Federer – Sequential Elements on the Serve

Allow the tossing arm to rotate back (not out in front) to move the weight into a balanced position

The most common problem occurs when players shift their weight forward doing the tossing action















Federer releases the ball at eye level – sounds simple but is very important

The most common problem here occurs when players have begun opening their shoulders during the tossing action







Unusually, for sure this was unusual to me, he still appears sideways as his elbow pulls the hand and racquet up and into the hit

This creates an off line swing path

The most common problem occurs when players are facing the net at contact – taking away spin and disguiise

Now enjoy the video!


  • Steve k

    Reply Reply August 11, 2019

    Jim, My thoughts triggered by your June 26, 2019 comments on Federer’s serve. Yes, yes and yes. I have a comment on how the serve’s “throwing motion” is commonly taught. The serve is commonly likened to a baseball pitcher’s throw toward the strike zone.
    In my opinion, not enough emphasis has been placed on throwing the baseball UP instead of forward. You are the only coach who ever mentioned it in your comment on “. . . throw the dart at the ceiling . . .”. Instead, I would say to throw the ball straight up into the air as if it were a pop fly.
    I’ve finally decided on a service motion after being a re-entry tennis player for the past 4 years. I try to use a low toss, a compact swing, and a lag in the ball toss like Kevin Curren. My swing is compact like a shortstop or second baseman’s throw. I cock my swinging arm by my right ear and swing the racquet UPWARD like a shortstop throwing a ball for pop fly practice. I use a smaller knee bend and try to abruptly, sharply launch upward off the back leg like Federer and try to time it to load my shoulder like Andy Roddick.
    Like everyone else, I have gone to a lighter racquet. I use a Babolat Pure Drive lead-taped to 13.5 oz., and balanced at the midpoint. Zero points headlight, strung with 17 ga. VS natural gut at 50 lbs. I call it The Trampoline.
    Northern California teaching pro John Yandell had a thread on his message board discussing The Roscoe Tanner Serve. The general opinion was that a low ball toss was not a good idea. I’m of the opinion that a perfect, to the sweet spot ball toss makes for a better (not necessarily perfect) serve. Someone should sponsor a ball toss contest, like they have serving contests. You could have it in your living room.
    Sincerely, Steve k

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply August 12, 2019

      Steve – 25 years ago most of the pros used the “lowish” toss – and unfortunately I registered a doubles exhibition loss to Roscoe in Florida years ago – but somehow we are seeing things similarly

  • Karsten

    Reply Reply June 26, 2019

    Hi Jim – good video and spot on analysis, I think. I also have a struggle with the turning and tossing at the same time. It seems to be so easy with Fed, but in reality ( in matches with some tension) its not so easy. How ever, I work on the platform stand and the correct turn, because I think its the most stabil/reliable way to serve ???. Best Karsten

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply June 26, 2019

      Karsten – I continue to work on elements of the serve – how the pros have some elements in common but truly how effortless and rhythmic Federer makes everything look – I hope to create a template of sorts for chidden (or adults) to adopt that creates his look and feel – best Jim

      • Allan Haines

        Reply Reply June 26, 2019

        Hi Jim
        I look forward to your notes as I still lose power in the throwing/ pronation/ wrist flick to see watch face action
        Your insights are still the best

        • Jim McLennan

          Reply Reply June 26, 2019

          Allen – it might be that the height or placement of your toss interrupts your rhythm and robs you of power – sometimes without a ball make the racquet swish on the serve, and then toss to that spot with an actual ball – every now and then this works – Jim

  • Bernard McKey

    Reply Reply June 25, 2019

    Excellent video so simplistic

    1 Holds ball with the racket down by his thigh
    2 Has the ball between the second and third finger
    3 Realeases the toss with a straight arm and head looking into the sky
    4 puts the weight onto the back foot
    5 bend his knees so it gets him into the net

    1 If you put the ball in the palm of your hand the toss will go all over the place
    2 Pros use Cone
    3 bewteen 2nd and third finger
    4 whiskey pose (arch your thumb and first finger )

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply June 26, 2019

      Bernard – I am not sure about your queries – but think those are elements of his stye rather than mechanics – and it may be the the height and location of the toss matters most – certainly at our club errant tosses appear more often with rushed tossing motions – best Jim

  • Eugenio ovalle

    Reply Reply June 25, 2019

    The toss is with the palm of the hand facing the sky.

    Not the cone which some pros have said


    • Ken Greene

      Reply Reply June 25, 2019

      Nothing wrong with the cone technique, there is less wrist flex

  • Dave Giddens

    Reply Reply June 25, 2019


    I must have missed this video. I always have trouble with weight tranfer.
    I hope this video will help.You Are a GREAT TEACHER. Thanks for the advice.
    Second thought, I know this will solve the problem- Dave the next “GREAT
    Federer” in Marquette MI. I need to take another one of your courses.Which
    one should I take on the plate form serve like Federer?

    Dave Giddens
    Marq. Mi.

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply June 26, 2019

      Dave – before another “course” send me an email with a video of your serve – let me look
      best – Jim

  • Stephen Davenport

    Reply Reply June 25, 2019

    Very helpful

    Will see what i can do with it

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply June 26, 2019

      Stephen – why not let me see either your before or after with this stuff

Leave A Response

* Denotes Required Field