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View Full Version : Returning serve w/ 1HBH


lethalphorce
11-17-2009, 12:12 PM
I have trouble generating offense with my 1HBH return. I can attack a weak 2nd serve with my BH, but I just chip/block 99% of the 1st serves. I have a strong FH return, but once I hit a few FH returns, opponents will generally keep the ball to my BH. Now my chip BH return isn't bad. . . it's just not winning me any points & generally allows my opponent to maintain control of the point.
The issue with my BH is setup time. . . I can hit a good aggressive return if I have time to turn my shoulders, close my stance & step in. It just seems like I never have that kind of time against a 1st serve.

What do others do with their 1HBH returns? Do you guys just chip most returns back, trying to just aim it and keep it low or deep enough so you opponent can't usually hurt you with his next shot? Or do you return aggressively off your BH side? If so, did aggressive 1HBH returns come naturally to you, or was it something that took a long time to develop?

yemenmocha
11-17-2009, 12:18 PM
You may try a return stance and grip that favor the 1hb and then make adjustments if you happen to be served to the forehand. This may help.

Lendl and others I've seen start with their 1hb grip and then can rapidly adjust for the forehand.

Don't overestimate how much you need to hit an aggressive return off both sides. If you're not making errors on the slice, and your server isn't serving 'n volleying, it isn't a huge weakness for you.

Dgpsx7
11-17-2009, 12:26 PM
I have both a 1HBH and a 2HBH but I am a lefty and backhands seem to come easier for us. There are two things you can do..

1) Slightly close the face of your 1HBH. This will make the return much more aggressive but also increase your chance of return going into the net.
(btw, it is extremely hard to have an aggressive return with a 1HBH when you are close to the net, I feel like this is a fairly common issue.)

2) This is more drastic and slightly unorthodox but I do it. If you are attacking a really weak 2nd serve just use a two hander for that one shot. It is a lot easier to close the face and produce an aggressive return with a two hander. I find 1HBH is more affective for angles and surprise though.

jazzyfunkybluesy
11-17-2009, 12:29 PM
You could run around your backhand. Or hit your backhand to the corner of the servers backhand then gain control after their backhand reply. You could also chip and charge the net on the return. Keep that approach low with a skidding slice.

SlapChop
11-17-2009, 12:36 PM
I use a 2HBH for return of server and a 1HBH most of the time. Having that second hand on it makes me at least feel like I have more control over the shot. It is still not a real aggressive return but it is effective.

Gugafan
11-17-2009, 01:20 PM
Tough shot to be aggressive with, particularly if your facing a big server.Your best bet, would be to slice your backhand making sure you get enough knife on the ball.

LeeD
11-17-2009, 01:56 PM
I slice back about 70% of first serves with my backhand.
On the other's, I try to get my shoulders fully turned, very little backswing as the shoulder turn does half of it, and stroke it back flat or slightly topped. It's the VARIETY that gives most 4-4.5's some trouble. They mostly expect the slice return and I give them maybe one in three topspin, almost always aimed CC as my feet didn't move. Hard to move feet on first serves, for me.

OTMPut
11-17-2009, 02:59 PM
You don't have to take a big cut on a first serve. You need to use the pace which means timing is essential. If you play with a heavier stick a short jab if timed well can do the job. And you can do this with an open stance.

W Cats
11-17-2009, 04:18 PM
I use have a habit of being late on BH returns as well and have incorporated these 3 things to specifically help get better results.
1, Start off with a mild eastern BH grip from which I can either drive the ball or slice.
2, Step out with my left foot (I'm a righty).
3, When driving the return just use a half smile backswing.

Additionally don't underestimate how much time even being 1/2 a step back gives you.

In D Zone
11-17-2009, 04:47 PM
All of the above are great suggestions.

For me I have found this to be effective: I must make a quick and decisive decision on what I need to go for when I go for my returns especially on 1hbh.

If I want to attack the 1hbh with a short swing, I would go for it without hesitation; I would move forward and shift my weight to my left foot so I can hit a good open 1hbh stance - you will find it will work 50% of the time. But as you get more confident you'll be able to time your return similar when you attack the serve on your fh.

