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Gonzalez_Forehand
09-08-2004, 03:28 AM
I have recently started to play matches regularly, and am beginning to come up against some fast serves. I have a western forehand grip and a 2-handed backhand (can slice one-handed also).

I am encountering problems returning fast serves: if I prepare to return with a western FH grip and my opponent serves to my backhand, I do not have sufficient time to change grip and execute a two-hander - at best I might have enough time to shift grip and slice back defensively, but I'd really like to be returning more aggressively.

For those of you who are used to returning fast serves, which grip do you use when ready to receive? I guess an eastern FH grip would allow solid returns off both wings, although my western FH is much more dangerous.

This is probably a really basic Q, to which there's an equally basic answer - apologies for that - I have not played serious matches since I was a kid, and I never had this problem because everyone served nice and slow back then!

Is there any one generally accepted 'return grip' that every high level player/pro uses?

James Brown
09-08-2004, 04:54 AM
well, youre supposed to start with your fh grip...youre lucky you have a 2 hander, you can make a slight adjustment in your grip and get on the ball. i hit 1 handed so if it comes to my bh with pace, i can basically block it back and not much else. if you want, you can try a continental grip and block the ball back. but if you want to be aggresive, start with your FH grip and move from there.

Chanchai
09-08-2004, 06:12 AM
I don't know how many people would disagree with this...

But to me, it becomes far less of an issue if your grip-change is integrated with your takeback--even with the smallest of takebacks.

IMO, grip change is mostly a function of the left hand and it hasn't been much of a problem for me to switch to even extreme grips during the return of some pretty heavy and fast serves.

So I guess that's my advice on the return of serve. Be able to hit from either side in a compact form, open stance ability would be great, and integrate the grip changes as part of your technique and not really a seperate function from the stroke--that way, the grip change just happens as part of your reflex reaction to the serve.

Being capable of competantly hitting from an open or semi-open stance helps a lot. But when possible, going to a neutral stance is great. Don't know if I'm just comfortable with cutting short a return of serve preparation when needed to, or if on reflex I know how much I can turn. It feels like the former though--that when needed, I'm comfortable cutting a motion in half to either come out with a compact motion, or chip/slice if I have to.

Another area that can always use improving is reaction. For me, it helps my reaction by split-stepping right before the opponent strikes the ball. I pretty much focus on that ball more than the server during their service motion--but that's a personal preference. Right before the ball is struck, I split step, and as I'm primed and ready to move--make my move towards where I believe the ball is going.

For the record... my personal neutral position is always continental grip. I'm not saying anyone has to use the continental grip for a neutral position--but I have no issues switching to just about any grip immediately from the continental grip. To reiterate, my gripchanges are a function of the left hand and the takeback/shoulder turn.

There is no universally accepted return grip imo. I don't personally like relying on pre-holding a one-sided grip. And I end up returning serves with a large variety of grips.

On forehand, it's mostly semi-western, but I've returned fast serves with full western, eastern, and continental as well. But I'd say 80% semi-western (I've become accustomed with driving, spinning, drop shot, and blocking with this grip), 10% full western, 8% continental (slice), 2% eastern (I only block with eastern to be honest, and almost never use it).

On backhand (one-hand), I use all four of my primary backhand grips (probably sounds weird that I have 4 primary backhand grips). Continental if I just cannot prepare whatsoever (almost always a chip or block here, maybe a dropshot if instincts kick in, I rarely drive the ball with this grip and never will drive a high ball with this grip). If I can prepare, even barely, any of the eastern one-hand backhand grips (similar to western forehand)--in this case I am pretty much driving the ball with varying topspin and placement. If I have enough time and I think it creates an advantage for me to move my opponent a bit off court out wide, I use a semi-western backhand and spin the ball out wide.

-Chanchai

Gonzalez_Forehand
09-08-2004, 08:55 AM
Thank you for the useful input. It's certainly an interesting point: integrating the grip change into the backswing flawlessly would probably solve the problem altogether.

I'll certainly bear this in mind next time I come up against a big server, although I can imagine it taking some time to get used to. At the moment, it goes something like:

Big serve -- grip change -- backswing -- contact (-- shank !)

whereas it should be:

Big serve -- backswing/grip change simultanious -- contact (-- winner !)

tetsuo10
09-08-2004, 09:31 AM
I have a 2HBH, and I wait for a serve with the forehand grip. If the serve to my BH is too fast for me to change my right hand to a continental grip, I just hit my 2hander with the forehand grip because my top left hand is really the dominate arm in a 2HBH and my right hand is more for guidance.

I've seen pros with 1HBH start with the backhand grip, such as Paradorn or Tim Henman.

Rickson
09-08-2004, 05:18 PM
I use an eastern forehand grip for serve returns. I find that the efh is the most versatile grip so the return isn't that far off from my semi western fh or my slightly more than continental but less than eastern backhand return. I don't use the eastern fh otherwise, but I found that it's the best grip for me on serve returns.

nyu
09-08-2004, 07:34 PM
That's one fo the huge negatives of using a western fh grip in general. It's very difficult to return hard serves with the grip, and if your opponent can mix up his angles well, alot of time the only thing that can be done is to get a racquet on the ball and block it back. I do agree with integrating the grip change into the backswing though.

lendl lives
09-09-2004, 10:59 AM
i'm thinking grip change is a function of take back as well. i've read on here how people set their grip based on which side they are going to be offensive with. i set my grip based on where i think the serve is coming (usally to my bh on second serves)

Bungalo Bill
09-09-2004, 12:16 PM
The reason most players wait in their backhand grip stems from the onehanded backhand perspective.

