Before you can become a fearsome server, you have to master a seemingly simple step: the toss. It’s a deceptively vital aspect of the serve that, if not done correctly, makes it virtually impossible for you to serve well.
We’ll cover the toss for three types of serves (underhand, overhand and jump).
This is almost not a “toss” at all; it’s more of a release. You can’t hit the ball right out of your hand legally. According to the rules you must toss it up before serving, but it’s more like you move your hand out of the way just before contacting the ball.
It can be tempting to get too much height on your underhand toss, but that will seriously hurt your accuracy. And accuracy is the bread and butter of the underhand serve so it’s vital not to jeopardize that.
This is probably the hardest of the three tosses, because it has to be precise. The underhand toss is tiny and simple, and the jump serve toss is high enough that you can make adjustments.
But with the standard overhand serve toss, there’s no room for error.
Your non-serving hand needs to be extended out in front of your serving shoulder, and you should use the minimal amount of motion to get it to peak just slightly higher than you can reach with your arm fully extended.
The serve should always land in approximately the same place, generally just inside the big toe of your left foot (assuming you’re serving with the right hand). You should practice your toss over and over again until it’s as consistent as you can make it.
The jump serve is easily the most flexible of the three. You have to experiment with height and distance to find out what works for your length of approach and the space you have in the gym, but the basic guidelines are:
A jump serve is basically a back row attack from the back of the court, so the best way to get comfortable with it is to practice tossing and back row attacking from longer and longer distances.
Practice, practice, practice for your perfect toss no matter what kind of serve you use, and you’ll be on your way to the perfect serve in no time.
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