This post will teach you how to perform the tennis return of serve in a few simple steps.
One doesn’t hear much about the return of serve in tennis, but it’s one of those shots that everyone expects players to be able to hit. Try to remember any recent tennis lessons you’ve participated in. You probably hit a lot of forehands and backhands, maybe some volleys, and if there was time left towards the end, you most likely practiced some serves to close it out.
As a result, the most common mistake people make on the tennis return of serve, including myself, is not practicing the shot enough. The only way to generate a reliable return of serve shot is to put in regular practice hours and focus on the correct fundamentals.
Also, winning matches is dependent on the tennis return of serve. A single break of serve may make or break a match, and making sure it goes your way rather than your opponent’s isn’t easy. However, if you master everything you can do on your end, you are much more likely to put your opponent under a good amount of pressure on the other side of the court. That’s why we’ve created a step-by-step guide to the recovery of serve.
However, there are some characteristics shared among the finest returners in the game. Consider them “best practices” for your tennis return game, and see if you can get that additional break of serve in your next match by implementing them. Feel free to skip ahead to the topic of your choice.
The speed of the incoming ball is the main difference between a groundstroke and a return. When returning a slow serve, the swings will be pretty similar, but you will need to make a few adjustments when returning a fast serve. Next, discover some of the key components of a solid tennis return of serve:
Where should I get into ready position for the return of serve? I prefer to stand a few feet behind the baseline while playing against most servers. Also, start moving forward as soon as the other player gets into his service motion and starts tossing up the ball. Some more advanced players prefer to stand inside the baseline. This is also an excellent way to take away time from the other player. It is especially useful in doubles because it makes it more difficult for the net player to poach your return.
Many singles players, especially today, stand far behind the baseline to buy themselves time. You’ve most likely seen Nadal do this. In doubles, though, it’s generally not a good idea because it gives the other net player too much time to read your tennis return.
2. Split Step
The split step, which is more of a hop than a step, is a move made by players before hitting the ball, and it applies to both rallies and the return of serve. It entails “jumping” forward slightly onto both feet that are somewhat wider than shoulder-width apart. Players then bend their legs, lowering their center of gravity and developing a strong, athletic stance that allows them to push off with both feet in the direction of the ball. Tennis players will split-step during the return of serve when their opponent tosses the ball up in their serving motion. The returner pushes off the ground in the ball’s direction as the server strikes the ball.
It is a subtle movement that most club-level tennis players miss or overlook. Having said that, the split step is one of the most critical aspects of the tennis return of serve and is essential in high-performance tennis.
3. The Grip
In terms of grip, it is very much a matter of personal preference. Most players will choose a continental grip on their racquet since it is a neutral grip that allows them to swiftly swap between a forehand return and a backhand return grip. This is especially true for players who use a two-handed backhand. The continental grip is also an excellent choice for defensive chip returns.
As you step toward the ball, swing your racquet head forward to make contact with the ball. The contact point is out in front of the body, similar to a forehand and backhand, with the follow-through happening around the other side of the body to complete the stroke.
The most common error made at this moment is attempting to take a huge swing, which frequently results in players hitting the ball late and subsequently missing the return of serve. Instead of hitting the ball, concentrate on trying to meet it. Advanced tennis players commonly use this technique, which is especially beneficial when the serve has a lot of pace. However, it is often enough to use the power on the serve and “push ” it back.
Make an effort to keep your backswing as short as possible. I’ve discovered that practicing groundstrokes and ignoring the return results in a greater backswing on the return. It will take many practice hours to master it, but it will be worth it when you see yourself getting more comfortable on each return game.
5. Point of Contact
Make sure the ball is in front of you when making contact. Having someone video your returns is the greatest method to see if you’re doing it right. Looking up just before making contact, failing to hit the ball at the correct contact point, is one of the most common errors on the return of serve. Watching the ball all the way until contact is an essential skill with any effective shot, but it is vital on the return due to the higher pace of the serve.
6. Recovery Of Tennis Return Of Serve
Given that you are unlikely to hit a winner off the return of serve, your recovery after hitting the return of serve shot in tennis is key. Depending on the strength of your opponent’s serve, you may be dragged wide off the court, creating a lot of space for your opponent to hit into. Therefore, it is critical to quickly rebound to the center of the baseline and prepare to receive the next shot, just like you would during a rally. Also, your recovery applies to the depth on the court, as returning a serve to the center of the court and staying too far behind the baseline might expose you to drop shots.
7. Best Tennis Return Of Serve Tips
- Get the point started: Your main goal should be to start the point whenever returning serve. Your prospects of breaking serve are minimal if you consistently miss returns. So, before worrying about anything else, focus on getting the ball in play every time. A soft, high return into the center of the court is preferable to any missed return.
- Focus on depth when returning serves: The goal of returning a first serve is to keep the server from controlling the point. Therefore, your return should not allow the server to put you under pressure with his second shot. Rather than pace or placement, depth is the key to a solid first serve return. Your errors will be reduced if you aim the return deep towards the center of the court and prevent the server from immediately controlling the point.
- Attack The Second Serve: The goal changes on a second serve return. As a result, you must approach the return with an aggressive mindset. Your goal is to attack first, while the server’s goal is to hit a good enough second serve to avoid being attacked.
- Take Advantage Of Your Opponent’s Weakness: The more you can force your opponent to use their weaker groundstroke, the more likely you will win the point. As a result, whenever possible, return to the backhand side.
Of course, the server’s purpose is to his serve into the service box so that you are prevented from using the above strategies, which is why we love this game. It’s a true cat and mouse game between two players, especially regarding serve vs. return of serve!
That’s all there is to it. As previously stated, completing these procedures will go a long way toward assisting you in breaking your opponents’ serves and giving you a good chance of winning matches. Once you’ve mastered the fundamentals, learning to interpret your opponent’s serve is simply one of many steps toward mastering the tennis return of serve.