Now if the opponent is serving those heavy kick serve, take a step further back, ready to move right in with a subtle split step to hit a good return. A good return does not need to be fast, sometimes its even better to return a serve with a loop topspin shot to cross court (bh of righty opponent).

The Key is not hitting the ball with a full swing or a winner; but more on the 'attitude and the belief ' that you can return the serve with 1hbh.

spacediver
11-17-2009, 06:27 PM
I think you need a lot of strength in your forearm and back to return a 1hbh with an open stance, but if you can develop it, an open stance might be a good solution in certain situations.

Blake0
11-17-2009, 07:21 PM
i have the same problem as you..1hbh returns :(. It gets especially bad when my slice returns aren't effective. Try hitting through the ball more and hit a flatter shot. Get your momentum to be the source of your power (ofcourse the speed of the incoming ball too).

fuzz nation
11-18-2009, 06:25 AM
I'm another one that uses a 2hbh for aggressive returns, but rallies with a 1hbh. I'll often punch a slice return though, and even if I'm not going to tee off on the ball, my returns plainly have more energy if I carry forward momentum into my split-step. I think this is what our pal Blake0 was referring to above. If I forget to surge forward into my split-step, I might get away with it on my forehand side, but my backhand chop return can really go dead on me.

I think that this return where you assertively move through the ball is a specific shot that needs its own practice and repetition. If you have any hitting partners, you can have one of them serve to you from up near their service line - they won't wear out so much this way - and you can groove your return to their service motion. The idea is to move right to the ball and through it without the longer backswing that you'd typically use for a rally ball.

BobFL
11-18-2009, 06:45 AM
I have trouble generating offense with my 1HBH return. I can attack a weak 2nd serve with my BH, but I just chip/block 99% of the 1st serves. I have a strong FH return, but once I hit a few FH returns, opponents will generally keep the ball to my BH. Now my chip BH return isn't bad. . . it's just not winning me any points & generally allows my opponent to maintain control of the point.
The issue with my BH is setup time. . . I can hit a good aggressive return if I have time to turn my shoulders, close my stance & step in. It just seems like I never have that kind of time against a 1st serve.

What do others do with their 1HBH returns? Do you guys just chip most returns back, trying to just aim it and keep it low or deep enough so you opponent can't usually hurt you with his next shot? Or do you return aggressively off your BH side? If so, did aggressive 1HBH returns come naturally to you, or was it something that took a long time to develop?

Federer, is that you????

LeeD
11-18-2009, 06:54 AM
I'm old, weak, out of tennis shape, and can still hit flat/topspin 1HBH service returns off pretty fast (under 120 mph) serves THAT I CAN REACH.
Key is not muscle or strength, as you know, but in getting the racketback quick enough to move it forwards in time.
Full shoulder turn get's the racket half way back. A touch more and ready set for go. Forward swing with forward body movement, better with some footwork, but impossible on fast serves.
And if that serve goes wide, or directly into the body, you can count on losing the ensueing rally.

ttbrowne
11-18-2009, 07:36 AM
I slice back all of my returns but you may be above my 3.5/4.0 level.
There was an atricle in I think Tennis Mag recently about Fed's backand return (not the slice). It covered the way he drives the ball.
I never realized how good his BH return was til I watched the Olympic doubles and it was tremendous. He just doesn't use it in singles cause he loves to draw his opponent in with the slice and run around his backhand to hit a FH winner.

But really, Fed has made millions on his BH slice return.

LeeD
11-18-2009, 07:38 AM
If you have been watching my posts, I generally claim "high 3.5 or low 4.0" for singles play. Doubles can be solid 5.5, but movement and advancing age just kills my singles results.

W Cats
11-18-2009, 07:58 AM
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"I think you need a lot of strength in your forearm and back to return a 1hbh with an open stance, "

I tend to disagree with the above statement. I remember seeing Justine Hennin regularly hit a return with a 1HBH and I thought what the heck and gave it a try. It was easier than I thought and is now a regular shot of mine when playing doubles and returning from the ad court. Although fit I don't think Hennin or myself for the matter are physical specimens.

