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View Full Version : 1HBH Service Return - making it solid


smoothtennis
08-23-2007, 01:38 PM
I have been playing doubles in a league again this year. It's been years since I played doubles.

I noticed immediately, the past three weeks, that I have a glaring weakness on a 1 HBH topsin servcie return. I hit a very decent 1HBH normally, but noticed it is really missing on the return where I am forced to hit back crosscourt! I would try, but it was grossly uncomfortable.

It was so bad I was thinking of using a 2HBH, but forget that...I spent YEARS developing this 1HBH.

Playing around with my racket today, going through the motions of service return, I think I found the big problem. I have been staying squared up toward the net on the return for topspin backhand. I could see immediately that this puts the shoudler and arm in a terribly weak structural position.

I think I have been completely forgetting the unit turn here...and arming at the ball, which is why it 'feels' so weak and just plain terrible.

Validate me here please...but I think the solution is the unit turn, and keep my shoulders closed through impact, which puts my shoulder and arm in it's strongest structural postion. It seems like such common sense, I am actually embarrased to even bring it up. I guess I just got into the habit of slicing back hard services, but in doubles, this is a 50/50 thing as the net guy is salivating up there on my slices!

BreakPoint
08-23-2007, 01:45 PM
Yup, got to turn the shoulders and point them in the direction you want to hit to on a 1HBH. Then keep those shoulders in that position through the contact and until the end of the follow-through.

cj011
08-23-2007, 02:10 PM
Another thing is too not let your left hand get sucked in close to your body when you take it back. That will force you to almost hit most of your BH's inside out and allow the ball to get way to close to you. Another thing you may want to try is if you move back, plant on your back foot but keep yourself upright. If you do that you can buy a little more time to setup. If you don't turn your shoulder you have to make sure that you extend all the way through the shot with a slower racquet head speed. That should give you consistent depth and placement, but that is it. If you want that extra pop, you will have to turn your shoulders and keep you shoulders in front of your hips so you are able to transfer your weight straight across and out. An example would be if you are standing flat against a wall. Lean your shoulders forward about an inch. Then move your feet apart and get down lower. After that, make sure that your left elbow is lined up with the center of your torso and the inside of your left elbow is 3-5 inches away from your side. Now raise your left hand up as if you were to catch your racquet on you BH. Now go on ahead and stick you right arm out with a slight bend. Slide it on over to you left hand. Keep in mind your weight is centered in between your feet and you pivot of rotation is dead in the center of your body. Also you right arm can swing forward and across immediately if you choose too. If you pull your left hand in, then you to go out to the side then forward and across for your swing. That is a major pain. With every centered and setup like that you can either push forward to guide to ball or turn your shoulders to load up. You have to make sure that your center point of rotation stats centered as you load up. If you have questions, I can snap a few pictures later on.

Vision84
08-23-2007, 03:30 PM
A lot of players use a 2HBH for returns and a one handed for other shots. That is just another option you may want to experiment with.

smoothtennis
08-23-2007, 10:03 PM
Thanks guys for the suggestions, and here is an update. I went out tonight for a three hours, and hit with my hitting partner. While we specifically went out to work mechanics on dropping into the slot on the forehand (which went great), I was able to do some backhand work.

Not only was I not staying closed on returns, I found I have been opening up the shoulders a little even on my ground strokes. I found this because when I kept fully closed on my backhand, holy moly, the magic was back. That ball was just really solid as a rock coming off my stringbed. I mean, there was a very noticable difference in comfort, structure, and the pop and spin on the ball.

So guys...that was definately the problem, opening up the shoulders too soon.

Man....as soon as I hit my first backhand fully closed, I just laughed out loud...the confirmation was immediate and dramatic.

Thanks for everyone's input on this!

CJ011 - thanks for all the info, I'll be reading that again this week, and likely next week too. Very nice input, and I appreciate you sharing.

cj011
08-24-2007, 02:00 AM
it's alot of info so I will probally have to snap a few pictures over the week as well.

Exci
08-24-2007, 06:12 AM
Well, it seems you're already finding your groove with the backhand, nice job! I'm not sure at what kind of level you play, so please do not be offended by this rather simple suggestion, but I discussed this with one of my hitting partners a while ago and he gave me one solid advice.

When you're waiting for the return, always hold your racket in your BH grip. For some reason it is much easier to switch to a forehand and take a swing than it is to switch to the backhand grip and have plenty of time to prepare and take a full swing. You'll be able to focus more on those things like keeping your shoulders, taking a good swing, etc. For me it worked like a charm!

A nice drill to get you going would be to find yourself a massive server that likes to play a little serve/volley and have him serve you balls while he plays pure S&V. It's great, because you're under pressure both by the ball itself as well as by your partner running to the net. You get one chance to make it right, so you really have to swing it. Besides, your partner will improve his S&V tremendously as well!

Good luck!

smoothtennis
08-24-2007, 07:00 AM
Well, it seems you're already finding your groove with the backhand, nice job! I'm not sure at what kind of level you play, so please do not be offended by this rather simple suggestion, but I discussed this with one of my hitting partners a while ago and he gave me one solid advice.

When you're waiting for the return, always hold your racket in your BH grip. For some reason it is much easier to switch to a forehand and take a swing than it is to switch to the backhand grip and have plenty of time to prepare and take a full swing. You'll be able to focus more on those things like keeping your shoulders, taking a good swing, etc. For me it worked like a charm!

A nice drill to get you going would be to find yourself a massive server that likes to play a little serve/volley and have him serve you balls while he plays pure S&V. It's great, because you're under pressure both by the ball itself as well as by your partner running to the net. You get one chance to make it right, so you really have to swing it. Besides, your partner will improve his S&V tremendously as well!

Good luck!

Nah, thats great advice. I play 4.0 and expecting to go to 4.5 in the next year.

Interesting that you mention taking the backhand grip to start. I thought of this, and it makes me uncomfortable I guess. But I am going to go ahead and give it a try. The logic is sound. Last night , I was 'floating' my grip and changing it with my non-dominant hand on the fly, but I wasn't too sure of that approach.

See...I begged my partner to serve to my backhand last night for this working session, and he is in the bad habit of serving to my forehand almost all of the time. I naturally take the forehand grip for this reason.

On league night, and tournaments, 90% of the time, they serve to my backhand.

My next practice session, I am going to have my partner stand in no mans land, and server hard to my backhand for a drill. If I can get it as solid as it was feeling in practice last night...I'll be feeling really great.