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Do you struggle with your toss?  If the answer is yes, then you’re not alone.  I'd say roughly 3/4 of Tennisopolis members do.

In Pat Rafter's second free video lesson, he shares a story about his struggle to develop a consistent & reliable toss.  He also tells us how he solved the problem, confused his own dad, and the rest is history - winning the US Open twice.

As a young pro Pat’s toss was really dancing on him.  He couldn’t consistently put the ball in the right place above his head.  And that was preventing him from rising in the ATP rankings.

Pat discovered a simple technique for consistently putting the toss in the right place, and today he shares this technique with all Tennisopolis members.  Here’s the link where you can sign up to see it for free:

Pat Rafter Fixes Your Toss For Good  [update 5/3/2013 free videos a...

To me, the best takeaways from Pat’s second video are:

  • The technique prevents the ball from dancing side-to-side
  • It consistently puts the ball at the right height above your head
  • It improves the overall rhythm and timing of your serve
  • This automatically DISGUISES your serve

Here’s the link again:

Pat Rafter Fixes Your Toss For Good  [update 5/3/2013 free videos a...

This is the second video lesson in 4-part series by Rafter. It is totally free but if you ever do buy anything from FYB, I might get a commission.

Have fun out there,

The Mayor of Tennisopolis


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Comment by Tim Prapong on April 24, 2013 at 4:59pm

Note that Raonic and Murray have very pronounced J tosses. One goes 150 mphs, the other is a pretty decent first serve. lol Both keep the arms going at relatively the same rate. Proof is you will see the toss arm is only slightly higher than the windup arm midway, as if you see the clock saying 3:20 with their arms.

But in either case, the rate of left and right shoulder rotation is smooth and without any hitches. The common beginner will not do the J toss at the same rate of rotation as the oval windup. They will do the J toss and stall the right shoulder getting to 7 o'clock.

Comment by Tim Prapong on April 24, 2013 at 4:22pm

To be clear on what the classical serve motion was, the J toss was to rotate the left shoulder sideways to one o'clock. The oval and across windup back to seven o'clock, behind the right ear also rotated the right shoulder to seven o'clock. If the rotation of the left shoulder did not match the same rate as the rear shoulder rotation, then you get the binding up and wildness of toss associated.

So if the left shoulder is not allowed to rotate by making it a straight pendulum, the rear shoulder will be very awkward to rotate back to seven without some kind of jerk or delay issue. Hope this makes sense.

Comment by Tim Prapong on April 24, 2013 at 3:09pm

The toss arm going from front to pant leg to up will tug on the windup, because after all, the shoulders are joined by the chest. So you will find if you try to keep the oval windup, you either have two choices. Slow down the weight shift back, and wait for the toss motion to go up, before starting to rotating the rear shoulder as a result of the oval windup. Or you do as Rafter, make the windup not rotate during the straight toss up, windup goes up at the same rate as the toss.

But Pancho Gonzales did something smart. He used a circular windup with a straight toss, balanced front to back weight shift, dropping the racquet at a slight angle down while his toss hand went up. He did this with the racquet and right hand above his left toss hand. The left toss hand goes up, the right hand goes slightly down and around. So he had no circular J toss motion or excessive weight shift back to mess the toss. He also gets to keep his figure eight motion wide and obtuse, not overly acute like Rafter. He also gets to keep his options to hit the big flat bomber. Very smart man.

Comment by Tim Prapong on April 24, 2013 at 3:00pm

I believe eliminating the J toss is a good idea and making the toss more of a straighter pendulum is smart. So Federer took the idea to the next level. He angles his front shoulder down at a tilt and starts at the pant leg. Then he just seesaws his shoulders and the arm stays straight and true without any effect of shoulder rotation in the toss or weight shifting out and away, but inwards. Now that's really smart!

Comment by Mark / The Mayor on April 24, 2013 at 2:42pm

But Tim, I think the consistent toss motion he has developed does not have to be tied into that specific arm rotation.  In other words, someone can take away the trick to the consistent toss and not have to do the tight figure 8 that you mention.  Would you agree?

Comment by Tim Prapong on April 24, 2013 at 1:01pm

Interesting to see Rafter say he moved from the classical serve motion with the J toss, to his solution to go straight up with both his toss and his windup. He eliminates the curved motion of the J toss and eliminates the degree of rocking his weight shift going backwards. So his left arm becomes more of a straight pendulum and his overall motion in general goes straight up, much like Ivanisevic.
However, I think that his decision to go straight up in the windup gives him a greater chance for impingement and stress of the shoulder. By not letting the head of the shoulder joint to rotate as much horizontally, coupled with a forward toss may overwork the shoulder range of movement. It causes a very sharp figure 8 motion on the shoulder. If the toss is off line of the acute figure 8, there lies the stress.
Rafter's windup is different in the Ivanisevic windup, where he winds horizontally as well as vertically at the 45 degree plane at five o'clock outwards, then inwards behind the right ear. Either case, both men suffered shoulder injury which required surgery.  Perhaps abbreviating the horizontal movement of the windup in not such a good decision in the long haul.

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