Feeding a Ball-Hungry Face
If a tennis ball could defy gravity, and obediently sit in the perfect place, just waiting for the server to thwack it, tennis life would be a lot simpler.
But it can’t, so Job Two is to feed the ball up to the racket face with your free hand, your ball-toss hand.
And hey, when serving you’re at least in control of the destiny of your own Connect 3.
We know where contact point is.
We know we need time for a full throw of the racket head.
We know that more height = more time.
Watch Marat, below, lob the ball up and above the intended contact point (giving him time to build up a throw), as well as perfectly weighing it to fall back into the perfect place at the perfect time.
‘That’s a lot of perfection for us mortals.’
Moving towards technical perfection should be the aim of correct practice, though each player should have a realistic grasp of his/her own abilities – and if you’re a little better today than you were yesterday, you’re another step higher on the learning staircase.
Just understand that tennis strokes can take years to properly grow, so have:
- realistic expectations
- use your on-court time wisely
- do as much as you can to improve
- go easy on yourself if you fall short of your goals
- enjoy the process of learning, and
- don’t turn it into a facility for physical and psychological self-harming (or the harming of others).
Watch the animation below, in which I’ve highlighted the ball toss and the awaiting Connect 3 zone.
See how the ball rises from Marat’s hand, above the forthcoming contact zone, then drops back… just in time to coincide with the arrival of the thrown racket head.
This is Free Hand Lobbing.
You are lobbing the ball up with your placement hand, trying to ensure that:
- 1: you give your racket hand time to throw the racket head, and…
- 2: it arrives at a pre-arranged contact point.
Pointless having the right amount of time if the ball’s in the wrong place.
Pointless it arriving in the right place too soon or too late.
- Mastery and…
- Coordination of these two events is paramount to a quality serve.
And the serve is something you can practice on your own… in self-isolation.