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View Full Version : Trouble with Very Low Bouncing Serve Return


Funbun
12-12-2009, 06:48 PM
I had a doubles match recently, and lost mainly to lack of practice and poor volleys. However, I found it absolutely difficult to return a low, extremely fast serve. It had an about knee-high bounce, little spin.

I know that many players I've faced who don't necessarily have the best groundstrokes employ this type of serve. I've been frustrated ever since; I've never been able to return this. I can return heavy kick serves pretty well, though, bouncing about head-height.

I was able to make contact with these low bouncing serves, but I either shot directly into the net or shoot too far out. Is there a way to return these in? Most of these went towards my forehand side (left side). Some serves just hit the frame of the racquet, some went did on the sweetspot, but caught the net on the return.

In D Zone
12-13-2009, 01:21 PM
Take half a step back from the baseline. Try spreading your feet apart when you ready to return a fast serve. Move slightly (aka split step) forward as the serve tosses the ball. Then ready to turn and prep the racquet towards the direction of the ball. Don't bring racquet back (no back swing), instead racquet must be close to the front of your so you can quickly adjust to the height of the ball. If the ball is low, meet the ball in front and use your forward motion and follow thru to generate power. Relax... stay focus on the ball upon contact and finish the racquet follow thru across and above your shoulder. Basically you are punching the fast serve back using its power, swinging from low to high (follow thru) imparts a good topspin return (better % of return).

ANother option is if pull wide to return a serve - stay focus on the ball and chop the ball back with a slice (Yes, you can do it bh and fh side). It is an excellent defensive shot.

Hope this hekps!...

Bagumbawalla
12-13-2009, 02:55 PM
This is not your normal doubles-type serve, so it may take some getting used to.

As mentioned, above, it is important to get low and watch the ball from the point of impact in order to get the most reaction time. Since the ball already has plenty of pace, most of the work is done for you. Stay low and strike it back, almost like a volley, and aim it way from the net man into open court.

Or, just send up a nice deep lob across the diagonal or over the netperson and, essentially, start the point over.

In D Zone
12-13-2009, 03:20 PM
Lob as B suggested is another excellent option.

One follwup advise to the punch return : use your shoulder and hip turn to help direct the ball cross court. I've seened guys who tried too harder to return a fast serve (like mine) just by moving straight forward and using their arm swing to direct the ball. Guess what happen - the ball is return the down the line; straight to the opponents netman's strike zone for an easy smash or put away volley.

Target is cross court - ball return should be long (bouce over the service line) and between the middle or towards the doubles alley. The pace and direction of your return will cause enough disruption against your opponents rythm even when he / she is trying to move in (S&v).

papa
12-13-2009, 03:27 PM
Well, I like the lob idea also but don't care for the diagonal one back to the server - once in a while yes. At least when you lob the netperson, your making them move out of any comfort zone they might otherwise be enjoying. If the netperson is covering his own lobs (assuming he can't hit an overhead) you have moved them back and "probably" the server won't come in - at least the whole way so you've accomplished a few things with your lob - nothing necessarily exciting but you're put them in a more defensive formation.

If the netperson decides to move back you can always chip it short up the middle and come in yourself.

papa
12-13-2009, 03:46 PM
Sorry, had a phone call.

Another thing to consider, especially if the server doesn't come in on their serve is to chip it to the servers alley - now they have a ball they have to hit up on and it provides opportunity to end the point.

Funbun
12-13-2009, 05:02 PM
Thanks for the lob and/or slice advice! I noticed that many of my shots were too flat, since I had too little time to react and punched it straight crosscourt, into the net (or way too out).

Also, thanks for the topspin input, In D Zone. I'll try to follow through on my returns instead of just blocking it.

GuyClinch
12-14-2009, 04:06 AM
As I am really tall I too dislike these really low bouncing balls. I find if you bend your knees alot and really get low it helps..

Still I like a ball up where I can really put some racquet on it.. I don't think its an uncommon serve at all though to face. Most eastern gripped servers hit a "hardish" flat serve with no pronation (and it goes around 80mph).. If you hit a contintetal grip serve with pronation it tends to add some spin even when your going for mostly flat and will cause the ball to kick up a little more. The eastern grip one though is often totally flat. The serve doctor guy talks about this serve in one of his videos..

Alot of rec. men use this exact serve..They are sometimes good athletes but have taken very few lessons.