LeeD
11-18-2009, 08:04 AM
I think Henin is a beautiful physical specimen.
And she's stronger than you'd think.
But early prep is the key, consistent short backswing, full shoulder turn.
You can't be a parapelegic, but you don't need to be strong.
I use a 12.4 oz racket.

lethalphorce
11-18-2009, 08:25 AM
Good stuff guys. I think what I need to do is concentrate on moving forward into my returns. I will make sure to try that in spots tonight!

Slazenger07
11-18-2009, 08:37 AM
My 1hbh return of serve is pretty lethal, the key I think is to keep your shoulder turned towards the net longer and make sure you are getting out in front of the serve, think very short backswing, shoulder turn, stay out in front of the ball for fast serves. I still slice back most fast serves but from time to time its a good idea to be more aggressive with the return, especially in doubles, which is mostly what I play.

LeeD
11-18-2009, 08:48 AM
Every single time I start to get a big head, think my strokes/shots/smarts is coming around, I get my comeuptence when I play a better player. I lose, they beat me, whatever, your competition tells you where you're at.
Of course, I've lost to 3.5's, and beaten some 5.5's in my years. Oh, not 5.5's, but A's and Open, Div 1 College, and some really bad 3 year beginners.
That's one reason I don't list the players I've beaten, and why I never say my shots are "........... " or whatevers....
Until you can beat Nadal, Fed, Murray, and DJ, you don't have superior shots, you only have shots better than your low level competition.

xFullCourtTenniSx
11-18-2009, 10:07 AM
I think Henin is a beautiful physical specimen.

We talking beautiful as in attractive beautiful, or beautiful as she's an excellent athlete? :shock: I'm hoping the latter...

You don't have to take a big cut on a first serve. You need to use the pace which means timing is essential. If you play with a heavier stick a short jab if timed well can do the job. And you can do this with an open stance.

Well said. Keeping your feet light and active will help a ton while doing this as well. I used to have a sweet block backhand return that would go deep down the line and use the opponent's pace to go through the court and put them on defense. Don't know where it went though. :( Probably got too lazy to move my feet enough to do that anymore.

Federer, is that you????

Haha. I bet Federer can attack second serves with that backhand as well, he just chooses not to 99% of the time. :) Though Federer's backhand chip completely neutralizes his opponents or sets him up to hit a passing shot.

I have trouble generating offense with my 1HBH return. I can attack a weak 2nd serve with my BH, but I just chip/block 99% of the 1st serves. I have a strong FH return, but once I hit a few FH returns, opponents will generally keep the ball to my BH. Now my chip BH return isn't bad. . . it's just not winning me any points & generally allows my opponent to maintain control of the point.
The issue with my BH is setup time. . . I can hit a good aggressive return if I have time to turn my shoulders, close my stance & step in. It just seems like I never have that kind of time against a 1st serve.

What do others do with their 1HBH returns? Do you guys just chip most returns back, trying to just aim it and keep it low or deep enough so you opponent can't usually hurt you with his next shot? Or do you return aggressively off your BH side? If so, did aggressive 1HBH returns come naturally to you, or was it something that took a long time to develop?

Well... Generally we aren't supposed to be able to attack first serves unless they're consistently slower than what we're used to.

As for punishing poorly placed first serves, we guide them to the open court (or where ever you want), getting the racket through the ball and focusing on clean contact while keeping a short, compact swing. Even if they're poorly placed, they'll still be too fast to take a full swing on.

