View Full Version : where to look for return of serve?

07-24-2009, 10:21 AM
where do you guys concentrate on when returning serves, especially really fast serves? do you stare and follow only the ball? watch the server's body and ball together? watch the server's upper body? what's best way to return serve?

07-24-2009, 10:51 AM
1. Watch ball.
2. If you have memory, try remembering where his best serves are aimed. Don't matter if they go in, it's where he aims that signals his intentions.
3. If his serve is slow enough for you, watch his stance, eyes, and backswing.
4. For hints of a spin serve, toss is usually different also.
5. Watch ball.

07-24-2009, 11:47 AM
hardest shot to master against big serves IMO. stay light on your feet, watch server's movements, ball toss and ....

07-24-2009, 11:49 AM
Start off by watching the server, just to see if there is anything different about his positioning or what not. Then as he throws the ball, watch for the toss placement and recognize which tosses produce which serves (remember you can always carry a notebook and write this stuff down after every change of ends to remind yourself). Continue watching the ball and making sure to split step right as the opponent makes contact.

07-24-2009, 06:42 PM
This is just how i do it, but...

Start at the feet/stance (seeing how they are lined up)
watch his eyes (see if they are giving away where they are aiming)
watch the backswing/swing (fallow the motion of the racquet but try to watch for the angled racquet for spins)
Fallow the ball to your racquet

07-25-2009, 06:29 AM
After the ball has left the server's racket, I'd be watching the ball for most of the time prior to making contact to return it. Recently, I've been toying with a gaze control technique employed by cricket players.

I will track the ball for while after the ball has been served in order to determine where the serve will bounce. Once I've determined where the ball will bounce, I let my eyes (gaze) jump ahead to the expected bounce point so that my eyes are momentarily stationary -- lying in wait for the ball. Once I see the ball at the bounce point, I let my eyes track the ball again for a while to determine where my contact point will be (where I will intercept the ball).

Shortly before the ball reaches me, I will let my eyes jump ahead again -- to the contact point this time. Once again, my head is very still and my eyes are quiet -- lying in wait for the ball to reach the contact point. The head remains still and the eyes fixate on the contact point until I have finished my swing (including the follow-thru). Once the follow-thru is pretty much complete, I'll lift my eyes & head to see where the ball crosses the net and then subsequently bounces.

Have has some success with this novel (cricket) visual technique. Give it a try for some variety in the way that you track the ball on your opponent's serves. I refer to this gaze/tracking scheme as a double-saccade technique because I employ two deliberate visual jumps when tracking the ball.

07-25-2009, 06:56 AM
Prior to the ball leaving the server's racquet, I am primarily watching the server's upper body and his/her ball toss during their service motion. Perhaps I dwell a bit too much on the toss tho'.

I have read several journal articles that discuss this very issue. Interestingly, elite players will watch the server and the ball somewhat differently from less accomplished players. Elite players will fixate on the ball only briefly but will spend more time fixating on a few aspects of the server's upper body. What is really interesting is that elite players will have fewer fixations than lesser players. However, the duration of each fixation is longer for the elite player. It would appear the the non-elite player will have their eyes jump around a lot more than the elite player. Here is one of those studies:

http://www.cafyd.com/REVISTA/art3n5a06.pdf (http://www.cafyd.com/REVISTA/art3n5a06.pdf)


Bungalo Bill
07-25-2009, 12:28 PM
where do you guys concentrate on when returning serves, especially really fast serves? do you stare and follow only the ball? watch the server's body and ball together? watch the server's upper body? what's best way to return serve?

Once I get a visual clue of what my opponent is going to serve (topspin, sidespin, twist, etc...), where he is positioned to get in the middle of where he can possily put the ball, I focus on the apex of the toss and the moment he makes contact with the ball.

That moment is critical to focus on for your cadence and the timing of your split-step. The other things I mentioned above that I pick up through my senses are gravy for my movement and "educated guessing" as to where I need to be.

I never ever let the server do his thing while I just passively line up in the middle of his possible angles. I am actively trying to wrestle the chess match away from him and gain control. I do not do this in such away where I become a hinderance or a nuisance. I do it simply to equalize his 1st serve possibilties and to gain an advantage on his 2nd serve.

In other times, I will bait the server to hit to a certain part of the court, get him to try and go for too much, or put myself in a position where I close off his favorite place to go and leave open his worst. I am always active.

When you are returning it is important for you to keep your feet apart as much as possible for your backhand and forehand side or whichever side you move. Split-steps, step-outs, etc... are very important to master.

When the server is about to make contact, breathe and be sure you count how long that ball takes to get to your side. So if you do a Hit-Bounce-Hit or a 1-2-3 cadence, you need to feel and sense how fast you need to say that for timing purposes.

Return of serves also need to be practiced. If you are not practicing your return of serve, you will never get good at returning.

Reasons why you need to practice your return are:

1. It is a timing stroke. Things that require timing take practice.

2. It is a shorter backswing than your groundstrokes. So you need to learn how to perform a unit turn and then swing forward from just the unit turn.

3. It requires simple but good and precise use of footwork patterns so you don't get tangled up, trip, fall down, get wrong footed, hit late, and so on. Your feet need to move as efficiently as possible within a split-second. Your movement needs to cover a good portion of court with minimal steps from a near stand-still position and be balanced in your shot to go through the ball.

4. It requires confidence and relaxation.

5. It requires spontaneous split-second psycho-motor skills which require practice.

6. Most important, the return of serve is won and lost with your feet. Slow feet, poor return of serve.