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Tennis: Improve Your Serve - The Importance of a Repeatable Ball Toss
'Why is having a repeatable ball toss important?.. It's just the end result that counts right?'
No. The ball toss is something that is not practised enough by recreational players because its importance is not realised. It is so helpful to have a good serve and with enough practice it is so easy to have a good serve. The good thing about the serve is that it is totally in your hands; your opponent has no say in the effect of your serve, and it is for this reason you should maximise its quality.
Why is it so important?
Practising your ball toss is something that can be done whilst you practise your serve and there are multiple rewards that can be had for having a repeatable ball toss:
- A repeatable ball toss means improved and repeatable technique - if you have a toss that varies its position from serve to serve you probably won't have a very reliable serve. This is because your technique will be different every time you serve and you will have to improvise and make up for an out of position toss. Having the same and correct ball toss every time you step up to serve gets rid of this problem, and I can assure you that the results you get on your serve will soar.
- Increased confidence behind serve - having greater success on serve (which comes from having more solid technique) will only lead to you having more confidence in your service games and this is something that is so valuable but often missing from a recreational player's game.
- Increased disguise - being able to hit any serve from the same ball toss is a huge advantage for any tennis player. I believe it is partly for this reason why Federer hits so many aces; he is able to hit any type of serve into any part of the service box with the same ball toss and so players just can't get any read on his serve (see the video below).
Where should I put my ball toss?
You would want to place your ball toss ahead of you and in between 12 o' clock and 1 o' clock. (imagine a clock face, straight ahead being 12 o' clock) You would also want to hit the ball at the peak of your toss when it has maximum energy. If this isn't something that you currently do, it can take time to fix as your rhythm on serve totally changes when you change your ball toss - but it is worth it.
How can I get a repeatable ball toss?
It's simple, practise! Next time you go to the courts take heaps of tennis balls with you and focus on the position of your ball toss when you practise your serves.
Once you have got this ball toss down try this drill to improve your accuracy!
I'll be keen to hear about your thoughts and results so please tweet them to me!