I generally chip about 80% of my backhand returns (more or less depending on the serves I'm looking at). When I do this, I have 3 options - knifing it low and short, knifing it low and deep, or floating it very deep with no pace. Generally the driving block return and the deep knifing return (preferably at their feet) are the most aggressive you can be with the return alone. Knifing it low and short forces them to come in or hit a weak shot then move back. This is where you have a look at an easy pass. The deep floater will keep them neutralized and allow you to rally your way into a good position. I usually hit the deep floater nowadays because my return footwork seems to have gotten lazier (I don't step into the return as well as I used to 2 years ago to knife a deep one). It's probably also partly due to my increased confidence in my groundstrokes and court coverage. I don't really need to do much more than keep them behind the baseline then control the points with my forehand.

If you want to hit the more aggressive kind of driving backhand off the first serve, the key idea is that you're redirecting their pace. Using a block style return, you hit through the ball while keeping the stroke short. You also want to move into the court while you're hitting this shot to put a little more on the shot. This stroke really is nothing more than a block. If you want to take a real full swing on the ball, you have to commit to that side and set up before they even hit the ball. I generally refrain from doing this because it leaves the forehand side almost completely open. I like to keep the grip loose, which I feel is the most important part of the return, so I can quickly change grips and block the ball effectively or swing on it if it's slow.

So basically, if you really want to hit an aggressive shot, the key is to redirect the pace while moving forward during the swing. Overall, anytime you can move your weight forward, even a little, you should take it because it will add some extra sting and bite to your returns without requiring a bigger stroke or a faster swing.

ttbrowne
11-18-2009, 12:38 PM
I believe Fed's return used a very firm right side...wrist locked, arm solid, all the weight was on his right leg but his foot was not up, it was firmly flat on the ground which transfered the power in the serve back to the opponent.

papa
11-18-2009, 01:48 PM
Unless you can keep the ball in play and deep three out of four times on a good serve, I think its time for adjustments/change. The 2HBH, although not as pretty, is, in general more effective for most older players.

I'm a doubles person for the most part and keeping the ball in play is the major component in winning - I just see too many trying to make low percentage shots or using strokes that are unreliable. If you can reduce your errors your going to win more at any level.

LeeD
11-18-2009, 02:16 PM
Maybe the people you play with should embrace the concept of ..... SLICED backhands.

spacediver
11-18-2009, 03:15 PM
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"I think you need a lot of strength in your forearm and back to return a 1hbh with an open stance, "

I tend to disagree with the above statement. I remember seeing Justine Hennin regularly hit a return with a 1HBH and I thought what the heck and gave it a try. It was easier than I thought and is now a regular shot of mine when playing doubles and returning from the ad court. Although fit I don't think Hennin or myself for the matter are physical specimens.

you may be correct. The thing that motivated my post was that with an open stance, you don't have your body weight behind you to help drive the ball, which means that your arm has to bear a lot of the work.

LeeD
11-18-2009, 03:20 PM
Outside deltoids, my son, is all you need.
If you can lift 7 lbs over your head from arms held out to your side, that's enough strength.
Some triceps, but I assume we all can do THREE pushups.
You don't have to MOVE the trunk forwards, but you have to keep from moving it back or sideways.

split-step
11-18-2009, 05:24 PM
My 1HBH drive is my strength, and this is no exception on return of serve.

Honestly I cannot tell you do x, y then z and you will have a great 1HBH return of serve.
My good return of serve on the backhand side is an extension of having a very versatile topspin 1 hander that I can hit from anywhere on the court.
I do think my ability to hit the shot open stance, on-the-rise and off the bounce/half volley contribute to my ability to hit aggressive 1 handed backhand drives off a serve.
It's all about the timing.

split-step
11-18-2009, 05:41 PM
you may be correct. The thing that motivated my post was that with an open stance, you don't have your body weight behind you to help drive the ball, which means that your arm has to bear a lot of the work.

Sure. But you load your left foot (for righties) and push off that. This helps get your body weight into the shot.

You do not arm this shot. It starts from having a solid base at the feet/legs

Wes_Loves_Dunlop
11-18-2009, 05:56 PM
you dont really have to slice it back. as long as your put your racket there and can hold it, the shot will go back with considerable pace. Just make sure your racket face isnt too open, and that you have the forearm muscle to keep the racket from being pushed back too much

spacediver
11-18-2009, 07:49 PM
Outside deltoids, my son, is all you need.
If you can lift 7 lbs over your head from arms held out to your side, that's enough strength.
Some triceps, but I assume we all can do THREE pushups.
You don't have to MOVE the trunk forwards, but you have to keep from moving it back or sideways.

