The Serve Toss

Every point starts with the server tossing the ball above his head to hit the serve. A very basic motion that I have used for

Brent Abel
years… and now Brent Abel throws the very foundation of my toss out the window.

I was taught that you want to hold the ball in the palm of your hand and toss up with a straight arm motion. This takes both the fingers and the bent arm out of the equation and, theoretically, gives you a more consistent toss.

But along comes Brent Abel, an online tennis guru I follow all the time at his site, showing a video of Roger Federer’s hand during his toss… and he is holding the ball between his thumb and index finger, with his palm NOT facing up, but sideways.

Check out his video clip by clicking HERE… but come back and tell me which way you do it and why.


7 thoughts on “The Serve Toss

  1. George — I’m with Brent. I was taught from an early age that the toss is too delicate to be left to the palm. My teacher, Tony Trabert, emphasized the importance of the thumb and the first two fingers. But only those first two fingers. He also stressed that you do not want the ball to be spinning through the air as it’s tossed, that in large part it’s more placed up there than tossed. The video Brent’s shown with Federer is first-rate. Added to this is something our Tennis Fantasies mate Roy Emerson once said: you can never start the motion too slowly. Keep showing this stuff, George, and see you in a few weeks.

  2. I hold the ball between my thumb, index and middle finger with palm facing sideways for many years. Also a straight arm motion. Have done that for years.

  3. OK, if the three of you (people who really know the game) also believe, i will try it today!

  4. Hey George. Love it!

    Thanks for your post. Appreciate it. Tom Stow got me going on this tossing technique way back in the day and it really helped not only my toss consistency, but just as importantly, it put me into a much better hitting position set up. Brent

    Brent – i played dubs today with my “new toss” … and held serve every time! thanks. george.

  5. Ok have to chime in and give you my take…

    Brent is only partially right in my humble opinion.
    From my experience and what I have seen….there are lots of good tennis players, but there are but few “natural athletes”. When I say natural athlete, I refer to a person who has very good control over his body motions and actions. A natural athlete is the person that can throw a rock against a tree from 10 feet away and hit it 4 out of 5 times. Most of us are NOT such people.

    If you are a natural athlete work that toss until you find the perfect spot for YOU…..And toss it any which way you like.

    If you are NOT a natural athlete, I would say, find the simplest straight arm motion with ball in palm of hand and do your best to get a consistent toss. Simplicity will work best here I think.

    For the record, I’m pretty quick, good reflexes and good “insight” when I make myself concentrate, but I’m by no means a “natural athlete” .

    See where I’m going with this? As an example for the (don’t shoot me) older crowd….mr. Bob Wilikie is one of those few natural athletes.

    Good post George

    Marc – No Elder Offense taken. george

  6. George, I am pretty sure no lesser server than Mr. John Newcombe also is a proponent of the hold the ball with the thumb, index and middle finger no bent elbow theory of tennis tossing. Several times at Tennis Fantasies I have seen Newk show this style of tossing. The amazing thing with Newk is his toss is probably the most consistent I have ever seen. When he demonstrates the toss, he has in the past had guys stand right behind him and right to his side to see if ther is any variation on the X and Y axes with his toss from one toss to the other. Invariably, there is no variation, including the height which is ALWAYS the same. Then Newk uses the same toss to hit, successively, a flat, slice and topspin serve. The ball spin changes, as well as the serve placement, but the toss remains 100% constant. It is quite impressive, and it demonstrates how a world class server is able to obtain great disguise on his serve so his opponent cannot read what he is going to do – all set up by the toss. My congratulations to Brent Abel for bringing this to the attention of the masses, and to you for sharing it.

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