The Importance Of A Serve Toss: How To Set Up A Perfect Tennis Serve

By Lin
Last update:

Learning the basics of tennis comes with plenty of strokes, grips, rules, and playing methods. For instance, do you want to perfect your serve toss but need help figuring out where to begin? Is the toss before a serve that important?

importance of serve toss

The toss before a serve in tennis is how you can start your match on a high. Considering your toss must be strong enough to send the ball into the air before you hit it across the court to your opponent: this is a crucial part of the game. Your coordination must also be good, as you’ll use your non-dominant hand to toss the ball before hitting the serve.

Are you curious about mastering the serve toss? Keep reading to learn more about this often-forgotten part of the game.

Table of Contents

Why The Serve Toss Matters In Tennis

As one of the first things you’ll do when playing a tennis match, your serve toss needs to be strategic yet powerful enough to launch the ball into the air before you serve it to your opponent. A solid toss leading into the serve will allow players to form consistency in their game and become a master of serving.

You’ll use your dominant hand to hold the racket and your non-dominant one to toss the ball in front of it. Focus on leading with your elbow and keep your arm straight. The more practice you have with this: the better your toss and subsequent serve can become before your next match.

How To Create The Perfect Serve Toss

When serving the ball in tennis, you always want to focus on your toss before swinging and coming in contact with the ball. Generally, the “perfect” serve toss will come with practice and consistency but can become a superpower on and off the court.

Here is how to set up the perfect serve toss:

  1. Set your feet in the correct serve stance.
  2. Putting some weight on your front foot, bounce the ball on the court a few times.
  3. Hold the tennis ball lightly, with your fingers versus palm, and position it lightly, touching the racket in front of you.
  4. Begin to transfer the weight from your front foot to the back one.
  5. As this happens, shift into a “trophy” pose.
  6. Drop your hands together, and lift your tossing arm towards the sky using your shoulder.
  7. As your tossing arm moves up, bring the arm holding the tennis racket behind you in a pendulum-like position, swinging from back to front.
  8. Release the ball, and strike it with your racket.

During the serve toss, one thing to be aware of is that your knees should be slightly bent while preparing for the ball and racket to connect. You want to achieve a full bend when your arms complete their motion.

Here is a video showing these steps in motion:

Tips For A Consistent Serve Toss

Now that you know how a serve toss works, there are things to remember when it comes to consistency. As we covered, you want to aim for a similar toss every time you serve, as this will create a powerful start to your match.

Here are tips for a consistent toss before your serve:

  1. Lead with your elbow always: keep your toss arm straight.
  2. Allow your tossing arm to reach the top of your head.
  3. Hold the ball with your fingers lightly.
  4. Move your dominant arm (racket) from back to front.
  5. Swing back like a pendulum when hitting the serve.
  6. Bend your knees while you set up for the serve.

Two of the best players to watch when learning the serve toss are Serena Williams and Nick Kyrgios, as both are known for their near-perfect placement when tossing before the serve.

Here’s what Serena looks like when serving:

Here’s what Nick looks like when serving:

These fastest serve records are also great examples of how a consistent toss can give you an advantage during match-play.

What both these players have in common is their throwing arm extension as well as follow-through once coming in contact with the ball. Always extend your tossing arm before releasing, and follow through with a powerful back-to-front serve swing.

Placements For A Serve Toss: Explained

Regarding the placements for a serve toss in tennis, you want to be hyper-aware of a few details and movements. First, your toss for a slice serve should be placed roughly in the same location as your flat serve. That will make doing this easier, as you don’t have to switch placements for different serves.

Many tennis players also toss the ball more to the right when serving, which correlates with them mainly being right-handed. You don’t have to do this: but it works for many people.

Most importantly: your toss must be aligned above the serving shoulder and just in front of your head.

A rule to remember is that ball toss for flat serves needs to be inside the court and somewhere between the head and the shoulder of the hitting arm.

How To Practice The Serve Toss Yourself

When practicing your serve toss alone, it’s crucial to master the actual toss before introducing your racket. Many people choose to perfect their toss before practicing their swing, so that’s an idea to consider.

Work on extending your arm, gripping the ball with your fingers instead of your palm, and bouncing it on the court a few times before each toss. Once you feel comfortable: introduce the racket and work on your serve and swing.


How High Do You Toss A Tennis Serve?

Most tennis players toss their ball 2-3 feet above the maximum extension of their racket. Try to get the ball high in the air to give it time before hitting it.

Where Should My Serve Toss Be?

Your serve toss should be inside the court and somewhere between the head and the shoulder of the hitting arm.

How High Does Roger Federer Toss The Ball?

Federer throws his ball 82 degrees from his launch position at the baseline before hitting it, typically ranging from 9-10 feet from ground level. He likes to throw high, as do many of the greats.

In Conclusion

This article covered the importance of a serve toss and how to position your body, perfect for your arm extension, and hit a powerful serve into your opponent’s court.

Remember to let your arm extend all the way before releasing the ball, and don’t be afraid to assume the trophy stance pre-serve.

Photo of author


Editor of All Points Tennis and a huge Roger Federer fan, I've spent countless hours studying his moves, especially his forehand and one-handed backhand. I also love writing about all the technical stuff like rackets and strings. I'm super pumped to share my insights with fellow tennis lovers here.