You probably also need strong wrist extensors (forearm) to stabilize the wrist, but perhaps not any more than with a regular 1hbh

LeeD
11-19-2009, 06:57 AM
If you are a complete weakling, can barely lift 5 lbs off the ground, then you need to build up some muscle and work on some fitness.
Most people CAN do 3 pushups, and lift a quart of water. That's strong enough.
And play with a 12 oz racket, so you have racket momentum on your side.

papa
11-19-2009, 09:31 AM
My 1HBH drive is my strength, and this is no exception on return of serve.

Honestly I cannot tell you do x, y then z and you will have a great 1HBH return of serve.
My good return of serve on the backhand side is an extension of having a very versatile topspin 1 hander that I can hit from anywhere on the court.
I do think my ability to hit the shot open stance, on-the-rise and off the bounce/half volley contribute to my ability to hit aggressive 1 handed backhand drives off a serve.
It's all about the timing.

As long as you can hit with a fair amount of consistency then you should continue with the stroke. Get at least 3/4 of them back, then stick with it. The one hander with an open stance is a great shot if you can do it - however, few can do it with any pace or consistency.

jwbarrientos
11-19-2009, 09:47 AM
I use mostly 1HBH, but in many ocassion go with 2HBH, the easy answer would be it depends on the server, if the serve comes fast, heavy, low, high and ... the score (Not to mention how my game is flowing).

If the score is on my side, have break or so, I take my chances with 1HBH, especially my favorite paralell, the key IMHO is to get early the ball to generate speed + spin.

If I am having problem receiving I'll go with a flat 2HBH, conservative way.

A poster mentioned sth I do frequently, that is prepare to receive with backhand grip, since I found its faster to go forehand grip rather than the opposite way.

About preparation, 2HBH the backsying is short and the follow thru in 1HBH is short (paralell), long (heavy spin).

papa
11-19-2009, 10:25 AM
I
A poster mentioned sth I do frequently, that is prepare to receive with backhand grip, since I found its faster to go forehand grip rather than the opposite way.



Yes, and you can cheat a little with your feet also.

LeeD
11-19-2009, 11:36 AM
I find it EASIER to get accurate grip change if I wait with SW forehand grip and off hand on the throat of the racket. Body turn with both hands on racket has hitting hand to EBH before I finish my prep.

xFullCourtTenniSx
11-19-2009, 10:02 PM
I find it EASIER to get accurate grip change if I wait with SW forehand grip and off hand on the throat of the racket. Body turn with both hands on racket has hitting hand to EBH before I finish my prep.

EXACTLY! That's how you're supposed to do it. That's why it's so critically important, especially on service returns, to have a loose grip.

you may be correct. The thing that motivated my post was that with an open stance, you don't have your body weight behind you to help drive the ball, which means that your arm has to bear a lot of the work.

Or you can just split, turn, plant right foot, and hit off that. It's what Federer does. Usually you'll see his left foot in the air.

papa
11-20-2009, 03:29 AM
I find it EASIER to get accurate grip change if I wait with SW forehand grip and off hand on the throat of the racket. Body turn with both hands on racket has hitting hand to EBH before I finish my prep.

I would agree also but if one still finds they may be a little late you can shift the racquet a spec along with the feet. Also keep in mind that some of you guys have been playing a lot longer than many and you'll have to admit that it takes some coordination/experience to shift from a forehand grip to a backhand on a fast serve. Even with a lot of experience its not that easy.

spacediver
11-20-2009, 07:55 AM
I find it EASIER to get accurate grip change if I wait with SW forehand grip and off hand on the throat of the racket. Body turn with both hands on racket has hitting hand to EBH before I finish my prep.

interesting! I just tried this out now in my room and it seems to be have much more natural flow since the body turn is in a direction congruent with the direction needed to twist the racquet with the non hitting arm.

xFullCourtTenniSx
11-20-2009, 08:49 AM
interesting! I just tried this out now in my room and it seems to be have much more natural flow since the body turn is in a direction congruent with the direction needed to twist the racquet with the non hitting arm.

