Bradford Athletics

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Bradford Tennis Tips - Serve


How to Toss a Ball When Serving in Tennis

Whether you've picked up a racket for the first time or have been swinging away for years, a great tennis serve isn't just about strength. Technique is just as important, starting with the toss.

  • STEP 1: Hold the ball with your thumb, index finger and middle finger. Gently cradle the ball rather than squeezing it.
  • STEP 2: Lower your arm directly in front of you.
  • STEP 3: Raise your arm in front of you, letting the ball go when your arm is fully extended above your head. The toss should be gentle.
  • STEP 4: Toss the ball an arm's length in front of you and slightly off to the right (or the left, if you're left-handed). The toss should be about 2 to 3 inches higher than the vertical reach of your racket, and never below it. The higher the toss, the harder it is to time the serve.
  • STEP 5: Keeping your eye on the ball, rotate your shoulders and drop the racket behind you as you prepare to unload the rest of the serve.


  • Stay consistent with the toss. Think of the toss as a constant introduction to your ever-changing serves.
  • Before the toss, many players bounce the ball to stay loose.
  • Make sure to position yourself at the baseline before every serve.
  • Make sure you have a firm grip on the handle. Both the eastern and continental grips are used for serves.