Pete

Mahboob Khan
12-14-2009, 04:58 AM
Take half a step back from the baseline. Try spreading your feet apart when you ready to return a fast serve. Move slightly (aka split step) forward as the serve tosses the ball. Then ready to turn and prep the racquet towards the direction of the ball. Don't bring racquet back (no back swing), instead racquet must be close to the front of your so you can quickly adjust to the height of the ball. If the ball is low, meet the ball in front and use your forward motion and follow thru to generate power. Relax... stay focus on the ball upon contact and finish the racquet follow thru across and above your shoulder. Basically you are punching the fast serve back using its power, swinging from low to high (follow thru) imparts a good topspin return (better % of return).

ANother option is if pull wide to return a serve - stay focus on the ball and chop the ball back with a slice (Yes, you can do it bh and fh side). It is an excellent defensive shot.

Hope this hekps!...

Good advice.

Another tip which might help you is this:

Think about the return of serve in this situation as a low volley, but this low volley is after the bounce: Split step as your opponent is about to hit the serve, adjust and move toward the ball, minimal backswing, solid contact in front, and complete follow through.

Those who have problem with bending and excessive swinging:

Volleys Drill:

Sit on a stability ball. Have someone feed you balls to your right side and left side in your strike zone. Just upper body turn, stick the racket in front, punch and decent follow-through.

Drill for ground strokes:

Sit on a stability ball with your feet stretched quite wide. Have someone feed you balls to your right side and left side in your strike zone. From this open stance sitting position, just turn your upper body, and hit your forehand and backhand ground strokes. It is a great drill to teach bending, and upper body turn.

The key is that you should bend at knees not at waist and this stability ball drills teach just that.

In D Zone
12-14-2009, 07:28 AM
Thanks for the lob and/or slice advice! I noticed that many of my shots were too flat, since I had too little time to react and punched it straight crosscourt, into the net (or way too out).

Also, thanks for the topspin input, In D Zone. I'll try to follow through on my returns instead of just blocking it.


here's a good vid drill (clip shows you the footwork and the prep for a good retunr; notice the racquet swing in the vid - low to high)

http://72.3.178.93/media/video/index.aspx

LeeD
12-14-2009, 04:21 PM
Lower thigh high serves, conti grip, slice, but hit it hard, low and deep, going for depth mainly in the returns. The deep skidding returns will give the server what he serves.

leeroy85
12-14-2009, 09:36 PM
I had a doubles match recently, and lost mainly to lack of practice and poor volleys. However, I found it absolutely difficult to return a low, extremely fast serve. It had an about knee-high bounce, little spin.

I know that many players I've faced who don't necessarily have the best groundstrokes employ this type of serve. I've been frustrated ever since; I've never been able to return this. I can return heavy kick serves pretty well, though, bouncing about head-height.

I was able to make contact with these low bouncing serves, but I either shot directly into the net or shoot too far out. Is there a way to return these in? Most of these went towards my forehand side (left side). Some serves just hit the frame of the racquet, some went did on the sweetspot, but caught the net on the return.

Are you using a closed grip like SW or full Western? Harder to hit low balls with those grips. If so consider going eastern to open racket face.

Funbun
12-15-2009, 01:31 PM
During the match, I used a mild SW when it was a mildly fast ball, slow enough to react to, or a continental when I had absolutely no time at all.

Thanks for the tips guys. I think the knee bend tip was especially helpful, since I noticed I bent mostly at the waist instead of the knees on the split steps of most of the returns during the match. I bent a little at the knees, but I suppose not enough.

Ripper014
12-15-2009, 02:20 PM
I had a doubles match recently, and lost mainly to lack of practice and poor volleys. However, I found it absolutely difficult to return a low, extremely fast serve. It had an about knee-high bounce, little spin.

I know that many players I've faced who don't necessarily have the best groundstrokes employ this type of serve. I've been frustrated ever since; I've never been able to return this. I can return heavy kick serves pretty well, though, bouncing about head-height.

I was able to make contact with these low bouncing serves, but I either shot directly into the net or shoot too far out. Is there a way to return these in? Most of these went towards my forehand side (left side). Some serves just hit the frame of the racquet, some went did on the sweetspot, but caught the net on the return.

Sounds like you are trying to win the point on the return of serve, try and remember your opponent has the advantage you are only trying to return the ball back and neutralize the serve. So play for a low return away from the netman.

Actually for me this is right in my strike zone... I struggle more with balls over my shoulder, but then I come from a classic age of tennis when most balls where at this level or lower.