Muscle memory for the win. :)

Bungalo Bill
11-20-2009, 09:14 AM
I have trouble generating offense with my 1HBH return. I can attack a weak 2nd serve with my BH, but I just chip/block 99% of the 1st serves. I have a strong FH return, but once I hit a few FH returns, opponents will generally keep the ball to my BH. Now my chip BH return isn't bad. . . it's just not winning me any points & generally allows my opponent to maintain control of the point.
The issue with my BH is setup time. . . I can hit a good aggressive return if I have time to turn my shoulders, close my stance & step in. It just seems like I never have that kind of time against a 1st serve.

What do others do with their 1HBH returns? Do you guys just chip most returns back, trying to just aim it and keep it low or deep enough so you opponent can't usually hurt you with his next shot? Or do you return aggressively off your BH side? If so, did aggressive 1HBH returns come naturally to you, or was it something that took a long time to develop?

The issue is with your feet! Having a good service return is dominanted by how quickly and well you move your feet. Steps need to be elminated, momentum needs to be controlled to go into the ball, and you need to be able to block, chip, and hit the ball!

Your ability to read the ball is also important and your ability to wrestle control away from the server to get him to hit the ball you want rather him hitting the ball he wants.

Onehanders need to master the chip and block for first serves and all of it for the second serve. So long as your chip and block doesnt produce duck balls, you use that stroke to place the ball deep and to the side of the court you need so you have a chance to close your court from your recovery to get the point started.

W Cats
11-20-2009, 09:54 AM
interesting! I just tried this out now in my room and it seems to be have much more natural flow since the body turn is in a direction congruent with the direction needed to twist the racquet with the non hitting arm.

I guess it depend on your perspective. I assuming you have hold of the yoke with thumb on top and fingers on the bottom.

EFH to EBH, pivot turn as you pull the lower fingers to change grip = congruent directional movement.

EBH to EFH, pivot turn as you push the lower fingers to grip change = conguent directional movement.

If you focus on thumb in one direction and lower fingers in another then it's all screwed up.

spacediver
11-20-2009, 10:37 AM
As an aside, I just did some experimentation and found that the most optimal solution for throat twisting is not to focus on fingers or thumb, but on wrist flexion/extension. I find that when you use the fingers and thumb to twist the throat then you have to do a small adjustment before initiating the twist depending on whether you want to twist clockwise or conterclockwise.

That said, I reexamined the mechanics and I think it may have been my imagination about SW forehand to eastern backhand being more efficient.


Leed's suggestion may perhaps only be sound if your forehand stroke uses a SW grip, since you would only need to switch grips when going to the backhand side.

I find that flexing the wrist is biomechanically easier than extending the wrist. With the above described technique used by the left hand to twist the yoke, wrist flexion facilitates a counterclockwise motion which allows one to switch from SW forehand to Eastern backhand; but u need to extend the wrists to go from SW forehand to Eastern forehand. Whereas if you start with a continental, wrist flexion will take you to the eastern forehand and extension will take you to the eastern backhand.

LeeD
11-20-2009, 12:38 PM
I don't use the same side of the racket to hit SW forehands and EBH one handers, so I need a BIG direction grip change.;
That's why I prefer rackets with flat sides on the throat, so I can feel it with the oft hand, and know where the racket faces on the backswing.

papa
11-20-2009, 03:09 PM
I don't use the same side of the racket to hit SW forehands and EBH one handers, so I need a BIG direction grip change.;
That's why I prefer rackets with flat sides on the throat, so I can feel it with the oft hand, and know where the racket faces on the backswing.

Just having a couple of fingers on the throat gives you a pretty decent idea of where the racquet is and your right, the left hand really is responsible for the shifting.