Ask tennishead: The ball toss

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Some professionals have battled with their serves. The key to a good serve is a good ball toss. Is it more effective to throw the ball up via the fingers rather than from the palm of the hand?
Linda, via email

The ball toss is arguably the most important part of the serve, says South Africa Davis Cup and Fed Cup captain John-Laffnie de Jager. You need to be able to put the ball in a specific spot above your head every time you serve. To be an effective server you need to have a consistent ball toss. It is very important to hold the ball in your fingers and not in your palm. This will help you to control the ball better. The key is not to get any spin on the ball when you toss it, so the easiest way is to just open your hand when you release the ball.

Start with your arm down low and then raise it straight up. Release the ball when your hand is level with the top of your head by simply opening the hand up. After releasing the ball, continue to raise your arm until it is pointed straight up into the air. You want to toss the ball between one and two feet over your contact point, because that will give you enough time to execute the rest of your motion while the ball is in the air.

John-Laffnie de Jager is a member of the Global Professional Tennis Coach Association and GPTCA national president of South Africa. 

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