The toss of the serve, how insignificant one may see it, can play
a large role in your serve. In order to be able to hit a good serve,
you must have a good consistent toss. Some players have problems
with their toss, and some do not. If you are someone who has an
inconsistent toss, it is well worth practicing just the toss. If
you struggle with your toss it can get in your head during match
play. If you are someone who is thinking about your toss during
the match you are probably someone who hits a lot of double faults.
The toss needs to be something that is completely automatic, no
thought required. If you are not to the point where your toss is
automatic I highly suggest practicing your serve until you are extremely
comfortable with your serve.
Always watch the ball from the very beginning of the toss. Avoid
tossing the ball up and then start looking for it in the air. Keep
your eye on the ball until contact is made! If you take your eyes
off of the ball and look at the court that means you just dropped
your head. Where the head goes the face of the racquet usually follows,
and you will most likely not come up with a good serve, but instead
a fault. This is where nerves can play a role especially on the
second serve of big points. When some players get nervous they tend
to look to the court before they hit the ball. You will have to
remember to stay calm and watch the ball the whole way through.
Do not toss the ball too high or too low. Tosses that end up too
high will be affected by the wind and cause timing problems, and
tosses that are too low are subject to all sorts of problems. Not
only will balls that are tossed too high be affected by the wind,
they will also test your timing to the fullest. The toss should
be high enough so that when you extend to hit your serve you hit
the ball at the peak of the toss while the ball is in equilibrium.
How high is that for you? That depends on how tall you are and how
high you like to jump (assuming you jump) to get to the ball on
your serve. You should be able to figure that out quickly. Tossing
the ball too low, or letting the ball drop too low before you serve,
will not let you hit a powerful serve. Instead you will get jammed
because the ball is too close to you and you will be lucky to hit
a solid serve. Learn to be consistent with your toss.
When learning the 4 types of serves, many players get accustom to
throwing their toss in different places for the different serves.
This is not a big deal, but it may not be a good thing either. If
you have to toss the ball in different places to hit different serves
you have already told your opponent what serve is coming before
you hit the ball. Good players will read your toss to be better
prepared. My suggestion to those who are learning the different
types of serve is to learn to hit all four serves from the same
ball toss. This will make your serve much more effective. The same
theory is applied to the placement of your serves. If you are going
to tell your opponent where you are serving, you might as well just
tell them verbally as well. When you get a chance to watch the top
players pay attention to their serve, see how they toss the ball,
and watch the consistency of their toss. John McEnroe and Pete Sampras
were experts at disguising their serves.
Be sure you are a player with a consistent toss. If your toss is
not consistent, do not hide from the problem. Get out and practice
your serves outside of match play. During a match is the wrong time
to work on your problems.
Good Luck on the Court!