Part 1 covered tips to correct foot faults through your footwork. However, your best service footwork intentions will be completely undone if you chase your toss. So Part 2 will cover tips to help make your toss a little less wonky.
Question: If someone’s toss is the reason for their foot fault troubles, what advice would you give them? What kind of things can they do in practice to help their toss?
Answer: If you’re having problems with your toss, make sure that you’re not:
1. Bending your elbow,
2. Breaking at the wrist,
3. Rolling the ball from your fingers with spin.
All of these things make it hard to control the ball. You want a straight arm ending in a trophy pose with good knee bend, and a clean release of the ball with no flicking action. Ideally, you should be able to read the printing on the ball. Federer is one of the best at it, and of course Serena because of her consistent delivery.
To test your consistency, stand at the baseline in “serve ready” position with your racquet on the ground in front of you with the strings positioned where a correct toss should land. Then, try to see how many times you can perform your toss and have it land on the strings.
All of these tips will help give you a simpler and more consistent toss for better serve control…and fewer foot faults.
(SFTF Note: My personal struggles with the service toss mostly relate to rolling the ball on my fingers as it gets tossed, sending it too far to the left, right, or forward. Marla suggested that I practice releasing the ball as if I was releasing a balloon, palm up with all fingers releasing at the same time (much as in the picture with Mike Bryan at right). It has helped immensely, allowed me to hit my serve more consistently from the same position above my left shoulder.
Another thing to remember, as with anything related to your strokes, is that you need to relax to help keep your shoulders level and to help keep tension out of your arm. If your shoulders go up, your toss will go astray. If your arm gets tight, you won’t be able to bend it behind you effectively. If you practice the tips above AND remember to relax and breathe when serving, you’ll be well on your way to a more consistent serve with better control, and fewer foot faults.)
Need help with your service footwork? Check out the tips in Part 1.
Got a tennis question? Send it via email or tweet for “Ask Marla”.
Marla Reid is a respected tennis pro/coach in the San Francisco Bay Area. She’s coached nationally-ranked teams and players, and has over 15 years of experience at the NCAA Division I, II, and III levels. Marla owns and operates City Racquet Shop in San Francisco CA.
About City Racquet Shop
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