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Toss Arm Positioning on The Tennis Serve

In today’s video we’re going to talk
about what happens to the toss arm once the ball is released. Some players like
Ivo Karlovic or Andy Roddick will toss the ball and once the ball has been
released the arm will continue moving up and then it will actually start moving
backwards behind their head like this And this is usually done in conjunction
with the entire body moving forward. So while the weight is placed on the front
leg and the hip usually will go a little bit inside the court and then the
non-dominant arm will go behind the head in this way Other players such as Federer will have
a completely vertical position of the toss arm. So what happens on these type
of serves is that the arm usually travels parallel to the baseline and
then once it has reached this position it doesn’t go any further. And players like John Isner and Nick
Kyrgios will have a diagonal toss and their toss arm doesn’t go quite to the
vertical position. So they will toss the ball diagonally into the court and the
arm stops about right here. All these techniques work but they all
have their own little pitfalls. So here are the mistakes that I see at the
recreational level. When you try to copy the Andy Roddick/Ivo Karlovic technique
where the toss arm goes behind the head like this, what I see is that most
players will have a difficult time tossing the ball inside the court when
this is the case and furthermore a lot of players will actually end up tossing
the ball behind the baseline. So my advice is that if you were trying to
achieve the toss arm going past your head you cannot do it with a
straightforward toss when the toss arm is going into the court or even a
diagonal toss because what’s going to happen is as you’re tossing the ball
diagonal into the court it’s going to be very difficult to stop at the correct
moment and usually players hold onto the ball too long and end up throwing the
ball behind like this. Another very common mistake at the
recreational level is that players will stop their toss arm once the ball has
been released. So they toss the ball and the arm stops about at the head
level. And while this will give you some decent control on the toss you will have
a very difficult time in getting the shoulders to be in a cartwheeling
position. So you’re not going to be able to get that non-dominant shoulder above
the dominant shoulder if the arm stops at your head level The easiest way to toss the ball on the
serve is the diagonal toss technique because with this technique we have
a very easy time to throw the ball inside the baseline and we also have naturally
a little bit of an arc where the ball is moving right to left for right-handers.
Now when it comes to releasing the ball you will have to make sure that the arm
does continue to go up a little bit. Now it doesn’t have to be all the way
vertical you can stop right here ala Kyrgios and John Isner, but as long as the
arm is continuing to go up after the ball has been released this will help
you in creating this cartwheeling effect where the non-dominant shoulder is above
the dominant shoulder. So the primary objective of the toss arm
continuing to go up after the ball has been released is the positioning of the
shoulders. When we do this type of toss where the arm is continuing to go up it
makes it natural that the non-dominant shoulder gets above the dominant
shoulder and now what will happen as a result of that you will be able to
utilize an a very important power source and you definitely should not neglect
that. Now should you have the arm continue to go up all the way vertical
or even past your head? In my opinion this is not so important. It is more
important that you continue to go up and make sure the toss is not inhibited and
starts to go behind you. In my experience I see a lot of recreational
players who have a difficulty getting the toss inside the baseline and their toss
lands very consistently behind the baseline. And what you’re looking for is a slight
stretching of the non-dominant side once the ball has been released and you’re
going to feel it so once you release the ball and you continue going up naturally
as the racket starts going up you’re gonna feel a stretching on this side and
that is exactly what you’re looking for as far as what the left arm is supposed
to do after the ball has been released. So don’t forget to use the non-dominant
arm even after the ball has been released. It’s a very important technical
element of the serve and can help you to serve with more power. If you have any
questions please leave a comment in the section below I’ll be happy to respond,
hit that like button and please subscribe if you haven’t already. I’ll
see you next time.

David Frank



  1. hrabmv Posted on August 9, 2019 at 10:28 am

    love the correct and incorrect picutres, i still struggle occasionally with a ball toss…..tossing on my head:)

  2. panos fortounas Posted on August 9, 2019 at 12:11 pm

    Great analysis thanx

  3. Intuitive Tennis Posted on August 9, 2019 at 12:15 pm

    Need more help on the toss?

