releases the ball.
    Thanks for your questions. Please note this video is a part of the program "Building A Serve Foundation". Thus, it is a fundamental guide and doesn't elaborate on individual styles that evolve as a player develops. It is a starting point. That being said, for most players building their serves, I recommend the tossing arm extend at 45 degrees from the baseline, which approximates the same angle from the shoulders. Where the player goes from there with the toss angle is a subject of advanced technique and style, which is addressed in the series (release date July1st).

    Many players struggle with body movement that influences placement and control. The idea to keep still isolates the tossing shoulder as the controlling element in raising the arm with the right speed and control. This is a fundamental concept. The reality is some movement will always exist, but the attempt to keep still can only help improve the consistency and control of ball placement.

    Please let let me know if you have additional questions. Thank you!

    Leave a comment:


  • don_budge
    replied
    Originally posted by pvchen View Post
    Thank you for attempting to address the toss in detail! This is a part of my serve that has plagued me and I have never been able to fix it.

    Can we go more in depth on some topics:

    1) The video says the arm should be at a 45 degree angle from the baseline. Should this arm angle be with respect to the alignment of the feet? Should the arm go straight forward in alignment with the feet (I think this is more like Djokovic), or should it go more to the side (like Fed)? (I think this is what Stotty is calling the rotary toss vs. the straight ahead toss?

    2) The video stresses that the body be still while tossing the ball up. But it looks like the shoulders turn during the tossing motion, particularly for "to the side" tossers like Fed or Agassi. Maybe less so for "straight ahead" tossers like Djokovic, who seems to turn his shoulders more after he releases the ball.
    This is the "Holy Grail" of the service toss. I know the answer...but the author of "The Perfect Toss" gets first shot at it.

    Leave a comment:


  • pvchen
    replied
    Thank you for attempting to address the toss in detail! This is a part of my serve that has plagued me and I have never been able to fix it.

    Can we go more in depth on some topics:

    1) The video says the arm should be at a 45 degree angle from the baseline. Should this arm angle be with respect to the alignment of the feet? Should the arm go straight forward in alignment with the feet (I think this is more like Djokovic), or should it go more to the side (like Fed)? (I think this is what Stotty is calling the rotary toss vs. the straight ahead toss?

    2) The video stresses that the body be still while tossing the ball up. But it looks like the shoulders turn during the tossing motion, particularly for "to the side" tossers like Fed or Agassi. Maybe less so for "straight ahead" tossers like Djokovic, who seems to turn his shoulders more after he releases the ball.

    Leave a comment:


  • gzhpcu
    replied
    New though is the idea to start by looking at the opponent, then before initiating the toss to look at the release point instead of the contact point.... Find it a good idea...

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  • stotty
    replied
    Yes it's good one.

    Palm side is definitely the way to go for most of us as it helps ensures the tossing arm stays straight and acts as a lever from which the balls is released. With palm up, the risk of the arm bending at the elbow and the wrist is greatly increased.

    Keeping your eyes looking a the opponent as you prepare and initiate the ball toss is nothing new of this forum. We have corrected this element with a number of posters who have uploaded there serves for analysis in the past. It's a fairly common problem. I think it's important to stress why a server should look ahead however:

    1. It gives a player a better sense of direction for where he is about to serve
    2. It means you can potential pick up cues that an opponent might be preparing to run around your serve and hit a forehand.

    Another element worth exploring is the use of the rotary toss versus tossing the ball in a more straight up fashion. Is one better than the other?

    And do you remember Frew McMillan? He used to kind of shove the ball up.

    And then there's those who get into a mess with things: It's not unusual also for coaches to have students who get the yips with their ball toss. Once this starts it becomes a psychological barrier that is excruciating tricky to resolve. The psychology behind it is almost self-prophesying. The more the coach highlights the defect, the worse the problem becomes, and the yips can develop.
    Last edited by stotty; 06-05-2017, 02:39 PM.

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  • gzhpcu
    replied
    Agree. Best video I have ever seen on the ball toss. Ball tioss is key to a good serve.

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  • klacr
    replied
    By far the best single article/video specifically on the toss and how to master this overlooked but most important technical checkpoint. Required viewing for all tennis players learning the fundamentals of the serve and all exasperated tennis coaches that are looking for new ways to explain it. In fact, for many of them this video alone is worth the yearly subscription price.

    Thank You John Craig for doing this and making it easy to understand.
    Thanks You John Yandell for sharing this and knowing it is tennis player.net worthy. I concur.

    Kyle LaCroix USPTA
    Boca Raton

    Leave a comment:


  • johnyandell
    started a topic The Perfect Toss

    The Perfect Toss

    Let's discuss John Craig's latest article, "The Perfect Toss"

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