The return of serve is the second shot in any point, and once finely tuned with certain tips and techniques, a player will find that he has a chance at every point! A tennis players whole confidence and morale gets a boost from FREE points and once we cut out those missed or weaker tennis returns…
They will suddenly feel under a lot more pressure. Andre Agassi certainly put an enormous emphasis on the tennis return where he spent hours a day practicing his tennis returns! This ultimately achieved one of the most difficult players to beat in the world.
Preparation For Return of Serve
Know what you are to do before the opponent serves. Do not just react to whatever happens! You simply do not have enough time to hit a good tennis return like that. So, clarify with yourself exactly where to hit your tennis return when you step up to the line. For example, think… If it comes to my forehand I hit cross court, if it comes to my backhand I hit down the line. Players find this helps to reduce the element of surprise which comes with trying to return a good serve.
Tennis Return – Footwork and Swing
Ok, so when to split step? You should split step when your opponent has tossed the ball. That way when he makes contact with the ball, you land ready and balanced. Then next thing depends largely on your opponents serve.
If it is a first serve? Then a short take back will suffice and rather than swinging at the ball just move forwards. The serve has plenty of pace on it all ready! On top of this, if you swing at it then the chances of hitting the perfect contact point becomes minimal.
If it is a second serve? And you have time then move in on the return of serve. Split step, then step in a bit (with left leg if forehand) or (right leg if backhand) and put pressure on the opponent with your closed stance.
No need to go for a winner on the line, one of the best tennis return strategies is to go to the center and therefore jam the opponent. If you miss, you will have still made them doubt their serve!
Tennis Return – Different Types Of Serve
The Speedy Serve
If your opponent has a big serve then you will have to either move back to hit a good return of serve. (Which on a clay court is probably the better option) or, if on hard court and you have good reactions, it is better to just block it back. The reason being that on hard court it will be much easier for the player to serve and volley or slice out wide if you are too far back! Make sure to continue to move forwards and into your return of serve.
It is easy to forget this with a speedy server but if you do not, you will end up getting knocked about by the serve.
The Swerve Serve
If your opponent has a good slice serve it can be a real pain! What he or she wants is to pull you out wide then have all the court to play into. So, you got to cut off the angle of the serve. Move forwards at a 45 degree angle to intercept that swerving ball.
People who like to slice their serves, seem to get into a pattern of doing so. It seems to be almost addictive. If this is the case, just move over and challenge them to go for the T serve. They probably will dislike hitting a flat serve.
The Kick Serve
On hard court, you have to step in and take the return of serve on the rise. It will take practice and confidence, do not doubt yourself just let your muscle memory hit the shot.
On clay court, taking the tennis return on the rise is a little more complicated because if the ball bounces bad… You going to get a tennis ball in your face, and loose the point. Plus, a flat return is not so effective on clay as it does not skid through the court.
Instead, for the return of serve on clay, it is often more effective to lower your racquet head and brush up the back of the ball for a heavy topspin return 🙂