LeeD
12-16-2009, 08:33 AM
Yeah, it's tough to teach and relate to the modern topspin grinders when you were brought up in the age of S/V and short points.
Conversely, the modern topspin grinders just look at the oldsters and shake their heads, laugh, and wonder if what we do is really called tennis.
Kinda like real life!

Ripper014
12-16-2009, 09:49 AM
Yeah, it's tough to teach and relate to the modern topspin grinders when you were brought up in the age of S/V and short points.
Conversely, the modern topspin grinders just look at the oldsters and shake their heads, laugh, and wonder if what we do is really called tennis.
Kinda like real life!

Actually I was invited to play with a 4.0/4.5 men's group a few months ago by someone I play with and at the end of the night... many of the players were "asking who is this guy"? He told them he picked me up off some public courts, a true enough statement... I was teaching some of them basic service techniques by the end of the night, (their request). I don't like to give instruction unless it is solicated.

If you can still play the game at a decent level... the respect is not lost on them... they can still be amazed at what can be done to a tennis ball even if it has not been done in 25 years. Tennis at this level can still be played effectively old school... but you have to be pretty skilled at it to offset the equipment of today, and that you may have to hit one or two more shots to end the point.

I think what is most amazing to them is the use of pace, spin and angles... opposed to the more current game of pace and spin. To me it is the difference between a scapel and a sledge hammer. Todays game is much more about using a sledge hammer, where in the past there was a place for a surgeon. I can nick and bleed you to death... but I could also cut you deep with a slash... today... we just drive a stake through you.

LeeD
12-16-2009, 10:26 AM
Most 4-4.5's I play with and against don't need basic serving lessons.
And everytime I go up against 5.5's with my old style game, they shred me to pieces. Of course, if I adopted a new style topspinner game against them, they'd STILL take me apart. I'm just not 5.5.

Ripper014
12-16-2009, 10:44 AM
Most 4-4.5's I play with and against don't need basic serving lessons.
And everytime I go up against 5.5's with my old style game, they shred me to pieces. Of course, if I adopted a new style topspinner game against them, they'd STILL take me apart. I'm just not 5.5.

Apparantly I have an exceptional second serve... spin control, placement, speed. I almost never hit two serves the same.... as someone said to me the other night... "you can hit a hard serve when you want but you like to mix things up".

These players can all play... they can serve well enough and one of them was the top ranked 4.0 in the city last year... he is already playing 4.5 and is moving up this year.

They all have weaknesses in their games like all of us... some less obvious than others... holes in their strokes.

I did not say I was giving a serving clinic... I was just showing one gentleman how I hit my second serve... something I consider pretty basis information. My theory of how to hit slice... topspin and twist, and how I deal with controlling direction. I almost never double... and my second serve has been timed somewhere between the high 70's to mid 80's. Though my first serve times out at about 115mph... this was back in the day with a 200g. I found back when I was playing league a lot of players would rather deal with my flat first serve.

I play a clean all-court game... and what probably makes me stand out is my foot speed, anticipation (ability to get to a lot of balls), power, variety and touch off my 1 handed backhand, and volley skills. They are not used to seeing someone that can hit power, spin and angles in any combination (old school, I don't like to give you the same look twice in a row), I just wish I was as consistant at it as I used to be. I can still hang with 5.0 players... I am just not consistant enough to compete.

I don't know about you... and I have definitely lost some footspeed... (50) but my biggest issue currently I find is my eye sight is not what it used to be. I am having problems picking up the ball as well as I use too... and thus giving me less time to react.

LeeD
12-16-2009, 11:11 AM
I'm 60.
Footspeed, eyesight, speed of swing, recovery time are the most noticed.
I"m a '70's player now using a SW forehand and given up the 2hbh, so there's lots of compensating to do.
Doubles still the strength, singles against top teens tougher to handle.
I think I play a full level higher in doubles than I do in singles. Hence 4.0 singles.

Ripper014
12-16-2009, 11:19 AM
I'm 60.
Footspeed, eyesight, speed of swing, recovery time are the most noticed.
I"m a '70's player now using a SW forehand and given up the 2hbh, so there's lots of compensating to do.
Doubles still the strength, singles against top teens tougher to handle.
I think I play a full level higher in doubles than I do in singles. Hence 4.0 singles.

I am about the same in both... but we played more doubles... I have a good (maybe not great serve) but I am able to mix things up and I can back it up well with my volleys and overhead. I am also lazy... and like that I don't have to cover a whole court... but it also frustrates me to have my partner lose points for me at the net. Lately I have been losing my service games more than my partner but that is a function of us being a better team with me at net and him serving vs me serving with him at the net. It is hard to be handicapped with an average of - 2 points per game.

