Hit the most ACCURATE groundstrokes of your life with this coaching series – Click Here! Players are constantly asking me how they should change their toss location based on what type of serve they hit. There’s no doubt about it – whether you’re hitting flat, slice or kick absolutely makes a difference. If the ball isn’t in the right spot for each type of swing you’re making your job much more difficult than it has to be! Hopefully this explanation and practice drill are a huge help to you. Comments? Questions? Leave them down below. Thanks for watching! Serve Technique| Related Posts Leave A Comment Cancel reply Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. 18 Comments John Gunkler August 4, 2016 at 12:19 pm - Reply Ian, thanks for these lessons. I learn a lot. Here's a question I haven't seen you address: Is it true that the vertical distance above the court where the racquet strikes the ball changes depending on the type of serve you're hitting – topspin, slice, or flat? It would seem to me that you contact the ball lower on a topspin serve than on the other two, and highest on a flat serve. If so, your timing must differ, musn't it? That is, you have to swing earlier to hit a flat serve and later to hit a topspin serve. Am I right about this? If not, please create a video explaining why I'm not. Thanks very much. John AL June 16, 2016 at 9:12 am - Reply You started this video by referring to the kick serve but you did not demonstrate it. Can you include it in your next video? Frank June 15, 2016 at 11:41 am - Reply Assuming your arm extension is the same for both, in the topspin serve scenario at least, the ball motion will necessarily be parabolic, which means that the peak will be some distance to the right of the basket. This means that the effective ball position variation at apex between the two serves will be about half the distance which you moved the basket. So if you moved the basket some 6-8 inches, this means the ball at strike point will only move about 3-4 inches between the two serves? Seems very small. Does this make sense? Sean June 14, 2016 at 4:55 pm - Reply Ian, How about T zone and L zone ball toss location? Same toss location or not. I having trouble serve course T zone and L zone. I have no idea how to make it. Don June 14, 2016 at 1:52 pm - Reply I have watched many instructional videos on the ball toss, on various websites. The serve is the most individualistic shot in the game. Variations in posture, shoulder turn, hip turn, wrist flexion, pronation, and lower body motion. That said, there are many common elements observed in the top players' serves, as has been shown on Essential Tennis in their slow-mo videos of Federer and others. It seems that the most important feature of a toss should be that it is dependable in location, so that the racket path and serve technique doesn't have to vary too much to compensate for a variable toss. But with so much individual variation in service technique, I'm not sure there is one toss for every player and every serve. It makes more sense to me to tailor the toss to the racket path and body movement than vice-versa. Phyllis Nelson June 14, 2016 at 12:32 pm - Reply Ian It was always my understanding that a slice serve was a little further to the right and out front but you didn't mention it. Is that correct? Dan March 12, 2015 at 4:00 pm - Reply I like the basket target, Ian–it clears up a bit of confusion that I've had on where the toss should go. I always heard that on the kick serve it was supposed to be a grandiose toss behind me, thus demanding a hyper- arched back. The shift that you make with your basket, from your flat to the kick, is merely a few inches back in toward you, yet the basket is always out into the court. This demonstration is much appreciated. Also, I know that you're a lefty and for you to give this lesson as a right is very much appreciated! Greg March 9, 2015 at 12:01 pm - Reply The serve I was talking about is a slice serve.When I hit a slice serve( especially when the toss is farther out into the court) I get both more spin and pace. Also it seems to me that I read that Pete Sampras ball toss was 3 feet into the court. Also I heard that John Isner's ball toss was three feet into the court. Not sure if that is correct or not. Mike March 8, 2015 at 6:31 pm - Reply The problem I can see is not allowing for the arc of the ball. It appears your expecting the ball to drop vertically once it reaches it's apex, but I would argue the natural arc of the ball would cause the ball to land beyond the apex. What are your thoughts? CharlieinNeedham March 8, 2015 at 1:59 am - Reply Ian, Would you agree that one reason many lower level servers seem to struggle with toss location is that they don't lean back like you are in the video? I notice that by the time you are releasing the ball, your back is angled backwards – but not because you are bending your back. Your back is kept straight, but the angle you assume is from bending at your knees and ankles. Thus, at ball release, the ball can be easily tossed back to the correct position on the kick serve, as the body is already angled in that position. But many lower level players are standing too upright, so they have to toss the ball like a hook shot in basketball to get the ball to go to the left. Does this make any sense to you? Do you agree that body position contributes to the tossing woes of many lower level servers? Greg March 9, 2015 at 1:53 pm - Reply Charlie makes a good point about leaning back on the kick serve. CharlieinNeedham March 8, 2015 at 1:21 am - Reply Ian, Thank you for all the great instructional videos. I am wondering if it is okay for the ball to land a little further to the left for a kick serve than you show the basket. The reason is that the ball is taking a parabolic path on the way down, since the arm motion is parallel to the baseline, and so the ball is still moving to the left after it passes its apex over your head. Am I making this too complicated? What do you think? Greg March 6, 2015 at 7:33 pm - Reply I am confused. Why do some say the ball toss on the first serve should be three feet in front? Ian Westermann March 6, 2015 at 8:10 pm - Reply That's waaaay out there, Greg. Its important to specify what type of serve, as well. A flat serve toss should be further out in front than a kick serve toss. Height and amount of acceleration also plays a part. On a flat serve I'm sure Isner is 3 feet out in front of the baseline. For most players watching these videos that would be way too far (especially for a topspin serve). ken martinelli March 6, 2015 at 3:08 pm - Reply Nicely done, but you did not answer Orson's question about where to toss for the kick serve. Ken Ian Westermann March 6, 2015 at 3:16 pm - Reply Huh? Did you watch the video? Allan Doescher March 6, 2015 at 1:00 pm - Reply Ian great rule of thumb fir toss location. I have noticed my kick serve has more " bite" when my toss is lower. What gave you found? Ian Westermann March 6, 2015 at 3:17 pm - Reply Hm, I can't say that I've noticed any correlation there, Allan. You should be tossing high enough that you can maintain a good contact point (fully extended with your arm and shoulder) and can also keep a comfortable rhythm (not rushed and not hesitating either).