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Bollettieri Q&A: Toss Trouble; On-The-Run Forehand

Thursday, March 10, 2011 /by

Hi Nick, I’m a club tournament player and I’m having trouble with my serve, especially the toss. I believe that the toss is the most important part of the whole service motion. Can you give me some advice?—Vincent Calderon

Yes, the toss is one of the key elements of the serve. One of the things you can try is to shorten your entire serve motion. By doing this you do not have to toss the ball as high. Many of the top servers use a very short serve motion. Keep your serving arm straight throughout your serve motion, release the ball approximately eye level and then have your arm and hand continue going up as if to catch the ball. Also, try to eliminate extra body motion; this will cause a more consistent ball toss. Have your coach point out to you where your ball toss should land if you let it drop.

Nick, I was wondering if you could offer some tips on hitting a forehand on the run. When I move to the right and hit the forehand on the run, I’m don’t get much power on the shot. And most of the time I dump the ball into the net. Any words of wisdom would be greatly appreciated!—Randy Lariscy
To hit a good on-the-run forehand, you must set your swing in motion as soon as you start moving to the ball. By doing this you only have to start your forward swing when reaching the ball. If you need to hit a defensive forehand on the run, follow the lead of the top players and swing with a Continental grip and an open stance. A high-to-low swing will put some underspin on the ball and give you time to recover. Nobody does this better than Kim Clijsters.

I’m a rising intermediate-level player, not yet in my first tournament. When I practice or hit against a wall, my strokes are good. But during matches, I either have bad timing or overhit the ball. I can’t seem to keep a rally going at all. Any suggestions? Thanks a lot for your help.—Varun Jyothykumar, Muscat, Oman

There are so many reasons that you and a lot of rising international players experience difficulty in their first few tournaments. I will give you a few simple tips that I have given to thousands of young players starting to play tournaments:

*Your practice sessions should include matches against all level of play.
*When you start to play, do the following: Hit your return of serve cross court; do not hit your balls close to the lines; and get your first serve in.
*Remember, your opponent is also nervous.
*When you’re a little tight, move your feet and follow through.
*Play long points.
*Do not overthink—it’s better to play a very simple game. Get the ball over the net one more time than your opponent.
*Relax, have fun and enjoy the game.
*When you miss and lose the point do what Andre Agassi did—play the next point. You cannot replay the previous point.

Have a question for Nick? Write to him at

Nick Bollettieri of the Bollettieri Tennis Academy has trained many collegiate and professional players, including 10 who reached the world No. 1 ranking.


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