LeeD
12-16-2009, 11:24 AM
In doubles, it's often what the netperson can't do that loses serves, rather than what the server can do.

Ripper014
12-16-2009, 11:29 AM
In doubles, it's often what the netperson can't do that loses serves, rather than what the server can do.

Totally agree... unless the server is very very very good or those returning are very very very bad.

LeeD
12-16-2009, 11:47 AM
Most of the time, when I play doubles with the normal gang, I'm teamed with the worst of the foursome. Not because I'm the best, but because I don't mind losing.
My partner normally hold serve no problem. I knock off a couple winners in the first 3 points.
I, OTOH, can get broken because my partner insists on reaching out for low backhand volleys and popping the ball up and short, when it would normally go to my favored volleying side (either).
Better yet, I chip and charge to within 2' of the baseline, and my netman runs backwards to no man's land WHILE my shot is still going. Sometimes, he does me the favor of backpeddling to behind the service line, all the while dangling his racket at his side.
He tells me he's covering the lob. I tell him he's an idiot.

Ripper014
12-16-2009, 11:55 AM
Most of the time, when I play doubles with the normal gang, I'm teamed with the worst of the foursome. Not because I'm the best, but because I don't mind losing.
My partner normally hold serve no problem. I knock off a couple winners in the first 3 points.
I, OTOH, can get broken because my partner insists on reaching out for low backhand volleys and popping the ball up and short, when it would normally go to my favored volleying side (either).
Better yet, I chip and charge to within 2' of the baseline, and my netman runs backwards to no man's land WHILE my shot is still going. Sometimes, he does me the favor of backpeddling to behind the service line, all the while dangling his racket at his side.
He tells me he's covering the lob. I tell him he's an idiot.

The people I play with are not that bad... though I never get to play with the best of the foursome because we are always split up. Some people I have never played with ever.

They do not back pedal from the net unless it is a lob... but they do miss volleys or pop them up for easy winners. I sometimes think they just try to do to much with some shots. Like I said earlier... these people can play... and have effective games, you cannot aways hit a winning volley off a hard hit dipping shot. I guess us old schoolers know enough to place the volley deep in a corner and move in to a better volleying position and look for a weak return you can put away.

LeeD
12-16-2009, 12:07 PM
One of our better doubles players, easily 4.0 in doubles, with a son who was ranked under 250 in the world, often chooses to backpedal as I move into net position. He says he's covering the lob and is compensating for loss of eyesight. He can volley just fine if I stay back. Mental obliteration.
Another really good groundstroker loves to move backwards as the volleys get more intense up at net. Of course, the opposition volleys to his feet, and he says he can't volley. Of course, he can't volley because the opposition has a huge target with him moving backwards into no man's land.
Another good 4.0 singles player with no notion of doubles positioning.:confused::confused:

Ripper014
12-16-2009, 12:22 PM
One of our better doubles players, easily 4.0 in doubles, with a son who was ranked under 250 in the world, often chooses to backpedal as I move into net position. He says he's covering the lob and is compensating for loss of eyesight. He can volley just fine if I stay back. Mental obliteration.
Another really good groundstroker loves to move backwards as the volleys get more intense up at net. Of course, the opposition volleys to his feet, and he says he can't volley. Of course, he can't volley because the opposition has a huge target with him moving backwards into no man's land.
Another good 4.0 singles player with no notion of doubles positioning.:confused::confused:

In doubles I am all over the net until you can back me off with a lob or hit it through or past me. And though the players I am playing with may not close the net like I do... they will not back off unless they are forced to. Like I will say again... they are in most part good players... they are just trying to play beyond their abilities.

papa
12-17-2009, 06:42 AM
In doubles I am all over the net until you can back me off with a lob or hit it through or past me. And though the players I am playing with may not close the net like I do... they will not back off unless they are forced to. Like I will say again... they are in most part good players... they are just trying to play beyond their abilities.

Well, I'm somewhat surprised to hear this (read this) because most, if not all, good doubles players don't have problems with players who like to crowd the net. You might be able to get away with this when the pace of shots is somewhat slow but when it picks up and effective lobs are used, I think those that hover around net get quickly into trouble. Generally takes just a few stingers to get someone's attention but if they persist, good luck.

Now, you might be a younger guy who can run all day and has exceptionally quick hands but you would be an exception.