The reason for the backhand grip waiting position is because the takeback will faciltate the grip change very easily with the help of the non-dominant hand at the throat of the racquet.

When receiving a serve (especially at advanced levels) you might not have time for even a takeback - just a block. Since the onehanded backhand is hit further in front of the body it requires better timing. By waiting in the backhand grip you have one less thing to do in case a very fast serve is hit to your backhand.

With that said, the waiting grip still falls into the area of preference.

Some players find it awkward or uncomfortable to wait in the backhand grip even if they have a onehanded backhand. So they will either position their grip inbetween their forehand and backhand grips or simply use a forehand grip.

For the twohanded backhand (and a big plus for the twohander) you can wait in BOTH your backhand (technically a forehand grip) and forehand grips. If a ball is hit to your backhand side the twohander can act like a forehand and all one needs to do is move the bottom hand in position during the takeback or block. Or bend the wrists in such a way to level the racquet face on the ball. If it is hit to their forehand side, they simply execute a forehand.

James Brown
09-09-2004, 12:42 PM
BB, what do you do if you have a full western grip and a one handed bh and you have to return big ones on the fh side? are you stuck blocking it?

Bungalo Bill
09-09-2004, 01:10 PM
BB, what do you do if you have a full western grip and a one handed bh and you have to return big ones on the fh side? are you stuck blocking it?

Well a smart tennis player will attack your grips in this case. It is a long way to travel to get the racquet set in time to hit the ball cleanly.

Some players have learned to hit the ball on the same side of the racquet, they simply turn the racquet over. That takes time to get used to doing that. If you do get used to that, you can significantly reduce the amount of ground to cover on the grip change.

For the most part, when I teach a onehanded backhand return, I emphasize learning the block return as the staple for a onehanded backhand service return. Onehanders simply have to have the block mastered and should be used on almost all first serve occasions.

It is very deceiving to take full swings at lower levels of play during the first serve. Once you start improving, the opponents you will face will have stronger and more powerful serves. If you have never learned the block you will return a lot of short balls or make errors.

If you watch Federer, count how many times he just blocks the serve back into play. Federer is very smart as he realizes to try and win a point off the return is actually a low percentage play. You will get some, but you will lose more if you try to win points just from the service return.

If you do have a grip change and you have onehanded backhand, make sure you keep a very relaxed hand on the racquet. You will change grips much quicker. The other thing is to practice changing grips with just a shoulder turn in the mirror or watching TV for practice.

lendl lives
09-09-2004, 01:42 PM
For the twohanded backhand (and a big plus for the twohander) you can wait in BOTH your backhand (technically a forehand grip) and forehand grips. If a ball is hit to your backhand side the twohander can act like a forehand and all one needs to do is move the bottom hand in position during the takeback or block. Or bend the wrists in such a way to level the racquet face on the ball. If it is hit to their forehand side, they simply execute a forehand


Bungalo I don't quite get this.

tetsuo10
09-09-2004, 01:58 PM
Your bottom hand doesn't have to be in the "ideal" position for you to hit a 2HBH. I prefer continental on my bottom hand, but I can still hit it if it's in a forehand position (semi-western).

Bungalo Bill
09-09-2004, 02:17 PM
For the twohanded backhand (and a big plus for the twohander) you can wait in BOTH your backhand (technically a forehand grip) and forehand grips. If a ball is hit to your backhand side the twohander can act like a forehand and all one needs to do is move the bottom hand in position during the takeback or block. Or bend the wrists in such a way to level the racquet face on the ball. If it is hit to their forehand side, they simply execute a forehand.


Bungalo I don't quite get this.

In other words, if you use an eastern forehand grip for the tophand with your twohanded backhand, and an eastern forehand grip for your regular forehand, you can grip the racquet with both hands waiting in those grips in case the ball comes to either side.

If it does come to the backhand all you have to do is shift the bottom hand to your prefered bottom hand grip like a continental or an eastern backhand depending on your preference.

vin
09-09-2004, 04:30 PM
I have a one handed eastern backhand and a semi western forehand. I await serves with the continental grip. Although I have to make a grip changes more often, they are smaller grip changes because the continental is in between. In addition, I think the continental is the best grip for emergencies when all you have enough time to do lunge at the ball. When this happens, I'm as prepared as I can be.

For what it's worth, I also use the continental as my ready grip during baseline rallies for the same reasons that I use it for the return of serve.

Rickson
09-10-2004, 09:11 AM
The problem with the cont is that it pops up too much on the forehand side.

chaduke
09-10-2004, 09:37 AM
You can also try to stand further back to receive harder serves, granted you have pretty good mobility.

Your grip change should be almost instantaneous and very natural, without having to think about it at all. You should probably practice standing in the ready position and then switching to a forehand grip as you're taking it back, then doing the same for a backhand.
I personally hold the throat of the racket with my left hand and grip the handle with my right when I'm in the ready position. As soon as I decide for a forehand or backhand I loosen my grip on the handle and turn my wrist into position while holding the racket in place with my left hand. This happens at the same time as I'm beginning to take the racket back.