    Toss Fundamentals: https://youtu.be/ih_N6KGsBVM

    3-Ways To Toss: https://youtu.be/R02cutZsVaE

    3-WaysTo Toss (Pro Examples): https://youtu.be/-li_WCMmTzc

  4. Dmitry Private Posted on August 9, 2019 at 12:20 pm

    Hi Nikola, Another excellent video and very astute points. I also like the illustrations with sounds of wrong toss (I am often guilty of tossing behind my head :(). I especially like these aspects of your instructions:

    1. that the cartwheeling effect will come naturally as the result of the tossing arm extending up!!

    2. Importance of stretching of the non-dominant side.

    Thank you so much!

  5. TRUMPT BY GRAVITY Posted on August 9, 2019 at 1:39 pm

    I think you are the best coach in terms of tennis serves. Your explanation is brilliant as well as your serves. You have dethroned Mr Bollettieri, I guess.

  6. David Yasui Posted on August 9, 2019 at 1:44 pm

    It's great that you stress the need to keep the non-dominant arm extended. I have a tendency to drop it too soon which lowers my shoulder and makes me tank the ball into the net.

  7. gerard gold Posted on August 9, 2019 at 2:16 pm

    You are the best coach in the net

  8. James Murphy Posted on August 9, 2019 at 2:52 pm

    Coach – terrific explanation of the serve toss. I suffer having ball outside the baseline. Thanks!

  9. Lingua Kaji Utama Posted on August 9, 2019 at 2:54 pm

    Very useful tips coach. Thank you so much for your video.

  10. catalin simescu Posted on August 9, 2019 at 6:10 pm

    Good video,Nick.I think is the only one speaking about the non-dominant hand.You thought about it…you see things.you hear voices..All the best !

  11. jkn1951 Posted on August 9, 2019 at 6:14 pm

    This is one of your best videos Nik…especially when you demonstrate the correct compared to the incorrect technique.
    There is one important aspect I would point out. Once the tossing arm is fully extended, quickly tuck the tossing arm into your chest (you demonstrate this very nicely). This quick motion adds a lot of power to the serve as you force the front shoulder downward and the back shoulder upward. This is the shoulder-over-shoulder rotation (or cartwheel effect) that we want in our serve. Great job Nik.

  12. Marcio Nogueira da Silva Posted on August 9, 2019 at 7:22 pm

    Nery good lesson. I´m trying the diagonal toss, however the ball often comes out of may reach, going too far unbalancing me. can you give me a clue how to solve it?

  13. Manju CS Posted on August 9, 2019 at 7:38 pm

    Nice video Nick as always..

  14. Raul Tennis Posted on August 9, 2019 at 8:09 pm

    Great video… As per video, we do not want horizontal shoulders because we cannot get the proper cartwheeling action. Approximately how many degrees shoulder tilt should we be getting? It seems like some pros (Kyrgios) have less shoulder tilt than others?

  15. Patrick McCall Posted on August 9, 2019 at 8:42 pm

    Another great video Nick. The illustrations were perfect. Where in Florida are you based ??

  16. George Oberlander Posted on August 9, 2019 at 11:34 pm

    Excellent presentation, Nick!
    With service topics, it would be great if you did some videos which include things like rotating away from the court on the take back (how much, pros and cons, etc.), opening the racquet face on the initiation of the service motion (vs. keeping it perfectly vertical, etc.), the infamous "wrist snap", use of slight modifications of the Continental grip (e.g., a bit more towards the Eastern backhand), motion of the back leg during completion of the service motion in the platform stance (viz., keeping it in the same position vs. swinging it around as, for example, McEnroe does).

  17. Bastien Lauer Posted on August 10, 2019 at 9:08 pm

    Hello, I watched a lot of your videos and I love them. I love the fact that you sometimes focus on topics that people often don't pay attention or misunderstand but are still really important. Also, you usually give insight on what should be practiced and what shouldn't be (for pronation or racquet lag for example), it really helps getting into the correct mindset, and a correct technique can only be acquired with a correct mindset in my opinion. Please keep going, greetings from France

  18. IndieRockGuitar Posted on August 11, 2019 at 2:23 pm

    The cartwheel effect: Learn something new each time.

  19. iKarla Posted on August 11, 2019 at 7:31 pm

    Amazing vid, currently having issues keeping my arm straight with the toss so I’ll keep your tips in mind!

  20. Olaf sørensen Posted on August 12, 2019 at 7:52 am

    very enformative. No one else have explaint it so clear. You are a great coach. Olaf coach from Copenhagen Denmark