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On my tennis serve, how do I properly and consistently do the ball toss?

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There are a few parts to having a consistent ball toss:

  1. Release the ball when the tossing arm becomes close to fully extended. This allows you to control the trajectory of the ball in one smooth motion. If you release too early or do not use a straight arm, the ball can experience inconsistent acceleration from your hand.
  2. Slow down your toss motion. It's more difficult to control a fast motion, which can lead to an unpredictable toss.
  3. The toss should be as low as necessary. The higher the toss, the more wind can affect it (due to prolonged exposure), the more difficult it is to toss consistently, and the more difficult it is to time. Optimally, you should make contact close to the height of the toss, but it might be difficult if you lack the racket-head acceleration, in which case you may need to toss higher for more time.
  4. You should hold the ball with your fingers rather than your palm. This will allow you to have more control on the release.

One piece I didn't include was location. This is difficult to give advice because it depends on the mechanics of the server's stroke, which largely depends on his/her skill level and athleticism. It also might depend on different serves. It's common to vary the ball toss location with different serves. For instance, with slice serves, a ball toss more to the right (of a right-handed server) could allow for more rotation around the ball at the expense of power. However, this becomes too easy to read at the higher levels and doesn't allow variety in location for these serves (e.g., it's more difficult to hit a body-serve).

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